Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self-Care

I Can Fly! Oh, Wait. No I Can’t.

I was taking out the trash the other night, and it was dark out. I do it late at night, and my front light isn’t working. I went to check the mail, and I didn’t notice there was a huge slick of ice in front of my mailbox. I noticed when my feet went up in the air, and I landed on my knees and night elbow. If you ever want to feel completely in your body, just fall. You will be aware of muscles you never knew existed before.

The pain was sharply intense, and I’m saying this as someone who slept through a recent root canal. I couldn’t believe how much it hurt–and how quickly the intense pain went away. I admit I stayed on the ground for a minute or so, but I soon got back on my feet and checked all my limbs for possible damage. My right elbow was scraped with a little blood, my left knee felt puffy and sore, and my right knee ached a bit, but that’s it.

Nothing was broken. Nothing was wrenched, twisted, or dislocated. I kept an eye on it the next day, and while I was achy (especially in my left knee. My poor knees. They can’t catch a break), nothing actively hurt. My left knee still feels bruised and a bit puffy, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.

I bring this up for a few reasons. One, I’m still clumsy. I still fall on the regular, though not as often as I used to. Two, it wasn’t my fault this time. The last time when I fell on the stairs while doing the laundry (or more accurately, on my way to doing the laundry), it was my own damn fault for reading my phone as I was walking. This time, however, there wasn’t much I could do because I simply didn’t see the ice in the dark. It helps me understand that sometimes, things do just happen. Three, I instantly relaxed as I was falling, and this is something I’ve noticed in the last few years. Yes, I still fall, but I’m more able to do what needs to be done to minimize the damage. It’s not even something I think about–I do it automatically.

It’s the reason I walked away from my minor car accident with nothing more than a big bruise on my stomach (from either the seat belt or the airbag). It’s the reason I only have bruises and aches after falling off ladders or on the ice as I most recently did. It brings me a small measure of comfort knowing that while I may still be clumsy and fall from time to time, I don’t have to take maximum damage from it.

It’s a revelation to me as someone who’s been clumsy all her life. Yes, I’m working on being more observant and trying not to run into things in the first place, but it’s nice to know that when I make a mistake, I won’t necessarily have to pay for it (too much).

Almost Recovered

I am pleased to say that I’m mostly recovered. My flu/fever symptoms are gone, and my sleep is shite again (a clear indication that I’m getting better). However, I’ve been having the chills on and off over the last couple days, so I’m keeping an eye on it. My knees hardly ache at all, and going to taiji class yesterday really helped. I have to remember that gentle movement on the daily is a good thing, even if I have no motivation to do it at the time.

This is the problem with having depression. Even when I know something is beneficial to me and that I’ll probably enjoy it at the time–it’s difficult for me to actually force myself to do it. The inertia is strong within me, and I can sit on my ass for hours on end without even thinking about it.

On a side note, I did a testing of all the new Diet Coke flavors and live-tweeted it. Take a look if you want a good chuckle. They’re not all linked because I included pictures, but just trawl around that time, and you’ll find them all.

TL;DR: Twitsted Mango is the shizznit.

Oh. I just remembered tomorrow (today when you read this) is going to be Valentine’s Day. Here’s my valentine for you.

Minding My Mindfulness

Ed. Note: I am not starting my bad movie live-tweeting this week. In fact, I probably won’t do it ‘live’ when I do start it, but I’ll discuss that more in the first actual bad movie/live-tweet post. 

I like to pride myself on my multitasking abilities. I try to do two or three things at a time, and I find my brain going to bad places when I concentrate on one thing. It’s one reason I don’t like meditation even though I know it’s supposed to be good for me. Currently, I am eating breakfast, watching the Olympics, and typing this post at the same time. I have about one-third of my attention on eating, one-fourth on watching the Olympics, and the rest on typing this post.

This started back when I used to have really bad demons in my head, and I needed a white noise option to drowning them out. I found out that by splitting my attention in several directions, I was able to keep them to a dull roar. I used to read a book as I was walking home from school (not a smart idea. For the children at home, don’t do this!), so I guess that was the prototype to the current multitasking me.

My taiji teacher likes to say that we are not as good at multitasking as we think we are. While I might bristle at this, she’s right. The only way it really works for me is when the things I’m doing don’t really need my concentrated attention. Or, if one thing needs my attention, then the other things have to be suitable for background noise.

I bring this up because I fell on the stairs twice Friday night as I was doing the laundry. I was reading something on my phone as I walked down the stairs because of course I know how many stairs there are! I don’t actually need to pay attention, do I? Apparently, I do because I missed the last step two times in a row. When I went to put the third load into the dryer, you can bet I made damn sure not to be looking at my phone.

Let me back up. I had a root canal last Tuesday, and the process itself wasn’t bad at all. I had a nice nap, and it was done before I knew it. They gave me pain meds and scrips for more pain meds and antibiotics with instructions on how to use them. When I told my dentist it wasn’t bad at all, she told me to wait until the Novocaine wore off. I did, and it still wasn’t bad at all. I dutifully took the antibiotics, but I didn’t need the pain meds.

I was fine the next day as well. Then, that night, I started feeling feverish*, but not bad enough to take the pain meds. I felt like I had a low-grade flu the next day, and my mouth ached. I still didn’t take the pain meds, but I definitely was not at optimal health.

I mention this in relation to my tripping because my sleep has been really shitty since my root canal. Shittier. Why? Because I have to take the antibiotics every eight hours, and my sleep is so weird, it’s hard to take them on a rigorous schedule. Ideally, you take the pill at the exact same time for maximum effect, which meant setting the alarm to get up at five to take the third pill of the day.


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The State of My Mind

It’s time to come out and say it–I am depressed. I’ve alluded to it before, but now I’ll just say it. I’ve been low-level depressed for a few months, and I don’t know why. I think it’s partly because of the anniversary of Raven’s death, partly because of being physically sick (though maybe I got physically sick because my depression lowered my immune system. It’s hard to say), and partly because it’s just how I roll.

The thing is, in the past, when I was depressed, it literally incapacitated me at times. I remember losing countless hours to depression because I simply didn’t have the energy or the wherewithal to do anything other than sit on the couch and stare into space. It was chronic, and it was serious. I honestly didn’t think I’d make it out of my twenties, and it’s still somewhat unbelievable to me that I have. There were periods of higher activity, but in general, I was barely functioning.

Now, I am doing the things I need to do. I am productive every day whereas in the past, brushing my teeth was an accomplishment. In addition, the depression isn’t a part of me, and it’s really strange to feel it coming at me from the outside. Back in the day, I felt as if I was just a ball of depression and it was the only thing that defined me. Now, it’s more like an annoyance such as an ingrown toenail. Persistently there, infected, but not paralyzing me.

In addition, when I had chronic depression, I was numb most of the time. I’ve described it as being frozen, and I couldn’t identify an emotion if my life depended on it. I was really good at pretending emotions, but it was because I’m adept at quickly reading other people’s emotions. It was a bitter irony that for many years, I felt other people’s emotions more intensely and immediately than I did my own. I had no idea what my own emotions were as they were buried under layers of depression.

Now, I have emotions, and sometimes they’re out of whack. I have anger issues, and while I normally keep an iron tight grip on it, when I blow, it’s quick and ugly. It’s difficult because I don’t know all my triggers–well, to be more accurate, I know the broad topics in which there are triggers, but I don’t know exactly what will set me off. After years of not being allowed to express my anger, I still have difficulty expressing it appropriately. It’s all or nothing, and the times it’s all are terrifying to me.

I’m also feeling a lot of sadness. There is no specific reason, but it’s there. I’m grieving, and I don’t even know why. I’m sure part of it is Raven–I’ve been missing him intensely lately, but that’s not all it is. It’s also the feeling that I’m wasting my life and if I die today, what do I have to show for it? I have put so many obstacles in my own way, I feel defeated before I even take a single step.

Also, I’m still fighting a relapse, and my sleep is shit, and everything is difficult. Here is the latest The Mazzy Show; she never fails to make me smile.

Sickness of the Mind–and Body

I’m on the mend, and it’s not been a smooth road back to recovery. I have the sniffles right now, but I’m hoping it’s just because Shadow was sleeping on me during the night. Every time I’m sick, there is a moment when I feel like I could either get better or get worse. It’s an actual definable moment, and I felt it yesterday. I know I’m getting better because my sleep is getting worse. For whatever reason, my body decides that the only time it will allow itself to get the appropriate amount of sleep is when I’m sick. Side note: I heard neuroscientist, Matthew Walker, an expert on sleep, on NPR. He’s a big proponent of getting eight hours of sleep a night, which is an anathema to me. He was saying how if you get much less than that, your chance of catching a cold is (and since I was just listening, I may not have gotten the percentages exactly right) three to four times more likely. In addition, if you’re not well-rested before getting your flu shot, you only absorb 50% of the antigens.

Most people know about the connection between sleep (lack thereof) and susceptibility to illness, but I didn’t realize it was so stark. He is an evangelist about getting eight hours, but I had to leave before I could read the tips about how to get better sleep. I know the usual, don’t use electronics before bed (which is not something I’m good at), don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep (I don’t actually sleep on the bed), don’t nap (which I normally don’t). The last, he explains in an article I looked up is because if you nap, you won’t be able to sleep fully later. Which makes sense, of course, but it’s the wrong way around. Most people don’t nap with the intent to wreck their sleep later–they nap because they are so tired, they simply have to sleep. It’s a vicious cycle, and simply telling people to sleep more at night isn’t going to work. Dr. Wheeler knows that, which is one reason he despairs. Being sleep-deprived is such a badge of honor in our society (in many societies), that many people won’t get a good night’s sleep because it would make them look like slackers.

The thing is, I’m not against sleep because I think it’s immoral–sleep is against me. I’ve never been an early to bed, early to rise type. I never went to bed before midnight, even when I was eight or nine. Dr. Wheeler also talks about how criminal it is that school starts so early, and I agree. He said it would be best to start at ten, but that probably won’t happen. Even when I had to get up early, I could never go to bed before midnight–ever. In my first year at college, I had a 7:45 a.m. class. I rarely went to bed before four in the morning, and on those days, I was a mess. I remember one morning, I got up and couldn’t find my alarm clock. It was a portable one, and it was nowhere in the room. I opened the mini-fridge to get a Diet Pepsi (I drank six a day at that time), and there was my clock. I was continually sleep-deprived, and every time I went home for the holidays, I would sleep for fifteen hours the first day I was home. Then, I’d get as sick as a dog for the rest of the stay. So, yeah, I know about the link between sleep and the immune system.
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Resting My Little Grey Cells With Hercule Poirot

People who know me might or might not know something rather strange about me–I am a rabid Hercule Poirot fan. I say it’s strange because my tastes run more towards the contemporary and what some would call noir or ‘gritty’. Poirot is none of those things, though later in the TV series, they tried their damnedest to make it so. I want to make it clear that I read the stories voraciously when I was a teenager, and I couldn’t get enough of them. I’ve read each at least three or five times, and some up to dozens of times. My two favorites are The Big Four and Curtain, and I’m trying my own hand at writing a Poirot story. It’s dashed hard, though, to write in someone else’s voice and not make it sound like parody. There is someone who has written two new ‘Poirot’ novels with the blessing of the Christie estate (money already running dry?), and I tried to read the first one. It wasn’t Poirot at all, and I didn’t make it past the first few pages. I didn’t even try to read the second one. Anyway, writing a Poirot story has been a good exercise, but I don’t know if I’ll finish it.

Back to the books. I loved Poirot’s finickiness, his preciseness, his ego, and his little grey cells. I didn’t care how ludicrous his denouements were. In fact, the more ludicrous, the better. I love modern murder mysteries, but I do have to say the insistence on verisimilitude can get tedious. I love the internet, but it makes it far too easy to check up on the details. “There’s no such place as Shop and Cop in Boston!” Who cares, really? It’s funny, but it even happened in the days before the internet. Agatha Christie had a character in her later novels named Ariadne Oliver whose famous detective is a vegetarian Finn named Sven Hjerson. Ariadne is clearly a stand-in for Agatha Christie, and she’s always lamenting about how she shouldn’t have made him a Finn and that people in Finland have too much time to read. It’s hilarious, and I’m quite sure it was Dame Christie’s way of venting her frustration because it’s said she came to hate Poirot by the end of her career.

I started watching the Ustinov movies, but he never really was Poirot to me. Funny note: David Suchet played Chief Inspector Japp in one of the Ustinov movies, and, um, let’s just say it wasn’t the right role for him. He IS Hercule Poirot, and there shall be no other. Yes, I will watch the (ugh) Kenneth Branagh version of Murder on the Orient Express, but I won’t like it. The trailer is atrocious, Kenneth Branagh couldn’t be more wrong for the part, and everything about is wrong. Then again, all three of the prior versions of the movie are terrible, too (including, sadly, the David Suchet version which got all Catholique at the end), and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better as a novel. Interestingly enough, even though it’s one of the more famous novels, it’s not one of my favorite. It’s too convoluted, even for a Poirot novel, and there’s no way to cram it in an hour and a half to two hours. Anyway, I don’t think there should be any more Poirot portrayals unless it’s done by an actual Belgian. It’s time to let it go and let David Suchet remain the gold standard.

I know as I watch that there are problems with the series. One, the way they portray the working class, often making them appear thick, slow, and conniving. Another is using English actors for other nationalities. Speaking of which, Dame Christie had some pretty provincial ideas about other nationalities, which is one of my least favorite part of the books. In watching the series again, I’ve been wincing at some of the portrayals (both as how they are written and the English actors portraying them). The biggest strength is also the biggest problem, and I hate having to talk about it, but talk I must. It’s David Suchet as Poirot. Now, my admiration for Suchet as Poirot knows no bounds. I am currently watching the first episode, and how he grew into the part until he embodied the character is amazing. He is Poirot to me that any time I hear him speak in his regular voice, I am jarred. It is a performance of the lifetime, and I adore every aspect of it.


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Take It Easy On Me

I went to taiji yesterday for the first time in a few weeks (as I mentioned yesterday) and took it pretty easy. I didn’t want to overdo, but I’m wiped out today. Plus, there’s effluvia and coughing. I think I got everything moving around, and it has to come out somehow. I’m hoping it’s not a setback, but we shall have to wait and see.

This is a teaser video from FromSoft (makers of Dark Souls) for their next game. Most people seem to think it’s Bloodborne 2, but I don’t. To me, ‘Shadows Die Twice’ (the tagline) doesn’t have anything to do with Bloodborne. I’m thinking ghosts or vamps. I think I’m in the minority when I say I hope it’s a new IP and not BB2. I loved BB and will probably play it until the end of time, but I’m ready to move on from the Soulsborne universe. I’m excited to see what Miyazaki can do with something completely new. I lost my fucking mind when Ian sent me this teaser trailer, and now I have to spend the next twelve months studiously avoiding all spoilers.

 

Rebooting My AI

I went to taiji for the first time in a few weeks. I knew I would have to take it easy, but I wanted to at least move a bit. I’m still doing my taiji routine every morning, but I’ve paired it down during my sickness. On my way, I stopped at the pharmacy to pick up some pills (not illness related), and when I got to the studio, I couldn’t find my key fob. I don’t need it to drive, and I normally keep it in a certain pocket of my purse. I looked in other places in my purse, but I couldn’t find it. I wasn’t too panicked because I can’t drive if the fob is too far from the car, but I was getting frustrated about not being able to find it. It wasn’t on the car seat (it’s fallen there before), so where could it be? In desperation, I checked the pocket of my sweats. It was there.

That’s how I know my mind is foggy. I never put my key fob in my pocket–except when I’m sick. It’s as if my synapses are not firing properly, and i takes all of my energy to do any one single simple thing.

Class was good. I pushed myself, but not too hard. I really don’t want to relapse, and overextending myself is a sure-fire way to do it. After class, I stopped at the co-op on the way home. I hate shopping on a regular day, and it’s even worse when I’m sick. Maneuvering around people who thoughtlessly block the aisles for no discernible reason is one of my biggest pet peeves. I’m aware I’m a grumpy bitch when I get sick, so I try to keep that  under control. It’s not easy, though, when I’m expending so much energy in simply getting to point A.

Anyway, I’m going to chill for the rest of the night. Here’s a video of Lindsey Stirling and Peter Hollens LARPing as Skyrim characters (while playing the violin/singing the theme to Skyrim).

A Thousand Steps to One Foot

Still sick, though marginally better. Shadow has been a great help snuggling up to me and keeping me warm, but he has yet to make me a cup of tea. I’ve had to do that myself. I’m at the stage of recovery where I’m holding my breath, hoping I don’t do anything to set myself back. I don’t overextend myself at this point, but the problem is, when I start feeling exponentially better, such as 80%, I get reckless. I think I can go back to doing what I used to do. Now, granted, that’s much to begin with, but it’s enough to set me back.

I still have some remnants of my fundamental upbringing, and it shows up in nebulous ways. In this case, it’s my frustration in that I’m trying to be better about my health in general, and I’m still getting sick. I went five years bronchial/sinus-issues free, and now, I’m getting sick every year. What’s worse, it’s not just a few days or even a week. It’s one bout of two weeks, a few days to a week of being healthy, then a few more weeks of being sick. There’s no logical reason for me to expect that just because I’m doing better with my health, I should be sickness-free. Well, yes, there is a logical link between taking care of your health and not being sick, but it’s not a direct link. It’s not like, “Eat all the leafy greens, and you’ll never cough again,” but it’s hard not to be a little bitter that I’m working on trying to be healthier, and I’m still dealing with all this shit.

Anyway. here’s a video of Maru putting a bag with a hole in it on his head. It’s too ridiculously cute.

When the Physical Affects the Mental

I’m struggling, fam. I find that when I get sick physically, it’s a drag on my mental health as well. I know it’s a truism that the body and mind are connected, but I used to believe that my body was nothing but a meat sack for carrying around my brain. My soul or essence or whatever didn’t even come into the equation. I dismissed it as negligible at best or bothersome at worst. I valuedd my brain above and beyond everything else, and I didn’t much care about my body. To be honest, I abused it terribly, though not through the usual avenues of drink and drugs. I have a history of eating disorders ranging from anorexia to bulimia to binge-eating. I think it’s more a question of control (or a lack thereof) than a matter of food. I felt I had little control over anything in my life, so food was an easy target. Also, I wanted to whittle my body away to nothing because I despised it so much. I also self-harmed with cutting and cigarettes, but I haven’t done that in years if not decades.

I have four tattoos, and they were my way of reclaiming my body, though I wouldn’t necessarily have phrased it that way at the time. I wanted a tattoo for many years before I got one, and true to my nature, I got one on a whim when I finally decided it was time. My BFF and I went to the only tattoo shop opened at midnight, and unfortunately, the tattooist was the nephew of the owner, who was still in training. In addition, Asian skin doesn’t take to ink in the same way white people’s skin does (didn’t know this at the time. There are many things that Asian people don’t react to in the same way than do Caucasians, but that’s another post for another day), so by the time he was done, it was puffy, blotchy, and definitely not the black yin-yang in a sun that I requested. To make matters worse, it was on my chest, so it’s not like I could avoid looking at it. PSA: Don’t get a tattoo on a whim. Fortunately, I found an excellent tattooist years later, and he did a representation of Kali (the mother/destroyer goddess of India, grossly simplified) right over my navel, with suggestions of flames. I was so pleased with it, I commissioned him to do a cover-up tattoo on my left breast. It’s a massive purple and blue lotus blossom engulfed in flames, and I adore it. I got my third in San Francisco–a bracelet of red thorns with flames as ‘charms’ on my left forearm. My final one is from my local artist, and it’s a bracelet of flames and waves on my upper right arm with a yin-yang pendant. Originally, I only wanted flames, but my tattoo artist suggested waves to balance it out and match the yin-yang. Brilliant!

I love my tattoos. I’d say they were the first step in me accepting my body. First, grudgingly, and then, in a matter-of-fact manner. I can’t say I love my body because I don’t. In fact, I would still like to lose weight (and, yes, I have a number in mind), but because of my history of eating disorders, I’m worried about going down that road. Any time I try to diet sensibly, it spirals out of control. For that reason, there are several ‘sensible’ dieting tips that I absolutely can’t follow. One is counting calories. The first time I slipped into anorexia/bulimia, I did this obsessively. I can still tell you what the calorie count is of the foods I used to eat regularly. That’s another thing I tend to do–eat the same thing over and over. It’s part of my OCD tendencies, and it’s partly because I get overwhelmed by choices.

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