Thinking Writing Ninja


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+/-4 Standard Deviations

This has been a really odd day. It started off being crappy, and I was going to make a big long post talking about my lots of mental health issues. And then – well, okay, I’m still going to do a bit of that. But at the end, lots of useful, awesome stuff happened, and I feel like the Universe just said “So now you’ve FINALLY acknowledged the whole list of your issues, I’m going to send you some tools to help you solve them.”

Thanks, Universe. No, I actually really meant that. 

But okay, let’s go back to the beginning. So my week has been an everything-but-average week: lots of awesome, thank-god-finally sorts of things happened, and I felt good about them, and I also felt pretty depressed and stuff. And when I say I felt really depressed, I don’t mean the kind of “I hate my sorry ass and leaving this blanket is too hard so I’m going to stay in my pyjamas all day and scavenge instead of cooking” days* I mean more like “I’m really on edge and DO THINGS but really scared of doing things and I feel like crap and also like bouncing and possibly bursting into tears and throwing things.”

I am not a psychologist, or any kind of professional, but I am smart enough to figure out that this (which has lasted for…like…a week and a half? ImageAnd has been getting steadily less Apathy and more Hyper) bears more than a passing resemblance to a classic bipolar mixed episode. I went to my GP with severe, uncontrollable mood swings when I was 14/15 and he said I had PMS and put me on the pill, which made me suicidal. And then there was nothing, and every time I mentioned my weird brain to my mother she would “reassure me” that I was normal. 

Yeah, I don’t think so. 

So anyway, I was feeling really unsettled and stuff earlier, so I just sat down and typed out the current contents of my brain onto a word document. My brain went waaaay faster than my typing (and I type pretty damn fast) and stuff kept getting stuck, but it ended up being guttingly honest. I wrote down for the first time the words “I hate myself”. I wrote about how my brain today seems to be “depression on speed”. I wrote about my unhelpful thoughts about eating and my body (long suppressed) which seem to be coming back, and how pathetic and useless and stupid I feel, and how scared I am that no doctor or psych person will take me seriously.

I have a counselling appointment on monday. But the last time I had a counsellor they just asked me a lot about how exactly my anxiety manifested, and whether I’d been bullied, when I hadn’t even got a chance to tell them about my soulsucking depressive moments or DO ALL THE THINGS obsessive ones. Also I’ve been told a lot that there’s nothing wrong with me and I should just stop whining and get on with life like a normal person – including by some doctors. The contents of what I wrote scared me, and I thought “wow, if someone else showed that to me, I’d ask them how recently they’d seen their psychiatrist.” 

And then of course Kaitie read it and her response was basically “I kindof knew all this, also you know that I love you and will support you, right?” And that was the start of my day’s turnaround. I am loved. I don’t understand why, but I guess that’s tough, because I am anyway. 

So I sat down on my laptop to read Captain Awkward, who is fantastic and awesome, and I was reading about how people get around their Jerkbrain** long enough to get out of bed and to work on time. Now all of this was super-helpful, but I also found a link to a woman whose method of dealing with her Jerkbrain is to talk compassionately to it. She says she finds that the bits of your brain that are being mean to you are trying to protect you, but they were made when you were young and sad and scared, so they don’t always go about it in the best way until you start talking to them. ImageCrazy? A bit. Worth a shot? Definitely, particularly as a writer who’s used to active dialogue with her characters. Sounds kinda fun. 

From there, I was linked to http://www.fluentself.com, which seems to pretty much be The Home Of My People. They’re all about Getting Better At Stuff, Finding Out How To Be The Awesomest You Possible, and doing this all with fun and kooky-yet-effective strategies and other such things which…yeah. As my ninjutsu instructor said on my first lesson, “I think you’re gonna fit in around here.”***

 

So all in all this day has been lots of gains despite how crap I was feeling earlier: I now have a much better handle on what my mental health issues actually look like, I have discovered that the world does not end if I write honestly about them, and I have also found loads of new coping strategies to try and like-minded folks to talk about them with. Though I didn’t get much actual concrete stuff done today, I’m going to put this one down as a win. And hope sincerely that I can get to sleep because I am WIRED and tomorrow is busy. 

Ninja hugs, 

Roisin

*I had a few of those. Like a week of them. Very little got done, and it sucked, but it is now over.
**A Jerkbrain is that bit of your brain that tells you you’re stupid and useless, and you shouldn’t get up because it’s scary and you’ll fail anyway, and stuff.
***he demonstrated a technique, the guy being demonstrated on made a hilarious pain face, and I giggled. 


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Pick Yourself Up And Try Something Else

Well, that didn’t work*.

Often things don’t work out the way we hope or expect. I’m pretty sure this is the life lesson that the universe is trying to teach me – Pick Yourself Up And Try Something Else. See, I have a theory that the stuff that you keep getting wrong or keeps going wrong in your life represents the world’s way of trying to teach you a lesson. Recent ones on my list have been The Only Way Out Is Through (I’m getting better at this one), Do The Important Things And Everything Else Is Gravy (er…I’m working on it?), and Who The Hell Cares What Everyone Else Thinks? (Success!)

Anyway, this is the one I keep getting stuck on, I think. Actually, once identified, it’s much easier to get a handle on.

This picture is appropriate to my life a lot.

For example: I’m pretty sure the problem I’ve been having is that I keep trying to Pick Myself Up And Try Again. Which doesn’t often work terribly well, because trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results is probably the definition of stupidity**

So what did I do? I tried citalopram again, my old anxiety medication. In fairness, part of the reason for that was that I was, indeed, too gung-ho about going med-free before I was ready, but I had totally forgotten the other reason – er. It doesn’t actually work all that well for me. Okay, but not great.

It turns out that my actually-a-bit-better self responds even more badly to citalopram than my horribly-close-to-a-nervous-breakdown self. For the past week it’s really been clear that my anxiety wasn’t being taken away, just covered with a blanket of apathy. Which led to me having only slightly less basic anxiety, and just doing less stuff – and not doing stuff is what causes a large proportion of my anxiety.

Also my anxiety leads me to have difficulty doing stuff in an icky vicious cycle. Hopefully you can see why a pill that makes it even harder to do stuff is really unhelpful.

.I sortof felt like I was taking anxiety pills. You know, the kind that *give* you anxiety.

I discovered this actually when I forgot to take my pill one evening, and woke up in the morning feeling still anxious, but much better able to, um, get out of bed. Win! So I’ve repeated the experiment today, and I’m better still. Actually able to summon the will to brush my hair and wash my face, for example***. Self-care is actually happening again.

I might start talking about that actually – self-care on the vanity end (I’m still utterly rubbish at Caring About Your Appearance  Does Not Make You A Bad Person) – but not on this blog I think, for it is not the place. Yeah, I like to talk****.

But that’s sort of just life. Good weeks, bad weeks. Pick yourself up, try something else. The pick yourself up bit is, in actuality, the hard bit – the try something else just requires a bit of thinking. What I’m going to do now is make do as I was before without the pills (not great, but not bad) while I get a doctor’s appointment, and then ask to try some different pills. There are a few different SSRIs that are commonly prescribed for anxiety, and I feel like it’s okay to try one or two more before I decide pills are not for me. And to end on a cheerful note (because I am feeling pretty cheerful today, actually):

Things That Were Pretty Good about This Week:

I did lots of my Chi kung, and I’m getting really good at my routine. It makes me feel (physically) a lot better, and does help me mentally at least a bit.

I kept making healthy, tasty food for myself and Kaitie (who now lives at cupcakesandanguish.wordpress.com) even though it was hard.

Though I was sad and anxious about not being able to do stuff, I didn’t get mad at myself for it, or push myself too hard. I just did what I could and relaxed when I couldn’t. (I’m *really* proud of this one. Beating myself up all the time for, um, everything ever that goes wrong is one of my worst habits.)

I developed some constructive ideas about expanding my self-care routine (both appearance-wise and things like including a short yoga session in the morning).

I packed really well for this weekend which we’ve spent at Kaitie’s parents’ house, which is important because if I don’t pack the right stuff then we can’t follow our diet while we’re there and we both feel dreadful.

I cuddled my girlfriend a lot and let her cuddle me and make me feel better (sometimes I can be a bit like But I Should Be Taking Care Of You, which is silly because Kaitie likes and is good at giving me cuddles and calming me down).

I allowed myself to just sit and do stuff that would cheer me up as well as keep my brain occupied, like play the old Harry Potter PC games which I haven’t played in ages.

I took my emergency benzodiazepines whenever I felt the need, and didn’t worry about it or tell myself I was just being pathetic or anything.

Posted unironically. For anxious people/agoraphobics, leaving the house *is* an achievement. Why not be happy about managing something I find hard?

There. Yay! And I feel like there’s a few more. This is a good exercise to do, actually: write good things and bad things about a particular week. I always surprise myself with how many positive things I did, and writing about the negative things too helps me feel like I’m still being realistic.

I’ll do a more indepth post on chi kung soon so you can see my routine and whatnot, and update in a day or two how I’m doing off my citalopram. Till then,

Ninja hugs,

Roisin

 

*yes, this is going to be a little bit a post about why I didn’t post for a few days. Short answer: bad anxiety. Long answer: read post.

**actually, the quote says that it’s the definition of insanity, but I think “stupidity” fits better. It’s probably not insane; almost everyone does it from what I can tell (see: dating the same sorts of incompatible people, trying the same sorts of unhelpful coping strategies, etc).

***I kid you not, I would do things like sit for an hour before I could summon the will to get up to pee. And I wasn’t drinking enough water either because it was so much effort to force myself up to fill up my water bottle. Yeah, it’s ridiculous. Thanks, meds!

****to the internet. Real people are scary and loud and tire me out a lot, with some delightful exceptions/in small doses.


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Get Better At Stuff: Life Stuff and Chi Kung

So, I seem to have had a small success: a day where I did some useful chore-like things, and had some time playing Alice: Madness returns, and have arrived at the end of the day not thinking “oh god, I have to do that again tomorrow?”

ImageI’m not sure if the citalopram-induced apathy (which has, I think, been a big problem this past week) is lifting or if my walk to the bus stop in the snow just cheered me up loads but either way, I visited the job centre, made some tasty food, and did some dishes and laundry. This morning while I was heading to the job centre, lots of anxiety somehow managed to get through the fog of “I don’t care about anything, no seriously, even my pain responses are dead”, which probably just means that it was a metric fuckton of anxiety.

Still, they were nice and gave me a backdated claim form because it’s their fault I haven’t had Jobseeker’s Allowance for the past month. Need to fill it in and post it tomorrow – I’m trying not to worry about that too much now. I can worry about it tomorrow, when I really ought to be going to the doctor to get a repeat for my citalopram and talk about my insomnia, which is better but not cured and feels like it might come back at any time.

Image

Yes, I stand in my bedroom looking something like this. Only normally I’m wearing my pink dressing gown with monkeys on it.

I even did my chi kung. I’ll talk about it more in another post, but it’s much like tai chi – slow, flowing movements with deep breathing that are sort of like meditation in motion, and it helps relieve tension, strengthen muscles, and promote good circulation and lymphatic flow, all without any sweating or high-impact movement. Which is good for me since I’m not all that well and though I used to run, I think trying one right now would wipe me out for the rest of the day*. Anyway, it makes me feel – not energetic exactly, but awake and alive and capable of going about my day**.

Anyway I’m really happy cause I seem to be getting better at it, an the better you are at it the more benefit you get. See? I *really like* positive feedback loops. I hope tomorrow is a good day, for me and anyone reading this.

Ninja Hugs,

Roisin

*And as a bonus you won’t ruin your knees or tear any ligaments. 

**Do normal people feel like this all the time?


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I’ve Got Some Good News And Some Bad News

Good news: my anxiety is doing so much better, and I’m managing to get a sane number of hours of sleep per night. Win!

Bad news: I can only get to sleep at 3am, and my motivation has plummeted along with my anxiety. Looks like I was using anxiety to motivate myself…whoops. Not so win.

I’ve had both anxiety (pretty much constant and low-level, at least until I reached university) and insomnia (on and off) since as far back as I can remember. The interaction of the two causes multiple additional levels of suck, including More Anxious Because I’m Exhausted, Anxiety About My Insomnia Is Giving Me More Insomnia, and I’m So Scared And Tired And Sick Of This; Maybe I Should Just Stay In Bed Today.

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This is not actually me, but someone from an “erase dark circles” ad. Whose dark circles aren’t as bad as mine, go figure.

In an attempt to break the cycle of suck (and, in my own small way, decrease World Suck)*, I went back on Citalopram, my anxiety medication, which I really shouldn’t have come off in the first place because although I was better than where I started, I still wasn’t, uh, better. Pros: Sleeping is easier, and my anxiety is obviously loads better. Short-term cons: It does funny things to my stomach initially, and makes me kinda lethargic.

Long-term cons:…it looks like I’m completely unequipped to go about life without anxiety. I’m going to have to learn from the ground up, people. I have gone from “must do dishes, must do ALL the dishes, and indeed ALL THE HOUSEWORK otherwise, I don’t know, the world will end or something. Yes, I’m allowed to have a break when I’m too exhausted to stand, but only after 3 attempts to make sure I really can’t stand.” to “Eh. Dishes. I’m kinda tired, I guess I’ll just do them later.” Bonus points for how lethargic I’m feeling.

I don’t really know how to sensibly decide how much stuff to do, and what’s important,  without that voice in my head insisting that if I don’t just keep doing stuff then, I don’t know, everyone I know will call me to shout at me or something.

Also I’m pretty sure I sortof burnt myself out with the DO ALL THE THINGS enthusiasm and now just want to sit and play Alice: Madness Returns on my Xbox and not talk to anyone except Kaitie.

Image

Alice: Madness Returns is a creepy re-imagining of Alice in wonderland and it’s *awesome*

For further details of how this cycle works (and also confirmation that, hey look, other people find life hard, too!) see This Is Why I’ll Never Be An Adult.

I don’t honestly know what my capacity for doing stuff is right now, and that’s probably my biggest problem (other than thoughts like, eh, I don’t need food *that* much**).

Anyway I have a job centre appointment at 11.30am tomorrow. And while that’s scary (and also early considering that all attempts to fix my sleep schedule only resulted in more insomnia, and now I wake up at about 12pm), it’s also a decent source of external motivation. Which is the only sort that seems to be working right now, so I’ll take all the external motivation I can get.

But I am bearing in mind that all this stuff is actually the result of a positive change (much less anxiety) – it’s just that I’m going to need to do some serious debugging before I’m working properly again because all my nice routines and habits have fallen to bits and today’s productivity meter reads “Did Some Dishes” and nothing else. But that’s okay. Yesterday’s was blank, and tomorrow’s will be even better (I hope).

Ninja hugs,

Roisin

*See vlogbrothers, nerdfighteria RIGHT NOW and don’t come back until you know what DFTBA means. I’ll wait. Tangentially: why do I find it easier to make things better for myself if I reframe it as decreasing the net world suck?

**fortunately this time around I have to make food for Kaitie, who finds cooking hard and anxiety-inducing and eating triggering and difficult, and so if I don’t make food she doesn’t eat nearly enough or have, like, adequate nutrition. The last time I had thoughts like this I lost half a stone completely by accident.


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Jobsearch Thoughts

Short update before I talk about my jobsearch: I meditated yesterday and today, I felt better, stuff got done – at least yesterday. Today I haven’t been quite so productive.

It’s been about 9 months since I left uni, and only in the past few weeks have I really been well enough to think about looking for a job. So I started looking – wrote a CV, a few sample covering letters, and starting sending off applications to various admin-type jobs – mostly because I’m pretty qualified for them and those sorts of jobs are good for reliable, part-time work.* I’m definitely not up for full-time work just yet.

I’ve only just realised a problem: what if I get called for an interview?

Problem the first: I have no interview clothes.

This one isn’t totally insoluble – my plan was to bike up to asda and grab a pair of black slacks and a smart top – with all the money I totally don’t have because I’m on JSA and Kaitlyn** is on ESA and that’s all the money we have for food and bills and there’s pretty much nothing left over.

Image

I’ve got this smart black-and-grey dress which looks sortof like this in shape and length, which I could wear with some smart black shoes, but I’ve no idea if that sort of thing’s acceptable.

Problem the Second is make-up. It’s pretty much expected that a woman will wear makeup to an interview, and if someone’s skintone can be called “unprofessional”, my somewhat blotchy, occasionally blemished face pretty much fits the bill. I’m not doing myself any favours, at least in a professional setting. The rest of the time I prefer to look as androgynous as I can, so I don’t wear any – and thus I don’t own any that I’ve bought recently.

I’m willing to shove some on to improve my chances of being hired – as far as I can tell I’m one of those people best summed up by the phrase “scrubs up well” – but this is another expense. And buying foundation is *hard* (I have enough of the rest to make do, really – eyeliner and eyeshadow keep well). Walking around with a yellow/orange mask on my face is not going to help things any.

I think part of the reason I’m worrying about my appearance is so that I don’t have to worry about, you know, everything else. I’ve never been to a formal interview (despite having had two jobs) and the whole going to work to actually support myself financially has never been something I’ve had to do before. So if I worried about those things, I’d likely curl up in a corner and hide or something.

Well. I’ve started meditating again and I’m back on my excellent anxiety meds***. That’s probably a better start to a jobsearch than a new pair of slacks. Wish me luck.

Ninja hugs,

Roisin
*part-time work with bizarre changing shifts would probably send me into an early grave. 

** my lovely girlfriend, who lives at prettypsychoshy.wordpress.com. 

***Yes, I quit them for a bit. Yes, it was a stupid idea.


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Get Better At Stuff: Self-Care

So far today, I’ve made flapjacks. I cancelled that Doctor’s appointment I made, and I’m sitting in bed on my laptop with a hot water bottle. Why? Well, I feel like arse today, and I’m trying an experiment: what if, when I feel crap, I give myself permission to do only a bare minimum of things, and just rest? 

Image

 

For everyone who’s thinking, “but isn’t that what normal people do when they feel crap?” either the answer is no,

 or I’m not normal. Though given the statistics for anxiety, I’m probably in good company. You see, what I *used* to do when I felt crap was drag my ass out of bed, force myself to do All The Things, beat myself up when I inevitably didn’t finish my to do list, and collapse into bed feeling like a failure and worrying about how behind I’m getting. 

Yep. Really productive in the long term. Particularly for someone who’s only just regenerated up to 50% of full HP*. 

It turns out that self-care is *hard*, particularly for someone who thinks that HMRC will turn up on her doorstep and shout at her if the kitchen is dirty or something**. But self-care isn’t just about not doing things that you don’t have the spoons for – it’s about doing things that will help you to feel better, both now and later***. Maybe a hot bath will loosen your muscles and help you relax, or working on an art project will improve your skills, de-stress you, and make you feel accomplished. 

Me, I’m going to meditate. Image

I used to be pretty regular with it, but I fell out of the habit this past month. I guess I thought I had more important stuff to do, like laundry. End result? Yep, I’m more anxious, and my productivity has fallen. 

I find the timing myself/deciding what to do parts of meditation are a bit of a deterrent – gods save me from anxiety loops – so I’m going to be lazy and do guided meditation. I love the http://www.meditainment.com set of guided meditations, and there’s a free one called The Secret Garden which is one of my favourites. It’s read by a woman who has a british accent and the world’s most soothing voice. They’re only 20 minutes or so long, so it’s hardly a time sink.

Right. Let’s get started. I’ll let you know how I’m doing. 

Ninja hugs, 

Roisin

*gaming metaphor. I make no apologies.

**HMRC probably won’t. My parents might. Or maybe my flatmate, or the postman, or something. It’s a legitimate fear, honest!

***”sleep” is an allowed answer to this question.

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