Underneath my yellow skin

Mental health: the good, the bad, and the ugly

It’s been a rough week. Nothing big, but just little things over and over. A few nights ago, I dropped a bowl and shattered it in the wee hours of the morning. Totally my fault. I was trying to carry too many things as I normally do because I’d rather make one trip than two.

Back it up a bit. I’ve been feeling sick for nearly a week. Not ‘rona virus sick, but my usual bad cold/allergies/sinus/change of seasons sick. It’s worse than usual, though, because I’ve been getting the chills. That’s when I know I’m really sick. My sleep is for shit which is par the course when I’m sick as well. I mean, it’s normal for me in general to have disordered sleep, but it’s been slightly better since I started taiji. Still. I get six to seven hours of sleep a night, which is better than the four I used to get, but still not enough. I’m constantly exhausted, but I’ve learned to cope with it. Sort of. Basically, I’m resigned to my fate.

One of the symptoms of me getting sick is when I sleep for eight hours or more. It’s one of the few things I actually like about being sick. Ok, the only thing. It doesn’t make me feel more rested when I’m awake, though. The benefit is strictly that it knocks me out for a few hours more.

So, when I get sick, it can last anywhere from weeks to months. I haven’t been really sick since the pandemic started (one of the few benefits of never leaving the house), and I was naively hoping that I would be able to skip the colds this year. Nope.

Anyway, so that’s the background for the rest of what I’m going to write about. I dropped that bowl in the wee hours of the night a few nights ago right before I was going to bed. I was not happy about it, obviously, and I had to lock up Shadow in the guest room so he wouldn’t step on the ceramic pieces. I used treats to lure him there while I took care of the shattered pieces. When I went back to let him out, I fully expected him to yell at me for locking him up. Instead, he was cozied up on the bed and snoozing. When I opened the door, he opened one eye to blearily stare at me, but otherwise stayed put.

Then, yesterday, I had to run to the pharmacy to get my meds. My monthly errand run. Except, my car wouldn’t start. Or rather, the battery in my key fob was too low to start the car. All the lights in the car worked, so I’m assuming it’s not the car battery. I did the ‘put the fob to the power button’ trick, but that didn’t work, either. I know it can work because my brother has done it before to my car. I watched several videos on it, but I couldn’t do it. I tried it the last time I needed to start the car with a dead fob battery as well. I know it’s something I’m doing wrong, and I’m going to make my brother show me how he did it the next time he’s here.

I had an extra battery, but I bought it the same time I bought the one in the fob. I’m sure you can see the problem here. It was exactly the same level of low as the battery in the fob and did not work, either. I spent a good hour and a half trying to make this work, and I just couldn’t. I ordered new batteries that are supposed to come tomorrow (Wednesday, so today when you read this), but that means I have to go without my meds for a few days. I also have a backup plan in case it’s not the fob batteries, but I don’t want think about that until it’s necessary.

At the same time, the weather went from high thirties/low forties to 79 overnight. I was trying to fix the battery in the can, and I was wearing light sweat pants. Which meant I was boiling to death. I do not do well with heat so that was just adding insult to injury.

Last night, I could not sleep. I knew it was anxiety, and I knew it was silly because I had a plan, but anxiety is not rational. I had a pain in my gut, and there was no amount of self-soothing I could do to ease it. I woke up after four hours of sleep, and I was wide awake again, yet exhausted. It didn’t help that Shadow immediately started yapping at me as was his wont when he noticed I was awake (unless he was asleep in another room) while I tried to go back to sleep.

I did eventually go back to sleep and get a few more hours, but I’m still groggy. And depressed. And unmotivated. The last two have been for months, though, so that’s no surprise. It’s getting harder and harder to force myself to do the things I have on my schedule for the day.

I just feel hopeless. I see other people going back to normal, and I wonder why not me? Am I being overly cautious? Intellectually, I know the risks of actually getting the ‘rona are fairly low. On the other hand, I also know if I get it, the chances of it being a bad case for me is fairly high. I also know it’s nowhere near over, no matter how much certain segments of the population want to believe it’s true. And yet….

I haven’t felt this depressed in quite some time. I’ve been on a slippery slope for the last eight or ten months, but it’s especially bad right now. A death of a thousand cuts. None that is terrible in and of itself, but the aggregate is difficult for my overloaded system to bear.

On the positive side, my taiji teacher dropped off her unused deer-horn knives (practice) and she’s shown me the Walking the Circle meditation which is also part of the Deer-horn Knives Form. I was happy how much of it I remembered from when my teacher taught it to me the first time–which was roughly a decade ago. Like a duck to water, I was walking that circle. Adding the deer-horn knives will make it a little more difficult, but it shouldn’t be too bad. Famous last words, probably.

I also mentioned to her that I wanted to learn the Double Sabre Form. I was entranced by it from the first time she showed me how to be a human blender. Then, at the last demo, her classmate demoed it, and I was immediately hooked. Before the pandemic, my teacher had shown me a drill with the double sabre (using eskrima sticks). I practiced it faithfully in the beginning, but then less so once we moved to Zoom and she started teaching me other things. Last Thursday, she showed me the same drill which I remembered, and then another which is slightly more difficult. Well, it will be when I have to do both sabres at the same time.

It’s hard for me to remember a time when I was adamant that I would never learn the weapons. They were not for me, no way, no how, hell to the fuck no. Now, this is my weapons practice. Every day I do the Karambit Form (don’t know the last section yet) as it’s roughly a minute. I also do at least the last row of the Sabre Form if not a few rows. Once a week, I do the whole form. I do the first movement of the Dancing Wu-Li Sword Form every day because more sword! I do the whole Sword Form once a week. I do one of the Double Sabre basic drills (there are two) every day, alternating between the two. I do the Double Sabre human blender (my name for it and only one hand) drill every day. I walk the circle every day or every other day, and I’m going to add the deer-horn knives tomorrow. I do the first row of the Cane Form once a week or so. This one is on the back burner because it was something my teacher was teaching us in class and we’re not doing weapons in Zoom classes at this time.

I love learning the weapons, and I want as much as I can retain in an hour lesson every two weeks. Personally, it’s one of the few things keeping me mentally alert. Had you told me even six months ago that I would be learning four or five forms at the same time without messing them up (though I completely forgot the word ‘karambit’ while writing about it. I had to look it up in emails. I thought it was kukri for whatever reason), I would have laughed in your face. In fact, I remember in the Before Times at the studio where my teacher was talking about the different forms she was learning (and demonstrating one of them), and I would marvel at the ability to learn such different forms at the same time! Oh, she wants me to get a practice spear which is a staff that could have a tapered end. Supposed to be roughly a foot taller than me. I’m pretty excited about this.

Weapons are my life. I may not talk about them much, but they are what get my juices going. I’ll take what I can get at this point.






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