Friday, May 30, 2014

Mental Health-Anxiety, a Background

So I said a few days ago that I was going to start posting about my anxiety and the treatment I'm receiving for it.

So to expound on the background, I was diagnosed in October of 2011 with generalized anxiety. This came about because I'd had a panic attack while alone in a hotel room, and didn't know what it was. Our end of year self-reviews for my job were due that night, and I just started shaking and crying and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest, and I thought I might be sick. I called my mother who had experienced the same kind of attack, so she talked me through it.

Once I had a name for the sensation, I realized I'd had several over the past months, but none so severe as to be debilitating, prior.

I went to see a gynecologist because as far as I could tell they appeared to loosely line up with my period. She figured that between timing and my friends (rightly) considering me rather bitchy the week of my period, that it could be PMDD, so she started me on Zoloft and a pill birth control so that I would be able to take the Zoloft the week prior and during my period. She also told me that I could take the Zoloft daily if I felt it was helping more than just the week prior to my periods.

I wound up taking it daily, as it helped even my moods out a lot. But as can happen with meds, I was one of the people who had side effects with Zoloft, so she switched me to Prozac.

Prozac was magic. I'd not realized it, but I'd had worry and anxiety buzzing in the back of my mind pretty much constantly. The Prozac silenced that. After I started the Prozac I had one more panic attack then they just stopped.

As a result of changing jobs and thus insurances, I allowed my prescription for the Prozac to lapse for the first time since I'd gotten it back in 2011. So from February this year to late April, I was without my security blanket of the Prozac.

Whole I did manage to go those months without a panic attack, it was a stark reminder that my brain does not function "normally". I like me and my personality better with the help of the medicine. I don't stress over my job nearly as much, and I feel like I am much happier overall.

With the new health insurance I actually had to go see a psychiatrist to get a sign off on the medicine, and I am now seeing a therapist as well. The psychiatrist updated my diagnoses to "generalized anxiety", which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

My therapist is having me start to meditate. Which as an ex-Christian, feels kind of odd as there is some overlap between the discipline for meditation and how I was taught to pray. So far the most difficult part of that for me has been getting my mind to focus on a single thing: breathing. I'm supposed to work on only focusing on that. Problem for me is that I have the ability(?) to hold multiple thought in my head at a time, provided my attention isn't being further split by something like a conversation. So while I'm trying to focus on breathing, I'll have one part of my internal monologue going, "breathe-in....out...." And simultaneously I'll wind up with a second part going, "ooh Squirrel!"

I assume that means I need more practice in getting my mind to shut up an focus on one thing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yarn Bowl

So while I was shopping with my mother this weekend, I discovered one of the local yarn stores actually carried handmade yarn bowls.

So, I picked up this lovely piece. The bottom photo has the sock I just started.

Unfortunately I can't make out the artists' signature on the bottom, if anyone can, I would appreciate it so that I can link to a website if they have one.

UPDATE: it is Pawley Studios out of Kentucky.

Monday, May 26, 2014

On Mental Health, the Santa Barbara Shooting & #YesAllWomen

The conversation over at Pharyngula with regard to the Santa Barbara shooting really drove home a couple of things to me.

First that the habitual knee-jerk reaction of equating horrific violence to mental illness needs to stop.

And that second, that I need to write and document my travels through mental health care.

Regarding the first point, several commenters brought up that having a mental illness makes it more likely that you will be a *victim* of violence, not more likely to perpetuate it. Further, othering mental illness as default violent doesn't do anyone any good. It just inhibits our ability to have a conversation about the cultural issues that trigger a situation like the Santa Barbara shooting.

I have mild to occasionally severe anxiety. My triggers are often work or stress related. For example, at its worst, needing to perform a telephone call resulted in a debilitating panic attack. That three month period prior to getting a diagnoses I was having one or more debilitating panics a week.

My attacks consisted of shaking, crying and an infi-loop of "I can't do X" where X was whatever task was my trigger. I remember the first one I had (that I realized what it was), I was alone in a hotel room on a business trip. I think that was quite possibly the loneliest night of my life.

I'm lucky. Most of the time my anxiety is not that level crippling. Even luckier, Prozac is able to keep it under enough control that I still occasionally get the brain loops of "I can't do that," but I don't get debilitating attacks anymore.

I'll repeat that. To be able to function "normally" I have to be on an anti-anxiety medication. 

So when you paint this kind of behavior as "crazy" or "insane" you are tarring all of us on the wide spectrum of human experience who don't fall in your little nook of normal with the same brush as a mass-murderer. I don't fuckin' appreciate that.

The guy who did that shooting wrote a manifesto. Was a member of known MRA and PUA websites. No. I will not provide links to those corners of the internet. You go there at your own risk. For certain misogynistic values of "normal" what Rodgers did was the logical conclusion. Because it was never his own fault he couldn't get a date or laid or what-the-fuck-ever his goal was. It was the woman's fault. It was all women's fault.

Fuck that noise. #YesAllWomen have had to deal with smaller slices of that shit on a daily basis. No it's not nearly as much of an outlier as wiping it away with a simple "he was insane" implies. So stop trying to claim it is.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

That "Creepy Guy"

UPDATE: I wrote this prior to gphearing about the shooting in Santa Barbara. I don't have a coherent  opinion on that incident. Surprise, sorrow, and anger are all I manage right now. My heart goes out to those with friends and family who were hurt and killed.


You know the one I'm talking about. That somewhat friendly guy at work who is ok to have a short chat with in the hall, but has a tendency to insert himself into conversations and then over stay his welcome?

Or if he sees you on the train, he will sit as close as possible and talk over or around other people in order to engage you in conversation?

The same guy has done the former to me and a friend of mine regularly, and recently escalated to the latter with my friend.

This pisses me off because it's a classic case of a WASP not taking women's socially allowed "no's" as the final answer.

She has mentioned several times that she is married, as that is generally the most accepted way to tell someone to back off. I'm taken. I have a boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband. She has tried not being around him, though through sharing a workplace and a public transit method, this isn't really practical.

I'm pissed off because those approaches to 'leave me alone' rarely work. Quelle surprise, it didn't work this time.

I'm pissed off because I had to sit down with her and plan an escape route for the next time he manages to corner her on the train. She couldn't think of a way out because he gets off after her, so he knows where her stop is. Luckily(?) there is a mall only a few stops away from work and before her final stop where we've agreed she can get off if he does it again.

But this means she has to actively change her behavior due to this guys 'social awkwardness'. 

I'm pissed off because her first instinct was to give him the 'socially awkward' pass. As discussions of harassment in the atheist community have evolved over the last few years, I've found that I don't buy this as an excuse.

I am not the most socially savvy person, I have friends some male, some female, some inbetween, who are not the most savvy. We are terrified of violating boundaries the way this guy has on a regular basis. The instant we suspect we've violated a boundary, we're falling over ourselves trying to apologize and make it right.

To be fair, the guy in question has not said to us, "I'm socially awkward, therefore you have to give me a pass." Rather, I think he is either consciously or subconsciously depending on our ingrained  habit of passing off creepy behavior has simply 'socially awkward' to keep us from being able to act or react in the manner we would like, which would be telling him to fuck off.

I want to know why this is the goddamn expectation. Why am I supposed to give him an automatic pass when he's freaking one of my friends out. 

For further reading on socially awkward vs. creepy, here is a great article that is quite probably more eloquent than I.

Friday, May 23, 2014

ShopHouse Resturant

So my mother is in town, so I took her to Chipotle's new Asian-themed chain ShopHouse.

The food was pretty good, I had the chicken and red curry sauce on jasmine rice, and she had the minced steak balls and the green curry on jasmine rice.

I am happy to report that she loved it.

I am disappointed to report that we weren't even able to make it back to my apartment before I had to go to the restroom and lose everything in my guts.

Since she didn't get sick I'm forced to conclude it was either the curry sauce or the chicken that did me in.

I hope ya'll have a more successful Memorial Day Weekend.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sailor Moon Comes to Hulu

Yes! *happy dance*

Toei has partnered with Hulu to bring a subbed version of the original Sailor Moon series here to the States starting Monday May 19. According to Crunchyroll we will also be getting the 20th anniversary show, Sailor Moon Crystal when it airs on July 5!

Yay for cheesy monster of the week shows that are inexplicably addictive.

FreethoughtBlogs Offline?

UPDATE: Looks like FTB is back.


Hey, I know a few people have read here thanks to my commenting on Pharyngula.

Anyone know if FTBs servers are just down or if it's a DDoS attack?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My afternoon at an Infusion center

So, I'm with my husband at the hospital, waiting for them to call us back so that he can start his first infusion of Remicade.

Remicade. Here's to hoping it's the cure-all it's been touted as.

But, I should back up.

Husband has had gastro issues for as long as I've known him. The year after we got married, he had 3 kidney stones, which is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Last year, while we were living in Atlanta, he started having issues with hemmeroids. About September of last year, he then developed an abcess/fistula.

October we moved to our current city, and new jobs. This came with better health insurance than we'd previously had access to. The doctors here looked at his history including some fairly significant weight loss that the doctors in Atlanta had completely ignored.

The conclusion is Crohn's. An infilmation of the upper and/or lower intestines. Crohn's causes weight loss due to malnutrition, fistulas, kidney stones and hemmeroids.

He was officially diagnosed about 3 weeks ago by a full colonoscopy.

Since then, he's been on steroids, thankfully with no obvious side effects, which brings us back to today.

A 40 minute IV of Benadryl to prep, and now 3.5 hours of the Remicade.

I hope the Remicade works as expected since he has to go through this again in two weeks. Then six weeks after that, then every 8 weeks until it stops working, or research finally gives Crohn's patients a new option.

This fucking sucks.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Off to see the Wiz--

Oh, wait, that's just the DMV. Damn.

Why does each state make it so unbelievably hard to get your license and car transferred. We have an additional layer of headache as Georgia misspelled my husbands name on his liscene. So extra documentation must be brought.

I opted to change my last name when we got married, so I have to bring my passport with my current name, my marriage license, and my birth certificate just to prove that I am me.

Here's to hoping we got all the correct documentation printed off the DMV's website.

ROUND 1: Start!

Friday, May 9, 2014

2014 Most Anticipated Games

So Husband and I put our heads together and came up with the games we're most excited to see this year.

In no particular order they are:

  •  the Evil Within--looks to be Shinji Mikami taking survival horror back to its roots. Dark, freaky, and fucked to hell.

  • SuperSmash Bros. WiiU/3DS--it's SSB. Of course we're excited. The introduction of MgeaMan to the franchise is just icing on the cake.

  • Destiny--as big fans of Diablo and Borderlands, we're hoping Destiny gives us a way geek out over loot piles, while bringing a fresh perspective to the genre.

  • Bayonetta 2--Crazy-ass action from Platinum. The first one was a lot of fun, here's to hoping this one lives up to the original.

  • The Order: 1886--Because who doesn't want a steampunk shooter?

  • Mariokart 8--Dear god, are we at the 8th installment already?

  • PhantasyStar Online 2--We'll be excited if and when this one actually happens. I went through the effort of downloading and playing the Japanese edition last year, so I already know it's fun, I just want to be able to read the damn menus.

  • Dreamfall Chapters--I am sure you, dear readers, are plenty smart enough to guess my excitement levels, considering this is the (probably) final installment of the series I named this blog after. 

  • World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor--We're WoW nerds. Don't judge. 

  • Pok√©mon Alpha and Omega--Remakes of the third gen Sapphire and Ruby. Hope they update it to include all the lovely things like the mystery trade from X and Y. 

*sigh* and Husband says laundry needs to go get done, so while I'm off doing chores, feel free to post the games ya'll are looking forward to. Did we miss any?

BravelyDefault, First Impressions

So I picked up Bravely Default a few weeks back, and it has taken me until now to get far enough into the game to feel like I have a good grasp of all the mechanics.

Overall, it is a pretty straightforward J-RPG. If you don't like that genre, you probably won't like this game. Personally, I love me some J-RPGs.

The intro was gorgeous. Oddly, you trigger it with an AR-card that is printed on the back of the info booklet provided with the game. You can also download the initial one and some others from the Bravely Default website. I opted to watch the intro with the 3D on. This is the Right Way to start a tale. The narrator fairy (*cough*Navi clone*cough*) jumps out of the AR-card and starts begging you to rescue her friend and partner the Vestal of the Wind. The animation was extremely well done, smooth, and when you moved the 3DS around, you could see different portions of the character who was talking. It really gave the feeling of looking through a window into a different world where faries can just come hurtling at you, begging for help.

The overworld map and overall gameplay feel like an updated Golden Sun, which is enough to endear this game to me, as GS is one of my all time favorite games.

Core gameplay consists of selecting if you are going to attack or defend each turn.

Defending is called "Default." This builds up BP (Brave Points) which will allow you to attack up to 4 times in a single turn. When you select Default, you also take less damage from enemy attacks.

When you attack you have two options, "Brave" or normal attack. An attack uses one BP. You can go into "debt" by up to 4 BP. This is the opposite of storing BP with Default, although the effect of waiting 4 turns before your next move is the same.

So battles are a balance of do you think you can beat the baddie quickly or do you need to be cautious? I've found that I tend toward aggressive (going into BP debt) with my DPS characters, and conservative (storing BP with Default) with my healers.

Add to all of this an astoundingly complex class system called "Jobs" that allows any character to be any class, and you have a recipe for a game that is guaranteed to suck you in for hours at a time.

The last battle mechanic is called SP (Sleep Points) that are earned one of two ways:
You leave the game running for 8 hours in sleep mode (game launched but 3DS is closed)
Pay SquareEnix real money

Yes. You read that right. A full-price full-length 3DS game with goddamned micro-transactions. Not with PlayCoins, not in-game currency, real money.

You can only have 3 SP at any given time, so if you are like me, and leave the game you are currently playing running all the time in your GameBoy, it's easy to not pay. However, what I have not yet figured out is how to turn off the option to buy SP in-game. I hope it's just buried in one of the menus somewhere, where I haven't seen it yet. So any of you with childrens running around, turning off the micro-transactions is a feature you are going to need to dig for.

And what, you may be asking, makes SP so special that it costs real money? Well, it lets you attack with a single member of your party out of turn, even if they are in BP debt. That's it. That is the feature that is so special that they added micro-transactions to this game. Like so many micro-transaction options before it, if you use the SP, the game becomes several degrees easier. It's not quite pay-to-win, since all the SP in the world won't let you beat a boss if you are too low level, but it's close.

The final aspect that makes this game stand out from its peers is the use of StreetPass to help rebuild a city that was destroyed in the intro. People with StreetPass turn into members of the city, which you can then task to help rebuild different shops. This appears  to be the way to access many of the more powerful weapons and armor in the game. Again, we have a downside. Not all StreetPass tags count. Only those from people who are also playing BravelyDefault. So give the game a year or two, and new players who don't pick games up when they are still expensive will have a very hard time rebuilding their town, which kind of sucks, given how integral to the game this mechanic seems to be.

As of this writing, I have just completed the Wind temple so I reckon I'm somewhere around the quarter way mark.

I'm not going to brief on story, as I'm not yet far enough in to be able to give a good synopsis without risk of spoilers. Suffice to say, I'm very curious how everything will turn out.

To sum up: if you enjoy games like Golden Sun or the Tales series, you should probably pick this one up sooner rather than later to get the full experience. If turn-based games annoy you, or if you don't make use of features like StreetPass, I would recommend skipping this one.