Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: depression

The magic of pants that fit

the room of doom.
Striking fear in my heart.

Today was errand day. My new progressive glasses were ready, and I had to pick up my meds, too. On my way to Target, I heard the beginning of a discussion on sleep on MPR. I sighed because every other time MPR did something on sleep, it was how important it was to get seven to nine hours.

I FUCKING KNOW THAT. STOP TELLING ME THAT. TELL ME HOW TO DO THAT INSTEAD.

Apparently, this show was going to include that pertinent information, but I missed it because I was in Target. I’ll have to look it up later and listen to it to get the pearls of wisdom. I did catch the tail end, and the advice was to put an ice pack on your eyes. It does something to slow the heartbeat (probably ‘coz you think you’re about to die and everything shuts down) that makes it easier to sleep. I did wonder if you’re just supposed to leave the ice pack on your eyes as you fall asleep, and I wear a sleep mask, so what about that? But the doctor said you could use a frozen pack of veggies, which I have. I may have to try it. I’ve tried everything else, so why not?

Anyway, I got my new progressives, which the doc warned me would take time to get used to. He was a month into his first pair, and he was still adjusting. He said the trick was to really focus on whatever it is you’re doing, which is not easy for me to do. I have a tendency to multitask and scan things rapidly, so this will be an exercise in getting me to slow the fuck down.

It’s strange because if I move my head too quickly, the object I’m looking at sort of bends in the middle. I imagine it’s similar to what being on hallucinogenics is like. In general, though, everything is crisp and clear. It’s actually strange because it’s been ten years since I’ve had my eyes checked, and my left one has gotten really bad, apparently.

I also love that there is no line on my glasses. I remember the days when if you needed bifocals, you got that nice line on the glasses. Yes, I’m that old. I chose lenses that were a bit bigger this time with a black half-frame. I like them, but it’ll take getting used to as well.

I like them, though, and I take it as a sign that I’ve done something to take care of myself. It’s a big deal for me because I tend to put these things off for forever. See not getting my eyes checked in ten years. I probably would have left it off even more but one of the nose pieces fell off and one of the handles was broken. I had taped it together, but come on. I’m a grown woman. I should not be jury-rigging my glasses, damn it. I also had toothpaste around my mouth when I went to pick up my glasses. Mortifying! It’s from not looking in the mirror, and I need to start doing it because it was the second time it happened this week.

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Depression is a tricky bastard it is

I’ve been experiencing a medium-grade depression for roughly six months, and it’s time to admit it isn’t going away on its own. I gutted it out the first few months because I thought it was temporary, but now, I fear it’s not true. I want to mention that I always have a low-grade depression. Always. Some days, it’s very minimal. Some days, it pushes the line between low and medium, but it never goes completely away. There is an argument to be had whether it’s depression or anxiety or a combination of both, but whatever it is, I’ve come to accept it in my life.

I do not want to accept the medium-grade depression, though, because it’s actively hindering me. When I have a low-grade depression, I can still go about my life and do what needs to be done with little problem. With medium-grade depression, the intrusive thoughts are more intrusive, and it’s harder to ignore them or brush them away. In addition, the depression knows me and my weaknesses very well, and it uses the knowledge against me. Once I catch on to its manipulations and become immune to them, it changes its tactics.

For example. When I used to be severely depressed, an entity I called The Dictator would tell me that I was toxic, worthless, and no one would care if I died. It told me that the people I thought were my friends weren’t really, that they were just being nice. Why would anyone want to be my friend? I didn’t have any redeeming qualities. I was fat, loutish, uninteresting, and unattractive. I firmly believed this, and no one could tell me anything to the contrary.

Now, I don’t believe any of that. Well, I am fat, but that’s just a descriptor and not a pejorative. I also think I’m boring, but I’m willing to believe that’s just me being hard on myself. I no longer think The Dictator is a part of me, but I haven’t gotten rid of the depression. It’s changed its attack, however, because it’s a sly and sneaky bastard. Now, instead of telling me the above, it tells me that I’m worthless because I’m not doing anything with my life. I don’t have an office job. I’m not moving up in the world. I don’t have many friends. I’m not putting out content in a way that is meaningful, and no one gives a shit about my writing. I’m never going to be published unless it’s self-published. Maybe ten people will actually give a shit if i die, and I’m not counting online people in that number. Not because they’re not real and not because I don’t care about some of them (and they probably care about me in return), but because it’s simply not the same.

All of this is true. Well, most of it is true. Some of it is more a feeling thing than an actual thing, but it leans on the side of being true. It’s hard to argue with any of it, except for the content part. That’s on me. I haven’t done what needs to be done to even have a chance of being a known content producer.

Side Note: I hate that phrase, ‘content producer’, because it’s simultaneously pretentious and antiseptic. But, it’s become an accepted phrase, especially for YouTube/Twitch.

I don’t like the term ‘creative’, either, for someone who produces artistic content, but it’s better than content producer. I like artist, but I understand that it’s not very inclusive. In general, I just like to say I’m a writer.


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My mind is on my matter

and not much of that.
A lotta this….

I think I’m getting sick.

Again.

I have gunk in my throat that will not go away no matter how much I clear my throat or cough. I’ve been sleeping more, which is usually a sign I’m getting sick. Could it be because I’m depressed? Yeah, maybe, but that’s not how my depression works. I may be more immobile when I’m depressed, but I don’t actually sleep. My brain races too much for me to actually drift into oblivion.

Side Note: It’s one reason I don’t like meditation. I know it’s about clearing my mind and allowing thoughts to just flit away, but it just intensifies the flightiness and the frantic nature of my brain. There was a time, I was having flashbacks during meditation, and my teacher let me do walking the circle from bagua instead. I Googled it, and meditation can be harmful to people with PTSD. In fact, there are a lot of negative side effects that I never see mentioned, and while it only affects a minority of people, it would be nice for practitioners to be aware of it.

I’ve dealt with my sleep issues in a way that probably isn’t healthy, but it’s the only thing that works. I sleep when I’m drop-dead tired. Sometimes, I fall asleep while I’m watching a video, and I’ll wake up after twenty minutes, rewind the video, then fall asleep again. When I reach that point, I just don’t have the will to get up and get ready for bed. I just lie on the couch, having no will to do anything. I know I’ll feel better if I get up, go to the bathroom, and brush my teeth, but I can’t make myself do it.

I also don’t sleep in a bed because I have really shitty sleep when I’m in a bed. I have no idea why this is, but I gave up for now. I sleep on the couch, and while my sleep isn’t great, it’s better than when I try to sleep in a bed.

Back to the question of sleep. I used to get four hours a night when I was at my most depressed. Weirdly, I sleep less when depressed. It sucks because the last thing I want to do when I’m depressed is be awake. I understand why many depressed people sleep twelve-plus hours a day because it’s the closest thing to oblivion while still being alive. If you don’t have nightmares, that is. I just could never force myself to sleep that long, and I have tried many, many, many different remedies for my lack of sleep that have not worked. They include melatonin, lavender (not recommended when you’re allergic to lavender), warm milk, warm tea, valerian (made me suicidal), St. John’s for depression in general, sleeping pills (couldn’t wake up, even after halving the pill and halving again. Obviously not tested on Asian women, per yooz), and more.

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Depression and escapism

the thinnest ray of sunlight.
Shrouded in darkness.

When I am depressed, I strip out all the extraneous things that I don’t *have* to do on any given day. There are a few things that I force myself to do every day, including my work and writing. I brush my teeth (and floss!) three times a day, and that’s the extent of what I force myself to do every day. I go grocery shopping every few days, and I go to taiji twice a week. Oh, and I do the dishes after I eat instead of letting them pile up for weeks. It’s a little change, but it made me feel much better. If I have energy and am not sick, I might go out to do something else, but that doesn’t happen very often.

I do the laundry when I would be running around outside in underwear otherwise (which would be today), and everything else is done on an absolutely needs to be done basis. I take a shower every few days when I remember it, and even that is a big production. I think it’s difficult for people who have not been depressed to understand how enervating it can be. I’ve heard people talking about someone, describing that person in a way that made it immediately clear to me that the person probably suffered from depression. Then, they would talk about how lazy the person was, and it would make me really uncomfortable.

Let me give you a small example. For taiji, I have to keep my nails short. That’s my preference, anyway, but it’s a good idea, especially when there’s hand-to-hand contact. Cutting one’s nails isn’t a big deal. It takes maybe five minutes, and a few swipes of an emery board after is all you need to do. When I first notice my nails need cutting, I simply think, “Huh. I should cut my nails.” Then I ignore it for a week or two as my nails continue to grow. The next time I pay attention to them, I think, “I really need to cut my nails.” I feel embarrassed and ashamed, but I still don’t do anything about them. Then, because I have shitty nails, they begin cracking and breaking. I also get hangnails which I chew and pick at, and I’ll chew on my nails to rip off the jagged edges. That doesn’t help, of course, but it doesn’t stop my brain from thinking it’s a good solution to the nail-cutting problem.

When it’s all said and done, it takes me about a month before I actually summon up the energy to cut my nails. I know rationally that it’ll only take me five minutes and then I can free up my mental energy for something else. Instead, I delay  it and stew about it until I absolutely have no other choice than to cut my nails. Looking from the outside, you could fairly call me lazy for not cutting my nails for a month. It’s not laziness, however, and it’s doesn’t help anything to have someone tell me I’m lazy. Believe me, I tell myself that often enough. I know if I wasn’t depressed, I would get so much more done. It’s not helpful, either, because it just makes me less motivated to do anything.

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Let’s talk about health, baby

the best is a combination of all of the above.
All the bad and none of the good.

Hello. I have sinus problems. It is no fun. I think it’s allergies, but I am not not sure. I woke up feeling as if ice picks are being smashed up my nostrils. By the way, I think I know why I’ve had two migraines and the beginning of the third in the past two weeks is because of the lemonade lite I bought that has Stevia. Now, it’s not one of the listed side effects, but it’s the only thing that has changed in my diet, and I haven’t had a full migraine for about a decade.

I had a taiji classmate who asked me how to tell if a headache is a migraine, and my immediate response was that you would know if you had a migraine. Correction, that’s if you get the headache part of it. My taiji teacher doesn’t, and I’ve learned that’s a type of migraine, albeit rare. You get all the accompanying symptoms without the actual headache. That sounds wacky to me, but it’s apparently a thing.

For me, I can tell because the world goes gray. Or rather, everything starts losing color and feels dull. In addition, stimuli hurts even more than usual (I have sensory issues in general), and I find myself wincing at the least bit of light. When I say hurt, I mean physically. The light hurts my eyeballs, and sounds hurt my ears. It’s as if I have no sensory filter, and everything scores a direct and palpable hit.

If I’m lucky and I catch it right in the beginning, I can pop two Excedrin Migraine (or the generic equivalent), deal with a lowkey headache, and go about my life. If I don’t catch it in time, however, it’s a completely different matter. I will say that I’m still lucky because I can at least function when I have a migraine, albeit at a much less productive pace. I have to turn off all the lights and if I’m watching a video, I have to keep the sound extremely low. I can still write/work, but I have to take more breaks, and my brain runs at a slower pace. The full migraine lasts roughly twenty-four hours, and the chemtrails last for another twenty-four hours or so.

Sinus issues are a different matter. This time, it’s not a sinus headache. It’s my nose feeling as if I’ve snorted a handful of pine needles into it. Again, it’s as if I have no filters, and I can feel everything more intensely than I otherwise would. My nose is also stuffy, and my ears are scabby. I have a cough that comes and goes as it pleases. My body is aching, but that could also be because of some changes my teacher is making to our stance in taiji. It takes more effort, though it’s supposed to be better for you in the long run.

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The only thing I have to fear is fear itself

It’s time to admit it–I’m depressed. Not just the low-level depression that I always carry in my back pocket, but full-blow depressed. It’s not as bad as when I was chronically almost-catatonic depressed, but it flirts with that end of the spectrum more often than I care to admit. The one saving grace is that I know it’s outside of me, but that’s not always enough to stave off the demons.

It’s hard because good things are happening for my friends. That’s not the hard part. I am ecstatic for them as I love it when good things happen to people I love, especially when it’s the fruition of their diligence and perseverance. The hard part is looking at my own life and finding it empty in response. Or rather, stagnation. I feel as if I have nothing to show for my life, and that feeling only increases with every passing year. It especially poignant around this time because it’s the start of a new year, but also because two of my friends are experiencing really big changes.

One of them is going to affect me. My taiji teacher is taking over some of her teacher’s classes at her home studio, which means she’s ending one of her classes at the Northeast studio where I study. She’s adding another class in a few weeks at the Northeast studio at a different time, and it’s going to be for a shortened amount of time, but even with that, it would only be twice a week. I used to go three times a week before I got sick, and then I just stopped going to the Friday night class at her home studio. It was two hours long rather than an hour and a half, and I didn’t like that studio for a variety of reasons. In addition, the drive felt twice as long even though it was roughly the same time, and I had to deal with highway traffic jam traffic, which was not my favorite at all.

Here’s the thing. If I go to the Monday class at the home studio, it’s an hour earlier than the class at the Northeast studio had been. That’s not great, but I can deal with it because I’ve shifted my sleeping schedule to be earlier than it used to be by several hours. Although the past few days, it’s been creeping backwards again. Ugh. I try to be in bed by two, which is approximately four hours earlier than I used to go to sleep. The new class starts at 11:30 a.m., which would have been unfathomable two years ago, but is doable now. It lasts an hour and a half, and then there’s an hour-long sword and sabre class which my teacher is also teaching. I could finally learn the rest of the saber form!

Here’s the problem. Or rather, problems. One, two-and-a-half hours is much longer than I can do in one go. Two, I don’t do well with new people. I would know some of the people in the classes, but it’s still not enough to dampen the anxiety–especially as one of them is a woman I have an aspirational crush on*. Another is a woman who has no concept of boundaries and thinks we’re souls sisters. I am not good at erecting and maintaining boundaries, and my impulse is just to deflect and avoid until the end of time. If I have to interact with this woman, I’m going to have to tell her to back off at some point.

::sigh::


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New year and it’s time to get it on

I’m writing this Christmas morn, and I’m already over it. Let’s face it. I was over it from the first time I heard a Christmas carol (which was two months ago). I was over it the day after last Christmas. Of all the ‘big’ holidays, Christmas is my most hated for how disgusting I find it. I’ve shared before, but I wrote an article for the school newspaper in either eighth or ninth grade about the crass commercialization of Christmas, and it’s only gotten worse since. I’m able to cut down on how much Christmas crap I have to ingest because I don’t watch TV at all. But, just hearing a Christmas song or commercial is enough to put me in a grumpy mood.

I was going to try to be more complacent about it this year, and the results were mixed. In general, I was less inundated because of the aforementioned no-TV watching and because I have cut down on my social media intake, so I was less irritated in general. If something about Christmas came onto the radio as I was listening, I quickly changed stations after a flash of irritation. On the other hand, it’s been a rough whatever-many months, and Christmas is just rubbing the salt in the wounds. I like being single and living alone with my cat, but it’s not easy to shut out the constant barrage of FAAAAAAMILY  for Christmas.

The rational part of my brain reminds me that there are many people who hate going to the family for Christmas but feel they can’t get out of it. I read advice columns in which there is nothing but agony about the holidays with FAAAAAAAMILY. Little reasons, big reasons, any reason at all. The holidays can be fraught with tension, especially since they’re billed as being all about family.

In the end, I’m not much more depressed today than I was, say, a week ago. As long as I don’t loiter on social media, I don’t have to see Christmas crammed in my face. It’s totally within my control, which is exactly how I like it.


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It’s all a veneer

where's my cuppa?
I’m not going anywhere.

From the outside, it looks as if there’s nothing wrong with my life. I have friends I love and who love me. I don’t have to worry about money on a daily basis, and I am writing every day–meeting the goals I’ve set for myself. I am devoted to my cat, Shadow, and he to me–he’s making biscuits on my legs (the comforter over it) as we speak. I have things I’m passionate about, and I get to set my own schedule. For some people, this life would be damn near idyllic. But, as with many things, it’s what’s not being said that matters more than what is stated. Even though I have friends I love and who love me, I feel lonely sometimes. In addition, I get too much in my own head and start telling myself things I know aren’t true.

It’s the ugly head of depression, and it’s rearing itself up more frequently and higher than before. If I had to guess why, I would say it’s because I’m sick. Physical and emotional health are linked, and the longer the physical bullshit continues, the worse my mental health gets. It’s partly because I feel it’s a weakness on my part that I’m sick for so long. Rationally, I know it’s not true, but that little voice in my head is like, “You’re weak. You’re terrible.” Or, conversely, “It’s all in your head.”

Which it most definitely is not.

Yesterday, I was so exhausted, I skipped taiji. My sleep is shitty in general as I’ve documented before, but it’s been really bad in the past few days. I’ve woken up feeling exhausted with the chills, and I would struggle through the day, going to bed feeling exhausted and having hot flashes. Rinse, lather, and repeat. Last night, I was feeling perkier, but then I started coughing so hard, my voice turned raspy. This is one of the stages of sickness I get when I do get sick–hacking cough. I still have it today, but I’m feeling MUCH better in general. More energy, and not as if I’m death warmed over. I’ll take that trade-off any day of the week.

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Real life getting in the way of my blogging

We’re coming down to crunch time with my parents’ visit being roughly twenty-seven hours away and me being in a panic because I am not ready. Cleaning-wise because I always leave it to the last moment, but I’m mostly at peace with that because it’ll never be clean enough*. I mean it more mentally and emotionally. I’ve had a better relationship with my parents in the past few years since, well, ever. I’ve been able to roll with much of the bullshit, and arguments went from daily to maybe once every other week.

I was on the phone with my mom the other night, and she was talking about my father as she normally does. 90+% of our conversations revolve around him (partly my fault because I get pulled into it), and she mentioned something that instantly triggered my, “That’s fucked up” response that is specifically tuned to my family bullshit. Now, I knew mentioning it wouldn’t make things better. I knew, in fact, that it probably would make things worse. I *knew* it. My brain was like:

I even said internally, “Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t say it.” Then it was as if the pod people had taken over my brain and I heard myself saying, as if from outside of me, “You know, that’s wrong.” I didn’t say it in exactly those words, but I was crossing that family boundary of saying the truth when a lie would do just as well. Even as I was saying it, I was yelling inside my brain to shut up, but something inside me compelled me to say my bit.

I was right. It didn’t make one whit of difference except to make things worse as I knew it would. I tweeted afterwards:

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How I deal with depression

just...no.
Do I hafta?!?

There are many suggestions for dealing with depression, some that have held steady for decades. The one that is recommended quite often is exercise, and there’s usually the accompanying exaltation of how great it makes one feel, how it helps with sleep, etc. It’s often touted as the magic bullet for depression, and while I’m sure it’s true for some people (it has to be in order for people to keep nattering on about it, right?), it has never been that way for me. I bought into that bullshit back when I was in my deep and chronic depression. I exercised every day, and it only made me irritated. Part of that was because I was doing it solely to be doing it, and because of my obsessive nature, I was doing it way too much.

In addition, sometimes, I was doing exercise that I hated, such as walking. I hate walking/running. No matter how in shape I was (and I’ve been in really good shape at various times in my life), walking was never enjoyable for me. When I lived in the East Bay, I walked four and a quarter miles a day, and hated every step of it. I did it for almost two years, and it never got any better. It got easier, of course, but I never hated it any less. That whole endorphin high people talk about never happened, and, yes, there’s some lingering resentment on my part that I stuck it out so long.

I switched to dancing in my living room for my aerobic workout, and while I enjoyed that more, it still didn’t give me the natural high that everyone keeps raving about. Even taiji, which I love, doesn’t make me feel instantly better. I will say that I think my daily taiji routine helps me keep the worst of the demons at bay, but it’s taken years to get to this point. In addition, I don’t think I’m doing enough and am slowing trying to add to it (weight-bearing exercise, mostly by doing sword drills and the Sword Form).

Exercise never helped with my sleep, either. I knew better than to do it right before going to bed, but even when I did it early in the day, it didn’t make me sleep any better at night. Disclosure: I’ve had difficulty with sleep all my life. I’m a bit notorious among my friends for my sleep issues. During one period in my life, I was having nightmares in which my friends died on a regular basis. It became a joke that you weren’t really a friend of Minna’s if you didn’t die in my dreams. A joke sadly based on reality.

I am not saying exercise isn’t beneficial, obviously. It’s better to exercise than not if you can, and I don’t want it to seem like I’m pro-sitting on your ass all day long. Well, actually, I am pro-that, but I acknowledge that exercise is good for your health. It’s just that it never gave me the boost that other people seem to get from it. I don’t want someone who’s severely depressed to think that if they don’t get the endorphin rush from exercising that it’s not worth it, and I don’t want them to be upset about expending the energy for seemingly no benefit.

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