I think I’m getting sick.
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.
There are only two things that work for me. One, sex. A vigorous round or ten of sex on a regular basis lets me sleep more and better. Not immediately following the sex because I’m too invigorated, but later in the night. Honestly, it’s the best exercise for wearing me out in a pleasurable way, but it’s not a viable option for applying on a nightly basis. I mean, yeah, it could be, but it would involve more work than I’m willing to employ right now.
The second is taiji, but it’s the long game. It wasn’t as if I started practicing taiji and suddenly, I was sleeping eight hours a night with nary a bad dream, waking up refreshed and perky. No. It was more like looking back ten years later and realizing I’m sleeping two more hours a night (in general). It’s been worth it, and taiji has done so much for me, but it’s not an insta-fix. Just like the insta-pot isn’t really instant, but that’s another post.
Side Note II: Another thing I’m attributing to taiji even if it makes no sense is hair growth. Seriously! My hair has been waist-length (just at the top of my butt) for the last fifteen to twenty years. Now, it’s to the bottom of my butt–which is like four inches of growth in any given amount of time, but I just noticed it a few months ago. It could be because I’ve cut out dairy, gluten almost two years ago and more recently, caffeine, but I prefer to give credit to taiji.
Speaking of taiji–my teacher is learning a fast form which is for martial arts applications. There are three different kinds of steps involved, and she’s taught us those steps. I learned one of them, the follow step, in Push Hands, and she reminded me that the Sabre Form contains another–the drag step. The third step is the active step, and all of them are in the Fast Form. She first taught us the drag step and told us to practice it. She said not to try it in the form itself (the Fast Form is a modified version of the Solo Form), but I am not one to listen to authority–at least not when it counters something I really want to do that won’t harm anyone.
I tried the drag step in the first section of the Solo Form, and I could only find a few opportunities for it, but then I asked my teacher about it at the next class. I prefaced it by saying, “I have a question that you may not want to answer because I was doing something you told us not to do.” She knows me, though, and she laughed at my question (for the way I asked it) and readily answered it. Now, I’m practicing the first section with all three kinds of steps, and it’s fucking fantastic. It’s so powerful and actually feels like a martial art. I have said before that while I’m glad there are health and mental health benefits to taiji, they both are a distinct second to the martial arts applications.
To put it bluntly, I love knowing how to put the hurt on someone. I like learning how my actions will adversely affect another human being. Mind you, I never want to put this knowledge to use, but it’s nice to have it in my back pocket. My teacher understands why I cackle when she explains how a certain move will in the Sword Form will, say, eviscerate someone in a hot second. She doesn’t judge me for rubbing my hands in glee when she talks about the different ways to make someone throw up their lunch. Middle-class women are taught to be nice at all costs and to abhor violence of any sort, so it can be difficult to be ok with that aspect in life. In fact, I get a lot of side eye on Twitter when I mention my love for swords, and it’s always from women. What I have learned in taiji is to embrace the violent side of me and to release it through taiji.
You might think this would make me an angrier and more violent person in general, but this isn’t true–at least not for me. In fact, it’s had the opposite effect. I am less angry in real life and less apt to take my rage out on others around me. It’s as if holding it in and denying it exists doesn’t actually work. Who knew?!? (Almost every psychologist ever, that’s who.) It’s psychology 101, really. That which is denied and suppressed will come out somehow, often in detrimental ways. The woman who is a martyr and does everything for other people but complains loudly and bitterly the whole time? That’s the consequence of denying one’s own feelings, and no one who’s experienced it has ever thought it was a great thing.
Side Note III: Learning new things really gets me excited. I was feeling stagnant in taiji, and it’s mostly my own fault. Yes, there were tweaks and changes, and yes, there was a whole new Solo Form, but constant change also frustrates me. Rightly or wrongly, I feel as if it’s a waste of time to learn something that is just going to change in a hot second, anyway. And, for your information, I know it’s wrong of me, but I can’t help my reaction. The new steps are different, though. They are deep changes, and they move me towards my goal: all martial arts all the time. I am excited, and I feel jazzed about the Solo Form in a way I never have.
In addition, I’m going to start having private lessons again in the spring so I can learn the Sabre Form in full. I’ll have to start from the beginning again, but that’s fine. I don’t love the Sabre Form in the same way I do the Sword Form, but it makes me feel powerful when I do it, so there’s that.
I don’t want to be sick again. I’m drinking honey ginger lemon tea like it’s nobody’s business, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much good. I don’t know what else to do so I’ve opened my glass sliding door to get fresh air. I’ve actually done that because it’s warm out–52 degrees–and like a breeze. Shadow likes it because then he can sit in front of the screen door and enjoy the breeze on his face. Currently, however, he is cuddled up against my lower leg and taking a little snooze.
Being sick is one of the few times I wish I had a partner so they could wait on me hand and foot. I love Shadow dearly, but he is a cat. He makes a good leg warmer, but not such a good soup bringer. Such is the way of life.