Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: anxiety

When mental health issues collide with reality

In the best of times, I have to push myself to do what needs to be done. This is not the best of times, and it’s even worse now. Add to that the fact that my sleep has completely reverted, and I’m a hot(ter) mess right now. I’m discouraged because it’s a vicious cycle. I’m going to bed around four-thirty in the morning, which is not good. More to the point, it’s a rather sudden change which makes it even more difficult to deal with. It took me several months, probably half a year or so, to go from going to bed at five/six in the morning to two. now, in the course of maybe two weeks, I’ve reverted back to almost five.

Logically, there’s no reason I can’t follow that timetable. I t’s not like I have to be anywhere at any specific time (except for my taiji Zoom classes–and most of them are in the afternoon). But, I wanted to be on a more normal schedule. That seems to be but a dream now. And I’m discouraged by it. There is little I can do about sleep that I haven’t done before.

Ugh. I am so not feeling it today.

Slipping away

I’m done. My sleep has been a hot mess, and how the hell did I ever deal with this in the past? I can’t believe I used to get by on four hours of sleep and that I used to go to bed at eight in the morning. One thing I was working on before the pandemic started was getting my sleep on track. I wanted to be more like normal people because…I don’t even know why. I think because while I like being awake when other people are sleeping, I do feel like even more of a freak for being on the opposite side of sleep for most people. In addition, normal life was hard to navigate when I was on the late night tip. If I had any appointments, I tried to make them as late in the afternoon as possible, but it was still hard to make it to them. And it would throw me off my game for the rest of the day.

It’s not a matter of restfulness, either, because I’m always tired. It’s just a fact of life. Much like I used to always have headaches. They were lowkey and I was able to ignore them most of the time, but they were there. It’s the same with sleep. I’m always tired. It doesn’t matter how much or how little I get. There are days when it’s worse than others, obviously, but it’s always there.

Anyway, I was making strides in my sleep pattern before the pandemic hit. I started pushing my sleep time…back? Forward? Earlier. Since I was consistently going to bed around five-ish, I pushed it back to four. After a week or so, I pushed it back again to three. In this fashion, I managed to get it to one/one-thirty. My goal was midnight, but I was ok with where I was at. Then, during the pandemic, it began to become a bit more elastic. It was one-thirty to two, which, while not great, was fine. Then, the phone call. My meltdown. The immediate panic.

Side note: Briefly, my mom called, and I knew immediately that she wanted to say something she knew I wasn’t going to like. I could tell because when I asked how she was, her voice got that tone that it gets when she has something unpleasant to say and she added a little laugh, which is also a tell. Of course, that put me on guard, and I was predisposed to dismiss whatever she had to say. I tried to be patient, but let’s face it. Things were tense between us whenever we talked, and I was not in the mood for difficult.


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To not be or not to be

I’m struggling. The reasons are long and complicated (and, yes, family-related), which I’m saving for another post. I will note that I had an actual meltdown while last talking to my mother. The result was my sleep immediately going to hell (had my first four-hour night sleep in a while, and how the hell did I EVER used to live on that? Regularly?), my brain fragmenting, and my energy completely dissipating. But,  again, not the focus of this post.

In this post, I’m musing about all the ways I’m just…not. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best.

Every since I was a wee little Taiwanese American girl (well, not so wee and not so little) growing up in the lily white suburbs in Minnesota in the 1970s, I was different. Some of it can be seen in the previous sentence. Hell, a lot of it. I was fat, unhappy (difficult childhood), Taiwanese American, super smart, and just…weird. I didn’t watch much TV and we rarely went to the movies. I didn’t listen to pop music until much later. I have an apocryphal story about how the first pop song I ever heard was Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant when I was in the sixth grade.

Side note: I just spent a ridiculous amount of time Googling exactly when the song came out and discovered it charted in America in April of 1983, so my apocryphal story could theoretically be true. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a way of underling my otherness.

My mom made my clothes including dresses which I hated. Still hate them. Skirts are fine-ish, but not my first choice. I wore one to my nieces wedding, but honestly, if I had some really swish (both literal and metaphorical), I probably would have worn them instead. I don’t wear makeup or use beauty products of any kind. There’s a reason I’m mentioning this, which I’ll come to later.  I got fun of for bringing Taiwanese food because this was waaaaaaaay before ‘ethnic’ food became so popular.


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Slip, slip, slipping away

So as the pandemic drags on and we all begin to eat each other, I’m slowly sliding into apathy. There’s still the fury, but it’s buried deep. It’s not sustainable to be continually angry; it just isn’t. I’m also finally over my migraine, knock wood, but I still feel the ramifications. Like total exhaustion. I’m also having a bit of a (wet) cough, so there’s that. I know I’m getting sick because I slept for nine hours the other night. That’s unheard of if I’m healthy. Ish. Healthy-ish. I’m never healthy.

I’m just blah. Everything is meh. What does any of it matter when America is doing her level best to drag everyone down? The one chance we had to avert a large-scale tragedy was to take drastic measures back in February/March. Because we didn’t do that, we’re playing catch-up with no hopes of actually doing it. Not only that, we’re actively working against eradicating the coronavirus. I’m talking about the collective we, by the way.

I’m also reading more people saying we have to ‘get back to normal’ and try to achieve herd immunity. That for most people who aren’t at risk who get it, it will be like getting a ‘bad cold’. First of all, herd immunity seems to be far-fetched as we don’t yet know that you can’t get the coronavirus again. In addition, in order to reach herd immunity, if, indeed it’s possible, that’s millions of death. The person writing about it was talking about schools (on the board of a school I think? Very distressing) and how reopening was the best because bullshit, lies, and bullshit. They said those at risk should stay home, of course, but kids were not carriers.

Which, I mean….Sigh. First of all, kids can get it. Kids can be asymptomatic carriers. That’s not even mentioning that we’re shoving all the teachers on the frontlines now, too (not that they already weren’t in the line of danger, what with school shootings being what they are), and this person was distressingly cavalier about it. Not even acknowledging that the road to herd immunity (if possible) was littered with at least a million deaths. As I said before, I know my life is expendable, but it’s sobering to hear it out loud and read it over and over again.


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Consent is hot as hell

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Bruce Banner adapted for every situation

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

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

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


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Personalized anxiety quirks

I was talking to my mother the other day–by the way, I curse my brother for teaching her how to Zoom. Not because she’s using it, but because she hasn’t quite got the hang of Zoom etiquette. She called me and asked if Zoom was working. She had sent me an email with an invite, you see, and I hadn’t clicked on it. I had to explain to her that if I wasn’t expecting an email, I didn’t check it–especially not that one. She kept rambling about Zoom and making sure it worked and she had sent me an email, and I had to tell her to chill the fuck out (not in those words, obviously) as I was clicking on the link.

Side Note: My mom has always been an anxious talker, but it’s gotten worse in the past few years. My brother and I were talking about it how you literally have to talk over her because she just won’t stop.

Side Note to the Side Note: This is actually true of both my brother and me as well. Not the anxious talker part (though that’s me), but just the talking part in general. My mom has complained to me about my brother talking so much as well, and I know that once I get on a tear, it can be hard for me to shut my trap as well. The difference is that I’m aware of this. I am working on it. I am pretty sure that’s not the case with either my brother or my mother. Oh, and my father also likes to pontificate from time to time, and he definitely has no idea when he does it. I just don’t talk to him as often as I do to my mother and my brother.

Back to the first side note. My belief is that it’s because my father has retired. I have no proof of that except that the chattering started about the same time he retired. My hypothesis is based on the fact that her whole life revolves around him. Now that he’s home the whole time, she’s probably talking to him more than not. He needs attention all the time, and she’s the one who gives it to him. He’s a very cruel and exacting person in that he’s both overweeningly arrogant and excruciatingly thin-skinned. He’s suspicious to the point of paranoid about people talking about him, and he can find something to take offense at in anything anyone says. So, my mom has to walk softly and constantly couch what she says in a way that he won’t take offense. It doesn’t work, obviously, which means more talking and frantic explanations.


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The thin line between preparation and flat-out panic

The world is in a tailspin right now as we all know. I’m trying to keep up to date about what’s happening without freaking the fuck out. I’m already anxious by nature, and one way I cope is by only keeping up on the basics. It’s kinda impossible to do right now, but I’m keeping it to a minimum. Why? There is only so much I can do, and having the news bombard me 24/7 doesn’t help. In addition, I pretty much self-quarantine, anyway, except for taiji and the grocery store. Occasionally, I see my brother, but that’s about it. I reluctantly decided not to go to taiji this weekend (Friday because I felt like shit and Saturday because of the self-isolation), but the only other concession I’m making is that I’m washing my hands more. I have a tube of aloe, which is good because my skin on my hands is cracking a bit.

Another thing is that I’ve realized I touch my face so fucking much. So. Fucking. Much. I’m trying to break the habit, but it’s not easy. I mean, I have to push my glasses up in place, but beyond that, it seems there’s something itching at all times. Plus, I’ll put my laptop on the coffee table and then prop my chin up on my hand while I’m on my side. Any time I catch myself doing it, I yank my hand away, but it’s still way too many times for my comfort. I just don’t know the perfect reaction to the situation, and I can’t match the panic I see around me.

My parents called last night because the number of cases in MN went from 2 to 14. My mom was freaking the fuck out, and she kept talking over me. She claims that my father is the anxious one and that he’s the one who made her call me. I tried to point out to her that may be true, but she was the one who babbled endlessly to me about how terrible everything was whereas my father mainly said, “You’ll be fine. RIGHT????” Neither is great, but I’ll take the latter over the former. My mom insists that she’s just going about her day and that her regurgitating her fears to me for a half hour isn’t anything unusual. My best guess is that as usual, she’s using me as a dumping ground because she doesn’t feel like she’s being heard by anyone else. I know my father doesn’t listen, and she’s the therapist among her friends. That’s sad for her, but I just can’t handle her anxiety on top of my own.


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Goldilocks and the three reactions

I have PTSD, and while it’s lessened over time, it’s still a thing. I can blow up the smallest thing such as an interaction with a stranger in which I felt I didn’t handle very well. For example, I was at the deli counter at Cubs a few days ago. I wanted the bottom rack of ribs, and I said it to the woman behind the counter. I made sure to say the bottom one twice, but she didn’t say anything at all to acknowledge she heard. She just went to get a container, so when she returned, I mentioned it one more time. She snapped that she had heard me, and I managed to say, “Great. Thanks.” In my head, though, I was thinking, “Look, bitch. The normal thing is to actually acknowledge that the other person said something.”

Side Note: There is something about the deli/baked good sections of my local Cubs that must be toxic because many of the people working in those areas are exceedingly unhappy. And, they take out their unhappiness on the customers as well as with each other. Sometimes in the form of bitching with each other, but also in the form of bitching at each other.

I immediately thought that I had done something wrong, and then I was pissed at her for being a jerk. But, ultimately, it wasn’t a big deal, and I was able to shrug it off after a few hours. I know that still seems like an overreaction, and it is, but in the past, I would have ruminated over it for weeks before forcing myself to forget about it. I make a mountain out of every fucking molehill, and it’s so fucking tiresome. I can make myself feel bad about anything until the end of time.

Here’s the weird flip side to my PTSD overreaction. When I’m in an actual crisis, my brain goes on hyperfocus and I become deadly calm. I’ve mentioned this a few times, but when I was in a minor car crash a few years back, my brain slowed down. I accepted I was going to be hit, and I relaxed as the other car hit me. As a result, I only got a massive bruise on my stomach either from the air bag or the seat belt. The other driver was a young woman, only 17, and she was in hysterics. She looked as if she had South Asian blood, so I felt the urge to protect her. She sobbed that her dad was going to kill her because he needed the car (some kind of SUV, I think) for his job, and I said he could get a taxi or use Uber or some such. I told her he was not going to kill her, desperately hoping it was true.


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