*sigh*

Sep. 14th, 2017 10:55 pm
sareini: (hiding)
It has been one of those days.

It started off with a dream I had. I had acquired a new cat, and for some reason I was taking the cat somewhere by car and my mother was driving. We were on a dual carriageway, going at about 60mph, and the driver's side window was open. Somehow, the cat - that wasn't in a carrier or on a leash or anything - managed to climb out of the window, walked across the car roof and then leapt off into the road - and oncoming traffic.

The impossibility of the dream wasn't the problem. The events of the dream upset me so much that I woke up in a state of high anxiety, and the day went downhill from there.

(I actually woke up to Lily nuzzling my knee, because she has the ability to tell when I'm sleepwalking/sleeptalking/having something that could become a night terror and wakes me up from them without traumatising me further. Which is a nice way to wake up, at least.)

So after I woke up I was anxious and distressed, which ended up combining into depression that I couldn't shake no matter what I tried. So eventually, feeling tearful and desperate and generally miserable enough that I was contemplating bad things, I did what I've been told to do in the past when I'm like this and called the mental health centre and asked to speak to the Duty Professional.

When I got to speak to him, it was a guy who had run an Anxiety and Depression group I took part in at the beginning of the year, which at least meant he knew me... but unfortunately he was also not exactly full of practical and helpful advice and energy. I explained how I was feeling and what I had tried to do, how it was making me feel worse, and his main piece of advice was to "do things that I liked doing". Which is something I had thought of myself, to be honest. He also didn't even know if I was on a waiting list for CBT or any other sort of psychological therapy, because of course with my care co-ordinator still being off sick (and now it's looking like she's not coming back at all) no-one knows what's going on with me at all. Which is another reason I'm feeling depressed and abandoned by just about everyone. So he said he'd look into that for me, and that was about it.

So I went into town and bought yarn and donuts. Which did at least help my mood a little.

But it rained on and off the whole time and I got caught in a couple of downpours, and then when it came time to get the bus home... the bus couldn't go the full route because there'd been a major accident on the road leading to my stop, so the bus couldn't get there. So I ended up with an extra 15 minute walk (in the rain) to get home. But I did see a rainbow and the walk was mostly downhill rather than the uphill struggle it would have been if I'd gotten a different bus.

Since then I've been watching Twitch.tv, making a start on a cardigan with the new yarn (here) - the yarn is a lovely colour and was quite cheap when I saw it in the shop, but now that I'm using it I'm discovering that it's a bit fiddly to work front and back post crochet stitches with. Hopefully this is something that will clear up as I get used to it - and eating donuts. If I had my way I'd not leave the house tomorrow, but I've got to go to the PDSA to pick up Lily's prescription, so I'll just have to try to be efficient with it.
sareini: (doctor)
I've not been feeling too well these past couple of days. I think it's all down to exhaustion after the weekend, but I wouldn't put it past anything to have caught something while in all the various crowds I was in on Saturday and Sunday. My depression and panic attacks have been making themselves known as well, and today I've suffered from repeated audio hallucinations of my phone ringing when it wasn't. Thankfully those were more annoying than anything else - hearing the phantom tones of Dare to be Stupid every now and then was just strange.

So I started work on Christmas presents today. I'm making Rachael a Hufflepuff scarf (yellow with spaced-out black stripes) and I'm also working on a Lizard shawl for my friend Kerry (although I might well keep this one and make her something else as it's a shawl I've wanted to make for myself for a while as well). I've been switching between them all day because I've not really wanted or been able to focus on one thing for very long. This is also why I've been watching random things on YouTube for most of the day as well. Somehow I've finished up on old episodes of Crimewatch UK.

A couple of random things I forgot to put in the last post about my weekend:

- I tried halloumi for the first time while visiting my niece! Over the past year or so Rachael has been suffering from severe emetophobia that's developed into OCD and a borderline eating disorder, because she's become so afraid of eating anything that might make her ill that she struggles to eat anything. She's lost a lot of weight because of it. She's working through it, though, and one of the foods she can eat is grilled or pan-fried halloumi. So she cooked us both some on Saturday night, and damn, that stuff is good. I'm going to have to get some for myself next time I manage to venture out to the supermarket.

- On the Sunday before I got the train back home the two of us went into Liverpool. Rachael wanted to get some beard moisturiser from Lush for her boyfriend, and I just wanted to see Liverpool shopping centre because I'd not been there since... last century, actually. It's changed a lot. So many of the shops I knew and frequented from my teenage years are long gone - Miss Selfridges, C&A, the huge Waterstones (although apparently that's just moved location) - and it now seems like every fifth shop is a coffee shop or Burger King. It was disorienting, to say the least. Also, the Lush store was nice, but the staff were really really over-eager to help. In my local store, you go in, they greet you and then pretty much leave you to your browsing. In the Liverpool store, we had three staff members come up to us to see if we needed anything within five minutes. And it was a crowded shop already, so I didn't really enjoy the complete lack of personal space. Also, the beard moisturiser was bloody expensive.
sareini: "Things I am not allowed to do at Hogwarts, No.61" (Cats and Dragons)
I got back from seeing my niece and spending too much on yarn on Sunday evening, but I was absolutely exhausted until this afternoon. The train journey back shouldn't have been too bad, but both trains were packed to nearly standing-room only and the sheer amount of people pushed me to my limits. I then got a very talkative taxi driver heading to Ross' place (because I started off the weekend by forgetting my keys, so Ross grabbed them for me so I could pick them up from him when I got back) so I had to stop off at his house for a bit to calm down. Got to meet some of the rattie commune though, and discovered that boy rats grow very big indeed. Most of them were pretty chilled with me and I got to pet them, but Neville the rat got freaked out when he smelled me because by that time I had the scent of four cats on me. Sorry Neville.

So, how was my weekend?

Cats! )

Of course, the other big reason I was visiting this weekend was for the Popup Wool Show. I went last year and got some good yarns, so of course I wanted to go again this year. Plus it's the closest thing I get to a summer holiday. I was quite proud of myself this year - despite having that credit card and all the yarn tempting me at very turn, I managed to stay within my budget.

Pictures of yarn! )

As well as my keys, I also managed to forget to take my niece's cardigan up with me, but I did remember my brother's birthday present, the Rock A-Z cross stitch. Rachael helped me frame it, since my skills are a little lacking in that area.

Cross stitch! )

For the most part my brain didn't short-circuit too much while I was up there. There was the crowds on the trains back to Stoke, of course, and the additional problem that the Virgin Trains' Pendulino train always makes me motion sick, so I step off it in a cold sweat and looking like a wax dummy. The Popup Wool Show was more crowded this year than it was last year, which was somewhat upsetting, but I was with my niece and so I was able to get through it with the only outward symptom being a bad case of aphasia (Every fifth word became "thingy.") Ross sent me regular updates about the cats being fine which also helped (Lily is making me mildly worried by repeatedly climbing into the cat carrier but I'm sure there's nothing actually wrong and it's just me seeing things where there's nothing again). I am however avoiding actual face-to-face or physical contact with other people for the rest of the week now as I recover my strength though.
sareini: The Mountains of Madness have many little plateaus of sanity - Discworld (Mountains of Madness)
Tomorrow I'm heading up to spend the weekend with my niece (my brother having managed to plan a week in Wales at the same time so he and the dog won't be there), where we will be going to the Popup Wool Show. I did this last year and everything was fine; we had a great time, I spent far too much on yarn, and my neighbours checked in on the cats. This year Ross is doing the catsitting, which is even better as Lily loves Ross (she sits on his lap, which she won't even do for me), and even though Callie still mostly flees from the sight of him, she does that for everyone and last time she actually came out and sniffed him, and so everything should be fine.

So of course yesterday I had two massive panic attacks over leaving Lily which left me physically sick and nearly fainting, and all because Lily meowed at me once, which to my broken brain apparently translated into, "Lily is going to die this weekend". I'm at least calmer today because I've managed to cram some sense into myself, but I've still got a headache from making myself so worked up yesterday.

I hate the utter randomness that my panic attacks follow, because I can't do anything to counter or prepare for them. Ideas and intrusive thoughts just enter my head out of nowhere and make themselves at home, and the next thing I know I'm lying in bed thinking that the floor is going to collapse under me, or that someone is preparing to break into the house right this very moment - or that the cats will drop dead if I leave the house for more than an hour. And with the current state of my local authority's mental health services, the chances of me getting any sort of treatment (CBT or otherwise) before 2018 at the earliest are slim to none. So I mainly have to figure out coping methods on my own.

One method (technically two) is to distract myself with knitting or crochet. Right now I have a 10-stitch blanket on hand for random panic attacks (I'm making it with a ball of Sirdar Colorwheel because I think the long colour changes of the yarn will work well with the pattern, and it feels really soft), and last night I finally found with a pattern for a skein of yarn I got at last year's Popup Wool Show that's 55% Bluefaced Leicester Superwash and 45% silk - Persephone. I'm probably going to take this one with me this weekend as the pattern is incredibly easy to memorise (and the ball is smaller than the Colorwheel).
sareini: "I knew the two of you would get along like a house on fire (screams, flames, people running for safety...) - Discworld (House on Fire)
Sometimes I go onto Ravelry to idly browse the patterns. This is never a good idea, because I am (a) easily distracted; and (b) easily distracted. I try to limit myself to just adding projects to my favourites list in the hopes that I can one day do some of them, but that just leaves me with huge lists of things I want to do when I can barely focus on finishing what's already on my needles and/or hooks at the moment.

Case in point: two years ago a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I decided to knit a hat for her. She had an "all clear" scan this week. The hat is still not finished (although I picked it up again today and might get it finished tonight...) so I guess it's now more of a "Congratulations on beating cancer!" hat than anything else. That's still good, I guess. But that's just an example of how spotty my ability to keep a focus on one task for a protracted period of time. It's why portions of doing my brother's birthday present and niece's cardigan have been so hard, because my mind just won't stay fixed to them.

I wonder sometimes if this is the depression or something else gone askew in my mind. I remember being able to focus on things to completion in the past... but that was a long time ago. It's probably something I should bring up next time I see someone at the Greenfields Centre (who, incidentally, finally called me back on Tuesday! Huzzah!), although whether there's anything that can be done about it I don't know.

***

In other news (and see how I flit from topic to topic!) I'm wondering why so many shows I like seem to shoot themselves in the foot when they hit Season 2. Preacher (although to be fair I was having problems with that in Season One; it's just that 2 sealed the deal for me); the new Doctor Who (I much preferred Christopher Eccleston's Doctor); American Horror Story (which made the mistake of putting too many plotlines into one story, so we had aliens, a serial killer, Nazi experiments, demonis possession and an abusive mental asylum all at once) and now The Strain for the latest example, where the supposed protagonist who I was already having problems with becomes even more unpleasant and starts drinking heavily (and yet is still supposed to be the hero and a responsible father, people!) and most of the rest of the cast seem to have taken a beating with the Stupid Stick as well. Thank Eris Fet is still mostly awesome or I'd be giving up on this show as well.
sareini: Bub from Day of the Dead (bub!)
(Aside from the whole mental illness thing, that is.)

Since I came up with the idea for my video review series last week, my brain has been constantly nagging me with ideas for it. "Hey!" it shrills at me while I'm doing something completely unconnected, like cleaning the litter boxes. "We should totally do American Horror Story for the video series as well! All of them! Starting with Murder HouseMasters of Horror show out of the way first. And, you know, actually make a video, which we can't do right now because the audio panel on the computer doesn't recognise microphone jacks-"

"And The Strain! Do that too! And-"

"Brain, you're getting way too ahead of us here. You're making plans at least a year in advance, and-"

Small spoiler for an episode of The Strain S1 )

"Brain, shut up. I'm wrestling with 30l of cat litter here, you could at least help."

And so on. All week. Eventually I made a compromise and made a list of shows and episodes that I could conceivably do video reviews of, some time in the future, and it seems to have soothed that part of my brain for the time being. But I really do hate it when my brain gets fixated and over-excited about things like this, trying to divert energy and attention from everything else that I want or have to do.
sareini: "Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says, 'Bugger'." from Blackadder (Bugger)
Ugh, but this week has been a mess.

The first half of the week was taken up with my mind waging a minor war against me. I would be lying in bed trying to fall asleep and I'd hear "voices" coming from "downstairs". Whether these were actually noises from outside that I was mishearing, or hypnagogic hallucinations I don't know, but the result was the same - bolt awake and lie there trying to work out what was going on for several minutes each time. I ended up having to remind myself that, if there was really someone else in the house, the cats would be reacting to it and they were still lying, dead to the world, on the bed or in the bedroom doorway.

I had a moment of thinking Nick was still here as well, which was disorientating more than upsetting, but still not something I want to be happening regularly (because of the disorientation).

My anxiety's been particularly high and the one time I went out this week I couldn't stop myself from thinking that everyone was watching me.

And then finally I had no concentration for most of the week, so I couldn't really get anything done. So thank you, broken brain.

Then, over the last couple of days, I've been suffering from a lurgy. Headache, aches in all my limbs as though I'd just hiked up and down a mountain, a slight fever, a feeling of being utterly run down and stomach upsets. Hopefully I'm starting to come out of it now (in that I ache slightly less today) but I probably still need to catch up on a fair bit of sleep (which I couldn't do today as I had to sit around waiting for a delivery of cat litter all day that didn't arrive until 6:30pm).

***

Creativity-wise, this week I mainly worked on the Rock A-Z cross stitch. I took a day off today, because my arms already ached without adding the pain of RSI from holding them in the same position for hours while I stitched, but I've finished up to the letter O, so I'm at least halfway through. I figure it's going to take me a little over a week now to finish it altogether.

I've also been practicing sock skills. I'm enjoying using the magic loop and toe-up patterns for knitting socks, but I'm still having the problem of ladders on either side of the sock from the magic loop. So far I've not had much success in correcting this; I'm either going to have to keep looking till I find a way that works for me, or just resign myself to the fact that I'm going to be crocheting the sides together when I'm done.

Finally, I think I've at last come up with a workable idea for a video review series to go with my blog. I'd originally thought I was just going to do video reviews of movies I'd already reviewed, but I kept thinking that was somewhat redundant at best. Then today I remembered the old Masters of Horror TV series from 2005-2007, where a whole bunch of horror directors got together and each made an hour-long TV episode, doing (for the most part) whatever they wanted. I'd been thinking about doing a review marathon for them at some point anyway, and so it struck me that trying out a video review format would probably work with them without disrupting the movie review portion of the blog. So now the next step is to start to properly learn how to use Premiere Elements 14, which has been sitting on my computer waiting for a year now. And also to work out whether I have a microphone that works, or if the part of my computer tower that I plug my headset in is in need of fixing.
sareini: "chaos, panic and disorder - my work here is done!" (chaos)
I am afraid of emergency broadcasts.

But Why? )


tl;dr - I'm very strange and have some strange interests and phobias. But I'm also fascinated by them.
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
With The Howling: Reborn I have finished the July Howling Franchise Marathon and can now go back to slacking off and watching films I actually want to watch (until November when Shark Week 2 comes around). To be fair, Reborn was a marked improvement over some of the previous sequels (admittedly that wasn't exactly hard) and it got me thinking about a werewolf apocalypse. World War Werewolves, if you will. Hmmm...

In other news, the text telling me my prescription was ready came through, so I took myself into town for that and my monthly crochet magazine. The whole trip wouldn't have been too bad despite the heat and the Saturday shopping crowds, but the pharmacist decided to spring one of those Medicine Checks" on me, which involves being locked in a small room with the pharmacist while she goes through all your meds and asks if you're okay on them and are they working, etc. I already had one of these two months ago so I wasn't too happy to begin with, but I did my best to put on my best smile and went along with it.

...until she asked me if I was "happy" now I was on the antidepressants. Now I've been on these drugs for well over a decade at this point; tried weaning off them with the doctor's permission several times, but each time I'd get to below 150mg and everything would go to hell. And since Nick died it's been more of a case of them just keeping me going from day-to-day, never mind making me "happy". I consider it a good day if I get myself out of bed sometimes. So I tell her that, and she immediately feels the need to inform me of all the extra ways I can work to "fix" my depression.

I know she meant well. I really do. But in the 18 years I've been diagnosed with depression, I've heard of, read up on and tried many things as well as the medication to try to help my condition. And I've come up with several things that I know help, through trial and error, and I do them whenever possible. I don't go out very often because the outside world scares me and makes me anxious enough to be physically sick sometimes, so going on a half-hour walk every day probably isn't going to help, and it's probably not the first time I've had this suggested to me either. The pharmacist then went on to tell me that she feels anxious too, as she's originally from Spain and she has to come to work every day in a strange country, so it's okay! Don't feel so anxious! And all I can think is, "Oh great. Now I feel bad that I have uncontrollable anxiety and panic attacks because this woman's come to a whole other country with a whole other language to work and she worries about what other people think of her."

I told her she was really nice, caring about me like that and wanting to help me, and I'd definitely try to do what she suggested. Then I slunk away feeling like pond scum. But I really wish people wouldn't tell the mentally ill to exercise to"cure" them. We don't tell people with physical illnesses to "walk it off" (well, we do for some of them, but that's not the point here).

On the other hand, while walking to the bus stop to get into town I met this handsome fellow, who was sunning himself on the pavement when I saw him. He came running up to me meowing happily and gave me a good sniff, but then decided he didn't want a fuss and so just sat watching me and meowing. Maybe it was because I smelled of GIRLCAT. He was perfectly happy to have his picture taken though.


Ehhhhh...

Jul. 4th, 2017 08:12 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
Howling IV: The Original Nightmare - I have seen a lot of bad horror movies over the years, but this has to be in the bottom 10.

One of the reasons my depression is so strong right now, I think, is because I'm once again waiting for my social worker to contact me. The original plan was that she was on holiday for a week at the beginning on June, and then she'd call me when she got back. After I didn't get that call I rang the mental health centre asking about her... and found that she's on sick leave again. I've now called once a week for three weeks and she's still on sick leave (and was on sick leave for a couple of weeks before her holiday as well) so I'm now quite concerned about her. Is she in an iron lung? To have to take this much sick leave in such a short amount of time suggests something quite serious... but while I worry about her health, I'm also left with no-one to contact when things are bad for me.

There's an out-of-hours line that I've used a couple of times in emergencies, but there's only so much that can be done on that line, and at some point the conversation always rolls around to, "Well, you can sort things out when your social worker calls..." I've been waiting for referrals for several things since March or April now that my social worker was supposed to do, and which apparently no-one else can do in the meantime. One of these referrals is over whether or not my medication doses need to be adjusted because the anti-anxiety meds don't seem to be doing their work at the current dosage any more. Another is a check-up on my general mental condition, to make sure I'm not in need of any extra help. These and others are just left hanging in limbo right now, and it's all building to a point where my mind starts to tell me that they're just lying to me and don't want to help me any more; that if they really wanted to help me someone would have come out or phoned or written a letter by now explaining the situation.

I ended up spending the afternoon in bed today to avoid doing anything rash that would only make myself feel worse afterwards, and while the immediate urge has passed I'm still feeling pretty much abandoned and ignored by the service that's supposed to be helping me. Bleh.
sareini: The Mountains of Madness have many little plateaus of sanity - Discworld (Mountains of Madness)
I was lying in bed this morning, being poked by one cat while the other attacked my foot every time it moved too close, and I was thinking (a dangerous action, I know). It actually started off quite depressingly, with me feeling rather sad about what I was doing with my life - or rather, the severe lack of anything being done. I'm acutely aware that my days consist mostly of cats, computer gaming, and if I'm lucky some crafting and maybe some writing. It's an impressive day indeed when I manage to leave the house to go somewhere other than the local shop 50 meters from my house. Generally, I was feeling like I was really not accomplishing very much and was probably a rather boring and sad person.

And then I thought to myself (as Callie gnawed on my ankle and Lily kneaded into my unprotected, soft and fleshy armpit - part of cat ownership is never needing to pay for accupuncture), that while it might not seem like much, compared to this time last year I'm actually doing pretty good. Back then, it was a good day if I even made it out of bed for a reason that wasn't "Feed self and/or cats" or "Use bathroom". All I did was lie in bed and watch movies, YouTube and daytime TV. I never talked to anyone aside from my brother, didn't even try to socialise with people and my productivity of any kind was almost non-existent. So if you compare me from a year ago with the me of now, I'm doing miles better - even if I don't feel like it in the slightest (depression having that way of distorting your perceptions so that you think you've always felt this bad, and always will, and nothing has ever changed, no matter what you rational mind tries to say in response. Even writing all this down feels wrong, because - as I said - I don't feel like I'm doing any better).

I still need to try to get into a proper writing schedule, and be less terrified of the idea of putting stuff out there that other people could potentially read, and I need to get better at finishing things, but small steps. Small steps.
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Firstly, and probably most importantly, Callie will be going to the vets for her yearly vaccinations. Even though both she and Lily are 100% indoor cats (aside from the .5% when she pokes her nose past the front door for a fleeting second) it's important to get the vaccinations because (a) you can never be too careful; and (b) because Lily is on long-term steroids now she can't get her vaccinations, so Callie needs to step up to provide the herd (clowder?) immunity. Callie is significantly easier to get into the carrier than Lily, what with being small enough still to be picked up and held with one arm and her not psychically knowing when it's time to get into the carrier like Lily can somehow sense. Once that part is done it's relatively easy and so routine that even I and my anxiety can't come up with anything to panic about.

Then, later on in the day I will be joining several friends and friends of friends in the headstart for Secret World Legends, the new f2p version of Funcom's The Secret World. It's a new game, so new characters for everyone... and that's been causing me some deep thought and anxiety over the last few days.

You see, I've had a small pool of characters that I play/write about for a very, very long time now - some of them have been around for nearly 30 years at this point. And so with maybe one or two exceptions, I don't like to create new characters; not when I've got these perfectly good characters that I can tweak to that purpose! Over the years I've become aware that these characters are also facets of myself in one way or another - Talia (who over the decades has also been known as Tiffany, Kimberley, Abigail and Rebecca) is how I wish I was; while James is the part of me that identifies as male and (poor thing) gets saddled with my mental illnesses and anxieties (and angst). There's a couple of others, but these are the two that have been with me the longest. When I write, they're the characters who'll turn up in just about everything, carefully shaped to fit the situation. And over the years they've helped me through a lot of things as well - they're not real, of course, but working out what they'd do or say to me in situations when I've had no-one else around to turn to has probably saved my life on at least one occasion.

So it's difficult for me to just create new characters, because to make the cut as a character they really have to have something that makes me attached to them, otherwise I lose interest very quickly. And I feel awkward about this, because in my past I've had people tell me how wrong this is or mock me for it, to the point where now I expect it from people automatically. Even explaining this here is making me feel weird because I never actually talk about this stuff.

On a related note I should probably get back on with the character backgrounds I've been working on for the versions of them in my current original universe brainworm...
sareini: (hiding)
The continued heat, even at night, has started to cause me another problem: I can't sleep. Last night I tried using Nick's old room fan to cool things off a little, and while Callie was enthralled by it and the very concept of "wind inside a house", it came at a price: I couldn't hear my music over the noise of the fan, which meant I still couldn't sleep. So that, coupled with worried about Lily who's having a flare-up and several personal things getting to me and weighing down on me, left me feeling very depressed this morning. I tried calling my social worker, but even though she's back from her holiday she's now off sick, so I'm still left twisting in the wind and that only made me feel worse.

So, after curling up in bed with Lily who senses when I'm bad like this and came along to purr on me for three hours so I got some sleep, I decided to take quiet day today. Worked on Ross's birthday present, drank raspberry lemonade water and watched random stuff.

One thing I watched was a J-horror mockumentary found footage movie called Noroi The Curse. It's one of those movies that holds your attention for the near two-hour run time, but then when it ends you have to rush off to Wikipedia to work out what you just watched. I enjoyed it greatly - like I said, it held my attention for the whole thing, and was just the right amount of creepy without any overt jump scares - and with notes of Ghostwatch, The Blair Witch Project and a kernel of what would become Paranormal Activity but I also strongly suspect I'd have understood parts better if I had a better understanding of Japanese and Shinto customs.

Now I'm playing League of Legends (because what better thing to do when feeling low than play Abuse Simulator 2017?) and drinking yet more raspberry lemonade water, because that stuff is like crack.

*sigh*

May. 31st, 2017 03:58 pm
sareini: (hiding)
Anxiety levels are through the roof again today.

Lily has been sick twice (so far) today, out of nowhere. She did get into my dinner last night which was a Three Cheese Pasta Melt, so maybe the fatty greasy food upset her stomach a little. Or maybe the dosage of her meds needs adjusting. Either way I have to wait till tomorrow to see how she is before deciding whether to take her to the vets' again, so in the meantime my body works itself into a state of high anxiety. She's up on the desk with me right now and she was playing with Callie a little earlier, but I still can't stop myself from panicking. I thought we had finally gotten a hold on things (again) but it seems that every time I dare to think that things go wrong again instead.

Meanwhile, it took me all of two days to decide to reactivate my main character in EVE and apply to rejoin Karmafleet. Got back in with no problems, but due to my general streak of luck with regards to tech, I didn't get access to the forums and Mumble comms back till last night. So now I have Mumble on, and I'm sitting in the comms... but I can't bring myself to speak. I don't know anyone in comms, and so whenever I try to say something my voice just dries up with terror and I can't do it. And it doesn't help that my headset mic is several inches from my mouth and can't be moved because it's set in molded plastic, so I have to fiddle with volume settings to even try to be heard.

So yeah. Not enjoying today.
sareini: default (Default)
Just now Facebook - even though I didn't have it open, because it has somehow wormed its way into my browser - helpfully informed me that today is Nick's birthday.

He'd have been 41 today.

A brief check on Facebook showed a couple of mutual friends saying they wished he was still here, and his brother being about as pissed off/depressed as me about the birthday reminder. Which made me feel slightly guilty, because if I'm memorialised his account when he died then none of us would be getting the reminders and people wouldn't be sad and upset.

A friend asked me why I don't just do that, and I came up with several excuses very quickly. Some of Nick's friends still like to post to him as though he were still here. I think they require proof and that's awkward and time consuming. I'm not a "verified family member" (just his partner) so they might not even take the request from me.

Honestly? Even 18 or so months down the line, memorialising his FB page feels too much like drawing a line under everything and moving on, and I don't think I can do that yet. Turns out I can hoard even virtual memories. Who knew?

In the past, we'd celebrate Nick's birthday with pizza, either superhero movies or otherwise "bad" movies (like Rockula or The Return of Captain Invincible, which people should probably watch anyway because the latter has Christopher Lee singing a musical number) but as today is a Monday my local friend can't come round so I'm probably going to spend the day quietly. Knitting, crocheting and maybe trying to get through the mountain of DVDs and Blu-Rays I found in bags while moving the chair the other day. And trying not to think about Facebook.
sareini: richard goes fwoom! (lfg)
After about 25 hours now of Dragon Age: Inquisition, I have an Inquisitorial Decree: Fuck Bears. Seriously, fuck them and their stupid aggro radius and infinite chasing AI, even if you disengaged before a single shot was fired. And their ability to spawn on top of you in the middle of a fight. Seriously, I think my Inquisition now has a bear bounty. Best part was when I was trying to do a quest where you had to walk three times round a statue to resurrect someone's dead grandmother or something, and all I managed to summon was bears - and once a pack of wardogs when I tried going the other direction. Apparently grandmother was a bear in disguise. Who knew?

In other news, I've recruited the final member of my party - the Hogwarts Sorting Hat as worn by a teenage boy - and finally got to the kissing stage with Dorian. Woo! Now I can go kiss him in the library whenever I want, I believe, while I wait for the trigger for the next part of the relationship to start. Which might not be for a while now, as I think I'm going to have to spend most of the next couple of days doing the last-minute sprint on my niece's cardigan before Saturday. Time to catch up on some TV shows.

***

On the Lily front, her illness continues to perplex me. On a whim on Monday, I gave her the very last steroid tablet left after we stopped them last week. She was sick that night, but not last night, and the last two nights she's been playing with Callie and with her shoe (Lily has a strange affection for one of my formal dress shoes). Does this mean that she needs to go back on the steroids as well, or was the few days' vomiting just a blip or getting the last of the stuff out of her system? I guess tonight will be a deciding night for it - if she's sick again I'll be calling the vets tomorrow; if not then I will cross my fingers and leave it till next week. Part of the problem is the stress and logistics of taking her to the vet - not only do I have to get her in the box and do all that, but I have to try to get myself in a suitable mindset for leaving the house on short notice, without triggering an anxiety attack.

But at least there are no bears, I guess.
sareini: Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental (Reality)
One of the goals I set myself when I decided to start journaling again was to write more fiction, be it fanfic or original, and actually be brave enough to post some of it. Kind of a silly thing to have anxiety about seeing as I self-published several short erotic fiction stories a few years ago and made money off them, but anxiety and mental illness is like that, isn't it? In the distant past, writing also helped a lot with my depression - back when I was 18-19, a friend and I co-wrote (half of) a bizarre epic called Love In The Jaws Of Cthulhu, which did me a lot of good as I was on antidepressants that weren't doing me any good at that time and so I could pour out my angst on the pages. (Today the only thing of all that that I'm still proud of is probably the title.) So, mindful of this goal, this week I started writing down character notes and worldbuilding stuff for a potential originalfic universe I've wanted to get down on paper for a while.

Of course, I also started playing Dragon Age: Inquisition this week as well. And after a day or so of that, new little muses started jumping up and down as well, clamouring to be heard. Gradually, they got louder and louder, and more and more difficult to ignore. So I guess I'm now writing a totally different universe - supernatural fantasy world, set in a Renaissance-esque period and following the younger members of one of the ruling families of that world, and their friends, confidents and lovers. There's going to be mages, vampires, ghosts and more. And a poly het relationship, a lesbian relationship and (eventually) a male gay relationship, because apparently I like to cover all my bases.

What I've also done, which is pretty brave of me considering my anxiety levels when it comes to interacting sometimes, is join some prompt and bingo communities, for both the prompts and the impetus to actually write, finish and post stuff. In another post I'm going to put the prompt lists and bingo cards for reference and so I can fill them in as I finish things, but I've also got to try to limit myself from not just picking every list, table or card that vaguely appeals to me because I just can't decide what I want to do.

I may also employ a couple of friends to periodically poke me about how the writing is going, because the best the cats do is sit on the writing pads I use or try to eat the pen.

On Anxiety

Apr. 25th, 2017 03:40 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
My weekend actually turned out pretty crappy. I ended up spending most of it in the throws of a major anxiety attack, one which left me alternatively just sitting in bed shaking, being physically sick or suffering problems at the other end. Oh, and we can't forget the sleeplessness either. Things didn't really get any better until Monday noontime, when I received something in the mail - but we'll get to that later.

I often find that trying to explain to people what anxiety and/or panic attacks are like is a lot like trying to explain what yellow smells like. The first thing people usually ask is, "Do you know what caused it?" which, on the surface, is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. If you know the cause, you can maybe do something about it. Unfortunately for me, my anxiety attacks are often completely random and with no obvious cause - sometimes I actually wonder if they're triggered by something in my subconscious going, "What? We have nothing to panic about? Let's fix that!" and just panicking for the sake of panicking.

The physical symptoms don't help matters either. Much as with any stressful situation, when you have an anxiety or panic attack your body produces more adrenaline than you really need, to prepare for a "fight or flight" response. And one of the other things adrenaline does is slows down or even stops your digestive system as part of this. But of course, it can't stop forever, which is why I end up backing and forthing to the bathroom with disturbing frequency. And if you're being sick, you can't really get your mind off the anxiety, can you? It's a particularly vicious circle.

So I spent the weekend a panicking mess. I could barely even talk to people, which then started a whole new anxiety loop - "What if they get mad at me? I can't face them after this!" - and on and on it went. Because I can't really explain how bad my anxiety makes me feel, I worry that my friends don't or can't really understand the way I am sometimes; why I disappear randomly, stop replying to them, run away from conversations online - I just randomly reach a level of my ability to cope with things, and the moment things go over that level I'm gone.

But like I said, things got better on Monday. I received a package of yarn for a shawl I've had the pattern for for a while now - the Shawl of Secrets made with Scheepjes Secret Garden yarn. I originally got the pattern several months ago when I was "helping" my niece get free shipping on an order of her own (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and last week I decided that I had the excess money to actually buy the yarn - well, most of it anyway, as one colour was out of stock. So I was able to start work on that and finally I had something I could focus on to bring my anxiety down. And it works up really quickly as well - I'm already on the second colour, which makes me slightly bothered that I'll have to stop rather quickly when I reach the part of the shawl that needs the one colour I couldn't get at the time, as I'll have to wait a week and a half before I can get that last colour (I have to put limits on my yarn buying, or the house would be full and we'd be resorting to eating the stuff). But it's very pretty, and it feels very nice - it's 20% cotton, 20% silk, and 60% polyester, which I realised perhaps too late translates to "Bugger to clean, best not get this dirty". But that's something to deal with when it's finished.

***

In other news, I've temporarily renamed Callie to "Bitey McMoglet" after she's spent the last few days on a renewed assault on my feet while I'm in bed. Perhaps the most amusing thing is that she actually responds to it (although to be fair, she also responds to, "Leave your sister alone," and "What are you doing in that bag?").

Vet Visit

Apr. 20th, 2017 01:01 pm
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
Today Lily went to the vets.

As I mentioned before, Lily has been suffering from cholangiohepatitis for several months now. Basically, it's an inflammation of the liver and bile ducts, and comes in several forms, including acute and chronic. It should also be noted that we (the vets and I) are only 99% sure it's cholangiohepatitis as the only way to be 100% is with a liver biopsy, and with Lily's age (14) we're not comfortable with putting her under. But her symptoms match up exactly and she's responded to the treatment for cholangiohepatitis, hence the 99%.

We've been backing and forthing to the vets for this since November, and it's been quite the terrifying ride of emotions. My mental problems mean that I immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion for everything, whether I want to or not, and things weren't helped when, in January, the vet announced that she could feel a "mass" on Lily's liver. The "C" word wasn't explicitly mentioned (the vets know of my anxiety and panic disorders and so do their best not to freak me out without good reason) but it was hovering about in the exam room. So everyone was surprised when, after an ultrasound and x-ray, the results came back that Lily's liver was fine, and it was her bile ducts that were very swollen. (As an aside, Lily is such a placid and easy-going cat that they didn't have to sedate her for the ultrasound, even though they expected to. She just lay there like a flump and purred, apparently.)

So we've been treating her for the last few months with antibiotics and a low dose of steroids (so sadly Lily can't compete in the Cat Olympics, which is a shame as she'd have gotten gold in the "Sleeping Like a Cushion" event) and they've been a tremendous help. The daily vomiting stopped, her appetite came back (and brought a friend!), her jaundice completely cleared up, the "mass" shrunk to almost nothing and her mood increased tenfold. The only problem is that, whenever she stopped taking the antibiotics, the vomiting and depression would start coming back after a few days. Apparently with cholangiohepatitis it can take an antibiotic course of up to three months, and I think on and off we're approaching that time period now.

Last time we were at the vets she'd been off the antibiotics for a week and had started vomiting again just the night before, so we got another two weeks' worth of antibiotics which ran out yesterday. During that time Lily wasn't sick once, which I thought was pretty good evidence that it was the antibiotics doing most of the work. The question was, where do we go from here?

Going to the vets is very stressful for both me and (in this case) Lily - moreso for me although I'm sure Lily would argue otherwise. There's the whole leaving the house and having to interact with others issue, although I've learned to deal with that by basically pre-planning what I want to say to the vet and by talking to people's animals rather than them if someone in the waiting room starts up a conversation. There's worry over whether the taxi driver will be one of the ones that claims it's "extra" to take pets (it isn't) or tries to insist I put Lily, in her unsecured carrier, in a closed car boot while he takes corners at speed. I worry about my shopping in car boots; do you really think I'm putting my cat in one? Then there's the ever-present fear that I'll be there and the vet will tell me that there's nothing that can be done; or I've done something terribly wrong and Lily will be taken off me or put to sleep. It's not at all likely, I know, but that's irrational anxiety and paranoia for you. That last one usually starts a couple of days before the actual appointment too, so I'm operating on little to no sleep by the time the actual visit comes around.

Lily, on the other hand, has to go in a box, be taken somewhere strange, and then have a strange person poke, prod and squeeze her. Sometimes they violate her with a thermometer, and sometimes big dogs stick their noses up against the door of her box to see what she is. So it's hardly fun for her either, although she has become more fond of the box since she got given a blanket to go in it by one of the receptionists. I've even caught her sleeping in it sometimes...

Today I can say for sure that Lily was feeling fine, as she twigged to the fact that a vet visit was coming before I'd even called the taxi and went and hid behind the sofa. We then had a five-minute wrestling match where she tried to bring the sofa with her before I finally got her in the box and she glared daggers at me for the entire trip down. Thankfully it was pretty quiet there today - just a couple with a very happy, friendly black lab (who I thought was a male with a scrotum the size of a softball, but who turned out to be female and so whatever that was must have been uncomfortable) and an elderly couple with an equally elderly dog with an injured leg. Lily even tolerated the elderly dog, probably realizing there wasn't much it could do even if it wanted to.

The checkup revealed that Lily's jaundice is still at a minimum, as is the swelling around her liver and bile ducts. With that in mind and the evidence that the antibiotics have a much better effect on her than anything else she's been on, we're committing to a long-term dose with checkups every two or so weeks. Which are stressful but worth it to know that Lily's continuing to do fine.

As for Lily, she forgave me when we got home because she got more treats (and meds wrapped up in a Pill Pocket). I, on the other hand, am exhausted.

Panic

Mar. 20th, 2016 05:04 pm
sareini: (doctor)
I'm sitting here this afternoon, inbetween lifting Cracker off the laptop keyboard every few minutes because she's gotten way too overexcited over some food I'm trying to eat, and panicking over the idea of leaving the house tomorrow.

I've suffered from panic attacks for several years now, but they really hit the fan after Nick's death, of course. They'd be easier to deal with if I could predict them in any way, but really just about anything can set them off. A few weeks ago I was having regular attacks over the idea that Lily might have some sort of hideous fatal mouth or jaw or tooth cancer because she was doing strange things with one side of her mouth and occasionally pawing at it. Turns out she was just losing a tooth, and she's now fine and it doesn't slow her down in the slightest (then again, Cracker has absolutely no teeth and I'm still not sure she's even noticed). So generally they tend to focus on worrying about the cats (Nick used to be included in that too...), my own health or doing regula everyday things that now terrify me.

A couple of weeks ago, my brother suggested to me that, if/when my PIP is finally sorted out, I should consider getting the card from the new local cinema that allows me to go see as many films as I want for only £16.90 a month. He figured it would be a good thing for me, as I like films, of course, it would get me out of the house and it's a pretty low-effort social activity. I could just sit in a dark corner of the cinema with my over-priced bottle of water and pack of Malteasers and enjoy films without having to resort to torrenting if I wanted to see them when they actually came out. I have to admit, he's probably right.

Anyway, this week I got my Hardship Fund cheque from the university, which was £300, and my brother informed me last night that he's managed to secure another £300 for me by selling my mother's old jewellry that he found in the attic recently (I don't wear jewellry very often, apart from sometimes earrings and very occasionally necklaces/pendents. Most of my mother's stuff was rings and stuff with coffee beans on that I used to buy her when I was young, because she was a coffee fiend and I figured she'd appreciate the connection). So I'm currently in a place where I can pay several upcoming bills and have some money left over, which is something of a rarity for me over the last few months. So, flush with success over yesterday's trip to Tesco's during the daytime, last night I had the idea of going to the cinema on Monday.

And then my brain started to think about that idea, and then everything went straight to hell.

Outside is scary. Talking to strangers is scary. Being around other people is scary, even if you might be going at a time when no-one else would likely be going to see the film you want to see. People will stare at me, laugh at me, talk about me behind my back. What if someone sees me and reports me to the DWP for daring to do something outside the house instead of sitting inside and being a penniless miserable crazy person? What if something goes wrong? What if the house catches fire while I'm out, or someone tries to break in, or something else happens to one of the cats? Too many variables, all of them out of my control, and they sink into my stomach and churn and churn until I'm practically frozen with fear over something that's still theoretical.

I have no-one to talk me down any more. Well, no-one close enough to do it immediately. Nick used to have that job, obviously. When they can the cats try to help too - well, Lily does, nuzzling and licking me (and occasionally nipping my nose) to try to take my mind off things. Cracker tries too, but her attention span isn't the best. Beyond that, the only people I talk to on a semi-regular basis are my brother who calls every evening, and a couple of people who I talk to sometimes over IMs. The social isolation makes the panic worse, and then makes it worse again by making it difficult to deal with it. Most of the people who said they would stay in touch with me after Nick's death have moved on, much as I feared, so that's out as well.

One of my hopes when I started writing here again was that putting all of this down would help me somehow. Putting my feelings down into words does help me to see things a little clearer, but not with the actual calming down from panic attacks. I've got no idea of how I'm going to deal with that.

So I'm just going to sit here on the sofa, watching YouTube and avoiding doing anything productive.

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