1:50 AM

The school final push is here!

I’ve been having school non-stop since last September, and pushing myself to work hard. This last exam is stressing me out because I need a certain percentage, and as a former political science student, kinesiology is difficult. I’m very tired. My exam is this Thursday. I think after this exam, I’m going to hibernate for a few days. Stress, stress, stress.

This upcoming year doesn’t look peaceful either; I’m planning to do a medical assistant certificate on the side while still attending university. Two schools at the same time. The medical assistant certificate will help me gain experience (and income) and while waiting for acceptance into further schooling for nursing. It is frustrating dealing with administration and bureaucratic policies. It is ironic how the province is in desperate need of healthcare professionals, yet there is such a long wait list for the qualifications. I just want to move on in life. The sooner I finish school, the sooner I can move out of this shitty town.

On a side note, I’ve been considering doing field nursing as a possibility. It is very low commitment (1-2 days a week), high pay and benefits, and allows me to have a life. I want to have a life. I don’t want a job that forces me to be consumed entirely and sucks the life out of me. I don’t want to be working full-time for the rest of my life and never fulfilling my passions or enjoying life. A career is important, but I don’t want it to be the defining aspect of me. It makes me sad that we go to school to slave away at a job for the rest of our lives. I mean, even if you absolutely love your job, doing it everyday is bound to be repetitive. Repetition doesn’t allow growth or new learning.

I just find field nursing exciting. You’ll never know when to expect. The problem is, what if I get sent to a war zone? What if a certain president starts a war that Canada is dragged into? But I enjoy the “no bullshit, don’t talk just do” environment. I don’t want the emotional family begging me to save a life. I want the nitty gritty “I’m going to try and save your life, if I fail I will move on the the next person asap without a word”. I don’t want the bullshit, I don’t want the emotions, I don’t want the coddling and sweet talk. The only barrier I have between it is that I’ll have to work on the physical requirement. I’d have to be more physically fit. I’d prefer to be more fit than the minimum physical requirements due to the nature of the field. Side note: field nurses get trained on how to use guns and rifles!! So badass!! But the possibility of being killed needs some serious thought. It sounds like something I’d be proud of, saving the lives of our country’s most bravest people. I’d rather not deal with spoiled brats in an overly sanitized environment and sugarcoating everything. Field nursing is a zero bullshit, zero sugarcoating, think and act fast environment. I’m a compassionate person, but I don’t want to hold someone’s hand and gently tell them about their illness in the most vague way possible. My compassion means if your leg needs to be amputated asap, I will do it asap. I will not gently comfort you beforehand and sugar coat like “due to this happening it resulted in this and the infection has spread from here to here….” blah blah. I’d rather go like “Sir, your leg is infected and I’m cutting it off to save your life” *chop*.

But the possibility of danger in the field holds me back (other than the physical requirement lol). If I start a family, I don’t want to die in war and leave them behind. I also know that if I do decided to go into field nursing, there will be some resistance from my loved ones.

things that help me sleep

Occasionally I get a night with absolutely no sleep. Usually it is because of my bad sleeping habits and messed up circadian rhythm. Sometimes it is because of coffee or caffeinated drinks at the wrong time. Other times it is because of stress and those endless thoughts that go on before sleeping. Sometimes (although much rarer) it is just because of bipolar disorder. I have medication that controls this, but sometimes I forget a dose or lost the dose (due to vomiting and such pleasantries) so I pay for my mistakes with a night of no sleep.

Obviously the most important thing is to sleep and wake at the same time each day. But life and work and school get in the way, and sometimes that is just not possible. Exercise is another totally obvious no-brainer tip. It releases chemicals, uses your pent-up energy, exposes you to sunlight, and is just a healthy thing to do. But it is time-consuming and sometimes we have no time for it (or we are lazy and hate exercise). Putting these two important things aside, the following techniques are what helps me sleep when I cannot.

How do I deal with being unable to sleep? First I try deep breathing. I learned this trick from my years as a choir member! I’ll breath in deeply on a count of 4 seconds, then hold it in for 2 seconds, then breathe out for 6 seconds. After a few cycles of this and my breathing is slow and stable at this rhythm, I try for a longer rhythm. I breathe in for a count 6 seconds, hold in for 4, then breathe out for 8 seconds. Then I go for 8 seconds breathing in, holding in for 6 seconds, then breathing out for 10 seconds. I usually can’t go further than, but sometimes I will try. When all the deep breathing exercises are finished, my body will shift to breathing a slower and deeper pattern that is similar to the one we have when we’re relaxed or sleeping.

Breathing summary:

  1. Breathe IN for 4, HOLD for 2, breathe OUT for 6.
  2. Breathe IN for 6, HOLD for 4, breathe OUT for 8.
  3. Breathe IN for 8, HOLD for 6, breathe OUT for 10.
  4. If you can: Breathe IN for 10, HOLD for 8, breathe OUT for 12.

Recently I’ve found that sleep meditation helps me drift off to sleep. Sleep mediation often has a voice guiding you on relaxing every muscle of you body and reminds to you relieve tensions in your body. Some times sleep mediation audio also comes with a sleep story to help your mind visualize images that promote sleep. Some sleep mediation audio is just music, but I prefer a voice guide because it distracts my mind from the stressful thoughts to allow me to fall asleep.

I would suggest Jason Stephensen’s sleep meditation channel on YouTube. Basically YouTubing “sleep stories” or “guided sleep mediation” (for a voice guide) or “sleep mediation” (for just music). There are some phone apps that offer sleep mediation too! I have an app called “Calm” that has sleep stories and timed sleep mediation music. It is a paid app, but I just use the free features and that is enough for me.

As I’ve mentioned in several blog posts, I am afraid of the dark. Not so much afraid of the absence of light itself, but more afraid of the things that are in the dark. I need to have a night light or some source of light to fall asleep and feel safer. However, it is hard to fall asleep sometimes when there is a light shining bright overhead. In this situation, I use a sleep mask. I know it is weird to have a sleep mask to block out light but have a light on a the same time. But sometimes if I feel like something is there, I panic and need a source of light immediately. Taking off my mask and instantly being bathed in light is comforting. The more fumbling around for a light switch I do means the more panic and fear. I feel safer with a light on or knowing that the lights are on even though I cannot see the light. The accessibility makes me feel safer and lets me sleep easier.

I sleep with my windows open in the summertime. My room is right outside a road so sometimes noisy cars and rowdy nighttime parties disrupt my sleep. Also my backyard often has noisy animal visitors, like several cats that often come around and have violent noisy fights right outside my window (hearing cats suddenly screeching and hissing at 4am is terrifying). Ear plugs are awesome! However, I only plug one ear and leave the other one unplugged. I sleep on my side so the other unplugged ear is “plugged” by my pillow. My pillow doesn’t block sound entirely. If both ears are plugged, I won’t be able to hear an emergency alarm if something happens in my house. I like to remain some what alert in my sleep in case there is an emergency. I can normally wake up quickly if my unconscious body hears something out of the ordinary, so plugging both ears would not be safe.

If none of the above work, just getting out of bed, having a glass of water, using the washroom, and stretching, helps! If falling asleep doesn’t work, I repeat my pre-bed routine and walk around my house for a few minutes, then crawl into bed and start again fresh.

In a scenario where all the above does not work, drugstores sell melatonin. It can be bought without a prescription and is taken in small doses. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. The amount produced corresponds to the amount of light or darkness you are exposed to. It helps with jet lag, insomnia, and the sleep schedules of nighttime shift workers. It is not addictive. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for our human sleep-wake cycle. I have no tried melatonin yet, because sleep mediation works quite well for me. I also know melatonin made have a side effect of vivid dreams, and I already have very vivid dreams and would like to avoid extremely vivid dreams. But I may use it in the future when my sleep cycle is more messed up than it is already. I have some friends and two professors than highly recommended it. It is safe when used correctly. Also, according to one professor, it knocks her out completely within 30 minutes even though her mind was stressed out with papers and PhD stuffs.

I hope all this helps! Happy sleeping 🙂

2:45 AM

Very minor CW: Depression

(Ramblings on socializing and social media.)

I’ve been reclusive. But I feel perfectly happy. I really want to hang out with friends, but I forgot to text them or life gets too busy until several months pass by. Talking is exhausting. I understand that people care and want to catch up with me, but day schedules clash. In addition, I tend to have a different sleeping rhythm; I sleep at 2am-3am and wake up later in the day. The timing needs to feel right too, because sometimes days are bad, and I just need to spend a day alone. It’s like I want to socialize but heading out in public to hang out (not to mention getting dressed nicely and doing hair/makeup) is tedious. I don’t care about appearance for school and around most people, but others I feel pressured into it. I’d had a “friend” comment on my makeup free face and since then, being around them without makeup felt so uncomfortable that I wore makeup to feel better.

It’s a weird feeling going on social media and seeing pictures of acquaintances having a good time in a large group of friends. I mean… I could cut down on social media. 2 years ago with the major depressive episode, I was obsessed with Facebook. I was constantly refreshing my wall, wanting new posts to appear. Perhaps there is some psychological thing involved but I don’t know why that happened.

I want to get away from social media, but I feel like if I do, I cut my ties with my friends because it’s the only outlet I use to communicate with them. But as I mentioned, I feel happy alone. Friends are still important to me because I care about them and want them to be happy. In the near future I might have a week or so “unplugged”, but currently I’m addicted to refreshing my feeds page.

I’ve got 99 problems but disorganization ain’t one

*Minor CW: mental illness*

For the past few months, I’ve devoted Sundays as a day for me to wind down and self care (#SelfCareSundays, anybody?!). This is both physical and mental. It was something I decided to start a few months ago as a response to my depression/manic cycles. I’ve developed lots of unhealthy habits during my period of major depression, most involving a lack of self care. I’m afraid of going back there; I’m afraid of the grimy feel of neglecting to shower and hiding in bed all day, the oil on my face and the acne as a result of bad habits which makes me self conscious, wanting to wash my hair out but not wanting to leave the safety of the bed and be naked and vulnerable in the shower. I used to not care about tidiness of my room and papers, which led to further stress when looking for something.

Now I’m hoping my self care routine on Sundays will become a habit, so even if the depression comes back, the habit is so deeply ingrained that I can drag my depressed ass out of bed. It is starting to become a consistent thing now, whereas when I first started it was difficult.

Some of my self care is concerned with the physical aspect, because I tend to neglect that during the week. But mental self care is important as well. Sundays are also a time for me to catch up on upcoming events. I’ve had an agenda off and on until my period of depression. I stopped there completely because the agenda was just an “off and on” kinda thing… it took too much effort to initiate something new and consistent at that time. I forgot about the wonders of keeping an agenda until my psychiatrist suggested I start it up again and keep it consistent. Since getting back into it, I’ve been trying to look at it daily.  I could say I’m used to it now, and am lost without one.

Sundays are a time to plan my life out and unload my mental to-do list into the physical agenda. Without an agenda now, I get really stressed! I’m a visual learner, so I need to see my schedule, and future plans in an understandable manner. Keeping to-do lists piled up mentally makes me paranoid of forgetting any one of the items. A physical to-do list lets me see tasks I’ve done or need to do. I already have a messed up circadian rhythm, dealing with bipolar disorder, and symptoms of anxiety/ hallucinations… ect. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT?? I’ve got 99 problems but disorganization ain’t one!

On Sundays, I clean! I clean my budgies’ cage, I clean my room, I vacuum my room and my budgies’ play area, I stack piles neater, I put misplaced items away. OH! And I clean my makeup brushes and makeup sponges, which I should be doing daily after each use, but life happens. It is better than cleaning the brushing once a month, like I did when depressed.

Sunday is when I force myself to hop into the shower, no matter what, and wash the entire week’s accumulated dry shampoo out of my hair. If I’m feeling up for it, I use a hair mask to fix my dry shampooed brittle hair. This can be store-bought, or by slightly warming by some olive oil and slapping it on the ends of your damaged wet hair before shampooing for 15mins. I also have some old “Freeman” branded face masks that I put on or any other face mask that is available, then force myself to chill for 15 mins.

Meal planning and snack planning! I usually take a look in the fridge or cupboards and take mental inventory. Then go grocery shopping Sunday evenings for food that I need for the week. Medication stock checking too…. if I suddenly run out of lithium and not take it, there are serious side effects. I know some side effects from suddenly stopping lithium is a worsening of bipolar disorder, anxiety, flu-like symptoms, and a full-out relapse. (P.S. I keep an emergency medication stock, or at least carry a few days worth around just in case. In an emergency, that last thing I want to worry about is medication withdrawal.

Even if, for example I have a huge essay, and have little time to do all the above, I aim to engage in at least one self care/ organizational activity. Whether it be using a bombass nice smelling lotion or organizing my desk, I must do one task no matter what. So far I am doing well forcing myself to do at least one task even if busy. But I have forgotten in the past because, for the silliest reason, I didn’t realize it was Sunday. Days go by way too fast sometimes, it is scary!!!

Basically Sunday = “Get Your Shit Together Day”. So far, it works in reducing stress and helps me get my shit together. Everyone should try it! Buy an agenda and start planning your shit out. Come hell or high water, I’ll still be jotting out my dinner plans and crossing items off my To-Do list in my pocket-sized books.

Lets talk about hair (loss)!

***Trigger Warning! I’m back to my roots for this post only: talking about depression and medications. Content warning for hair loss***

Currently my hair is hella long. It is over halfway down my back… so long… too long… But I think it is manageable so far. My hair is usually thick but currently it is not.

It has been almost a year since I’ve stopped taking Co-Fluoxetine (a serotonin inhibitor for depression). As I’ve mentioned before, Fluoxetine is a BAD drug for people with bipolar disorder. Serotonin is a mood elevator, and people with bipolar disorder do not need their moods elevated even more. Serotonin + bipolar depression = mood/ behaviour changes. Serotonin + bipolar hypomania = WHHEEEE~~~ .

What does Fluoxetine have to do with my hair? Well one of the side effects I experienced (aside from the bipolar reactions) was hair loss. Hair loss is a rare side effect from the medication and I just happened to be very unlucky. I lost a lot of hair during the December of 2015 up until July 2016 where I began to ease off the Fluoxetine. Its something I’ve never talked about because, y’unno, I had a lot more important things to deal with than shedding everywhere. Hair loss was insignificant when faced with possible academic concession, counselling, still going to freaking work, trying to get out of bed everyday, and getting my shit back together…. So I never brought up the hair loss issues with a doctor. My family noticed though. Mom noticed the unusually gigantic wad of hair in the hair catcher after every time I washed my hair, and everyone else noticed the shedding.

Thankfully, I am blessed by the genetic gods with thick hair. Without any hair loss, it is a freaking forest, a lion’s mane. I didn’t need a scarf.

But hair takes time to grow. I used to have a short bob cut. 2.5 years ago I started growing my hair out again. 1 year ago some of my hair started falling out. Now, despite the original strands being all even and long, the new growth makes everything look disorganized. I have a lot of “hair wispies” all over my head. Not that I’m complaining; it is better than not having those strands at all. My hair loss (and subsequent hair growth) was somewhat evenly distributed over my head …. the top of my head is a little patchy, but it isn’t too noticeable. But the hair wispies are annoying.

Yeah so a majority of my hair is HELLA LONG. But I don’t want to cut it. I don’t know, maybe I’m afraid something bad will happen when I cut it (my depression started during the period of my short bob, so perhaps I am overly superstitious). I’d say I’m a rational person, but I am scared of upsetting anything that will reverse my progress. Since my hair growth has been a major part of my journey (it has grown longer as I’ve progressed with the whole mental health thing), I associated my hair length as symbolic of my journey. It is silly, I know. It sounds really silly and stupid, but I’m still afraid of cutting my hair. Cutting my original strands to the length of the new growth would make to most sense, but looking at the new growth gives me a flashback of the clogged hair catcher or the hairbrush that pulled away from my head….

I would say that I’m glad I’ve reached a point where I can talk about my past hair loss, rather than worrying about dropping out of school/ telling my parents about my mental illness/ feeling miserable. Now if I could stop associating my hair length with happiness/ mental health victories then that would make summer breezier.

Personality and Playlists- Day 01

day 01 – Your favorite song

Hayley Kiyoko- “Cliff’s Edge”

Why is this my favorite song recently? Well for starters, it is sung and written by a bisexual woman of colour!! YASS, REPRESENT!!! I saw her in concert when she went to Vancouver, and seriously, she is a major advocate for women’s and LGBTQIA2S+ rights. I remember the moment she walked on stage, she encouraged everyone to be who they wanted to be, as this was a safe space for expression and all forms of identity. It was so touching to hear that, because I’ve never been in a LGBT+ safe space before… I’m selectively out to trusted friends, but still super paranoid about someone that I don’t want finding out. As a result, I stay out of safe spaces and any pride related things to reduce suspicion. Sure, in Canada same-sex marriage is legal, but that doesn’t prevent prejudice or casual hurtful comments. Discrimination still happens in some Canadian communities.

The video is basically self-explanatory. It makes me feel adventurous. I interpret the lyrics as being about the feeling of adrenaline when doing something daring, and pushing those limits because it feels addicting.

***A mild content warning for drowning***

“Cliff’s Edge”

Swing a little further, higher
Underneath the big top trees
Scrape my knees, whatever, uh huh
I’m gonna let them bleed
Got no turning back, I’mma flirt with that
Get a little closer

Cliff’s edge, you turn me on
You lead me on
You got me on
A cliff’s edge, where I belong
You got me on
And turn me on
I wanna feel that sea breeze

Love until we burn up, fire
Do whatever gets you seen
Kiss me with adventure
Til I forget my name
Chills run down my back, I’mma flirt with that
Get a little closer

Cliff’s edge, you turn me on
You lead me on
You got me on
A cliff’s edge, where I belong
You got me on
You turn me on
I wanna feel that sea breeze

Closing in closer to you
This could take all night
Caving and crumbling on your
Hips, your lips, they’re mine

Cliff’s edge, you turn me on
You lead me on
You got me on
A cliff’s edge, where I belong
You got me on
And turn me on
I wanna feel that sea breeze

I wanna feel that sea breeze

Contradictions and Instagram

(minor cw: slurs and my typical swearing)

Right after I’ve posted my post 2 weeks ago about “Being Open and Instagram”, I went though some kind of mini existential crisis…. I could barely even sleep. Hoo man it was baaaaaaad.

Long story short, I immediately panicked and blocked around 50 people whom I know in reality, because I was afraid of them finding me. I also deleted any pictures that had my face in it on my IG. I got rid of my IG profile pic.  I removed my name and used a middle name that nobody knows instead. I removed any trace of my identity. I changed my IG username as well (from upsidedown_turtle to extinguishedcandle). All the above in one night.

Finally, I couldn’t take the pressure or fear of people finding me and removed the link to this blog (that was previously in my IG description) because I was scared of malicious people invading this safe space of mine. I mean there are people I trust that follow me on IG and those whom I trust will respect and help my mental health decisions. I know that and I really want to open up to them, or connect with them so we become closer. But I’m really scared of those with opposite intentions. No, I don’t mean haters, fuck them and I could care less…

It’s just… I don’t know. It’s really difficult. I don’t know why this fear arises. I was one step away from deactivating my IG but I didn’t want my loved ones to worry. Perhaps I am ashamed due to the stigma surrounding mental health. Part of me thinks that is bullshit… I am not someone who gives a shit about that as I’m all about breaking stigmas. I believe I’m a tough person but this fear is weird. I think the reason is that this is a safe haven for my thoughts and chronicles my thoughts during my mental health journey and I am afraid of people I know in reality thinking I am weak.

I hate being called cowardly or weak more than being called short. Call me a bitch, psychopath, slut… ect. I really don’t care. I can take racial slurs too, and it’s quite cathartic sometimes when I take my anger of the world out on them. Short jokes, honestly, how uncreative can you get? I’ve dealt with them my whole fucking life and I’ve heard them all. Bitch: sure, I really don’t care, plus it is an unoriginal insult coming from an uncreative mind. And yes I’m a bitch, a bad bitch 😉 Y’unno bitch isn’t even an insult. Tbh no one has even called me a slut before. I’ve got this whole facade going on …. Ever made a condom flower? Fun stuff.

Being called weak by someone I know in reality just pisses me off. I feel like I wanna punch them. It makes me feel like I’m on the verge of violence because I want to prove them wrong and my mind believes beating them up will prove it. It’s embarrassing and a shameful thing to be called weak. It makes me feel terrible about myself. I have nothing to verbally counter it.

If in the case someone used my mental health against me and called me weak because of it, I’d be really hurt. Because I’m not weak. I’m brave because I swallowed my pride and reached out to loved ones for help. That was the hardest and scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I am sure nothing has beat that moment of telling a good friend and breaking down in front of them in a semi-public place… then the feeling of having the depression take over and being utterly useless as the mind blanks out and you feel nothing. I try not to be embarrassed. I’d say that was my lowest. Looking back, I am embarrassed to cry on the floor of a good and trusted friend’s apartment. But back them I was so dead it didn’t matter. At the same time I trust that person so why should I be embarrassed? (the internal struggle never ends) Whoops, where was I?

I don’t want to be called weak when I’ve been braver than they’ll ever be.