Where’s Whoopsie #18/Subway Sociology #5: Mixed Martial Arts

First, for those wondering. The bad news is that I don’t have a new job quite yet. The good news is that that is because the interview process keeps getting longer each time I go through it. I’m not finished with it yet, but I’m also not out of the running yet, either. There are more stages than I expected. I’ll be making that longer commute at least one more time before I can determine if I’ll be making it permanent.

I’ll use that “at least one more time” as a chance to gather more data for my current hypothesis that one particular section of the subway line that I would need to take as part of that new commute truly has a higher likelihood of entertainment value than the earlier sections of the same line that I used to take daily. I find that, including this post, I have now written about the actions of my fellow passengers – and/or other ads and experienced events – five(!) times. These points of data make a beautiful line (bonus points if you are now singing that song along with me), and, for a would-be daily rider who is also a data analyst, a beautiful new series for my blog. I’m retroactively subtitling the previous four posts about commuting “Subway Sociology” entries #1#2, #3 and #4.

One hypothesis is that this more-northerly-than-I-previously-commuted section of the line just has more interesting passengers in general. The null hypothesis, in turn, is instead that I have just needed more distraction from my own brain while riding this particular section of the subway – and thus have been more inclined to notice the fascinating actions of my fellow passengers while riding the rails – than while making other trips. I’ll need more data to truly determine, but, either way, my fifth unofficial/first official foray into subway sociology was a welcome distraction during what would otherwise have been a solid hour for the bully-in-my-brain to psych me out before my last interview.

It takes a lot of confidence to do anything other than stick headphones in your ear and avoid eye contact with fellow passengers on a subway. It takes a unique level of confidence to do double duty during your commute and incorporate your daily workout into it as well. Yet, one of my fellow passengers on the way to my last interview had the brass balls – er, brass bars – to do just that.

There was a guy on the subway who pulled out full-on boxing gloves and was using the handlebars that standing passengers hold onto like a punching bag. He must be at least somewhat trained because he did so with a rhythm that appeared – at least to my untrained eye – like something approaching “form” or “skill.” He even made a repetitive little “grunt grunt” like he was exerting effort in time with his punches. I can’t say I’ve ever actually watched a boxing match, but the action movies that I have watched that have included boxing have instilled in my brain the idea that those are the noises of proper breathing technique. A few people looked up briefly, but no one really batted an eye. As I said, it takes a lot of confidence to do anything other than stick headphones in your ear and avoid eye contact on my subway – or maybe my hypothesis is so valid that this kind of thing is sufficiently commonplace as to barely warrant notice.

Confidence is not something that is easy with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. There will never be anyone harder on me than me. One of the ways I express that – in addition to the ever-present threat of a panic attack on the way to an interview – is that I can only really ever be a student or a veteran at something. I rarely am able to give myself enough time for a true “learning curve” for something new. I either need to be trying something for virtually the first time – and thus be given the “pass” that even if I suck at it, it’s ok because I’m a “novice” – or I need independent confirmation within the first few trials that I don’t completely suck at it. I pretty much started this entire blog on the premise that I needed to learn to be okay with being mediocre at something and keep doing it anyway.

But, other than my Where’s Whoopsies, I haven’t done a lot of letting myself be mediocre at things in the past year, shared on this blog or otherwise, because there have been too many truly scary things and too many legitimate “if I fail at this, something really bad could happen” (like whatever the Hell the 9th Circle of Hell can dream up). I haven’t had the brain space left over to try to practice self-care through mediocrity. I think I’ve actually written more about my boss’s humorous failures than my own. And, while I’ve shared honest-to-goodness failures like jobs I definitely didn’t get, those weren’t quite humorous.

That would-be boxer was kind of inspiring in a “why am I so hard on myself for being neurodiverse when this is what neurotypical looks like?” way.  My Where’s Whoopsies – aka allowing myself to self-soothe through repetitive coloring – have been a source of self-care mentally during many of those “this failure isn’t something I can laugh at if it happens” moments. I am very glad I set up the expectation that I can suck at them and it’s ok. They have been a highly necessary distraction from my own mind.

Unfortunately, they are also a bit hard on the wrists with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Coloring in mandalas is a repetitive motion that can take it out of the hypermobile wrist even with ring splints. They aren’t truly a consequence-free distraction when the crisis gets bad enough. I still do them – and will still be posting them – but I couldn’t have safely done anywhere near as many mandalas as it would have taken to tangle with the 9th Circle of Hell last year and truly called it art therapy without my wrist having ended up permanently damaged.

My partner suggested a fairly obvious solution, at least from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have RSD. What if I just bought a three-dollar sketchbook and used my squishy gel pens to draw random doodles that didn’t involve repetition? All the benefits of coloring for mental health, with none of the risk of carpal tunnel? That probably would have been great last year except for the pesky fact that, included among the many things in my life that I tried once or twice and didn’t receive affirmation for in the past, is drawing. In fact, I received exactly the opposite feedback: I was told by my art teachers in elementary in no uncertain terms that I had no artistic talent whatsoever. I wasn’t about to do something I had concrete evidence that I sucked at during the Crisis of 2018.

But, as my Partner pointed out, I was also told I sucked at math in elementary school. Joke’s on those teachers since I’m now a professional data nerd? It’s 2019, no longer my childhood or the Crisis of 2018. Maybe it’s time I no longer allow the voice of long-ago art teachers to keep forcing me to choose between sore wrists limiting myself to mandalas or having no safe dissociative artistic outlet whatsoever when if things start to suck again? What’s the harm anymore if I suck at art? It’s not like I’m planning to quit my day job. I’m trying pretty hard to keep doing it, in fact. Can’t “Where’s Whoopsie” be expanded to include, “This entire drawing is a Where’s Whoopsie, but it was fun to make. Suck it, critics?”

My Partner was convincing enough to get me to order that three-dollar sketchbook during this current interim period between active crises. I almost gave up before I started when it arrived and I first saw the example sketch on its cover. If the cover picture below is truly the level of “art” the manufacturer expects to grace its pages, then I failed them the moment I ordered their product. My old art teacher was harsh, but she was probably right that I will never achieve anything near that level of artistic talent.

Strathmore_Art_Cover - Copy
<Image Text>: Cover of a Strathmore Sketchbook with a scarily good sketch of a young woman wearing a scarf.

But, I’m willing to try out having a hobby I’m only mediocre at again for a bit for the sake of my poor wrists. (Or at least as a back-up distraction for my next subway ride to an interview in case my fellow passengers fail to properly entertain me.) Thus, for this edition of Where’s Whoopsie, there’s no special trick to finding the Whoopsie. The entire sketch is the whoopsie.

It is also my attempt at capturing why “relaxing” is such a foreign concept for someone with ADHD and a bully-in-her-brain. Enjoy my first attempt at drawing something freehand since my last ever required elementary art class. And, since you’ll probably be wondering: 1) the little purple things are supposed to be lavender flowers. They are not grapes, as my Partner guessed; 2) The <image text> is as much for the visually unimpaired as for the visually impaired. I know you probably will have no idea what it is without explanatory text even if you can see it; 3) I wasn’t going to sign the sketch – because who would bother to plagiarize my terrible art or even call it art – but that same Partner who thought my lavender flowers were grapes also glared at me until I did. If the signature seems a bit pretentious, blame him not me; and finally 4) regular Where’s Whoopsies will resume shortly.

ADHD_WheresWhoopsieSketch - Copy
<Image>: Girl swinging from the moon in what should be the most relaxing fantasy landscape ever. But, her brain is full of chaos anyway. <Image Text>: “ADHD: when you can think of everything except nothing…”

Need a recap of anything I’m talking about in any post? Check out the Glossary of Terms.

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Candy Canes

Image result for pokemon go pikachu santa hat
Image: Pikachu in a Santa Hat from Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go had a super event this weekend, in which all their previous special events were combined. Increased spawn rates for all prior Community Day Pokemon were available all weekend, but, within the weekend, there was one three-hour period wherein all the prior Community Day event bonuses (including double candy and stardust) were also available at once.

Because it is winter, everyone is sick, and I’m still destined to catch every acute illness that I am ever exposed to, I was getting over being sick and the concomitant flare this weekend. I was aware of the spoon cost to participate fully, but self-care sometimes means caring for my mental health even when it costs my physical health.

I’ve considered mobility aids before. There’s probably some residual feeling that I’m a pretender who doesn’t deserve one wrapped into my prior avoidance. It’s hard to get over a lifetime of ignoring your own needs because someone else has it worse. Mostly, though, I haven’t used one because I haven’t seen how it would help.

All the canes I’ve ever been exposed to are sturdy, wooden things that have to be held onto like an umbrella.

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Procrasti-Not-Us

Working from home
Image: Brain says to heart, “Now that we work from home, self-discipline is absolutely essential.” Heart, playing video games, replies, “Speak for yourself, dork.” Link to original image here

Did you know that the term procrastination comes almost directly from the Latin procrastinatus?

This is relevant because I have a new blog page on my main site that does not have a Latin title. This pains my Partner deeply. I think it pains my Partner almost as much as typing pains the hands of someone with Ehlers-Danlos!

My Partner pointed out recently that the saga of the 9th Circle of Hell has probably become so complex that any potential new readers will have a hard time figuring out what the heck I’m talking about on a weekly basis. (The bully-in-my-brain, of course, immediately added: “even more so than they would normally have difficulty just in understanding the ramblings of someone with ADHD with pronounced hyperactivity alone.” Thanks for that, brain.) I replied that I actually take great pains to try and link at least the most proximally explanatory blog posts, so readers can catch up if they want.

He then pointed out that that effort probably costs me more in hand cramps trying to back-link enough blog posts each time I write a new one to make my story make sense to new readers – and to those of my readers with brain fog in general – than it would to just maintain a dedicated page. Because he is sensible – and my hands really could use the rest – I followed his advice.

I created a Glossary of Terms this weekend. It should contain all the key descriptions needed to understand my rather topsy-turvy life. My Partner desperately wanted me to call it the Dramatis Personae page – because Latin is awesome – but it turns out that I write a lot more about places than people, with the possible exception of him. I claim it’s because I respect the privacy of others whenever possible. It might also just be that I am socially anxious and don’t have a lot of close in-person friendships…

Either way, I couldn’t justify the Latin page title. And, the effort to create that Glossary of Terms seems to have sapped my creativity to write another blog post this week. I’ve been procrastinating long enough that I now concede that writing a blog post telling readers to read my not-a-blog-post will probably be my only post this week! But, that confession at least does allow me to honor my own and my Partner’s creative styles and kill two birds with one Latin pun title. (I hope my Partner is pleased.)

I think my brain has struggled to write another post this week because it thinks it already has written one. It turns out there are enough “Easter Eggs” in the Glossary of terms – including how I got the pseudonym Lavender, an introduction to the not-horrible therapist whom I keep claiming I will write something about someday, a new Where’s Whoopsie, and even a link to the very first piece on mental illness that I technically ever wrote – to maybe back-justify that I even truly did kind of write an original post. (The aforementioned Easter-Egg article was written on a whim for the same reason I started my blog. It technically was posted on another blog two weeks after I started my own, but I wrote it first and submitting it probably also helped inspire this blog. But, I – in true ADHD fashion – kind of forgot that it existed at all or that at one point I was open to maybe trying to guest post on other blogs eventually. Oh, well. My life is too complicated to need anymore rejection therapy right now.)

Have a look at my Glossary of Terms and hopefully learn something new about me. I’ll write a real post next week, I promise! (Though, at least on the plus side I’ve actually managed to be more productive working from home. Not having to see my bully-of-a-boss on a daily basis at least reduces the amount of time I spend frozen in panic unable to even start a project for fear of him already despising it.)

Blog Awards Series #5: B is for Blog Awards

I am not saying “B is for Bedbugs,” because supposedly things are “happening” with that. The home is hiring a new exterminator to come tomorrow and – again supposedly – is going to deal with the code violations that resulted in the scary green notice. I’m not sure how much faith I have in either of these things, but there’s not much I can actively do until I’ve given them a chance to fail all on their own.

Having learned entirely too much about what to do to keep bedbugs out even before an exterminator comes by when a complex I lived in during graduate school got them – and finding the agency rather lackadaisical about learning from my lived experience – I’ll share it with you all. Food-grade diatomaceous earth lining the walls and furniture is a great way to stop bed bugs and other nasties from getting in if the neighbors have an infestation. It’s also a cheap and surprisingly effective after-care product once the exterminator does treat. I did my research as soon as I discovered my neighbors had them, bought that, and was the only person in a ten-unit apartment that didn’t get bedbugs back in the day.  I don’t think it was strictly allowed by my lease to do my own treatments, but at the time management didn’t care since it worked.

There’s no point in putting it down in my sibling’s room until the infestation is handled with entomological nukes first, but I keep hoping the agency will at least allow me to do the same after-care measures for my sibling’s room later. I’m not quite daring enough to just do them anyway as I did in grad school, because I’ve seen agencies use any technicality to boot someone, they barely wanted someone with a trauma history to begin with, and there aren’t really any other openings.

So instead B is for Blog Awards like C is for Cookie. If I have an enforced sit-on-my-hands week, I probably should get back to that “mental health sabbatical” portion of my not-FMLA. I’m hoping to do some baking. Baking too often seems incredibly overwhelming and not worth the spoons when the world is falling apart. But, I’ve always deeply enjoyed it when I can manage it. My original “balanced scorecard” included playing with inventing recipes as a thing that made me feel more like me.

Today’s other balanced scorecard questions are courtesy of Fibronacci:

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Improv #10: Seven Things for Self-Care

*Knock knock*

“Who’s there?”

“Seven”

“Seven Who?”

“Seven Eleven…”

“Dude, you can’t fool me. I know there’s only seven of you. When I’m seeing eleven then maybe I’ll believe I’m as think as my friends drunk I am. Now bring me my black coffee and tylenol delivery stat!”

There’s an Improv game called Five Things that seems to be fairly universal. The basic gist is that you sing a little song and then ask the person next to you on the spot to come up with five (or seven, or eleven or whatever arbitrary number) of a certain category. It’s a warm-up game to get you thinking in odd ways.

It’s also a song that will lodge itself into your brain forever. If you don’t believe me, watch here. You get bonus points if you stay on beat and/or come up with wittier or more advanced versions for your answers. For instance, to start you might ask for five types of vegetables and only be able to think of “potatoes, carrots, peas, turnips, and celery.” Later on, you might get a little more inventive: “Mr. Potatohead, Veggie Tales, Carrot Top, The Jolly Green Giant and Sweet Pea.”

I do not seem to have self-care lodged in my brain in the same way. Between the double-vision fiasco, being mentally frozen in the 9th Circle of Hell and general ADHDness, I have been kind of terrible about my self-care this past month. (Don’t worry! No real alcohol or mind-altering substances were involved in my lack of self-care. Line games are just things that have also become permanently lodged my brain.)

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Eye Rate

Ehlers-Danlos is a systemic disorder. That clearly means it can affect any part of our body that either has collagen or relies on collagen. This is rather unfortunate, given that about 30% of the raw protein content in our bodies is made up of collagen. Collagen is in everything: our stomachs, our skin, our ligaments, our muscles, our blood vessels, and even in our hair. While I don’t think this quite means we can literally say our hair hurts, it does seem to mean we can literally tear our hair out over it. I somehow manage to both grow ridiculously thick hair and lose so much of it that my Partner claims he could build another me from what gets stuck in our drain catcher. Others lose as much as I do, but without the thickness to begin with. They get to deal with visible hair loss as a result.

Another place that collagen is found is in the eyes. My family’s genetically atrocious vision and need for prism in our glasses are quite likely manifestations of EDS. I learned this the hard way this week.

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Where’s Whoopsie #12: Hear Me Tyranit-roar

Hi, I’m Lavender and I’m a geek.

You’ve probably already picked up on that by now, but just in case you haven’t, telling you my Partner and I have been eagerly anticipating the Pokemon Go Community Day with abundant tyranitars for weeks now probably confirms it.

Today was a rare good day. We went to one of the biggest parks in our city. We each managed to collect enough candy to evolve multiple tyranitars, and we participated in some rare legendary raids with enough people to actually win (even though we *cough* don’t have enough friends to field a team outside of these community days due to *cough cough* social anxiety). We both even managed to get high-level shiny tyranitars to evolve. (It seems only fitting that someone with ADHD – stereotyped as “ooh, shiny” – should need shiny pokemon). My spoons did give out before my phone battery and the event did, but with appropriate planning for water, meds, rest breaks, shade and cooling aids, I lasted longer than I expected to. The heat and sun weren’t unbearable, and we stopped for burgers and ice cream sandwiches in the A/C when I needed to rest.

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RE: Your Brains

Zombie_Apocalypse_Playlist
Source: Pinterest

CW: Indirect descriptions of PTSD symptoms, the aftermath of trauma, and workplace bullying.

Have you ever wondered what a zombie with an office job would look like? If you’ve heard Jonathan Coulton’s excellent “RE: Your Brains,” you don’t have to ask. If you haven’t, I do suggest you listen to it eventually, but there’s no rush.

After all, you’re talking to one right now. That last trip to the 9th Circle of Hell – and the circumstances that sent me there – have liquified my last functioning synapse. Depression, anxiety and the more visible (and thus problematic in an open office) symptoms on the PTSD laundry list have finally cracked my normally fairly impenetrable walls of gallows humor, coffee, goth opera rock music, comfort food, fluffy urban fantasy escapism,  and even my devotion to appearing fine as a survival instinct. My last subconscious defense against collapsing into a puddle at work? Zombification, aka dissociation.

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Apps that Ad(h)d Up

There is an inherent contradiction that I have noticed in a lot of workbooks, apps, and other tools for mental and/or physical health. The tools themselves require a tremendous amount of attention to detail, dedication and memory for recording precise events at precise times. If those things were intuitive for me, I wouldn’t need those tracking and reminder apps in the first place!

It’s a great idea – in theory – to record every time I feel triggered, depressed, light-headed or aching, then to write down which techniques I tried to address the problem(s) with a corresponding 1-5 Likert scale rating of how much symptom reduction I obtained from them. I’m a data nerd by nature, but I also have ADHD. I need the tracking to be easy to do, work in multiple environments, and to provide handy visual data aggregations to make sense of the trends. I create those types of data visualizations every day for my job, but I do not have the time or spoons to take on a second job doing my day job again on my own time for my own health! If someone wants to pay me to create the world’s most perfect health tracking report, great. Until then, I just want technology to do it for me!

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Heavy Subject Matter (Pt. 2: Physically Heavy)

Warning: heavy material ahead. No, not a content warning. (If you want that, see Pt. 1). Though, I suppose the book has some of that in its characters’ backstory. I literally mean heavy subjects ahead.

For anyone who is super adept at remembering my life:

  1. Why? It’s not that interesting?
  2. Can you please teach me how?

I need a journal to remember what happens to me on a Tuesday. Seriously, there’s a little journal in my Health Storyline app entitled “Things that Happened Today.” I need it.

But, if you do remember my life, you may remember that I was recently diagnosed with EDS. I also wrote about how challenging it is to remember what I read in books. This is unfortunate because I’m having a particularly hard time getting through Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. It’s a good book. It’s a good enough book, in fact, that my Partner wanted to read it, too, and he rarely reads fiction books. The fact that he also wanted to read it means that we bought it in hardback. He is weirded out by Kindle books.

We bought it the day it came out. He finished it shortly after that. I’ve been struggling since then. For anyone keeping count, the book came out almost six months ago. Partly, I’ve been struggling because of my brain fog and a need to go back and refresh on sections whenever I set it down for a bit. But, there seems to be something more. It is more than just more than mentally taxing to read that book.

Continue reading “Heavy Subject Matter (Pt. 2: Physically Heavy)”