Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: depression

Night in the Woods, part three: Putting it all together

free your mind, mallard.
Mallard! What have they done to you?

Hello. Welcome to the third and hopefully the last post on Night in the Woods. Not because I’m tired of talking about it because I am most emphatically not, but because I know I sound like I’m obsessed–which, to be fair, I am. Anyhoo, here’s part two.OK. Let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about the third playthrough. Needless to say, there are going to be spoilers, and while I’ll try to note the more egregious ones, just be forewarned that I can’t talk about my third playthrough without revealing some spoilers in general.

After I finished the second playthrough, I immediately started the third. I was in a groove, and I knew there was still things I hadn’t discovered. Also, there are things I saw at the end of my second playthrough (while watching a streamer play), and I didn’t have enough days to do the whole quest. The fact that this quest exists at all is a marvel. As I was walking on the wires the second playthrough, I found a window I could open. I did that, and I went inside. There was a big float duck named Mallard bolted down, and I found a hole inside him. In the hole were two rats. Mae notes that they look hungry, and I decided I needed to find them cheese. I couldn’t find any cheese and it was only when


I watched BaerTaffy steal the pretzel from the pretzel/pierogi vendor in the underground tunnel, and I felt like a complete idiot. I knew it was there, and I knew the paw icon popped up when I passed by the pretzels, and Mae was chastised by the vendor for stealing before. I should have put together the whole thing, but I didn’t. I stole a pretzel and brought it back up to my babies. Unfortunately, I did not have enough days to finish it, so I made sure to do it during the third playthrough as soon as I could–which is the first day, I think.

I fed them faithfully every day and each day there was one more, and then after four days (I think), they were gone. They were free. The coolest thing is once they left, I saw them all around the city. They weren’t there before, which is a neat little touch. also, in the same place as Mallard, there was a door to the bottom right that would not open throughout my entire first and second playthrough. It’s a door that you could easily miss, and even if you found it, you probably wouldn’t try to open it more than a few times. That’s the brilliance of this game, but also the frustrating thing. You need to check everything every day, and while the payoff is so damn fulfilling when it happens, it’s few and far between.  Continue Reading

Night in the Woods, part two: Getting under my skin

i'll just lie here, thanks!
Aunt Mall Cop was NOT amused by my antics.

I’m back to talk more about Night in the Woods. Here is part one. This time, I want to focus a bit more on the meta and on my third playthrough. Warning, there will be spoilers. I’ll try to keep it story-spoiler-free as much as I can, but I really need to get into it, which I can’t without giving some stuff away.

First, I need to talk about Mae Borowski, the main character. She’s a young (20), angry and scared black cat who tends to blurt out embarrassing or mean things when she feels threatened–which is often. She’s snarky and sassy the rest of the time, and sometimes, she’s both. She’s dropped out of college and returned to the small town in which she was born–Possum Springs. In the beginning, she’s portrayed as a bratty but endearing young woman who’s aimless and doesn’t have any purpose in life. She’s lucky she has a home to return to, and she sleeps away the day in the attic of her parents’ home–that they may not own for much longer, but more on that in a bit.

Normally, she’s the kind of character I wouldn’t like at all. But, there’s something about her that spoke to me. Probably because I *was* her when I was that age, though with a bit more social grace. I hated college and felt like an alien. I had trouble fitting in, and if I thought dropping out was a possibility, I would have heavily considered it. I only went to college because it was expected of me, and I still wish I had taken a year off after I had finished high school. For Mae, there is the added pressure of being the first Borowski to go to college, as her mom is quick to point out in the middle of a fight they have.

There is so much pathos in this game. It’s set in a dying Rust Belt town, and the depression surrounding the town is almost another character. It’s in every scene of the game, and it’s a constant reminder that many of the small towns in America are dying out. The only pizza place in town closes a few days after Mae returns home. There’s a character, Danny, who, while hilarious, is representative of the lack of livability in some of these towns. He can’t hold a job to save his life, and while some of it is his attitude, more of it is because the jobs simply aren’t there. There are the two NPCs who stand next to a bar all day long, and they only talk about one thing–The Smelters, who are the local sportsball team, I’m assuming. Then, one of the characters get a job in another city, and the two have to say goodbye. It’s sad, even though you don’t know anything else about them.

OK. Let’s talk about the gameplay, as it were. This is one of the few things I didn’t like in this game. One, it feels artificial in what is mostly an animated visual novel (and I say this as a compliment, though I normally don’t like visual novels), and it felt as if it was added to pad the game. After Mae makes an ass of herself at a game (in front of her ex, no less!), she starts to have nightmares/weird dreams that are gorgeous-looking and sounding (as is the whole game), but feels very game-y. I didn’t mind doing it once, but by the fourth or fifth time, I was just impatient to get through it. It doesn’t help that I have a terrible sense of space, so I couldn’t find where I needed to be very quickly.

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Night in the Woods, part one: A first playthrough

chillin' with my homies!

Over a year ago, I heard of an indie game called, Night in the Woods, and I didn’t know much about it except it starred a black girl cat who had a sassy attitude, kinda like me. I watched a Let’s Play of the first hour, then I stopped because I knew I’d be playing it one day. I liked the snarky tone of the game, plus there’s a mystery involved, and it seemed like it would be right up my alley. I kept putting it off, however, as I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Then, a few weeks ago, it was on sale on Steam, and I was between games, so I bought it.

I started playing, and I was immediately frustrated with the first gaming section. I’m playing as Mae Borowski, the aforementioned cat, who’s 20 and dropped out of college. She’s on her way back home and walking through the woods to get there. I explored the area and was immediately stuck. I couldn’t go anywhere, so I knew I had to do something on screen in order to progress. The problem is, there wasn’t anything other than a creaky log. In watching playthroughs after finishing the game, the streamers all immediately understood what they had to do, but I didn’t. You probably know what it is just by reading what I wrote. I had to keep jumping on the log until it broke, and then it pushed up other logs (or something) so I could make progress.

I will say, my complaint about my first playthrough* was all the game parts. The platforming bits. The DDR mini-game (I keep calling it that, but it’s more like Guitar Band or Rock Hero**). I was spectacularly terrible at the latter, so much so, I completely electrocuted the characters for Pumpkin Head Guy. Anyway, the parts I like were wandering around town and talking to different characters. Which, thankfully, is roughly eighty percent of the game.

I love Mae unabashedly, even when I want to shake her for being mean/embarrassing/awkward. I can empathize with her to an uncomfortable degree. Even before knowing why she dropped out of college, I felt a kinship with her. She’s intelligent, but not always comfortable with other people. She’s awkward, fat (in her own eyes) and has a low self-esteem. She’s also warm and caring, but she doesn’t always know how to express it properly.

She can also climb across electricity wires, but I didn’t fully realize that until my second playthrough. I’ll get to that in a minute.

The first night, we run into her aunt who appears to be the only cop in Possum Springs. Mae calls her Aunt Mall Cop, but her real name is Molly. Then, we meet pops who is momentarily flummoxed by Mae’s arrival (her parents thought it was going to be the next night), but quickly recovers. Then, it’s bedtime, or in my case, practice the bass time. Man, I sucked at that so bad. I got better with practice, but I’ve never played those kind of games and my reactions are slow, so it’s frustrating for me. Fortunately, there are only two or three times you have to do it in game (two if you suck really bad at it, three if you don’t).

The rest of the characters felt immediately relatable. Gregg is her hyperactive best friend who is into doing crimes. He’s a fox, and it’s implied that he’s bipolar, but it’s never explicitly stated. He’s living with his boyfriend, a big, gentle geeky bear named Angus.  The drummer of the group (“It’s a laptop, Bea.” “It sure is, Mae.”) is a weary, worn-down alligator named Bea. She’s goth from head to toe, wearing all black, an ankh, and smoking a fake cigarette all the time.

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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.

Medium-grade depression

I’ve been depressed all my life for as long as I can remember. My mother talks about me being a happy child, but I don’t remember that at all. My first real memory is when I was seven. I realized I was going to die, and I jumped out of bed and ran screaming from the room. I fell into a deep depression that year (not because of that, though it didn’t help), and starting when I was eleven until roughly mid-thirties, I wanted to die every day of my life.

I never had the courage to kill myself, but I saw the opportunities everywhere I went. Driving was a struggle because I constantly had to stop myself from running into embankments and such. If I walked on a bridge, I thought about how I could throw myself off it. These weren’t conscious thoughts, but stray thoughts floating in and out of my brain. I had no control over them, and they felt as if they were driving me.

Sometime in my mid-thirties, I started to stop having suicidal thoughts. Or rather, suicidal impulses. I was still depressed, and I still hated my life, but I didn’t have to stop myself from driving into embankments any longer. Again, it wasn’t a conscious thought, but it just happened. I think it’s at least in part because of starting taiji, but whatever the reason, it was a welcome change.

Starting in my early forties, I began to stop having suicidal thoughts as well. Let me be clear. I’ve never loved life, and I doubt I ever will. But, it was a relief to stop having intrusive thoughts all the damn time. I downgraded my depression to low-grade, and I muddled on with my life.

Unfortunately, in the last few months, the depression has ramped up again. Not to the extent it used to be (which was crippling and chronic), but more than I’m comfortable with. Intrusive thoughts of hopelessness and self-disgust. Thinking that life is worthless and why am I alive. I don’t feel as if I’m contributing anything by being alive, and I have a hard time dragging my ass out of bed (off the couch) in the morning (afternoon).

I’m discontented with, well, everything. I was always the girl with so much potential, but my own self-doubt and loathing has held me back. I’ve always had great ideas, but major difficulties in implementing them. It’s part of the problem of being very intelligent, and that is NOT a humble brag. I never formed good work habits because school came easily to me. I work for myself, so I don’t have to stick to someone else’s timetable.

I need to figure out what I want to do with my life, and more to the point, I need to stick to something and give it more than the good old college try. It’s time to see what I’m made of–and maybe the depression will subside.

The Mind/Body Connection

I’ve been depressed for the past few months. I’ve written about it before, but I’d like to expand on it a bit. I lost my Raven over a year ago, then a month later, I got really sick. Sicker than I have been in quite some time. I started getting better, then went to the doctor for a different reason, and got really sick again. that started months of sickness, and it happened again this year, starting a few months ago. I didn’t think of it at the time, but it might be because I’ve been thinking more heavily about Raven since the anniversary of his death.

I also have to check my thyroid because my levels were off last time. I hadn’t had to adjust my meds in years, then I did last year. Then I got sick and didn’t re-check my levels, so I need to do that. I just have an unthinking bias that going to the clinic makes me sick.

I started getting depressed, and I realized it was definitely from outside of me. There’s nothing in my life to make me depressed, and at least I can see it’s not intrinsic to me. Weirdly, though, it actually makes it more difficult to deal with because it feels out of my control. I’m struggling with feelings of hopelessness and despair, and I’m sure it’s partly because of the insanity that is our national politics.

My sleep has been even shittier than usual lately, and I can’t tell if that means I’m recovering from my sickness or not. Usually, the healthier I get, the worse I sleep, but this feels more psychological than anything else. I’m hoping to power my way through it somehow, but I’m not sanguine about it.

In honor of the upcoming Lunar New Year, here’s Maru doing the Lion Dance.

Merry Happy Jolly–Or Not

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. If you’re someone who loves eggnog, elves, tinsel, Christmas trees, and all that fun stuff, I hope you enjoy yourself, but this post is probably not for you.  This post is for those of us who are not into Christmas for one reason or another. Maybe you’re not a Christian. Maybe you were raised in a culture that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Maybe you’ve had a shitty year and don’t feel like celebrating this year. Maybe you’ve had something tragic happen in the last month–lost a job, a family member/friend, an animal companion, a relationship–and being holly and jolly is the last thing on your mind. Maybe you struggle with chronic depression, and you don’t want to pretend that you’re feeling the Christmas cheer. Maybe you have a toxic family situation and you’ve cut them off for the first time, so everything is weird and strange. I’ve been several of those before, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.

Or, maybe you’re like me in that you don’t understand the need for forced bonhomie during a very specific time of the year. Maybe the hypocrisy of ‘good will towards all humankind’ for two weeks gets to you, and you want to point out that we need to be a better country all year round, rather than do feel-good things in the last two weeks before the end of the year.

I’ve said this year, the holiday season hasn’t been as annoying for me personally as it has been in the past. I used to feel as if people were having their holiday cheer AT me instead of just doing their own thing. It’s hard not to feel suffocated by it, however, as it’s everywhere this time of the year. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t bothered me as much this year, which I’ll take as a boon. I don’t think it’s because there’s less hawking going on because there’s not, but because I’ve reached a better place in my life, emotionally, I mean. I’m able to deal with things better than I used to, and that apparently includes holidays.

I’m still not rah rah about Christmas, however. I’m at best indifferent, and I would like to ignore it completely. I still have the crud, which is really sapping my energy. I went to the store today (Christmas Eve day), and I was dizzy while I was there, and I was exhausted by the time I got home.  I’m going to the doctor/TCM/acupuncture in the new year because this shit has been staying for far too long.

For anyone who’s not feeling the holiday spirit, I wish you peace during this difficult time. I’ll probably binge-watch Poirot while munching on sweet kettle popcorn, sipping my ginger lemon honey tea. Hopefully, Shadow will be snuggling on my legs, and I’ll be feeling better physically. I’m not going to lie. I’m a bit glum. Partly because of the time of year, and partly because I’m ill, but also because I’m contemplating my life, and I have some difficult choices to make. If you’re struggling this Christmas, vow to do one thing just for you. Read a book. Take a walk. Soak in a bubble bath. One thing just for you. It may not make things all better, but it will certainly not hurt.

Here are two atheist Christmas songs that I quite enjoy. First up, Tim Minchin with White Wine in the Sun. This version is from a week ago on James Corden (and the first time I’ve heard it. There are a few updates!)

Next up is Vienna Teng with The Atheist Christmas Carol.

Both of these songs make me cry because they’re so lovely.

And, of course, I’m going to wrap it up with ‘O Holy Night’, the only Christmas carol I like. This version is done by Angelica Hale, a finalist from America’s Got Talent.

Staring into the Abyss

The other day, I was talking with a classmate about depression. I was saying how the thing I fear most is when I get hit with depression (serious depression, rather than the low-key depression I normally suffer) is that I’ll be plunged back into the darkness and not be able to come out of it again. Intellectually, I know it’s just a temporary state, but because I lived in it for twenty-plus years, it’s easy to feel as if it’s back for good. It used to be my normal state, and it’s weird to feel it envelope me again like a well-worn coat. It’s shabby, and it has holes in the elbow, but it still fits. Not well, and it doesn’t block out the elements as it used to, but it’s still my old coat.

I’ve stretched that metaphor as far as it can go. The point is, it feels familiar, but still strange.  I can’t believe I used to feel this way all the time; I don’t know how I survived it. I think it’s because I didn’t know any differently at the time. I’ve been depressed for as long as I can remember, and I assumed I would feel that way forever. When the fog started lifting, it was so incremental, I didn’t realize it until I was well out of the darkness. Going back to it, even briefly at ten times less the intensity, it shakes me.

It’s fucking horrible. I’ve tried to explain what it feels like before, and I’ve never come up with an adequate description. Everything flattens out so that when I’m looking at something, there’s a flat affect. Not that it loses color–that only happens when I have a migraine. It’s more like my brain refuses to register there’s color. I become detached from my body or rather, from my brain. There’s a slight wall between me and everything/everybody else, and I feel emotionally cold.

I used to have nightmares all the time, some of them narrated. It was strange to watch myself do something in my dream and to hear a dispassionate male voice say, “She is now walking into the room” and the like as if it were a movie. It often felt as if I were watching a movie, and I was semi-conscious it was a dream, but not enough to lucidly dream. To me, it symbolized how unconnected I felt from myself, and it was a manifestation of my mind/body split.

When I was in college, I started having dissociative states in which I would disappear for up to an hour at a time. I don’t mean physically, but mentally. I’d be talking to someone, and then I’d ‘come to’ and realize I’d lost a chunk of time. Apparently, the other person never noticed, which makes me extremely nervous to remember. Then, it started happening during classes. I’d be ‘out’ for the whole hour, my notes would be filled with gibberish, but nobody seemed to notice. Those were both bad enough, but then I started doing it while I was driving. I’d be on the freeway, then I’d ‘wake up’ several minutes later not knowing how I got there.

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Exercise, Activity, and Mood

I have struggled all my life with depression. At times, it has been chronic and crippling, to the point where me brushing my teeth was a major accomplishment. Right now, I would say I have a low-grade enduring depression that flares up into serious depression from time to time. It’s my go-to when I’m under stress, and the difference is how alien the encompassing depression feels now as in comparison to how comfortable it was back when I was in the middle of it day-to-day-to-day.

I would love to say that I worked on my depression and that’s why I’ve gotten better. I would love to be able to give a list of things you can do to feel better. I would love nothing more, but I can’t because that’s not how I emerged from the suffocating embrace of depression. Sure, I did my due diligence by seeking out therapy and medication through therapy, then starting taiji which has helped a great deal, but it was an outcome, not the main intent, but nothing I did consciously to help my depression mattered as much as the indirect results of other behavior such as the aforementioned therapy and taiji.

However, I’ve been in and out of therapy for the past thirty years, and I’ve been practicing taiji for almost nine years. Neither are an easy or quick solution, and I didn’t go into taiji with the intention of easing my mental health issues. That’s just been a nice side bonus. I will say, however, it makes me more aware now how fragile my mental health balance is. I went through a period recently of deep depression, not as bad as it was before, but still pretty intense. I knew it wasn’t from within me, which made it almost worse. Rationally, I knew there was no reason I should be depressed, but I also knew I couldn’t talk myself out of it. It lasted a few weeks, and I just gritted my teeth and powered my way through it. I was terrified it would last forever, but it faded after two  or so weeks.

On Saturday, I had to get up early to pick up Ian from the airport. Without thinking, I checked my social media. Then, I remembered that it was my day not to be on social media, and I quit. I felt bad, but not too bad. I can’t tell you how much better I feel on the days when I stay offline. I don’t think it’s viable for day-to-day life, but it’s nice to get a break twice a week. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed while scrolling through my TL, thinking that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I mean, it is, but not more so than it has been in the past. There is a lot of shit in this world, and there always has been. Having it flash past my eyes on a continuous basis leaves me in a state of numb depression. It’s something I’ve railed about before–how overwhelming all the bad news can be. It’s easy to feel hopeless about the state of the world and think that there’s nothing you can do to alleviate the pain.

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