Friday, July 22, 2016

Thoughts for the week #9 - Stitch Fix #3

I've got some money burning a hole in my pocket because I don't have free time for a new tattoo :(.

So new clothes it is! Just in time for a new job.

I got my stylist fee waived from this order, so if I hadn't bought anything, I could've sent it all back with no charge (usually $20). If you want to try Stitch Fix, click here to read my last review and here to use my referral link to sign up!

This was a mixed bag. I'll start with the two items I kept for the discount, but sold on a Facebook group (so I got the 25% discount for keeping everything).

Clement Scoop Neck Blouse

Eh. It felt too loose to me, especially around the armpits. The color is not good either. I learned today that summer tones are best for me. That means pink, red, and orange have to have a blue base in order to look okay with my skin tone. Yellow can only be pale, but I don't like wearing yellow anyway. Even with how small these flowers are, I just didn't feel like it worked. Status: sold to someone who wanted it.

Malaika Henley Blouse

Eh, again. The second photo of the skirt shows the only way that I felt like I could wear this. And I don't wear high-waisted skirts very often. The colors were okay, but I felt like it emphasized my shoulders in a bad way and was just too flowy for me. Status: sold to someone who wanted it.

On to the good stuff!

Nancie Pointelle Detail Open Cardigan

A good color on me and very soft! This was a no brainer. Status: kept.

Phillip Printed Straight Leg Trouser

Whoa. Okay. My first thought was "Grandpa". And then "Grandpa whose pants shrank." I'm not a fan of cropped pantlegs. It especially sucks that I can only wear one particular pair of sneakers right now so I look extra dorky in these. Buuuttttt the color is good for me and it's something different. I'll risk it. Status: kept.

Dorianna Skinny Jean

My favorite item from the box! Cropped pants again, bummer, but the color works for me, I think. Plus they're really soft, look great on my bum, and are insanely comfortable. I'm not sure I could make these work appropriate because they're technically jeans (business casual with the right blouse?), but I'll definitely wear them outside of work. Status: kept.

Overall the total price for the order with the discount was $279, which is more than I usually pay. That averages to $55/item. I hope they hold up well!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Thoughts for the week #8 - ADHD testing

In keeping with the theme of brains (braaaiiinnnssss) for blog topics this week, today I am reporting on my experience getting tested for ADHD as an adult. Sorry, this is another long one.

First, a definition:
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. - National Institute of Mental Health
Generally, there are considered to be two types of ADHD, though they have a lot of overlap. Inattentive type is also known simply as ADD and is often characterized by difficulty sustaining attention, failing to meet deadlines, difficulty in organizing tasks, easily distracted, and a proclivity for losing things. Impulsive-Hyperactive type is characterized by fidgeting behaviors, difficulty keeping seated/still for extended period of time (most commonly demonstrated in classroom environments), inappropriate physical activities (running around when they shouldn't), interrupting activities and conversations, and having trouble waiting. There is also the Combined type, which is some kind of combination between the two.

Based on my own experiences, I believe that it almost doesn't make sense to differentiate between the types. I have almost all of the symptoms for the inattentive type and some for impulsivity/hyperactivity. I was never one to run around, but I am most definitely someone who can't sit still or comfortably for very long. I am impatient and have to fight myself so I don't interrupt people/events. I think that I can sometimes talk a LOT without any sense of whether it's been too much. I could also describe how my thoughts work as hyperactive. It's too difficult for me to wrangle my thoughts to stay focused. I also think that there are various degrees that someone could experience a disorder like ADHD. Someone might have it very mildly, so much that they are able to compensate for it in other ways and never worry about needing additional support. I wish that more disorders were researched in a way that considered them "normal" variations of brain activity, but the classifications are needed for insurance and liability purposes, unfortunately.

My psychiatrist described the way that medication for ADHD works like this: as it was tested and the dose was lowered (initially was a drug for raising blood pressure), side-effects like "calmer" thoughts were reported in only some subjects. The drugs are technically stimulants, but it seems that some brains process them in such a way that it calms things down just enough to make operating a whole lot easier. If a feeling of stimulation like too much caffeine is felt, that means the dose is too high. They eventually figured out that there was something about the brains of those people that was different than expected and the diagnosis of ADHD was born.

When I was 17, I started going through a neuro-psychological evaluation to test for a possible learning disorder. The testing was initiated by my parents after I'd recovered from a very bad depressive episode, but was still struggling in school. What I found then and now is that a lot of the signs of a learning disorder overlap with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. The obvious examples are inability to focus and meet deadlines, but there are many others. Part of the testing was to rule out depression & anxiety as potential factors in my reduced academic performance. The evaluation included a variety of tests, things like:

  • verbally tell a story based on pictures presented to you
  • write a story based on pictures presented to you
  • solve a puzzle made of different geometric shapes
  • various "never, sometimes, often" questionnaires
I believe the testing took at least two sessions. The end diagnosis with Executive Functioning Disorder. This can exist with ADHD as well as independently, but it's more of a symptom than an actual disorder. I believe I was not diagnosed properly, but the end of the report basically deferred to my public school to do evaluations in a classroom environment. That is something the school wasn't really willing to do even though they were legally bound to do it. Fuck them.

At my current psychiatrist's suggestion, I am undertaking testing again. As an adult and since this is a focused test just for ADHD and not anything else, it's mostly discussion with the doctor and one of those questionnaires. My husband filled one out based on behaviors he's seen in me, and I filled out one for myself. After two meetings, the doctor concluded that yes, I do have ADHD and I get to try out a prescription to help. Hooray!

The part that I love about learning about ADHD and mental illness is knowing the ways in which I function are not my fault. Obviously I am responsible for myself and my behaviors, but when I screw up, it's often not "I didn't try hard enough", it's just my brain screwing something up so that I can't do it properly. It's important for me to be aware of these "shortcomings" so I can learn to work around them, like the key system I mentioned in my last post. Obviously, those workarounds are not always foolproof and they often waste a lot of mental energy that I really wish I could expend just doing things without all the processing time and effort

Also, obviously, I will take responsibility for my mistakes either way. It's not always easy to tell if my mismanaged communication is "just me" not coming at something from the right angle, or my brain function preventing me from doing so. I can certainly learn to do better and makes changes, but whether those changes will stick is up to the disorder, not by my choice. My experiences have certainly helped me to be more patient with others and consider that their brains process information differently than mine. How I share information may not be translatable to their learning style and I have to be conscious about taking a different approach if someone doesn't understand me. I think that awareness has made me a better tech support person.

Some people probably think it's a cop-out that I like to blame some of my problems on disorders/illness, but I think that's a misunderstanding in how mental illness and brain disorders affect our behavior. It's something I think we should all learn about in school so that teachers are more adaptable to their students' learning styles and educational needs, and students are more vocal about their challenges. Maybe with the right adaptations in our environment, medication isn't even needed, but I certainly see no shame in taking it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Have I told you about my memory?

...I can't remember.

My brain is like a messy room.

Sometimes, I know exactly where to find information and I walk straight to the correct drawer to access a memory. Other times, I spend a while rummaging around in different cupboards, bins, and under the bed to remember something. I might see it out of the corner of my eye, but when I go over to it, it's gone. More often than I'd like, I stand in the middle of the room with the door closed, unable to figure out the muffled conversation from the other side, or completely distracted by something I just found that I thought I'd lost, so the thing I was looking for rolls off the desk and suddenly I realize that I wasn't paying attention. What did you say? Never mind, I'll try to figure it out as you keep talking so I don't feel embarrassed by drawing attention to my inattentiveness.

Most people probably do not have systems to keep their systems in place. I have to decide that I am going to make a habit, like keeping my keys in only a few specific spots so I don't lose them. At any given moment, I might decide that a location makes perfect sense and of course I'll remember where they are. You can probably figure out that doesn't work most of the time. My currently used purse, a purse that lives on the shoe bench, and my pocket/belt loop are the only acceptable places to leave my keys. Yesterday, I put them in the pocket of my sweatshirt and then later left them on the dining room table at my parents' house. Of course, I spent a minute racking my brain to figure out where I'd gone and where I might have "wisely" left them. I also couldn't remember where I parked my car when I left work because I swore the place that I parked it was where it was yesterday, not today after I got back from my appointment. That's fortunately a rare occurrence. Stress makes it worse.

The system to keep my key system in place is "don't forget you have a key system," which really isn't any easier than remembering where I left my keys in the first place. It just makes me feel like I'm a little more organized, even as I'm dashing back and forth through the apartment, picking up things I need before I go out and unable to subconsciously prioritize so I don't have to go back to the same room for something else a minute later. The hardest part of all this for other people to understand seems to be that none of it is by choice. My brain is just wired this way and I have to make the best of it.

The combination of depression, anxiety, possible ADHD, executive dysfunction, and habits built on all of those things are... interesting, to say the least. Let's not also forget soft-spoken because that is an important part of how this affects my relationships with other people.

I got into the habit of repeating myself during conversations because

  • I speak quietly, but it sounds like a perfectly reasonable volume to my ears so I don't try to adjust it much
  • People wouldn't respond to or acknowledge my comment so I figured they didn't hear me
  • My anxiety told me that people were ignoring me so I should try again
  • My depression thinks that people don't like me so they don't answer me
  • My executive dysfunction would have me repeat my comment without me consciously deciding to because of the habits ingrained from all of the above
  • If I really want to be heard, I sometimes try to raise my voice a little, which my anxiety worries is making my friends annoyed with me
  • I often misjudge how loud I am and feel like I am being really rude, even if what I have to say is important
  • If I give up on being heard, I feel depressed and like my friends don't care about me

It's only after I've repeated myself that I realize I've done it and most of the time it just seems so natural that I don't think about it at all. "They definitely didn't hear me, let me try again." "I can't tell if they're ignoring me, let me try again." "I really want someone to respond to me, let me try again." It's involuntary, I can't slow my thoughts down enough to figure out if it's necessary to repeat, and my anxiety makes it too difficult to assess whether the concerns about people's response/lack of response to me is rational/real.

Another fascinating commonplace occurrence in my mind is losing my train of thought. People have different ways of picking up the thread of a thought. Mine is to mentally walk through any part of the conversation I can remember until I get to the topic at hand. Sometimes, I get to the end of the rails and the train is there, but I keep slipping on the steps and somehow that means I have to go back to the beginning until I can latch on.

So, welcome to my brain. This is why I'm in the midst of getting tested for ADHD. While I definitely fit the mold for the "inattentive type", I can see how my brain's processes could be considered "hyperactive". My doctor described the way medication for ADHD works; the medication essentially calms the brain down so things can be processed at a reasonable and accessible pace. It's not a sedative, but somehow its stimulating properties work better for those hyperactive brains. Weird and cool!

While it's easy to categorize people with labels & types because we can have so many similarities, the way minds work can be so varied. It's a shame it's not discussed more because I find it fascinating! It can be a little difficult to think about thinking and figure out how to talk about it too.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Thoughts for the week #7 - mostly shopping

  • This isn't a sponsored mention or anything, I just really like this product! So the past 3 times I've been to the dentist for cleanings: very little plaque and hard build-up, a regular amount, and very little plaque and hard build-up again. The difference was that the 1st and 3rd time, I was using OraWellness HealThy Mouth exclusively, in place of regular toothpaste. You can get a 3-pack, which makes it more affordable, and they include special toothbrushes. There's also a particular way to brush that is far more effective than your usual back-and-forth or even circular methods. The 2nd cleaning, I had been using Crest ProHealth for a while because I ran out of OraWellness. Even if you added a drop or two to your regular toothpaste, it would probably help and last a lot longer! It also helped reduce my tooth sensitivity (still fairly sensitive to cold, but not as bad). This is all coming from an infrequent flosser, so you know it has to be good.
  • I'm cleared to swim and bike, according to my physical therapist, for my shin splints. I went swimming on Wednesday and it didn't aggravate any of my injuries so that was awesome! Biking is still an issue because I a) can't carry my bike down the stairs b) have nowhere on the ground floor to store it except outside, which I might end up doing anyway and c) can't lean on my wrists. So I'm going to look at cruiser bikes, which have you sitting more upright and put less weight on your wrists. They're not as fast for commuting, but it should be very comfortable. And I don't know, they're cute I guess.
  • Another product plug (again, not getting paid for this or anything): Land's End! Their clothes are really durable and classic. They are often used for companies that require uniforms because of the clothing quality. If you sign up for the email newsletter, you'll get notified of their sales and their sales are really great! I saved 30% on some new business casual clothes and this week there's a 60% off sale. All of their dress shirts are very washer/dryer friendly and many of them don't need to be ironed as long as you pluck them out of the dryer as soon as it's done. They do have a refer a friend option, so if you contact me before you order anything, I can send you a referral email and we both save 25% :).
GIF of the week
I've been re-watching Community. It's still hilarious.

Photo of the week

This is one of the bikes I'm thinking of, but I'll probably test ride some local ones.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Thoughts for the week #6 - not nearly as profound

Oops, it's Friday again!

I think the only "random" thoughts I have to share today are about gratitude. A lot of people spoke to me about my last post. The support was honestly unexpected and a little overwhelming, but that's not why I wrote that post.

I shared this part of myself because I wanted it to get attention. I wanted to get people thinking about their automatic assumptions about people, even people they know fairly well.

Keeping our perspective neutral is really hard! So many of us were raised to think that people who look or act a certain way embody a certain identity. Enacting change means stepping outside of our comfort zones, but we still have to be respectful.

So yeah, please don't go about asking people what their sexuality is. It's none of your business unless they choose to make it so.

GIF of the week

I just felt like my blog needed some David Tennant today.

Photo of the week

Not my pic

Friday, June 24, 2016

Thoughts for the week #5 - sexuality

I've decided to start casually inserting the fact that I am bisexual (synonymous with pansexual and queer to me, but I prefer bi) into relevant conversations. I don't really want the big "coming out" story and my hope is that someday people will be able to just toss their sexuality out there as a fact with it being completely not a big deal. "Got a crush on any girls in class, Timmy?" "Actually, I'm gay, but still no." "Maybe you'll find a cute boy at summer camp!" Or even better: "Got a crush on anyone in class?"

Realizing and accepting that this is my sexuality took a very long time. I only admitted it to myself last year. So Mara Wilson's story really rung a bell with me. There are plenty of reasons to be scared. I have mostly been consumed by the potential reaction of people who have defined my sexuality for me. I don't want to have to argue or defend who I am.

But here I am in a relatively safe position: married to a cis-man, appearing heteronormative, in a fairly liberal area and state. I don't want to contribute to the silence and taboo surrounding bisexuality anymore. I know I'm going to get obnoxious questions, but I think it'll be worth it.

So, to knock a few out of the way:

  • Being married to a man does not make me straight, just as gay people married to someone of a different gender are still gay.
  • Being bisexual does not mean I'm going to cheat on my husband. I am strictly monogamous. It just means that had my life not gone the way that it did, dating and marrying anyone who is not a man was an option. Well, that's assuming I came to terms with being bi a long time ago instead of a year ago.
  • Are you attracted to every person of your preferred gender that you see walking down the street? No, and neither am I.
  • If you're going to make some lesbian porn joke, just please stop talking.
Other than those, I suppose I'll entertain some questions if anybody has them.

And that turned into kind of a specific post instead of random thoughts for the week, but oh well!

GIF of the week
View post on

Photo of the week

From my birthday! It was a good day.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Thoughts for the week #4

Yeap, I already missed a weekly installment.

  • Skyrim is getting re-mastered and all the fans are going, "...why? My mods already do this." Well, it's more for the console gamers (PS3, PS4, and Xbox One), who never got to use the mods that PC gamers could. This will open up that option to them through a Bethesda-managed console store, much like Fallout 4 has now. I think that's great since the game can be improved so much through all of the free mods out there, but my game already looks pretty great. I'll be checking it out regardless.
  • I don't even want to talk about the shooting in Orlando. It's horrifying. My heart goes out to the communities, families, and friends that were affected. We have to do something about the accessibility of guns in this country. We have to do something about the homophobia in this country. We have to do something about the Islamophobia in this country.
  • Cultivating self-esteem can be hard. I believe it's important to set a good example for kids by overtly treating ourselves with respect. It's easy to not think about it as we make off-hand comments about our bodies, but kids listen.
  • I think I need to read this: The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place

Photo of the week

My recent character in Skyrim.
GIF of the week

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Thoughts for the week #3

  • It occurred to me this morning that as long as I keep these weekly posts going with no breaks, I'll know exactly how long I've been doing them. 52 editions later will be a year! We'll see about that.
  • It's June and I'm excited because -- My birthday is soon! In just two more payments, I'll be down to one student loan and that should be paid off sometime next year (if all goes according to plan). We have VIP tickets to see Motion City Soundtrack in less than two weeks!
  • I'm trying out for budgeting again, now that our credit union is compatible with their site. I have been having fun setting up virtual budgets so we can track our spending in some common overspending categories (restaurant/fast food, movies). I have lofty savings goals for this year and I'm hoping that this helps us make it.
  • I kind of want this swimsuit. Not having to slather my arms in sunscreen would be pretty awesome. I know you can get rash guard shirts (I have one), but this is all-in-one! I don't particularly care about getting tan lines either.
  • Look at this pretty fabric that I bought! I'm limiting my hobby-related purchases this month. I got two new feet for my sewing machine (walking & vertical overlock) and will get matching thread as well as some complementary fabric in a single color. I'm thinking either a dark blue or some kind of green (darker). I have no idea what I want to make with this fabric, but I bought 3 yards. I also have no idea why I'm suddenly really into these kind of tropical floral prints.

GIF of the week
Probably my most favorite GIF ever.
Photo of the week
I was trying to get a tattoo on Memorial Day... I didn't, but I did finish the outline for another Neko Atsume cross stitch.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Thoughts for the week #2

  • Elder Scrolls VI in 2019?!?! That's far too long from now. If they take what people loved from Skyrim, add things from popular mods, and learn from their mistakes with Fallout 4 (okay this has been a problem with Skyrim too, FO4 was arguably a bit better with this).. It could be amazing. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the heck out of modding Skyrim and may make a post about that. I may even try my hand at making mods! After I fix my broken game...which I broke from installing mods. Eh, maybe I'll just make a new character.
  • An Open Letter From Someone ‘Beyond Help’ - Trigger Warning: depression, suicide. "You don’t get to decide ... which of us are “beyond help.” You also don’t get to decide which of us deserve to live. You don’t get to decide who has a chance and who doesn’t.
  • OffbeatHome - Getting Older -  I'm kind of bummed that I'm even struggling with this concept. I'll be 28 next month, still quite young! Yet here I am with forehead wrinkles. I can see them watch over the course of photos from the last few years. I am sure the wrinkles are super normal for someone my age, but when you're surrounded by a society that against signs of aging, it can be discomforting. Since I've never been one for much make-up, I'm trying to learn to shrug it off. It's just my forehead.
  • Lookit the pretty fabric I bought! I started sewing again this week and already made a bra :D. This weekend's project will be underwear! I hope I don't run out of this too soon, patterned fabric (cotton/lycra blend) is not cheap.

GIF of the week

Photo of the week
Practicing stitches on my sewing machine to use the best one for stretch

Friday, May 20, 2016

Thoughts for the week #1

Instead of spamming Facebook with lots of posts, I guess I'll compile things here and see how that works out. This may be a regular Friday post.
  • I'm unstoppable/ I'm a Porsche with no brakes/ I'm invincible/ Yeah, I win every single game/ I'm so powerful/ I don't need batteries to play/ I'm so confident, yeah, I'm unstoppable today/ Unstoppable today, unstoppable today/ Unstoppable today, I'm unstoppable today/ Unstoppable today, unstoppable today/ Unstoppable today, I'm unstoppable today - from Sia's Unstoppable
  • Gaming travel rewards is a tempting process, but I don't think I have the dedication to make sure it doesn't destroy my credit. I do want to buy a house someday, after all.
  • I'm getting back into sewing and found Craftsy! It has online tutorials, with hours of instruction, for all kinds of projects. I'm going to check out this one for beginners. I've never had any formal instruction and most of my projects were refitting t-shirts, so I think this will be very helpful.

GIF of the week

Photo of the week

My newly organized sewing station. The fabric is my mom's scarf that I have needed to return for almost a year. The jewelry box holds some needles & current cross stitch projects/thread.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Summer camp aka. church camp

Between the ages of 11 and 14, I went to a summer camp for Orthodox Christian kids. Maybe it was 12 and 15 actually, I can't remember and I don't have the pictures anymore. Telling people about this is always kind of funny.

"I went to a summer camp when I was growing up too! It was a church camp."

I had never done a sleep-away camp before, or really camp of any kind. Fortunately, my sister went with me, so I was way less scared because I could always find her in a crowd for reassurance. For two weeks for a few summers, we went off and spent some time in the woods of southwest Pennsylvania with a bunch of other kids from all over the country. The session that we attended usually lined up with the same other church groups, so I saw some kids from Louisville, Kentucky for at least a couple of years. I learned that it's pronounced "loo-vull". We also went at the same time as two of our closest childhood friends, which is exactly why we picked those session dates!

The church part is not that weird, in my opinion, but I have an obvious bias since I grew up with all of that. The days were split up into different segments: slots of time where you could sign up for different activities like archery, running, arts & crafts, soccer, swimming, as well as slots of time that were dedicated for spending with your cabin mates and brother/sister cabin. Each cabin was paired up with a cabin of the opposite gender and same age. Those classes were about various Christian concepts, bible stuff, chanting (like singing in the church, chant? it's all about tones), trust exercises, I don't even remember what else. What it boiled down to for me was "here are all kinds of things that you can apply to your life to be a good person," which is really not a solely Christian concept! And that fun stuff.

Oh yeah, we also attended church twice a day. WHAT?! Yes. Mornings was orthros, which is just a 30 min service (before breakfast). Even was vespers, again a fairly short service before dinner. We also prayed before each meal. On Sundays, we had liturgy (like the Catholic mass) with communion and everything. That can run about 90 min to two hours.

Okay, you know what? This is sounding a lot weirder as I go along. I met a lot of cool people and enjoyed my time there, even though the last year was difficult for me. My depression was kind of starting at that point, I really missed my best friends from home, and I did not consider myself Christian anymore.

The things I remember most from camp

  • feeling scared, but meeting a lot of friendly campers that made it easy for me to be a little more outgoing than I normally would (super introverted over here)
  • feeling kinda cool because I knew some older kids there (my sister and two childhood friends, as well as a couple of their friends)
  • trying some new things, like archery and walking across a log that was (to my perspective) very high up in the air
  • getting a crush on a counselor
  • counselors covering up tattoos with bandages and campers covering up piercings with bandaids if they had more than one in an ear (boys weren't allowed any)
  • singing some Britney Spears song with my cabin at karaoke night, I think
  • Christmas in July, where we went around and serenaded other cabins with songs that we had written
  • trying to play pranks on our brother cabin (having to clean up the toilet paper after is really no fun)
  • snack time! where you could spend some money that your parents put in your camp account to buy two snacks (a drink and a candy bar, usually). I became a fan of Cherry Coke
  • looking through a care package from my friends and feeling really lonely
  • being comforted by someone in my sister's brother-cabin when he saw my crying at the last night of camp and he made me laugh
  • being identified as "Nika's sister" in the nicest way possible (instead of the annoying way, which is when teachers do it in school)
  • riding horses!
  • feeling pretty sad and witnessing a lot of crying on the last night/day of camp when we all said goodbye until the next year
And now I'm going to a sleep-away camp for adults!

It won't technically be in the summer because Camp Nerd Fitness occurs in September, but man I am SO excited.

Minus the religious stuff and hiding body modifications, I'm pretty much expecting to relive my camp experience and in even better ways. This time I'll have my partner-in-life/crime with me which is pretty fucking awesome. We won't have to share a room with anyone because we booked a hotel room on the camp site. I really want to do the ropes course and will conquer my fears of that blob thing.

But what should I dress up as for the costume night?! Gotta think of nerdy costume ideas, brb.

Friday, February 19, 2016

That's a thing, right?

Skincare. It's something I have pretty much never given much thought to. Over the past, I've come to a few realizations about my perceptions of my body:

1. My idea of how my body should function is kinda vague and I really didn't expect to feel like things were falling apart (several bouts of tendinitis back to back, aching joints, constipation etc.) until at least 30 years old. I'm currently 27.
2. My idea of how my skin should look is COMPLETELY based on various media representations. Celebs all have flawless skin because they use make-up and probably pay somebody to figure things out for them.
3. And that goes for wrinkles too. Are forehead wrinkles in your mid/late-20's normal? Well, they must be because I have them now.

I guess I should consider myself lucky (thanks for the genetics, Mama, no seriously they're great) since my acne only crops up in response to stress/certain foods and I certainly don't look older than I am. In fact, last October, a bunch of teenagers thought I was in the late-teens. Nope, I'm actually married and have about a decade on you guys. I guess that means my personality was very accessible for them? That's good, I think. Teens are tricky. I try to treat them like rational people and that seems to help, even though everybody knows teens are pretty irrational (it's a biological thing with adolescence) and even they are aware of it even if they deny it profusely.

Anyway, after a day or two of considering to use some expensive anti-wrinkle products to try and rejuvenate a face that really needs no rejuvenating, I decided to invest in some skincare products to help protect my skin, at the very least. I didn't do much in the ways of washing/moisturizing prior to this. My forehead gets super oily, the rest of my face is probably pretty dry. I just rinse my face in the shower, maybe wipe it with a wet wash cloth, and that's it. I rarely wear make-up and when I do, it's all around my eyes anyway. I'm lazy and just want to feel like I'm taking good care of my skin without much additional effort.

I came across Fat Face Skincare. Their products aren't that much more expensive than major name brand skincare products and I really like their ingredients. Tallow in a body butter? Some might say "ew", but I say "cool!" Not only does the tallow they use come from pasture-raised cows (a good life for them), but tallow carries all kinds of helpful nutrients for the human body. I'll let you browse the site for more info.

One of the things I bought is an oil cleansing blend. If you haven't heard of it before, it's basically using an oil or mix of oils to rub on your face and then wipe off. This particular oil blend is vegan (no animal products in it or used in the making of it). The cleansing oil picks up the oils on your skin and when you wipe it off, you skin is left with the clean and healing cleansing oil instead of the dirty oil that's been on your face all day.  Apparently this works very well for removing face make-up! I usually rub my Cleansing Oil onto my face when it's dry (often after a shower), then lay a hot wash cloth over my face for 30-60 seconds (I'm impatient) to let my pores open up. I wring the cloth out first so I don't burn myself, my tap water gets very hot! After that, I just wipe the oil off with the same cloth. When the last bit of water evaporates, I follow up with the Mrryhaculous Face Cream.

The name says it all, this stuff is really miraculous. If I'm having a small acne outbreak (why is it always on my chin??), I can rub a tiny amount of this on the blemish and it's usually gone in the morning! Before this, I'd use tea tree oil, which is very drying and didn't always seem to work. A little goes a long way with this product, the recommended "pea sized" amount is possibly too much for me. I get the tiniest bit on my finger tip and rub into one area of my face at a time (cheeks, chin, nose, bridge, and forehead/temples). I use this very sparingly on my forehead because it still gets pretty oily. The rest of my face feels even softer than it usually does and I really love the smell.

I think I'll try their Stank Stop next. I have a different deodorant that's oil/shea butter based that I use right now, but I'm not completely happy with it. My pits get really irritated if I use it for a couple of weeks at a time, but without the baking soda, my BO is frankly disgusting. Your welcome for that overshare. A slightly different formula may be better for me, who knows!

So why am I bothering with this if my skin is usually fine? I guess I want to prepare my face for the future. The better care I take with my skin now, by moisturizing and protecting it from the sun, the better it'll look as I get older. Though, again, thanks to my mom, I still think I'll look pretty good in another thirty years. :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Learning to sleep, part 1

There are stories in my family about what a night owl I was, even as a baby. I was once found sitting on top of a bookcase that was just a bit too close to my crib, some time after I'd been laid down to sleep. When I started having sleepovers, at first, I called to get picked up because I couldn't sleep. I've never slept well away from home, but I guess that's not too unusual. Eventually, I learned to just lie there and wait. My friends would fall asleep pretty quickly (I could tell by breathing patterns or probably poking them) and I would be left to stare at the ceiling or try to covertly read/occupy my time.

For some reason, it never occurred to me to talk to anyone about this. I wonder what might've been different if I had. I have always thought it was mind-boggling that people claim to fall asleep within a few minutes!

I would like to sleep this restfuly.

As a teenager, and especially starting around the time I began experiencing depression, I felt perpetually tired. I could stay in bed until noon or later, just dozing. I remember staring at the clock and getting a very good sense of how much time had passed in the night without looking, being awake for hours at a time in the middle of the night. It's really no wonder that I was exhausted.

Finally, during my college years, I started falling asleep faster (maybe within 30 minutes instead of an hour or more) and stopped waking up during the night as often. If I did wake up, I could usually fall back asleep within 30 minutes. During my junior year, I started waking up once per night, several times during the week, feeling as though I'd stopped breathing. I would cough and catch my breath, then go back to sleep. I brought it up to my doctor and she suggested I might have "mild sleep apnea". It wasn't a problem as long as I slept on my side or stomach, just on my back. I had always preferred sleeping on my stomach anyway.

The apnea seemed to go away, or I wasn't woken by it anymore, after a few months. It would happen only a few times a year that I could remember. After college, my chiropractor told me to stop sleeping on my stomach because it was hurting my back, so I made back-sleeping my primary position. The apnea still didn't seem to be an issue. I was still "always tired", but sleeping through the night.

Over the past couple of years, the frequency has changed. I'm woken up by the sleep apnea at least once a month. My new psychiatrist asked me about my sleep quality about a month ago and I told him the usual: with a history of insomnia, I feel like my current sleep quality is adequate. How could I know what is really a "good" night of sleep if I've rarely had them? I can only remember a couple of times that I felt like I had good sleep, and those were very short periods of time (a month or two here and there). I have no idea what helped during those times. I refuse to make coffee-drinking a habit, especially because it seems like it is just covering up the issue without actually dealing with it.

With my husband's comments in mind (that I never seem to sleep well and that I do snore a bit), I went back to the psychiatrist and talked to him about my sleep history. He concluded that the sleep apnea may not be "mild" and it's very common to not remember being woken up by it, if the wakening is very brief. Even if I'm not being woken up by it, it's very possible, given my general affect of someone who is sleep deprived, that my sleep apnea is really affecting my quality of life. 30 minutes to fall asleep is not too terrible, but it is a bit long.

Next month during my annual physical, I'll be asking for a referral to a sleep clinic. My insurance will cover 80% of the costs after my deductible, which is $500. Fortunately, I have an FSA this year, so it'll probably all go on that. I'm now wishing I'd put more into the FSA.

Quite honestly, I'm excited about this. I would really like to wake up in the morning and feel like I'm ready to just get up and start my day. I don't know if I've ever felt like that before. I'll write a follow-up post when I have some more information from my primary care physician or the sleep clinic!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Getting back to me

Last year, I caught the weight-lifting bug from CrossFit and then ended up spending the rest of the year in physical therapy for my wrists, shoulders, and now back. To be fair, this was CrossFit on top of an insane amount of shoveling all on my own, so I don't completely blame CF for this.

Well, the back issues might have been from doing aggressive pilates at home. Who knows. I didn't get to ride my bicycle to work, something that I have looked forward to doing every year for the past several years.

I spent most of the year feeling pretty sorry for myself, so I guess in retrospect it's not that surprising that I ended up incredibly depressed starting around June. I pretty much crashed by October and the psychiatrist I was seeing at the time hospitalized me against my will. That's not an experience I'm willing to write about further just yet. It's safe to say that it was fairly traumatic to have that decision taken away from me, though the experience in the hospital was not all that horrible.

Now that my shoulders are better, my wrists are pretty much healed, and my back is improving, I'm getting back into working out. I got a membership at Gold's Gym and had a few free personal training sessions. I didn't entirely agree with the trainer's approach to fitness (though she was very supportive over focusing on strength over "weight loss"), but it was still helpful to get some outside perspective. I've done some of my own research on what kind of regular routine I'd like to do.

My main focus now is starting at Orange Theory Fitness. I don't think I can explain it well, but it's basically hour-long classes of HIIT (high-intensity interval training). The class gets split between the rowers/weight section and treadmills, and you swap halfway through. You wear a heartrate monitor the whole time and the whole aim is to get your heart rate up and down to really put it through its paces. There's some possibly nonsense "science" behind all of this leading to weight loss or something. I'm just interested in feeling like my endurance is good (could run a mile if I needed to) and strong enough to jump/climb/lift as much as I might want.

And maybe I'll do barbell training on the side, we'll see.