Walking With Giants

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. Your words have helped me feel a little lighter, a little more inspired. Plus, I had a kitty lounging on my chest and purring for quite a while this morning, which was nice.

The day after I made that post, we had already planned to go to a nearby redwood forrest and do a nature walk. My energy felt so sapped that I almost didn’t want to go, but between my partner’s infectious enthusiasm as sheer momentum I went. This particular park has an amphitheater area that we’re considering as a wedding venue, and I really wanted to see it. Temperatures have sometimes climbed to the 100s recently and that day was no exception, but at least the forest was full of shade.

“Green spaces are known to be good for mental health, and beyond that, there’s the powerful business of encountering.” —Nimue Brown

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With that, I felt a little better too. And this past weekend, as a delayed birthday present, my mom took my to Disneyland! It was very hot and very crowded, but even that helped clear my mind of non-immediate concerns. The Jungle Cruise was still there, despite some rumors we had heard of it being closed down permanently, and Space Mountain and Indiana Jones were as wildly enjoyable as ever. Plus, Disney is astonishingly good at accommodating allergies and I found gluten free bread here and there when I least expected it. (Grilled cheese and tomato soup, om nom nom!) Not for nothing is it called the Happiest Place on Earth, and although most of the happy glow wore off once I came home and returned to real life I do feel better for the three days of mental relief. I am extraordinarily lucky and grateful for that.

I don’t think I’m depressed. There are a lot of things I need to adjust in my life to get to a better mental place — I am too stressed, I am too anxious, I am worried about my upcoming endoscopy and the single Ativan I will take to keep myself calm that day, I don’t get enough exercise, I don’t eat enough protein, and I need to carry on with purging gluten from my system.

For the first three, I have started talking to a therapist again. I’m going to try and get back into meditation and breathing exercises, which might be a little easier to remember to do once the endoscopy is over and done with. I’m also taking some steps to reduce the stress in my environment… Work stuff. It’s a process.

For the last three, I have my Fitbit. I bought it for myself a few months ago and have been gradually bumping my step goal up from 5k as I build better daily habits. Currently my goal is 7k and I’m doing a pretty good job of hitting it. The app also tracks exercise and food/calorie/macronutrient intake. In the past week I’ve been using it as a food journal, in case I need to look back and figure out if I ate anything that wasn’t gluten free by accident. It tells me what percent of calories are from protein, too, so I can be more mindful of that.

There are probably other things I can do, but this is where I’m starting. I’m already taking vitamin D every day along with my anti-anxiety medication, which I believe isn’t giving me as much burnout from side effects as it was a few weeks ago. When I remember, I take gummy multi-vitamins. Once I get though the endoscopy, perhaps I will turn more of my focus towards meditation, vitamins, and writing more often.

And my partner and I definitely plan on taking more nature walks. We even bought matching water bottles for the purpose. 😊

Overall, I am not at my best, but I am better. I hope all of you are doing okay.

“Heal yourself first. Get what you need, do what you need to, first, always first, but after you have made some progress and stored up some strength yourself, go out and help the rest of the world heal.” — Lisa

Is this Depression?

I feel… wrong. Sometimes it feels almost like being dizzy, like my head is disconnected and floating slightly above my body like a balloon on a short string. Sometimes it feels like everything around me is moving at a slightly faster tempo than I am.

The amount of times I say “I don’t know” on any given day has quadrupled, at least — I never know what I want to watch, want to drink, want to eat, want to do in my free time. Or, if I do and that turns out not to be an option, I am generally unable to think of a second option. It’s been so hard to write lately, for the past month or so with only short-lived exceptions.

Yesterday, I locked my keys in my car because I’d forgotten to put them in my pocket. A couple weeks ago I “lost” my credit card because I put it in my back pocket, right into the middle of a stack of business cards, and a couple days after I “found” it again I forgot to take the cards out of the pocket and they disintegrated in the wash.

Is this what depression feels like? Or am I just psyching myself out? Because between my growing dread of an upper endoscopy, fretfulness about switching to all gluten free all the time, the anxiety I already had anyway, recently fiddling with my medication, and the fact that it’s 100° F out again today… I just don’t know anymore.

Life is a Complex Matter

Happy 4th of July! I must admit that right now I am not the proudest I have ever been of my country — more like, rolling my eyes real hard — but a federal holiday is a paid day off work and that at least is worth celebrating. Today there was less car exhaust in the air during usual rush hour time, and that’s worth some happy thoughts as well.

This Independence Day I would love to declare independence from the bad vibes and depression that’s been clinging to me for a while now, but I can’t. The dark clouds over my head are there and pretending they aren’t won’t get me any less stormed on.

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.”  — Walt Disney

In the past several months I feel as though my anxiety has gotten worse, and being toldI tested positive for celiac disease hasn’t helped. My jaw feels tight and at times almost clicky again. I’m back to flinching when I’m a passenger on the freeway and someone cuts in front of us. I am borderline apathetic about getting up every morning, partly because I don’t want to move and partly because I feel queasy.

I can’t just overlook these things. They’re too big, some days it’s hard to see anything else. All I can do is remember the buts.

  • I might have celiacs, BUT that means that maybe going gluten free will help me loose weight. (If nothing else, a GF bagel is smaller than a regular one, and similar upsides to portions.)
  • I might have celiacs, BUT that could explain some of my recent spikes in anxiety and insomnia, and offer hope that they’ll settle again soon.
  • I might feel queasy more often and easily now, BUT that’s probably because my sertraline dose was increased three weeks ago, so my body will probably adjust soon and that’ll go away.
  • I might feel queasy more often and easily now, BUT maybe that just means I shouldn’t drink any more alcohol until my body settles down a bit. (Because I’m really, really sick of getting hit with a hangover an hour after having two drinks.)
  • Sometimes I feel way too stressed and panicky and like I have no way of changing any of the stressful factors in my environment, BUT I have my partner to support me and, if I really need it, lavender pills to help calm me down. That at least clears some space in my head to think.

In theory, lists like these will help me stay more level. I don’t know if it’s working. I think it might be… but I’ll have to wait and see.

Recently diagnosed and I don't know what I'd do without these. ❤️ #chocolatechex #cheerios @celiacdiseasefoundation

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Work From Where You Are

“So, I have accepted where I am, and I have beat myself up enough for it. Now it’s time to start again, again.”

Wise words. I need to do this – with my day job, with my writing, with my mental health and self-care.

ZEN AND PI

Hello, and happy Monday! Yeah, I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed. I know.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance as a fresh start, a reset of sorts that you get every single week. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“In human life, if you feel that you have made a mistake, you don’t try to undo the past or the present, but you just accept where you are and work from there. Tremendous openness as to where you are is necessary.”

— Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Transcending Madness

For a long time now I have been trying to move beyond this blog…

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A Month in Review: June 2017

June was not my finest month. I finally found a new doctor up here and got through the first appointment well enough and got my anxiety meds dose bumped up a little, but nearly cried when I got blood drawn for tests and did cry when I went back for my next appointment. The doctor was very nice, but unfortunately all she had to distract me from my anxiety attack with was the news that I tested positive for celiac disease. So now I have an endoscopy to worry about, because that’s the next step to confirm, and that’s a lot more invasive than what freaked me out at the follow-up.

Maybe it’s that I’m still adjusting to the new medication dose, but I’m constantly on edge lately and it’s exhausting.

On the other hand, I only wrote three posts in June but one of them was a book review. One of my goals for the year was to do at least five reviews so I’m pleased about making progress on that.


Here’s what I am currently:

Writing

… Nothing. I kind of wanted to do Camp NaNoWriMo, but I just don’t have the energy with so much anxiety and other things I need to do demanding my attention.

Planning

… To work really hard to change the things I can change and accept/work with the things I can’t.

Making

… Avoiding gluten a priority. My grandpa, who was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was still in high school, has been off gluten so long that if he gets any contamination he ends up spending an hour throwing up afterwards. I’m definitely not there, but whenever I eat something that I know could sneakily contain some wheat I definitely psyche myself out into feeling awful.

Anticipating

… Bedtime. I am tired.

Reading

… Terry Pratchett, my fallback in times of stress. I know them so well and I know all the bits I really enjoy, so I have those to look forward to.

Watching

… Twin Peaks, seasons one and two. When I was a kid, my parents had the soundtrack for the show and, for some reason, kept a picture of me from when I was about four in the front of the CD case. That alone made me want to listen to it, and most of the songs are so hauntingly beautiful. I would listen to it in my room and flip through the CD booklet, looking at the headshots of the actors with their characters’ names below and trying to imagine what they were like.

As far as actually watching the show goes, this is my second attempt. I just finished the first season and I will definitely keep going with it this time around.

Feeling

… Overwhelmed. So, so overwhelmed.

Needing

… A vacation. Thankfully, I’m getting two this month: a long weekend/work from home stretch over 4th of July, and Disneyland with my mom in two weeks. She’s been really great about contacting her friends who live near Anaheim about GF options in the park.

Loving

… How supportive my partner is. They came with my to my follow-up appointment to literally hold my hand, and I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have someone I trust this much as my safety net.

Hating

… The health care bill Republicans are trying to push through. This has been a bad month for worrying about my health, and dropping potential financial concerns on top of that is swell.

Hoping

… To be able to relax sometime soon. I have a therapy appointment in a couple weeks, and I’m hoping that will help. Here’s to July being a better month!

The Thing about Trilogies, & Zombies

The thing about trilogies is, I always get extremely excited about them. Then, inevitably, I find myself disappointed by the time I get to the last page (or audio track)… not because there’s anything wrong with the book but because after all that buildup it’s over.

The letdown is like a physical slap in the face, made even worse by the personal failing of letting the anticipation build until I’m in a glum mood to begin with and decide to treat myself to a story I’ve been looking forward to.

newsflesh3_5819I’ve done this with The Magicians series by Lev Grossman and probably others, but the most recent is the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant.

Because zombies.

I consume a lot of zombie stories, zombie tv shows, and zombie movies on a fairly regular basis, and I am a sucker for a good zombie concept. Continue reading “The Thing about Trilogies, & Zombies”

Out of left field

Apparently I have celiac disease. 

I asked for the blood test because my grandpa has it, and I figured it was best to be thorough. When the doctor told me the results came back positive there was a moment where I thought that must mean the test said “yes, you don’t have it.” 

Going gluten free isn’t that daunting.  My partner is gluten intolerant and my grandpa got his diagnosis years ago, so I know the drill. I don’t have any symptoms, or at least not anything drastically noticeable, but that’s fairly common. 

I’m just still reeling from the fact that the test came back positive. Totally was not expecting that. 

Update: If I have to have an endoscopy to confirm, do you think they’d let me bring one of my kitties as a “therapy cat” to help keep me calm and avoid a panic attack before being sedated for the procedure?

A Month in Review: May 2017

Where did May go?

My birthday celebration went perfectly. I didn’t get one of the two things actually on my list (a food processor), but my partner’s mom gave me one that she just sort of had and wasn’t using. Actually, I’m not sure it’s ever been used. I’m so excited because now I can do more things in the kitchen!

Most importantly, now I can make smoothies. A blender would probably do that more efficiently but a food processor is more versatile. (This is very much me turning into my dad here, but when I find a grater disc for the food processor and can grate big blocks of cheese.) Both my partner and I went to the doctor a couple weeks ago and got some wakeup calls about our heath, so we’re making a big push to eat healthier. Brown rice instead of white rice, almond milk instead of regular milk. No more pizza, no more ice cream — with exceptions made if we go for a hike and earn a reward.

As far as writing goes, I didn’t do much in May compared to April. Even so, I hit my minimum goal of at least two short stories a month. I’ve also been allowing myself to get sucked into reading more short stories on TheProse.com.

One final note… Remember the cat garden I mentioned in my March review? The wheatgrass and thyme died. We need to start over and make sure the pot has better drainage.


 

Here’s what I am currently:

Writing

… In theory. One birthday gift I randomly received was an Amazon Echo Dot. (My mom works in the Silicon Valley and ended up with one, I guess because her company built a chip in it or something.) I set it up so it will give me prompts but, ironically, I keep forgetting the command that will get it to stop. Some of the ideas it’s popped out at me have been really cool… but a part of me still wants to get my Z story done. It’s the last thing I planned to write for the A to Z Challenge and dammit I want to tell that story. … Maybe it’s something I can do for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo.

Planning

… To finally find a new therapist this month. I really liked the one I was talking to before I moved up here, but I haven’t seen her in probably a year now and it’s really time. In May I finally found a new primary care doctor and got them to bump my anxiety prescription up a bit, so this is the next logical step.

Making

… A resolution to visit my grandparents more often once my aunt’s segment of the family moves to Michigan after Father’s Day. My grandma was so upset that my brother had to go back to Nevada after visiting for Memorial Day that she cried, and I’m going to be her nearest grandchild. Oldest granddaughter to the rescue!

Anticipating

… Finishing a big task at work very soon. Once that’s done I will have officially written all the content for an entire site! (I built the the cider website from scratch, but a lot of that copy was provided by my boss and I just protrude it up a bit.) Super excited to be able to have that on my resume. 

Reading

… The Newsflesh series by Mira Grant. I re-listened to the first two, and the end of book one made me cry again. The Thursday before Memorial Day I was driving down 101 to a store visit, openly grieving a character’s death. So I finally got around to putting a hold on the third at my local library. I’ve never checked out an eAudiobook before but I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to listen to it in my car, if not through my iPod then through my phone.

Watching

… Old seasons of the Amazing Race. We started at the most recent season on Hulu and are working our way backwards (with the exception of the second chances season), brainstorming our perfect honeymoon.

Feeling

… Tense. I don’t know why, but lately my jaw has been feeling tight again. Although I never technically got a confirmation that the problem was TMJ, but a few years ago I would have these periods of overwhelming anxiety that my mouth was going to get stuck shut, or stuck open, or just generally stuck, and I would do this weird compulsive popping thing until the feeling passed. Except doing that also reinforced the feeling… My dentist gave me a mouthguard to wear in my sleep, but I haven’t needed it for the past year. I think I’m just a little stressed about my job and my weight.

Needing

… More sleep. I’m not good about going to bed early, and in the morning I always push getting up to the last possible second before I have to roll out, get dressed, and go to work.

Loving

… How well our families get along with each other. My partner is my rock, and it’s so great for both of us to feel accepted by each other’s parents and extended family. I’m actually engaged in an epic Words With Friends saga with my future aunt-in-law right now, and when I won my first game against her and texted my partner’s mom about it she replied, “Yea!!!! Good for you!!! Smack her down!!” It was hilarious.

Hating

… That the US is pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. My only consolation is that at least one key person in my state’s legislature is saying that California will technically stay in. I think it’ll happen. I have hope for that much, at least. The rest, I just don’t know.

Hoping

… That there are no family dramas this month. 

Friendsecurity

via Photo Challenge: Friend

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Since this is a writing blog, the first thing I have to say about my best and most cuddly friends is that they do not help me write.

In fact, they do everything in their power to keep me from writing. They walk between me and my screen — often directly on the keyboard, making their own contributions to my stories. They knock things over, like the potted plant that no longer lives on top of the fireplace. They meow and fuss because they need food, water, the litter box to be scooped, back scratches, head scratches, ear rubs, chin rubs, cuddles, reassurance, help catching a bug, the window open so they can listen to something…

And that’s not even counting the times they need to be removed from the kitchen counters or, for some reason, the bathroom sink. They can be brats and/or weirdos sometimes… but then again, so can I. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

The Healing Power of Cat PurrsFor one thing, half of my exercise consists of chasing Louie and Noodle off of the no-kitty areas or getting up to give Frankie food kisses while she eats. (Not that I’ll admit to having a favorite or anything. Frankie is just a really well-trained cat!)

For another, few things are more calming than a cat sprawling on top of you and starting to purr. This literally has therapeutic affects, and has been known to lower both stress and blood pressure.

These little creatures are some of the best friends I have ever had. Frankie, our first cat (far right in the picture), stole my heart away when she was two months old. I was working part time from home back then, and she was napping on my chest while I tried to type with my laptop propped up on my bent knees. Then she woke up, crawled a little higher, and started licking my face with her rough little tongue as if to say, “Hi Mommy. I love you.” I haven’t begrudged her my heart for the past two years, but I do wish she would stop yelling to remind me all the time.

Louie, full name Lucifer (far left in the picture, and yes, these are all female cats), is more attached to my partner, but she appreciates the fact that I put out the food and water for her. When one of us is busy, the other is Louie’s personal distracter — with cat toys, empty boxes, pieces of tissue paper or ribbon, anything that works basically. She thinks she’s queen of the house and she’s a handful. But she’s also got the thickest, softest, silkiest hair, and she’ll sit contentedly in your arms, looking around at everything with great interest, for quite a while before squirming to be let down. When we have company over she is the most social of the three. She totally hams it up for extra attention and pets, and as much as she can be a pain in the butt at times she can also get me laughing like none other. For example, when first meeting my grandpa, she tried to stick her face up his pant leg. What a weirdo. ❤️

The third is Noodle (the little black munchkin in the middle). She loves headscratches above all other kinds of petting and will actively chase my  hand when I try to stop. Where Louie hams it up and Frankie hangs out under the bed when guests come over, Noodle is somewhere in the middle. She’s got a play style like Frankie’s, but Louie’s energy level. Most importantly she always comes up on the bed to sleep with us, or at least comes up to snuggle and purr with us in the morning. 

These three are always there for us. At the same time we are wholly responsible for them. Some days I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t rub my cheek on their warm fur and just breathe in just to stay grounded. It’s the best gift I could ever ask for from any friend. 

IWSG Post #08

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JUNE QUESTION: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

(Who has two thumbs and hasn’t answered an IWSG question since February? And also totally forgot to post this a couple weeks ago? This girl.)

I don’t think I’ve ever walked away from writing as a whole.

There are plenty of drafts I’ve walked away from though. I walked away from one story in high school because it just read too much like Grapes of Wrath, a book I did not particularly enjoy but happened to be reading for lit class at the time. I walked away from my first NaNoWriMo attempt, also in high school, before finishing because it was just not good, haha.

I walked away from a couple of writing communities over the years, all fanfic related. One was all but inactive by the time I joined anyway. Another one was a little bit full of drama and many fans who were… let’s call them blunt. Plus, I got sick for a bit and got behind watching the show, took a break to avoid spoilers, and just sorta never jumped back in. The third was less fic writing and more rp based (role play, meaning I was writing as my chucaracter and pantsing it the hole way along with everyone else), and moving away from that one was more a combo of having less time to devote to keeping up and a bunch of my rp friends drifting away from it too.

With each of those I walked away with more than I’d started with. I learned so much from my three fandoms before moving on: how to work with betas, how to share my writing regularly with other people, how to write quickly and be able to post quickly to keep up with the pace of rp threads. There’s a fair amount of my writing still on the internet that I’m not necessarily proud of, quality-wise, but I’m proud of the fact that I did it. I’m also never going to read it again, because I don’t have to and I don’t wanna.

For the most part, my breaks from writing have been due to a lull in mood and energy. I take a break to focus on getting through the daily grind, and when I get back to a place where I have energy to spare again I wrote.