“I Have a Blood Pressure Situation.”

“If I ever let myself go…SPLAT!” -Frank Burns, M*A*S*H

Turns out that Frank Burns and I have that in common. A blood pressure situation, that is.

My blood pressure was fine in my twenties, back when I smoked and live on fast food and Hot Pockets. Then I quit smoking and started eating better, cooking actual meals, eating fast food only sometimes, and giving up Hot Pockets all together.

And my blood pressure started running a little high.

I will go to my grave pissed about that.

That grudge is probably one of the reasons why my blood pressure has recently gotten worse.

I would wager that my health problems over the past couple of years are probably a contributing factor as well. Stress can play hell with the blood pressure and even though I’m a year removed from that situation, it’s not hard to believe that some effects might still linger. I mean, it did take forever for my hair to start to grow back.

And frankly, my diet hasn’t been the greatest lately.

Though I haven’t gone back to Hot Pockets, and fast food is still an occasional thing, a little analysis of my diet has shown that sodium has still crept in and is probably the main culprit from my blood pressure situation getting worse.

Someone pointed out that age might also be a contributing factor and to them I say –That negativity is not helping.

So this month, I’m monitoring my sodium intake by logging all of my food (which I hate) and making some dietary changes in an attempt to reduce my saltiness. (In this case the literal. The figurative is just a personality quirk.) Maybe, possibly, perhaps a little less sodium will make a big difference.

I’m also going back to exercising first thing in the morning. Yes, I exercise most days of the week and exercise is good for the blood pressure, but I think going back to morning workouts will give this whole lifestyle tweak an extra boost. And I need a boost right now.

Hopefully, all of this will be enough to get my blood pressure back to reasonable levels.

I’d like to avoid a splat situation.

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The New Day Job

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Now that I’ve been working at this new day job gig for a little over three weeks and we’re nametag official, I suppose I can fill folks in on the details.

I’m working as a clerk at the local library part time. Right now the hours are perfect for me. I make enough to pay the bills, but I also have time to write and podcast. Though the job is a lot more than just shelving books and checking them out, it’s not stressful. There is always someone nearby to answer any questions and so far, the training I’ve received has been very good. And thankfully, I’m getting the hang of things. It’s quite the departure from the last day job.

I know what you’re thinking. A writer working at a library? It’s perfect! Well, yeah, sorta.

For one thing, it’s exposing me to books outside of my reading comfort zones (which I’ve been trying to do in the last few years anyway). It’s also exposing me to books that I’d never read, but it’s still good to know they exist. Like Amish romances. I had no idea these were so popular, but let me tell you, we carry a lot. So, it’s definitely inspiring me to read more, which will hopefully translate to me reading more consistently so I can read more.

On the flip side, it reminds me of how much I’m not accomplishing. Processing all of the new books reminds me of the ones that are sitting unpublished or unfinished on my hard drive. I want to say that it inspires me to work, but so far it’s just been a bit disheartening. I see all of those books and I can’t find my place.

Though if there are readers for Amish romances, then I’m sure there are people out there that want to read whatever it is I write. Something for everyone, right?

Sure.

In the meantime, I suppose I better get to work.

I Think I’m Okay

Back in May, I wrote a post admitting that I was in a pretty serious depressive episode. Admitting it out loud was an important step for me to start to work on getting myself back to normal.

Or as normal as I can be.

I’m writing this post to say that I think I’m okay. I say “I think” because I don’t want to jinx it. It hasn’t been an easy climb out of the ol’ depression well. I’ve slipped a few times, including a major meltdown at the beginning of June. But I bounced back from it pretty quickly, which is a sign that I’m doing better. Another sign I’m doing better? PMS isn’t a doom trigger anymore. Adding a shit ton of hormones to a fucked up brain chemistry somehow doesn’t mix well. Who knew? And while PMS still isn’t pleasant, it’s back to what I consider normal.

Functioning has gotten easier, too. It’s easier to stick to my sleep schedule. I’m making better food choices. I’m exercising regularly and it’s easier for me to exercise (except for whatever the hell is going on with my right knee; it needs to accept that we’re doing this and stop being a pain). I’ve kept my work goals reasonable so I’m not frustrating myself on the days when I do struggle. But getting my work done has gotten easier. I feel like I can finally THINK now. I have the energy to deal with things in a reasonable time frame; I’m not always putting them off. Leaving the house no longer overwhelms me. And I’m more forgiving of myself on the days when things don’t go as planned.

Overall, I feel better.

How did I do this? The hard way, of course. I went back to the very basics of dealing with depression that my therapist taught me ages ago when I was first diagnosed. Exercising regularly, keeping my sleep schedule, doing something creative, going through my day the best I could, and journaling.

When I first went to therapy when I was 21 (holy shit that was like 18 years ago), my therapist correctly dragged my ass by saying that I haven a terrible tendency of keeping everything inside. I do not vent. I stress myself and don’t release the stress. I do not express my emotions well or enough. Now, this is because I’m not a very expressive person when it comes to the “negative” emotions, but it was also reinforced by my parents who didn’t tolerate expression of “negative” emotions well, particularly anger. Both of them have wicked tempers, but got real pissy if their kids were ever mad, particularly with them. Wild.

Anyway, my therapist encouraged journaling because it was a safe way to express my emotions. No one else would have to deal with what I was feeling so I wouldn’t have to deal with their reactions to what I was feeling and subsequently their feelings. Journaling is a one-on-one feelings things. It’s a way for me to examine my emotional mess without splattering anyone else.

I’ve been journaling on the reg since I was 22. I’ve put a lot of crazy on a lot of pages. And a lot of it has been anger and frustration and irritation that I would otherwise turn inward on myself. Shit that pissed me off that I was in no position to confront or change. Obsessive thoughts that I would otherwise ruminate about until they drove me mad. Journaling took that all out of my head, put it on the page, and let me look at it and deal with it.

There’s been a lot of picking things apart in those pages lately. A lot of facing up to some nasty truths and a lot of looking at things I’d rather not look at it.

But it’s been for the best. And the years of practice I’ve had of dealing with my hellscape of a brain this way has actually made doing it comforting. I feel like I’ve expressed some of the puss of an infection that was rotting away my insides. The abscess is healing.

Now all I gotta do is not pick at the scab.

So, I’m Depressed. Now What?

I’ve been in denial about it for months, but it’s true. I’m struggling with a major depressive episode right now and have been for a while. I haven’t wanted to admit it because that means I have an actual PROBLEM instead of it just being a bad day or PMS or lack of sleep or stress. But when there are more bad days than good, the excuses run out and I’m left with the truth.

I’m depressed.

What does my depression look like?

Well, from the outside, I look fine. I’m the kind of person that puts all of my energy into maintaining the basic illusion of functioning. I shower everyday, I eat most of the time, I get dressed, I show up to work when I have a day job, I get my work done. And since I’m an introvert anyway, nobody notices that I’m socializing even less than usual and never leaving my house.

Meanwhile, the chemical imbalance in my brain is ripping me apart. I can’t focus. I can’t problem solve. Everything is overwhelming. I can’t do things as well as I did or I think I should be able to and I’m falling behind and I can’t catch up. More and more things get put off until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I don’t have the energy to do anything because every last bit I have is going into maintaining the most basic level of functioning. I don’t have the brain space to write blogs. I barely have the ability to tweet. It takes me forever to accomplish a writing project that would normally take me no time at all. I’m miserable and I don’t see how to fix it and I kinda wanna be done now.

What’s truly frustrating is that the logical thing to do, the advice everyone gives you, is to ask for help. However, my brain has every single rational argument why I shouldn’t. Nobody cares. Nobody has time for your shit. They’ve got problems of their own. There’s worse things going on in the world. Your bullshit is insignificant in comparison. You had a good day last week, right? You’re fine. You’re not depressed. And even if you are, nobody is going to believe you. They’re going to think you’re faking. They’re going to think you’re just a lazy piece of shit. They’re going to roll their eyes and do a jerk-off motion behind your back because they KNOW you’re just doing this for attention, for sympathy, so you don’t have to work or be a responsible human.

So, why am I admitting it now?

It was the realization that there were more bad days than good and that the fallout from taking advantage of a good day (thinking I was totally fine now, everything back to normal) was so debilitating that it made me admit that my brain was not of the okay. But it still took me several days to say the words out loud to another human because, hey, who cares, right? I’m just being a drama queen, saying I’m depressed. It’s just an excuse for me to be lazy and worthless. What do I have to be depressed about? I’ve got any easy life since I’ve so successfully avoided being a real adult. I don’t even have a real job.

Man, if only my brain chemistry could relate.

It turns out that it was probably my bout of anemia that kicked this all off. One imbalance triggering another. The depression might have gotten better as the anemia was treated except that’s when I was in the middle of the disastrous day job that had me so stressed out that my hair was falling out and my anxiety was so bad I couldn’t sleep. That pretty much sealed my fate. Quitting might have helped my stress levels (though my hair is STILL growing back), but the damage was done to my mental health. I haven’t been back to that store since I turned in my keys because just driving by can give me an anxiety attack. Quitting just affirmed what my depression knew to be true: that I’m a loser who can’t even handle a little stress at a crappy day job.

And I’ve been simultaneously ignoring it and battling it since.

Why put this out in the public sphere?

I don’t know. Because I’m tired of pretending I’m okay. Because I’m tired of maintaining the facade of a functioning human. I’m struggling to function at this point. The idea of getting another day job right now is so overwhelming that it makes me want to panic. Hell, just leaving the house makes me sweat.

Because by saying it out loud, I’m admitting it’s real and by admitting it’s real, then I have to deal with it. Time to drag myself out of the pit. I know how to do it. I’ve done it before (though, thankfully, this time is not nearly as bad as it’s been). I just have to remind myself to be patient while I put myself through the paces. Depression doesn’t go away overnight, which is bullshit.

Because by saying it out loud -I’m depressed- I am showing people what depression can look like. I look perfectly fine right up until the minute that I’m not. And that’s a disastrous minute. It’s the minute that everyone refers to when they say, “We had no idea anything was wrong.” You don’t. Because I can still laugh and crack jokes and have a good time and function well enough to fool an audience. I can have good days. And I can still go to sleep and hope I don’t wake up. I can still wish to fade away so I don’t have deal with all of this anymore. I can still feel miserable and utterly hopeless.

Neat, huh?

So, please be patient with me while I right my ship because laws knows I will not be. Fixing this is always the worst because I have always struggled to be kind to myself. I never feel like I deserve it and the depression just amplifies that. Right now I’m coasting on the kindness of others and I’m going to be needing a lot more of that kind of help. It’s going to take me a little while to get back to what I consider normal, so.

Hang in there.

Make It Fat, You Cowards

Some time back, Twitter user @emilybadly posted the question: “Question for my fellow fat babes: what’s a trait or personality type you wish fat characters were allowed to be more often/at all?”

It’s all linked, so check out that thread and the responses. Feel free to fall down that rabbit hole.

But if you haven’t got the time, allow me to sum it up for you.

We wish fat characters were allowed to be…people.

Fucking wild, right?

It turns out that fat people like myself are looking for the kind of representation that seems only available to thin people. We want to see fat people experience a wide-range of emotions. Let them be allowed to be happy, sad, angry, lazy, indignant, annoyed, ecstatic, depressed, etc. independent of their weight. Not happy in spite of being fat; they’re just happy. Not angry because they’re fat; they’re just angry.

Let them be desired without other people getting grossed out and being all judgy. Let them have sex, good sex. Let them be the object of someone’s crush. Let them hook up with the hot lead. Hell, let them have a long, healthy relationship with the hot lead. Particularly in the case of fat women when it comes to opposite sex relationships. It seems like when it comes to fat men (and their bodies are still played for jokes most of the time), they’re allowed to hook up with thin, beautiful women, but the vice-versa doesn’t play out with the same frequency.

Let there be more than one fat character and not just because you’ve got two of them in a relationship. Fat people are everywhere. You can have more than one, doing different things, having different personalities, relating to different people.

And there’s more than one kind of fat. We come in all shapes and sizes. Big bellies, big boobs, small boobs, no boobs, belly rolls, back fat, flabby arms, stick arms, no butts, big butts, big thighs, skinny legs, thin faces, double chins. Mix and match! And don’t cover those bodies! Let them wear shorts and mini dresses and tank tops and bikinis if they want to. Let them want to.

Let them be brave and adventurous and athletic. Let them be villainous and selfish and greedy. Let them be vain and pedantic and sloppy. Let them be stylish and smart and successful. Let them be actual human beings with a wide range of personalities and moods and issues. Let them be anything. Let them exist without the sole motivation of losing weight or being the butt of fat jokes or eating constantly or getting winded walking anywhere. Let them just be regular people or extraordinary people or anything in between.

I’ll formally throw down the challenge. Make it fat, you cowards.

I am more than happy to offer up my services in this endeavor. If you need a skilled, experienced fat person to assist you, I can be that person. I can be your adviser. I can help you make your fat characters representative of actual fat people.

My rates are very reasonable.

Where Has All My Mojo Gone?

I started off this year busting some serious tail. I got things done, man. I read four books in January alone. I was finishing projects and feeding off that accomplishment. I was even getting into the groove of starting Book ’em, Danno.

And then my mojo failed me.

Sometime around the end of February, it all started to dry up. This month has been hard. The productive days have dwindled from above average to bare minimum. I’m getting just what I need to get done to keep the train rolling, writing-wise. Podcast-wise, that train has come to a halt. I’m struggling to even write a blog post once a week. I don’t have the energy or the motivation or the interest for it. I’m tired more often than not.

Now, obviously, I’m looking for a solution. But to find a solution I first have to identify the cause. I’ve been having some trouble with that.

Is this a byproduct of some recent insomnia? Is it my depression acting up? Has my anemia returned (I was given the all-clear to stop my iron pills and have been off of them for about six weeks)? Is it PMS? Menopause (hopefully)? Something new? I don’t know. I haven’t been able to nail the root cause of my malaise down. Believe me. It’s frustrating.

More frustrating is that I now have to use the cooked spaghetti method of finding something to help me get my groove back. Just throw a bunch of possible solutions at the wall and see what sticks.

I’m getting back into my meditation, which I had slacked off on, so that should help with my sleep issues. I’m going back on my iron pills, just in case. I’m digging into my depression-managing toolbox to see if there’s any tricks in there I can try.

I’m also trying to conjure up some productivity by working on one of my half-assed resolutions. In trying to figure out something to do with the art I did last year, I’m starting a new art project. I’m hoping that getting those creative juices flowing will open up the dam for the rest of my creativity.

Pray for rain and get a flood of mojo working again.

So Long, Peter

A week before the seventh anniversary of Davy Jones’s death and just a little over a week after his own birthday, Peter Tork passed away.

I’m heartbroken.

I wrote about my attachment to The Monkees when I remembered Davy after his passing. Losing the guys is something I’ve dreaded for a long time. Losing Davy hurt badly. Losing Peter doesn’t hurt any less.

He was a brilliant musician and a gifted songwriter, something that goes terribly overlooked just because he was part of a band initially created for a TV show. He played a slew of instruments. He just had that natural talent for understanding them and playing them. I always felt that he was underused as a vocalist and songwriter in the band, as well. The other guys had songs that were catered to their voices and styles. Peter should have had more of that treatment. Maybe he wasn’t the strongest vocalists, but he had a sound that should have been heard more.

I have a lot of his solo and non-Monkees work. I adore Shoe Suede Blues. I love the stuff he did with James Lee Stanley.

And of course I’m forever grateful for the role he played in The Monkees as an actor and a musician and as one of the architects of the happy place that I started constructing back in 1986.

Blessings to you, Peter. Safe trip beyond the horizon.