A Month in Review: August 2017

August was both stressful and a huge relief, because I finally did something huge that I’ve been needing to do for the sake of my health — both mental and insurance. Certain things about the company culture were seriously wearing me down, to the point where it was becoming harder to get out of bed on workdays. On top of that I’ve had some unexpected medical adventures and, given the current political crap, it’s really made me feel the urgency of finding of a job with health benefits.

So I put in my two week’s notice and my last day was on August 31st! At the same time my partner was starting a new job in a winery tasting room (I’m so proud!!!) and doing so well there while also being super supportive of my decisions. The fact that at least one of us is currently employed has, I think, helped us avoid a lot of the tensions that would have come from both of us being anxious and together literally all the time.

Freedom from my old job allows me to do a lot of new things. I’ve started volunteering at the local library. I’m going to get all my shit at home organized, throw out things I don’t need, and start cooking more. I’m going to be healthier, eat better, exercise more, lose weight. I’m going to play with the cats more often, because they’re such needy, demanding little buggers when they have a mind to be. It’s going to be a month of planning and prepping, and getting things done.

In the meantime, here’s what I am currently:

Writing

… In small quantities, but more than I have in a while. I feel like that’s going to pick up speed in the coming weeks. I keep having all these new ideas for the novel WIPs I’ve worked on in the past two Novembers, and I’m still pondering what I will do for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Start something new? Work on one or both of the things I’ve already got going?

Planning

… A trip to visit my brother in October. My partner and I are going to road trip the ten hours to his place in Nevada, in part because the nearest airport is an hour’s drive anyway. He’s already bought the three of us tickets for a haunted train ride, he’s so excited. It’s adorable.

Making

2017-09-02 20.41.35… Pies. I promised my mom an apple pie when I visited for her birthday party over Labor Day weekend, so I made the dough the night before driving down but forgot to take it with me. After I got there I made more dough and did an apple pie anyway, but I still have two discs of dough to experiment with now. Savory pie experiments, here I come! Because if I do open top pies, I can do two.

Fun fact about gluten free flours: Bob’s Red Mill baking mix produces a pie dough that, while still raw, tastes heavily of chickpea. Not a favorite flavor of mine, although it cooks out just fine. The pie pictured above looks like a hot mess partly because I baked it in a toaster oven (it was way too hot inside that house to fire up the big oven) and because I used pure brown rice flour, also Bob’s Red Mill.

I’d tried white rice flour before and thought brown rice would be different, but not really. It was better, but rice flours produce a pie dough with a very sand-like texture. The main difference between white and brown is that the former was impossible to roll out and I just had to press it into the pie dish, while the latter rolled out well enough but didn’t stay together in the transfer from rolling surface to dish. So. Let that be a warning to gluten free bakers out there!

(The pie tasted damn good though.)

Anticipating

… Getting to know my local library better. I’ve volunteered to help with shelving on Mondays, since that’s a day they need the most help right now. In the long term I hope to get a job at the library, making this a strategic move in addition to something I also find really fun. And I get to cross it off on my bucket list!

Reading

Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco. I’m really liking it and I really, really want to know what happens next. Great choice for my first new audiobook in a while.

Watching

… The new season of American Horror Story! Or I will be soon, anyway.

Feeling

… So very frickin happy. I feel happier than I’ve felt in months, and more in control of my life than I have in a long time.

Needing

… A job with vision coverage. I haven’t been to an optometrist in like four years. By this point I’m sure my prescription could use an update. I mean, health and dental are of primary importance and this is sort of secondary, but it would be really nice.

Loving

2017-09-03 11.33.58… The brave new me. Because not only did I leave my job but, despite my fear of needles and pain, I got a tattoo! My partner tells me I was very brave.

It’s a two inch turtle on my shoulder, a honu. That’s what I’ve always had in mind for “if I ever get a tattoo” because I’ve always loved turtles (from my first stuffed animal to swimming near them on family trips to Hawaii) and I love the simplicity of the design. When I was in college I fell in love with the webcomic XKCD and started drawing my own expressive stick figures, including little comic strips here and there, mostly for whatever fandom I happened to belong to at the time. My big project one year for a drawing class was a six foot wide, four foot tall mural design on paper in graphite and black light pen, consisting primarily of words and stick figures (lots of lines). I never did finish it because it was a lot of fiddly bits — writing the words in blacklight marker, filling in around them with pencil to reveal them as negative space, and that’s literally what ALL of the lines were made up of.

I guess if I ever get a second tattoo it’ll be something that I designed in the same style, although I think for a tattoo the words would be better in positive rather than negative space. Or I don’t know. Either way it would probably hurt more than this one did, soooooo we’ll see about that.

Hating

… The crazy heat wave we’ve been having. One day it was so hot that movement just wasn’t worth the effort. (It has since cooled off tremendously and even rained. Yay rain!)

Hoping

… For a job at the library. While I’ve always wanted to volunteer and never before had the time, I do have a bit of an ulterior motive. The compensation and benefits for full time library employees are good. I like books. I deeply enjoy shelving things and making everything neat and orderly. I want to use my volunteer time getting to know people and making connections that might really help me out with applying. (Of course, I will apply to other things too, but this is really what I have my fingers crossed for.)

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A Month in Review: July 2017

The older I get (I say at the ripe old age of 29), the more each month seems to hurtle by like a runaway roller coaster. July was especially full of highs and lows — from a trip to Disneyland to crying before my endoscopy. My anxiety has spiraled wildly out of control recently but I think I am starting to get a grip on things again, partly by building better habits.

July was the month I bumped my Fitbit daily goal up to 7000 steps a day, lost my Fitbit Zip, and ordered a Fitbit Flex. I went to the doctor, spoke to a therapist, and started a daily mindfulness journal using Griddiary. My partner took more nature walks on July than we probably have in all of January through May, and we took the first major steps in finding the perfect wedding venue (even though we’re not technically engaged yet and won’t be tying the knot until at least 2019, lol). Lots of good things happened and good progress has been made.

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is this blog. I’m not quite sure what to do with it, especially considering the fact that most of my recent posts have veered away from writing to self-care and recipes. For now, I’m just going to let it be. There are a lot of other important life decisions I will have to make in August and blog plans will just have to take a backseat, but in the meantime I will continue to post whatever pops into my lil head.

 


 

Here’s what I am currently:

Writing

… Occasionally. I’ve started working on a short story that goes with my 2016 NaNoWriMo novel, and it may or may not eventually morph into the beginning of the novel.

Planning

… On being so much healthier. First, I’m now entirely gluten free (barring accidents). Second, I am keeping an eye on my macronutrients. I ordered a Fitbit Flex because I lost my Fitbit Zip in the Castro at some point between two or three blackberry ciders and I don’t know how many White Russians. Until it arrives I’m giving myself a little vacation on the calorie counting, but the Fitbit app automatically divides calories up to show the percentage of cals from carbs, fat, and protein. Fact: I need to eat more protein.

2017-07-26 18.56.35
Green Onion Pancakes Experiment #1

Making

… More things with green onions. We planted WAY too many green onions. This has lead to Green Onion Pancakes Experiment #1. I wrote everything down so that ongoing experiments will be better.

Plus, banana pancakes. But I’ll save those for a later post.

Anticipating

… Something in the works that I can’t talk about yet. But I have my fingers crossed really, really hard.

Reading

… An collection of paranormal stories. I forget the title, but the last short was about Peter Pan.

Watching

… 13 Reasons Why. I am not proud of this, but I put it on for background noise while I was working on something one day and now I need to know what the hell is going on.

Feeling

… Less overwhelmed. More capable of letting things go, or at least not holding onto them longer than I actually need to. (For example, work problems belong at work. I do not need to bring them home.) Less sick, because my body finally adjusted to the new dose of my medication and I don’t have to dread an upcoming endoscopy.

Needing

… To meditate more often. I think I meditated once in July, and that was a drop in the bucket compared to how many times I woke up thinking, “Today will be the day I start going that again.”

Loving

… Some of the new blogs I’ve found recently. I have a special grid in my diary devoted to this 21 Day Self Care Challenge over at Discovering Your Happiness. I started a few days late and did not have a chance to take a mindfulness walk on Saturday, but it’s all good.

Hating

… How little effort some people put into their work sometimes.

Hoping

… That I will lose more weight this month. While I do have a goal, my main aim is simply to be healthier — but I want both, haha.

I’m… is it okay or OK?

I had the endoscopy yesterday, and honestly the worst part of it was getting the IV in. That Ativan I took beforehand really helped — I didn't make a scene, just held my arm away and cried hard but silently for about sixty seconds, then let them do it.

The nurse was really good, I don't even have a bruise.

Don't really remember the rest. There was a brief wave of unpleasant feelings when I was wheeled into the procedure room, but after they asked me to turn and lay on my side I was out like a light. My throat isn't even noticeably sore, or at least not more than I would expect from chatting all night in a loud restaurant. I did have to leave the building in a wheelchair though. It was very comfy. And it was necessary, because my knees and legs were definitely on a slightly different plane of existence from my brain.

Today, I'm still feeling sleepy and a little chilled out. I don't know how much of that is residual effects from the sedation (or the Ativan) and how much if it is relief to have the whole thing over with. Both, probably. I'm taking it easy.

Self-Care for People Trying to Adult Good

This guide was meant specifically to help people with ADHD and ADD. While I don’t have either of those (as far as I know, I am increasingly less and less sure of anything about myself these days), some of the self-care tips struck me as Really Good Ideas. Halfway through reading it I stopped and downloaded the Grid Diary app. Sam’s examples of his own questions he’s set for himself to answer at the beginning and end of every day are, after some slight tweaking, a good reminder for me to be more mindful. Some of these are (tweaks included):

  • What are some strategies I can use to be effective and get shit done today?
  • What’s one way I can support my mental health today?
  • Am I worried about anything?

And one suggested by the app, which I decided to keep:

  • What problem did I encounter today? How did I solve the problem?

As Sam comments in there somewhere, these tips won’t be perfect for everyone but work for him as he spends a lot of time on his phone anyway. My partner, who most likely does have ADD, swears by bullet journals and didn’t seem as interested in this app as I am when I mentioned it — but then I’m more of a phone person, and any time I spend on my phone that’s not noodling away on Candy Crush Soda Saga or Solitaire Tri Peaks is probably a good thing.

 

That’s when I knew: I didn’t want to live like this anymore.

via ADHD Survival Guide: How I Stopped Procrastinating and Got My Sh!t Together — Let’s Queer Things Up!

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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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!

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.