Books · graphic novels · mental health

My Brain Sucks. Let’s Read Graphic Novels.

Readers, I have a confession to make: I haven’t been reading many books lately. If you’ve been following this blog since the beginning you’ve probably noticed the lack of book reviews and posts in general. Part of this is due to the chaos that has been ensuing at work the last few months, resulting in a very exhausted Kiersten by the time five o’clock rolls around.  The bigger culprit is my depression, which has decided to pay a visit and stick around for some undetermined length of time. I’ve spent far too many hours the last few weeks (months?) binge watching shows on Netflix and staring mindlessly at social media, rather than pick up the dozens of unread books on my shelves.

Believe me when I say it’s not for lack of trying. In fact, even more frustrating than how behind I am on my reading count for the year, is how many books I’ve begun and quickly abandoned because my brain can’t stay focused on anything for more than five minutes. *Long, frustrated sigh*

Cue my small, but growing collection of graphic novels. For now, I’ve come to accept the fact that I may not be doing the type of reading that I want to, but I have found a solution in graphic novels. My brain seems to be able to take in the shorter length and less daunting nature of graphic novels. Rather than picking up a 400+ page book and immediately feeling like I can’t absorb it all, I can pick up a graphic novel and stay absorbed for only about 100 pages. Even if there are multiple volumes to the story (as there often are), I know I don’t have to read them all at once, which, for whatever reason, is more palatable for my overwhelmed brain at the moment.

I normally feel guilty, like I’m letting my readers and myself down, when I’m not reading much. At this point, I am familiar enough with the cyclical nature of depression and the effects it has on me to know that it won’t last forever and that beating myself up over it will only make me feel worse. For now, at least I have found a way to feel like I’m still reading and able to stay engaged on the blog.

Check out a few of the graphic novels I’ve read recently. (Reviews to follow)

Life · mental health

Humiliation, Table for One

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I woke up today feeling better than I have in several weeks. The sun is shining, both outside my window and is beginning to peek out of the dark corner of my brain where it has been dormant as of late. I’m thinking more clearly and can actually focus again. Even writing this post, I notice that the words are flowing more freely from my brain to the keyboard, which sounds like an obvious thing that would happen, right? I hate to admit it, but something even as simple as that has been a virtually impossible task during my brain-induced fog.

So, what is the reason for my sudden change of mood? Honestly, I have no idea. Considering the events of this past weekend, I was beginning to think that I would never be anything other than a sad sack of crap ever again.

I mentioned previously that I have been feeling super lonely lately. To combat those feelings, I tried to force myself out of my comfort zone a little and *gasp* make some new friends. (Oh, the horror!) There’s a Facebook group that I’m a part of for women who love to travel. The group consists of women all over the world and is a great resource for getting new travel tips/ideas. Periodically, they have in-person meetups, like the one they scheduled in Charlotte this past weekend. When I learned of the event a few months ago I had been excited to get to sit down with some of my fellow travelers and swap stories. If I was lucky, I might even make a few new friends in the process. It all sounded good, in theory, but I feel like I should have known better. By the time Saturday rolled around I was feeling pretty negative about the whole situation. (Thanks, anxiety! Love you.) I got up, got dressed, and drove over to the coffee shop where the meetup was, determined to stick it to my anxiety. I went inside, ordered a cup of coffee and sat down at an empty table. But that was about as much victory as I was going to get that day.

I sat at the table for 10-15 minutes, wondering how I was supposed to know who I was supposed to be meeting. It should have been easy to tell, right? A table full of women. I swear, it was like the universe started laughing at me at that very moment. Practically every person seated in the place was female. I sat there a little while longer, trying to gather up the courage to go from table to table, hoping to find my party. I glanced at my phone, hoping the group had put out a  message about where to meet them, but all I had was a message from Boyfriend saying “You got this!”

But I didn’t have it. That was actually when I completely lost my shit and started to tear up. My social anxiety seized hold of me at that very moment and sent me into full panic-mode, prompting me to abandon my coffee and the whole endeavor and run back to my car crying.

Needless to say, I didn’t feel too great about myself after that. Even though nobody from the group witnessed my embarrassing display (at least I hope they didn’t), I felt humiliated and defeated anyway. Perhaps humiliation looks good on me, because, for whatever reason, I’m feeling more like my old self today. The fact that I can even write this post and get a small chuckle out of it says a lot.

Maybe next time I’ll just drink my coffee at home.

 

food · Life · mental health

Ice Cream Blues

I realized today that it’s been some time since I last posted anything. I’m not sure if my last few posts even count, as most of them weren’t book-related or terribly interesting. I’ve been in a bit of funk for weeks now – not super depressed, but just depressed enough that I don’t have much desire to do things I normally enjoy. I’ve been reading, but it’s taking me forever to finish the books that I start. I keep telling myself that I should try to blog or write, but my stupid brain always leads me back to the same question each time: “Why bother?” (Hello, Negative Nancy, so nice for you to stop by and visit a while.) I’ve been feeling quite lonely lately, as well. The people I used to be close to have all moved away and the few friends I still have here I am not particularly close with, or they just never seem to have time for me. While I normally prefer to do things on my own for the most part, lately I keep finding myself wishing I had some other people to do things with, even if it’s only on occasion. This past weekend I took a short trip by myself. I did my best to enjoy myself and did all my usual activities – exploring, checking out the local bookstores, and eating lots of yummy things – but the whole time I kept feeling like something was missing, like I would have really enjoyed having a travel buddy with me for once.

On top of all that I managed to injure myself over the weekend. I’m not sure whether it’s a stress fracture, a sprain, or what (I’ll be going to the doctor tomorrow), but I managed to mess up my foot from all the walking I did on my trip. Having to lay around all week with my foot elevated and shooting pain whenever I try to walk really hasn’t been doing much to brighten my spirits, believe it or not.

I don’t have a happy note to end this on. I just wanted you guys to know that I’m hanging in there and that I’m still here. I thought about writing this post earlier in the week, but even that felt like too much effort, especially considering the entire time my brain has been trolling me and telling me that nobody wants to hear about my problems anyway. *sigh*

Thank you, as always, for being here. I appreciate you all. ❤

(Since I don’t have any book-related things to talk about, I offer you this delicious picture of some taiyaki ice cream. Because ice cream helps make everything better.)

Life · mental health

Wtf Am I Supposed to Wear? (And Other Things That Keep Me Up at Night)

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Perhaps it’s due to all the excess stress at work recently, but I’ve been having difficulty sleeping, despite the fact that I’ve been crawling into bed by 9:00 every evening. Early this morning, at the wee hours of 4:30, I was wide awake again. I gave up a few hours later, once Merlin decided that those lumps underneath the covers (aka my feet) were deadly enemies that must be destroyed. Truthfully, I was somewhat grateful for the excuse to get out of bed, having exhausted my mind with a major issue that has been haunting me lately…

What the fuck am I supposed to wear now that I’m 30?

You can roll your eyes at me if you want (I know I probably would if I was reading this), but this is a legit concern that has been bothering me lately, along with a few other key 30-something related issues. Remember last year, when I was panicking and having a major existential crisis over turning thirty? I look back at it and chuckle a little bit, because it really was no big deal. I’m still me, chugging along, trying to figure out who I am and what the hell I’m doing with my life. (I’m beginning to suspect that I will continue to feel that way on and off throughout my life and that it has nothing to do with my age.) Nothing major happened. Well, except one thing. Despite the fact that my eating habits have remained the same and I exercise regularly, I’ve noticed some small, but noticeable changes in my body. My metabolism has slowed and I’ve gained a few pounds. Only a few pounds. No big deal, right? But that’s where you’re wrong. Considering my 20 year battle with body image and eating issues, I didn’t handle this particularly well at first. I admit that I almost relapsed, due to that stupid little voice in the back of my brain that likes to troll me and tell me that my weight and appearance are important and are tied to my worth as a human being. Fortunately, I’ve had some time to adjust to my new 30-year old body and was able to pull myself off the edge of another downward spiral. Phew.

But, there’s still one problem.

I’ve noticed recently that some of my clothing is a little snugger that it used to be. It makes sense, as much as I want to rebel against it. As someone who detests shopping for clothing, I’ve put off fixing my wardrobe for as long as possible. I’ve reached a point, however, where I’ve grown tired of trying to squeeze my slightly larger hips and ass into jeans that were skintight to begin with, so I’ve had to begin shopping for new clothes. *Cue second crisis*

During a recent excursion to Hell, I mean, the mall, I all but had a complete mental meltdown. There really is no better place for it, after all, with all those bright lights and hundreds of staring, obnoxious sales people. (Just picture it: Me lying on the floor of the mall, sobbing and pulling her hair out as a kiosk saleslady runs over and attempts to spray me with free perfume samples.) Even my failed attempts to shop online have led to the same frustrating, confusing conclusion that I don’t know how I’m supposed to dress anymore.

Body changes aside, I’m not the same person that I was in my twenties. I’m successful at my job and work in a professional office setting. I don’t go out as much as I used to anymore. When we do go out we hang out as more relaxed, casual places, rather than loud, stuffy bars and clubs. I actually care about being comfortable now. Suddenly, all the tight, short dresses and high heels in my closet feel completely out of place in my life. When I’m not at work, I typically wear jeans or yoga pants with something comfortable on top. I wear flat boots and converse sneakers. I’ve started wearing my glasses all the time. But what am I supposed to wear to work? What about when I’m going out? My jeans, nerdy t-shirts, and cardigans are fine for when I’m hanging out at the bookstore or coffee shop, but what about the rest of the time? I’ve been struggling for years to figure out how I’m supposed to dress in the semi-professional/business casual environment at work that still allows me to express who I am. But, honestly, I’m not even sure what I’m trying to express anymore. Places like Ann Taylor and Banana Republic are too old for me. Forever 21 is too young. So where am I supposed to buy my clothes? Why is there no store for people like me? They can call it “Leggings & Lace” or “Mid-Life Moxie.” “Wine and WTF is On My Shirt?” Even if they had these stores, I still probably wouldn’t know how to dress myself, considering I’ve never been particularly good at these things.

Not long ago I got brave and added purple streaks to my hair. It’s on the underside and there are few of them. You can hardly even see them unless my hair is up and there is good lighting. Still, I know they’re there and I like them. I like my slightly funky, rebellious hair, even if nobody else realizes it exists. (Especially Boyfriend, who is colorblind.) Is it okay for me to have purple-streaked hair now that I’m thirty? I don’t know. Do my nerdy tees and converse sneakers make me look like I’m trying to be younger than I am? Again, I don’t know. How do I figure out the balance between being comfortable, but still looking professional enough for work? I DON’T KNOW. All I know is that I have a closet full of clothing meant for my 20-something year old self that don’t feel like “me” anymore.

I’m going shopping again this afternoon. Wish me luck.

 

Life · mental health

Cranky Bitch, Party of One

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Good morning on this day that we call hump.

I feel like I’ve been a bit disconnected from the blog world lately. I’m  not posting as much, not commenting as much, am completely behind on everyone else’s posts, etc. For a while I was attributing this to all the extra effort I was putting onto finishing the draft of my book. In part, some of that was the cause, but now that I’m taking a break from that I realize that there’s more to it. I’ve been feeling pretty crappy, both mentally and physically, the last couple of weeks. After having been doing really well n recovery the last 10-11 months, I feel myself slipping backwards and becoming that miserable, depressed person I was a year ago.

I don’t have much energy or interest in things lately, even the things I enjoy. I’m starting to worry about food/weight stuff again – not enough that it’s causing a problem, but enough that it could easily become an issue. Rather than be proud of all the work I did on the book this past year, my brain keeps trying to convince me that it’s not good enough and, as a result, I’m feeling like garbage. I’m cranky and angry all the time and I can’t even stand being around myself at the moment. UGH.

I’m not sure what’s going on. Maybe it’s just seasonal. Depression can often get worse for people during the winter months because of the lack of sunlight. My kidney problems have been acting up lately, causing me a lot of pain, which I am sure is also contributing. Maybe it’s a delayed response to Beaker’s passing. It’s been two months now. Everyone said I’ve been coping really well with the whole thing, but now I’m wondering if I was just in shock and it’s only starting to hit me. Maybe it’s hormonal. I’ve switched birth control twice now in the last few months, so it’s possible that this is the reason I’m a raging bitch. It’s most likely a combination of all these things.

I’m not going to lie, I really don’t think I can handle slipping back into a full-blown relapse after working so hard to get myself to a better place these last several months. I know I don’t owe anybody an explanation or excuse for why I haven’t blogging as much, but I do like to keep you guys in the loop, considering how supportive you’ve been this past year. I’m working on figuring it all out and hope things start to look up soon.

As always, thank you for reading. ❤

Life · mental health · Writing

There’s Underwear In My Shoe

I feel like a bit of a mess lately. No, maybe mess is the wrong word. Blob is a better one.

Greetings, from the Blob Monster!

On my drive to work this morning I realized that I had underwear in my shoe. This would have been highly perplexing had I not remembered putting said underwear in my shoe yesterday. What is perplexing, however, is why I didn’t take them out before putting my shoes on.

I’m struggling a bit this week. Work has been a nightmare lately and even though I’m excited to have finished the first draft of my book, I’m finding that I have too much time on my hands now. Before, I was so absorbed in getting the story finished that I wasn’t giving my brain much down time. You’d think that having some down time now would be good, right? As someone with mental health issues, too much idle time leaves room for my depression and anxiety to creep back in. That’s kinda what’s been happening the last week. I get home from work and find that I don’t have anything to do, so I start thinking about everything and nothing at once, then I get overwhelmed and just go to bed really early.

And that’s how you become so blob-like that you end up with underwear in your shoe. I’m going to sit down tonight and start working on book two. Otherwise, I’ll end up with a bra in my ear tomorrow.

(I have no idea where this post was meant to go. Please excuse my rambling.)

Books · food · Life · mental health · travel

Reasons to Stay Alive (2018)

I wasn’t going to do a reflection post on 2018 this year. With all the “Top 9s” on social media, the New Years resolutions, and the look backs, I figured that everyone would be growing kind of sick of hearing about it at this point. This morning, however, I had a change of heart. You see, today was the first day back at work after a four day weekend. (Even longer for those of my co-workers who have been off since Christmas.) Like any day back after a mini vacation, I expected work to suck today. Surprisingly, everyone was in a cheerful mood – wishing each other a happy new year, talking about how they spent their holidays, and just generally pleased to see each other. What surprised me even more was that I was one of those people.

LIVE

This time last year I was really struggling. I’d been in therapy for a few months, but hadn’t clicked well with my therapist. Rather than make any sort of progress, I felt myself slipping further and further into the abyss. While everyone else was wishing each other a happy new year, I was walking around feeling angry with everyone and hating myself. Shortly after the start of the year I started to have all sorts of health issues. I injured my shoulder and had an almost non-stop kidney pains/infections, which would last for almost six months. My eating disorder still had a strong presence in my life, despite all the weak attempts I made to kick it back. I was eating, but not always enough. I was so focused on my weight, what I was eating, and being “good enough,” that every time I ate a meal I practically burst into tears.

By Spring I was reading books and articles expounding on all the reasons that I should not kill myself.

I was certainly not the “New Year, New Me” poster child. Slowly, I kept dragging myself along anyway until one day I began pulling myself out of the hole I’d dug. One inch at a time. With the help of my therapist, medication, and a lot of hard work, I began to understand what I needed to do to really help myself. In June, I took a huge leap outside of my comfort zone and took a trip to New York all by myself. The trip itself wasn’t wholly responsible for the transformation I made, but it definitely set the wheels in motion. During that trip I rekindled my passion for life and food, and discovered my newfound love for travel. (You can read more about that trip here.)

Since then I’ve done so many things that I’m proud of. I’ve put a ton of effort into writing my first novel (Something I’ve dreamed of doing ever since I was a child). I’ve faced my fear of doing things alone and learned to enjoy my own company. I traveled to Portland, OR and began planning future solo trips. I’ve taken charge of my health, despite my eventual diagnosis of chronic bladder/kidney problems. I’ve read the books I wanted, made more time for the things I enjoy, and spent more time with friends. I jumped back into the kitchen with abandon, trying everything I can. I’ve made things (like my holiday Buche de Noel) that sent me through the roof with joy. I started living my life again.

Of course, life will never be perfect. I’ve still had my moments of frustration, doubt, fear, and anxiety. I’ve had setbacks and bad days. About one month ago, I had to say goodbye to my dog, and best friend, of fourteen years. It was hard and I still miss him every single day. But, I know that loss is a part of life and that Beaker will always be with me, even if it’s only in my heart. Despite the setbacks, the bad days, and my grief, I am still ten times better than I was this time last year (even on my best day).

I’ve come quite a long way since the start of 2018. I not only endured and pulled myself through, but I found at least a dozen reasons to stay alive. I can’t wait to find a dozen more this year. Here’s to 2019.

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