Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: mental health

Bagua is my bag (for real)–bait and switched again

Yesterday, I was going to write about Bagua and then went completely off the rails. Well, not completely. It was tangential to what I was talking about, but it did relate. I was writing about my mother’s ability to gaslight me about past events, but with utter sincerity on her part.

Because of this, I question everything. This is both a good and a bad thing, sometimes at the same time. There is that meme about the ‘well, actually’ guy, but that is me. I know enough not to say it out loud all the time, but it’s constantly in my mind. I recognize that it’s not a trait that other people find endearing. Hell, I find it annoying sometimes. But I also find the lack of nuance irritating. Also, I said this to an online friend, I was raised to not voice my opinion by parents who were deeply sexist. Their culture in general was sexist at the time (Taiwanese) as was American culture. My parents were reactionaries, even in their own culture.

When I started Taiji, I had a million questions for my teacher. And I was clearly skeptical about everything she had to say. She remained cheerful and would answer my questions endlessly. If she did not know the answer, she would say that she would find out for me. I really appreciated that she didn’t try to shine me on or bluff her way through an answer.

My first Taiji teacher was…terrible. I won’t get into why because I’ve talked about it before, but one thing I really disliked about him as a teacher was that he put on this ‘I am the wise master who knows everything’ attitude that he had not earned. His Taiji was solid, but he as a person was not. He was scum, quite honestly, and I should have quit a lot sooner than I did.

His personal issues aside, he was not a good teacher, either. He would never say that he did not know something or that something was beyond him. In addition, I was in the beginners class and never learned the whole form. Why? Beacause the teacher would keep starting from the beginning. He said that since it was the beginner’s class, it was for beginners. In restrospect, maybe I should have moved to a different class, but at the same time, you would think that a beginners class would actually show the whole form

That was the least of my issues, though. The biggest issue was that he wsa a sexist asshole. And his tutor was also a sexist asshole. Or rather, did not think of things from the female point of view. I have huge boobs. Like, in my way huge. Don’t get me wrong. I love my boobs. They are amazing! Who doesn’t like boobs? But if a movement calls for me to put my arm straight across my chest, well, we’re going to have to discuss some accommodations. I once asked the tutor about it, and he got all flustered and had some flippant response.

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Mental health and video games

There is a concept in video gaming called comfort gaming. It’s pretty easy to figure out what it means–games that soothe you as you play. Well, not exactly. I mean, it can be that, but it could also just be a game that you can play without thinking. Johnny Chiodini mentions it in their series when they were with Eurogamer, Low Batteries. They call that game they play when feeling down a sadgame.

They emphasize that the game itself does not have to be sad. It’s just a game they gravitate towards when they feel sad. Yesterday, I stumbled over a much more recent video in which they participated with their old workplace (Eurogamer) about how video games helped with mental health issues. I have included that video below.

For me, it’s FromSoft games. For the longest time, it was Dark Souls III. It’s my favorite game of all time, though Elden Ring has essentially moved itself into a tie. Oftentimes, I flummoxe people by saying cheerfully that I know it’s not the best Dark Souls game, but it’s my favorite. By the way, I love being contrary like that. I mean it, though. And interestingly, I’ve had people say it actually is the best Dark Souls game overall.

I guess it’s depends on what you mean by ‘best’. I’m talking specifically of the three Dark Souls games. The first is considered a game-changer, the second is the ignored stepchild, and the third is the greatest hit album. In other words, the first was seen as a breath of fresh air and mind-bending (if you ignored Demon’s Souls) that ultimately ran out of time to be truly great.

The sequel was a disappointment to most people, but I have a fondness for it. It tried to do some things differently in order to differentiate it from the original. Did it work? Not completely. But it tried. And I have to give it credit for that. In addition, if it didn’t have ‘Dark Souls‘ in its name, I think it would have been much better received.

As for the third game, it was the most polished of the three. Plus, it took the best from the first two games and seamlessly blended it together. I’ve called it the ‘best of’ hits album by a group that has been together for twenty years. It has all the hits that the fans love and maybe one or two new originalsongs. Some people think it’s the hardest, which is probably true objectively. But because I had played both of the other games twice in the lead up to the release of this game, it felt like coming home.

I think that’s the reason it’s my favorite, by the way. That and because it’s the first From game I played in real time. Meaning as soon as it was released. Ian bought the season pass for me when it came out, and I got to be in on the discoveries this time around. I hadn’t played either of the previous games until years after they were released. Now, FromSoft games are one of the few I will buy as soon as I can. I know I will at least try to play a From game (I gave up fairly quickly on Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon).

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Bagua > baguette

I have OCD traits/tendencies. Plus, I have aspects of ADHD in that I have that hyperfocus when I’m interested in something. I’m savvy enough to know when I’m obsessing, but I’m not always able to cut it short. I try my best, but sometimes, I’m just going to have to blab on and on about it.

It’s interesting. I have ADHD traits as well as autism traits, but I also have off-the-charts EQ. I used to have depression and anxiety as well. It made for a poorly-shaken cocktail of flaws. So I can talk for ages about something I’m obsessed with, but I’m aware enough to know that I’m probably boring people to death. Sometimes, I have the discipline to shut the fuck up, but sometimes, I need to keep talking about the beauty of the Double Saber Form. That is just where I’m at, and I will stay happy there for my whole life.

I have been putting on a song I like (on YouTube) and then letting it just play the playlist it has curated for my entire weapons forms pracitice. I will also do my own curation, meaning, I’ll put on a new video each time an old one ends.

I joked with my teacher that I’m going to do a booty-themed playlist. Why? I mentioned it in a past post that Taiji has given me a booty. It’s not a JLo booty, but it’s definitely firm and squeezable. Thousands of repetitions of Golden Roosters have made my booty pop, and I could not be happier.

Because of this, I want to make a booty-based playlist to do my weapons forms to. Anaconda by Nicki Minaj. Booty by JLo, featuring Iggy Azalea. Rump Shaker by Wreckx-N-Effect, and, of course, the glorious Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot, especially the version with the Seattle Symphony. I want to work Lizzo in there, but she doesn’t have a song specifically about her ass, I don’t think.

I want to glorify a part of me I previously hated. I am Asian. I cannot tell you how flat my ass was before I took Taiji. It was almost concave, much to my embarrassment, shame, and sorrow. I had tits for days, but was sadly lacking in the ass department. It’s like

Side note: I was looking at Dance Ten, Looks Three from A Chorus Line. None of them had big boobs. None. Talking about getting a boob job when they had maybe B cups. Asses, yes. Those looked nice. But their boobs were still small. Seriously!

Anyway, back to my lack of ass. It made me so sad because I loved a nice, juicy ass. More cushion for the pushin’! So, after ten years of Taiji, I was ecstatic to see that I ACTUALLY HAD AN ASS. It wasn’t huge, but it was noticeable. And firm. But still squooshy. This was years of different signle posture drills, especially the Golden Roosters.

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My journey in Taiji

I hated Taiji when I first started studying it. I had a teacher before my current one, and he was terrible. Flat-out terrible. I only went to him because a friend of mine was enamored with him (he has a very cultlike personality, and my friend needed a father-figure desperately as his own had been very abusive). All my narcissist/predator vibes were pinging, but I tamped them down because I trusted my friend. And because I have my own extreme biases against narcissists that made me wonder if I was blowing things out of proportion.

I wasn’t. He was sleeping with a student. They¬† were in a relationship but as he was the teacher in his fifties and she was 27 and the student, could it truly be equal? In short, no. Not only was he scummy enough to sleep with a student, but he was very sleazy in his interactions with other women. He made a big deal about respecting personal space and not touching anyone without their consent, but that was a big, fat lie.

I gritted my teeth the entire time I studied with him which was probably a year or so, but I did not trust him one whit. That’s not a good relationship in Taiji, but I was young and stupid at the time. This was around the time The Matrix came out, and he raved about what a revolutionary movie it was. He said it was the essence of Taiji and removing yourself from the system. The message I got from him was that he was justified in being intensely selfish because nothing he did could help anyone else, anyway. Or rather, what was going to happen would happen regardless of what he did. It was such self-serving twaddle, I internally sneered even though I hadn’t seen the movie. Just by watching the trailer, I was sure that he was spouting bullshit, and when I watched the movie years later, I had my confirmation.

The Matrix is a good action movie, but unconventional and going against the norm? Not hardly. I watched it in a theater with my then-boyfriend who liked the movie and wanted me to see it. That was problematic in and of itself because I had a boyfriend dump me when I told him my views on Pulp Fiction, so after that, I kept my opinions to myself. While watching The Matrix, I kept thinking how hot Keanu was and how hot Carrie-Anne was. I did think back to what my ex-Taiji teacher had said about the movie and rolled my eyes because the movie had very predictable and conventional story beats. Then, Neo died and Trinity kissed him to bring him back to life.

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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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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.

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Never leaving the house again

I was borderline agoraphobic when I was in my late twenties. Hold up. Wait. back up. When I was a kid (stop groaning, yes, we do need to go back that far), I had no friends. I was a fat, socially-awkward, intelligent Asian girl in a very white suburb. My home life sucked as well, and I first thought about suicide when I was eleven. But even before then, I wanted to die. I didn’t like anything about life which has continued to this day. Wait. Back up again. I don’t want it to sound like every moment of my life is terrible. It isn’t. For the most part, it’s just that everything is low-grade meh. When I’m really depressed, life is torture. There are mornings when I open my eyes, and I immediately want to close them again forever. For the most part, though, it’s just me dragging my flattish (but not as flat as before taiji) ass off the couch and going about my business.

After college, I had a period of chronic and deep depression. There were days when all I could do was brush my teeth, and I would consider that a win. Now, I brush my teeth three times a day every day (and floss three times, too), but there are several things I leave undone. I don’t do laundry until I don’t have anything else decent to wear. Many people do that, I know, but it can be a month or two before I really feel the need. Given that we’re in a pandemic, it’s not as dire at it would be otherwise, but it’s still a factor of my depression.

At that point, I didn’t leave the house except to go grocery shopping and to get my meds once a month. Even that was a struggle, but I managed to get it done. Two things helped my depression–therapy and taiji. The two Ts, as it were. I reached a point where I was going out for my taiji classes three times a week, went out with friends once a month or so in addition to my normal errands. It was enough for me, and I was less blah than before.

Fast-forward to the coronavirus and the lockdown. The last place I went to (except pharmacy and gas station) was a nearby coop. This was late February/early March. I wasn’t wearing a mask, but I kept my distance as best I could and had my sweatshirt pulled up over my hands so I didn’t have to touch anything with my bare hands. This coop is small, and the aisles were narrow. It would be hard for two carts to go through an aisle at the same time, for example. I was already feeling slightly panicky, but at least most of the workers were wearing masks and gloves.

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The disappearing thin line

In the time of this pandemic, there is one thing that has become clear to me–more information is not always better. Or rather, the constant influx of information from everyone and their mother is not helping. There is so much confusion as to what are the best practices and more to the point, why they are the best practices. Like, I knew I should wash my hands a ton, but wasn’t sure why exactly. I mean, getting Covid-19 by contact exposure is rather low on the list of how to get it. So why all the hand-washing? It’s mostly because of touching your hand to your face and protecting from it. Speaking of which….

My BFF sent me an article boiling down some of these conflicting ideas. It’s really the best thing I’ve read on the topic, and I’m pretty sure it’s not just because it confirms much of what I already thought. It addressed something that I had been confused about, but could not find a satisfactory answer in all my Googling. My question was if I self-isolated and did not leave the house for, say, three weeks (and let’s pretend I haven’t gotten any deliveries in that time). If I did not get sick in that time, would it be fine to assume that I was not going to get it? And the answer is yes.

Basically, my home would be a safe place because no new exposure was happening. The author of the article wants people to consider their home their safe places and to do whatever they need to do in order to keep it safe. Wearing masks and gloving up when outside (but also understanding that they aren’t 100% solutions), then disposing of them (or washing them) properly before entering the safe place. Once you’re in the safe place, however, you don’t have to follow the stringent practices you do in exposure zones. In other words, you can touch your face in your safe place. You don’t have to wash your hands any more than you normally would. It confirmed my hunch that I couldn’t get it without new exposure, which makes inherent sense.

In addition, the mask is mostly for the person wearing it if they are sick in order to keep their germs to themselves. It’s helpful to other people, but to a much lesser degree. It’s more important to stay at least six feet away from others (preferably ten) at all times, and if you are wearing a mask/gloves, to wash your hands once you get home. For twenty seconds. The most important thing about the touching your face advice is to not do it when you’re in exposure zones (the author calls them danger zones). Which includes not touching your mask if you’re wearing one. If you’re wearing gloves, touch as little as possible with them and then make sure they’re off before you go into your house.

Another thing I’ve seen a lot of back and forth about is deliveries. Takeout and grocery mostly, but also just packages in general. I’ve had the habit of putting what needs to be refrigerated in the fridge straight in, but the bags are living in the garage, and if I don’t have to bring the item inside, it stays in the garage as well for several days. It’s overkill, but if I don’t need it, then it might as well live in the garage. In the article above, it says that leaving the package out in the sun for two minutes will kill off most of virus particles (grossly simplified). Also, if a package is not damp, it should be fine in general. If you store it in a cold and damp environment like the basement, it’ll be fine in 2 1/2 hours. And wash your damn hands afterwards.

But really, stay six feet away from other people.¬† Better yet, stay at home. That really is the best thing you can do in these trying times. If you can’t stay at home, then stay six feet away from others and don’t touch your face. If you can wear a mask and gloves, that’s good. If not, use hand sanitizer liberally. And don’t touch your face!

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Checking in on my health

drink it all up!
Staying cozy and warm.

The vaunted snowstorm netted us a whopping three to four inches of snow. I’m not mad, really, just disappointed. However, I knew it wasn’t going to be eight to ten inches because we’ve consistently gotten less than has been predicted, so I’m not crushed as I would be otherwise. It’s lightly snowing now, and we’re supposed to get more snow during the big storm next week. Only a few more inches, but I’ll take it. We haven’t had snow hardly at all this winter.

As for the cold, it’s really fucking cold. Currently, the temp is ‘feels like’ -28. There is no feeling going on at that temp. That’s cold, even for me. I did have the window slightly rolled down when I ran to Cubs this morning, but it’s only three minutes from my house.

Fun fact: Some years ago, the windchill factor formula was tweaked so that it more accurately reflects how the wind feels on your skin. As a result, there will probably never be a -100 windchill again. We used to get them when I was a kid, and about ten years ago, I started wondering why I never saw -100 again. It tuns out that a new windchill factor was established in 2001, which was comforting to discover. It wasn’t just me this time!

Anyway, now I’m back at home, and taiji classes have been canceled due to the extreme cold. I had been considering going to the new class tonight (new to me, not to my teacher. She’s taking it over for her teacher), but even if the classes hadn’t been cancelled, I wouldn’t have gone. I’m not leaving the house for the rest of the day. I have my traveling mug of tea and my comfy throw over my legs. I’m hunkering down until this cold snap passes because it’s too cold even for me.

Unfortunately, I’m fighting off the crud. I feel on the cusp of being sick, which is worse than actually being sick. When I’m sick, I’m just dealing with being sick. I don’t really think of much else. When I’m maybe about to get sick, I can’t do anything to stop it, and it makes me pissed off. I don’t go out into public that often except to the grocery store, which, come to think of it, is a terrible place to go if you’re trying not to be sick.

It actually makes me angry that I can’t stop myself from getting sick. I’m drinking all the tea, including immunity-boosting tea in addition to my usual honey, ginger, lemon tea. I’m doing my taiji routine every morning (including stretching), which is a half hour. When I first started taiji, I didn’t practice at home at all. In fact, I was resentful of the idea that I should practice. I don’t know why. I was a bitter, negative, and deeply depressed person when I started taking taiji classes. I’m still depressed and negative, but not nearly as much as I used to be.

When I first started practicing taiji at home, I did it for two minutes. The first section of the Solo Form, and even that was begrudging. I slowly started adding to my morning regime, and now, I’m up to a half hour of stretching and taiji. It doesn’t even feel like anything most of the time. My taiji teacher says an hour a day is the most I should do, and I don’t have to do it in one session. Looking back, I can’t believe how much I resented having to do even two minutes of it every day.

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