Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Mental Health

How to deal with my broken mind

I have a broken mind. This has been true since I was a kid. Or rather, I’ve always been different. I loved to read and always had my nose in a book. I devoured them rapidly, moving from one to the next the second I was done with the first. A part of the reason why was because I hated life with every fiber of my being. I can’t remember a time when I thought it was a good thing to be alive and is it nature? Is it nurture? I don’t know. Or, more to the point, it’s a complex mixture of both. By my mother’s account, I was a happy and cheerful toddler–though she is an unreliable narrator. She looks at things in the past through rose-colored glasses, mostly so she doesn’t have to deal with the negative ramifications that linger.

I am pretty sure this is one of her coping mechanisms in dealing with my father because he’s pretty unrelentingly negative. I also know that her childhood wasn’t the happiest and that she never felt like she was loved by her mother. Who, by the way, was a real piece of work. Probably shouldn’t have been a mother, but it was expected of women of her generation and culture (Taiwanese). She definitely favored her sons over her daughters and for whatever reason, my mother was her least-favorite.

All that is to say that my mother came into parenting with some faulty ideas as to what it takes to be a parent and what it meant to be a parent. More specifically, a mother. I also think one of the reasons she decided to have children was to have someone to love her unquestioningly, which was destined to fail. You don’t have kids for what they can do for you–ideally, that is. Many people do, much to their own detriment.

Ever since I can remember, I was not happy in my own skin. My mom made dresses for me, which is so not my jam. I like a long flowy skirt and I wore a dress now and again in my twenties, but it never felt right. It wasn’t a gender thing, but a sensory thing. I hate clothing and try to wear as little as possible. Dresses generally cover more than other clothing and is restrictive to boot. I liked to climb trees when I was a kid–which was also something that I was told I shouldn’t do as a girl–and that’s really hard to do in a dress. I was considered a tomboy and frowned upon for being, well, too much.


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I am a delicate flower, damn it

The heat has finally broken–somewhat. It’s 75 right now, which is still outside my comfort zone, but it’s way better than 107. My parents were shocked when I told them because it’s actually hotter than where they are–which almost never happens. They asked how I’ve been dealing with it. With AC, a fan blowing on high directly on me, iced water, and ice packs. Also, taking off my shirt when the sun goes down. I’m a less is more kind of gal in general when it comes to clothing in part because of hating clothing on my skin and partly because I hate being hot. Oh, also constrained. In my idea world, I would  be naked all the time in a 50 degree world. That’s not gonna ever happen, though, because that’s not the world I live in.

My energy has been sapped even for the few minutes I’m outside when I’m taking a few puffs. It’s just so oppressive, especially when you’re not used to it. It’s similar to how the South deals with an inch of snow–it’s no big deal unless it only happens once every five years or so. We get over a hundred on occasion, but not for a solid week as we did this time. We’re supposed to get back up in the nineties this week, which is just not right. I mean, yes, it’s June and yes it’s summer. But this is Minnesota! We’re not built to deal with sustained 100 degrees.

Even though I’m inside most of the time, I’m still affected by the heat. My sleep has been worse than usual and my brain refuses to think. I’m grumpy, which, admittedly, is my normal state of mind, but it’s also extra with the heat. I feel like a dope for being so susceptible to heat, but it’s the way I am. I love the cold with all my heart and feel alive when the temperature is around zero. But anything over sixty is not fun for me and past seventy, I want to throat-punch somebody. Eighty? Grrrrr. Ninety is unfathomable and a hundo is personally hurtful.

I’m drinking iced water and iced coffee like they’re going out of style, which is helping a bit. But mostly, I’m just mad. I know it doesn’t help, but it’s how I feel.

In better news, my left thumb is roughly 92% right as rain. That steroid shot was a miracle worker, but I’m glad the doc clarified that it might take up to two weeks to work. I had been expecting it to be like magic and work instantly. Knowing that wasn’t the case meant I didn’t freak when it didn’t get better right away. It took a few days for it to improve at all and by the one week point, I was at roughly 60%. Now, I can bend it with very minimal pain and it’s only slightly sore when I touch it. To be honest, I’ll be happy if it stays like this and doesn’t get any better. I’m just so relieved I can use it again.


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It’s too hot, too hot, way too fucking hot, baby

The week of mean heat continues, much to my dismay. Last summer, my AC went off maybe one or two days. It’s been on almost nonstop since Friday (it’s now Tuesday). It’s been in the eighties at 11 at night. In other words, it’s fucking hot. I have the AC on, a fan blowing on the highest setting, and plenty of ice drinks. Also hot coffee, but that’s only because I ran out of coffee. Been drinking it cold in the past few days. I have an ice pack for my thumb, which means putting it on my (naked) chest as well. I’m eating popsicles like they were going out of style.

Speaking of my thumb, I can actually bend it again! By itself! Without pushing on it! With minor clicking and pain! It’s been a week since I got the steroid shot and it’s so much better than before. What a relief. Even if it doesn’t become 100% again, I’m elated with the results. Science works, bitchez!

In the first several days after the shot, I took it really easy on my thumb. I didn’t do any of my left side weaponry or two-handed weaponry, much to my chagrin. I did the right side sword and right side saber, both which involves holding the weapon briefly with the left hand in the beginning and end of the form, but it doesn’t really put pressure on the thumb itself. In general, I don’t use my left thumb on the regular, especially now that I’ve taught myself to use my right thumb to hit the spacebar, but it’s nice that I don’t have to baby it so much.

One of the boons to being dairy-free/gluten-free now is that there are many substitutes that are nearly as good as/as good as/better than the original product. However, that’s also the down side as the subs use much fats to get that creamy mouth feel. I should have realized that on my own, but I didn’t think about it–probably chose not to think about it. Now that I’ve decided to ‘eat healthier’ (put in quotes because it’s all about the numbers), that means cutting out most of the dairy subs. Cheese, sour cream, and soft spreads–I’m using up what I have and buying no more. I’m also cutting back on chocolate and am very close to animal/fish free. Does that mean I’m going to be a default vegan? Yup, pretty much.

Still hot. Still grumpy. Gonna end it with this video.

Healthy? Wealthy? Wise!

It’s official. My left thumb is trigger thumb. Met my new doc yesterday and she confirmed it. Gonna get a steroid shot next week. I asked what happened when it wore off. She looked at me blankly and said that there was the possibility it would take care of it for good. Yeah, right. My mother has had to get steroid shots more than once, but it could be because she’s not proactive about not reinjuring herself. She’s really good with rehab, but no so good at preventative. I’m the same, actually. Once I know the problem, I’ll tackle it single-mindedly. Figuring out that problem? Also on it! Preventing said problem from happening? Hahaha, no. My new doc said that I should try to figure out what’s triggering it, no pun intended, I’m sure. I have a hunch that a certain taiji spear drill started it. When I mentioned it to my doc, she looked confused but gamely said maybe I shouldn’t do that drill. I reassured her that I’d stopped doing that particular drill.

It’s funny how little I use my left thumb in my daily life especially now that I’ve retrained myself to smash the spacebar with my right thumb instead of my left. I do mouse with my left so maybe I should change that back. I rarely mouse, though, as I do most things with keyboard shortcuts. I don’t even use my thumb to mouse, really. So the tendons running up and down my thumb are swollen. The steroid shot will reduce the swelling and the main mission is to make sure it doesn’t swell again. I am not giving up taiji weapons for the left side, though. There really isn’t any pressure on the thumb itself so it shouldn’t be bad for my thumb. I dunno. I may give it a rest after I get the shot next week. We’ll see. I’ll ask the doc what they think (ortho specialist). It really doesn’t bother me on the regs and only hurts when I touch it. But, bending it would be nice. Also, not flinching in pain when I accidentally touch it.

Let’s talk taiji weapons because I can and because I love them. The Double Saber is my current jam and I love them so much. I have escrima sticks when I want to go as quickly as possible and not worry about smacking anything with the blades. I also have my showy flimsy blades that have colored scarves on the handles that look fantastic as I wave them in the air. It’s definitely more for show than for praticality and one day I will get a truly magnificent set that is both gorgeous and useful. My sword is both beautiful and useful–or rather, it would be if I sharpened the blade. I paid a pretty penny for it, but I rationalized that I would have it for the rest of my life. This was five or six years ago…maybe more? I still have it and still use it every day.

Of course, I will get a non-wooden saber at some point, too, but that’s less of interest to me at the moment. I’ve grown to appreciate the saber in a way I never thought possible when I first started it, but it’s never going to be my favorite. Well, I can’t say never, but it’s highly unlikely as long as the sword and the double sabers exist. Also, my teacher mentioned the Bagua Sword Form and my eyes lit up like it’s Christmas. I have too much to learn and yet the mere mention of another sword form jazzed me.


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Competing needs: which will win?

I’ve been experimenting with drinking caffeine again because it’s good for my migraines (but not too much) and it’s might be good for whatever is ailing my left thumb. Heh. I first wrote thump. Left thump. That’s funny. Anyway, It’s been a few months and the results have been mixed. I’ve been mostly migraine symptoms free, so yay! Thumb is slowly and painfully getting better. Not fast enough for my liking and I don’t know if caffeine has anything to do with it. I’ve been stretching and massaging it daily, which is probably the real reason it’s doing better.

It’s fucking my sleep really badly, though. at least, that’s what I think is the problem. I don’t think it’s caffeine in general, but either how much I’m drinking or when I’m drinking it. Or rather, not how much I’m drinking, but how strong I’m making the coffee. Either way, I’m falling asleep anywhere from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and getting up…well, there’s no set time any longer. On the one hand, it doesn’t matter because I rarely have to be anywhere in the morning. On the other hand, it’s really fucking with me not to have any kind of schedule.

When I was going to bed at 7-8 a.m. and getting up around 1 p.m., that was a schedule. It wasn’t a great schedule, but it was a schedule, nonetheless.

Ok. Because of said schedule, I’m tired. Done for the day.

The state of my health

My sleep has been shit(tier) lately so I apologize in advance if this is a rambling mess of a post. Sleep, my lifelong nemesis. So much so, I’ve written a novel with Morpheus (of Neil Gaiman fame. Not that he invented Morpheus, of course, but this particular version) as the main antagonist. Goddamn it. I still feel sorrowful when I think of that novel because there’s no way I can publish it. It’s not fanfic as the main character is, well, me. I use all the members of the Endless as I envision them, and, quite frankly, it’s really good.

Anyway, I’d been happy because in the past year or two, my sleep had stabilized. But then in the last few months, it’s gone off the rails again. Why? I don’t know. Is it because of the coffee I’m drinking again? You’d think so, but the troubles started before I took up caffeine once again. It may not be helping, but it’s not the root cause. It’s frustrating because caffeine is beneficial for some things (thumb issue if it’s RA), negative for some things (sleep) and both in others (migraines). So far, I’ve kept the caffeine because the positives have outweighed the negatives, but I may have to quit if it gets worse.

My thumb is better. It’s still sore and tender and hard to bend at times, though. I’ve decided that it’s probably better not to wear a splint most of the time because I don’t use it when I type. The main reason to wear a splint is to keep the digit from moving on its own or from being accidentally knocked into. I feel that constricting the blood flow is not a good thing to do for hours on end so I only put it on when my hand starts actually hurting rather than just being sore and tender to the touch. I can deal with it even though I’m not happy about it, obviously. What’s more worrisome is that my right hand is starting to have…issues. Not the same issues as my left thumb, but still.

Ok. I’m just not feeling it today. Here are Maru, Hana, and Miri.

In an alternate lifetime

I am a weirdo and I know it. Most of the time, I’m fine with it. More than being fine with it, I’m happy that I’m not part of polite society. I make it easier on myself by only being friends with fellow weirdos (though some pass better that I do) so I don’t really think about it on the daily. Sometimes when I talk to my brother because he’s definitely more mainline than I am, but he’s starting to skew more towards weird the older he gets.

A week ago or so, I was talking to my BFF. Somehow, we started talking about kids and school. Probably because she’s a teacher and has a teenager of her own. She got her first jab and will be getting her second this week. Yay! I’m so happy for her. I’m not eligible because most of my issues are not documented. And, they’re not as serious as many people’s. I mean, yes, having bronchitis for six months is no fun, but it’s not life-threatening, either. That’s sums up my myriad of health issues. None of them are terrible in and of themselves, but they could lead to something worse and the sum is worse than the individual parts.

For example. Having a cold or bronchitis for months is not a big deal in and of itself. Constantly getting them, though, is an indication that I have a really shitty autoimmune system. Nothing too serious, I don’t think. I’ve never had a doctor voice concern about it, but there could be several reasons for that. Oh! My thyroid issue is a big deal, but that’s mostly taken care of. Migraines? I consider myself fortunate that a full-blown migraine is rare for me and when it does happen, it just puts me out of commission for one day and most of the next. And, by out of commission, I mean weakened, exhausted, extra-sensitive to stimuli (I’m already sensitive to stimuli in my day-to-day life), and being fragile. The second day after the migraine, I’m about 80% back to normal. Given the descriptions I’ve heard/read about how terrible some people’s migraines are, yes, I consider myself lucky. Also, if I catch one in time, I’m just stuck with a low-level headache, slight nausea, and hurting eyes for the day.

When the pandemic started, I knew that if I got Covid-19, it would most likely hit me really hard given how badly my body does with regular colds. The last time I got the flu shot, I was out of commission for three days afterwards. Yes, I know it wasn’t the flu, but it sure felt like hell, anyway. I will be getting the vaccine for Covid-19 when I’m allowed, but I anticipate having a bad reaction to it, especially the second dose.

Where was I? Oh, right. So my BFF and I talked about how for most of her kids, the pandemic has sucked school-wise, but for a minority of them, they have thrived doing online schooling only. I said I felt similarly. Because of my PTSD, I am aces in a crisis. It’s only the imminent threat has passed that I fall apart. For the pandemic, that meant around month four or five. I went from being calm and focused to being incandescent with rage. For two or three months, I was furious. Some of it was reasonable, but some of it was just generalized anger at the world around me. Two things I regret most about last year (other than the pandemic itself, of course) were my missed trips to see my two best friends. I’m hoping to see both of them in 2022, but it’s still hard to swallow.

While my BFF and I were talking about school and neurodiversity, I mentioned that I wished there had been more known about neurodiversity when I had been a kid. I would definitely have preferred online school to in-person school for several reasons and would have love the current situation from a school point of view. If I were to go back to school, it would be online with me doing most of the heavy work by myself at home.


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On the contrary; life as a contrarian

I’m a contrarian. I know this and to some extent, I embrace it. I swear to the heavens that it’s not out of spite or because I think I’m better than anyone else, but it’s just how my brain works. I tend to look at something from several angles and poking holes in theories. I will say that part of it is me always rooting for the underdog, which means I want to represent the minority viewpoint more often than not. It’s also because I hate things being misrepresented. It’s one reason I had to step back from politics because of the in-fighting. I expect Republicans to attack Dems, but it’s Dems viciously tearing each other apart that drives me fucking nuts. It’s always been that way, but it started getting really bad during the 2016 primaries and it has just gotten worse over time.

I am a far leftie in theory and a not-quite-as-far leftie in practice. That means I get to see the ugly on both sides. It really irks me that some Democrats online spend more time slinging arrows at each other than across the bow. What is the fucking point? I’m not talking about discussing the differences and hashing out what’s important to the party. I’m talking about demonizing the other side and declaring them the enemy. Seriously. We’re talking about degrees of how far we should go on an issue rather than being on opposite sides. It’s frustrating and irritating, and I want no part of it.

However, this post isn’t about me being a contrarian about ideas and politics and whatnot, but rather about me being contrarian when it comes to pop culture.  Now, while it’s true that in the aforementioned instances, there is often a small part of pure contrarian because that’s who I am. It’s 95% not that, but maybe 5% that. In this case, though, it’s simply I don’t like what other people like. I know some people think it’s me being hip or whatever, but it truly isn’t.

A recent(ish) example is Knives Out. It was a huge success and it got raved about over and over again. So many superlatives, so little time. It was an ensemble cast with a quirky detective, which should have been right up my alley. I watched the trailer and was…not impressed. Everyone talked about how great Daniel Craig was, but I could not get past how terrible his accent was. Maybe it was purposeful? I mean, he’s a great actor so I cannot imagine he couldn’t do a spot-on accent. Also, he appears clueless, but it had to be an act, right? Like Poirot.


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If you can’t say anything nice

Come sit by me. That’s usually my attitude towards that saying, but today, I’m going to put a spin on things and list all the good things about me that I can. Why? Because normally I gloss over them or downplay them or ignore them completely. I’m not comfortable with any kind of self-praise, evev if it’s just me saying it to myself. I’m treating this as just an experiment to take the heat off myself and I’m pretty sure I’ll explain away every positive point, but so be it.

Let’s start with the physical. I have two features I like. One is my hair, which is funny because I wear it in a topknot all the time. When I wear it down, I get compliments on it. It could be simply because of the sheer length.

Side note: I’ve mentioned this before, but my hair used to reach my waist. It stayed there for several decades until a few years ago, it began to grow again. I had no idea why. Normally, I would give credit to taiji, but that wasn’t something that had changed in that time. After some reflection, I realized it was probably my change in diet. That was around the same time I cut out dairy and gluten plus some other things that were giving me issues. That made sense to me and I’m sticking with it.

It grew to nearly my knees, well, a few inches from my knees, and I noticed that the edges were getting scraggly. I cut off roughly six inches and it’s now at the top of my thighs. I’m holding out hope that it’ll grow past my knees and that’s my new hair goal. The old one used to be let it turn all white a la Storm from the X-Men before chopping it off.  Now, I want it to reach my ankles.


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Feeding my addiction

Weapons. Let’s talk about them. Why? Because I’m obsessed with them. I mean, I’ve always loved my weapons, but in the last few months, they’ve really become deeply meaningful to me. As much as I love taiji in general, I would not have said the same for the Solo Form. I’ve really struggled with the Solo Form. I hated it from the beginning and, honestly, I didn’t know why I stuck with it especially since I had a disastrous experience the first time I tried taiji due to a terrible, manipulative, shady teacher.

With my second teacher, I fought her every step of the way. I was recalcitrant and grumpy, pushing back hard on whatever she said. I hated the Solo Form. I hated it so much that I didn’t practice it at home. In fact, I added a second class a week because I wouldn’t practice at home. Why didn’t I quit especially as it was not mandatory in any way? I’m still not entirely sure. Something inside me kept pushing me to go. I needed something to do as exercise as I hated nearly every other form of it.

In addition, I wanted to have a way to defend myself if I ever needed it. I have been in harrowing situations in the past and never want to be in one again. Or rather, I never want to feel as helpless as I have in the past. Indeed, I have already seen the fruits of my labor in other ways. Such as my minor car accident in which I saw the other car coming towards me. I thought, “I’m going to get hit,” and my body immediately relaxed. I didn’t will it to relax and I didn’t consciously think that I had to relax–it just happened.

But did I ever learn to love the Solo Form? No. I still don’t. I don’t hate it any longer, but I don’t love it. And yet, there was something in me that kept pushing to do it. I resentfully started practicing at home for five minutes a day. Just the warmups and maybe a bit of the Solo Form. Oh, I also did the weight-bearing set that is in taiji as well.

Against myself, I started incorporating more and more of taiji into my daily life. I added a third class and my home routine stretched out into ten minutes, fifteen, and now, up to forty-five minutes with the expansion being on the weapons side. I’ve had to cajole and trick myself into doing more taiji because that’s the way my brain works, but whatever it takes.


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