Thoughts on life, writing, art, and health.
In all honesty, summer is the worst time of the year for me. I have a lot of complicated trauma from events, and my hypomanic episodes occur in the summer 90% of the time. As I write this post, I’m running on three hours of sleep. It’s not enough and I suppose I could go to sleep, but I want to sleep at the right times. And 3pm on a Monday is not the right time—that’s out of my “nap window”.
📚 | Books I Read
The Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts by Hanne Blank | ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
As a fat person, this book was so uplifting. Exercise and body size go hand-in-hand so unnecessarily in current marketing, trends, lifestyle, and even health circles. So I was refreshed by the content of this book that basically reminded me that I have a right to exercise regardless of my body size or goals for my weight. I don’t need to pay those any mind. The thing about exercise and being fat or having a larger body is that it might need modifications. But someone might need to modify workouts based on how strong they are or how tall/short they are… And those parts of a person have nothing to do with their value or their right to move their body with joy.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald | ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
After many attempts to read this book, I finally did it by getting an audiobook. I’m downright mad at how wonderful the craft is. Turns of phrase just made me stop and say, “Wow,” or “Damn.” I think I’ll need to get a paperback copy so that I can highlight inspiring lines (most of them just a few words together).
I had Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo on hold and decided to look into the trigger warnings/content warnings. I sampled the audiobook and realized that I wouldn’t be able to manage the triggering content if I were hearing it in audiobook format. Maybe I’ll borrow a physical copy from the library once services open up again, but it might be something I skip entirely, despite being interested in the premise.
🎶 | Music I Enjoyed
My workflow this month included a lot of Backstreet Boys. (And singing very intensely at my cat.) I also had a good time marathoning Red Velvet’s discography to get hyped up for their new music coming in August! I also spent some time listening to old kpop I enjoyed, and for a while put my YouTube autoplay on to see if there was any new music from… I guess 4th generation is what they call newer groups now? Not really much, but that’s okay! Lots of Red Velvet and Twice to listen to.
🎮 | Games I Played
We finally got the Breath of the Wild DLC, but I haven’t cracked it open yet. I know that once I start playing and having new quests to do, I will struggle to stop. My friend has been playing it so that I can watch it, since he has better discipline than I do with regards to turning off the console and heading to bed. The first half of the month, though, I was still very dedicated to finding Koroks and upgrading armor. I’ve upgraded all the base game armor except for the jewelry from Gerudo Town, since I need to get star fragments for those.
I also managed to get Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 running… Using the disc on my 9-year-old laptop. I have had so much fun playing it and learning new things as an adult. There are features that I didn’t know about as a kid that I only discovered by having the thinking skills now to look up “how do I place objects on top of each other” and whatnot. The game has really revitalized my love of tycoon and simulation games. I might buy the game on Steam, but for now, I’ve gotten used to the sound and crashes of the disc.
And of course, since it’s June, I’ve been going absolutely nuts on the Neopets Altador Cup. I’ve enjoyed my return to Neopets and the chill, relaxed vibe I’ve found with a new guild. There’s always some drama going on at Neopets, which I try to stay out of nowadays, so it’s nice to find a haven again. With the end of Flash, I can’t play the hundreds of games they used to have, but I’ve toyed with the idea of compatible browsers to play some favourites. In the meantime, I’ve done well in the event, despite being nearly burnt out by now. It ended on July 2nd and then it’s an impatient wait for the prizes and seeing how many points I can spend on goodies.
🧠 | Mental Health Check-in:
I spent a lot of time this month doing research on and reading first-hand accounts of bipolar disorder and its experiences. It’s made me feel a lot less alone with the struggles I’ve been having. Natasha Tracy’s post on what hypomania feels like had me teary-eyed and acknowledged one sleepless night this month:
Like crying and running and screaming and jumping and scratching and clawing and hitting and gnashing all at the same time.Natasha Tracy, “What Does Bipolar Hypomania Feel Like?”
Like tossing and turning all night long with tormenting dreams in slips of unconsciousness no matter how many sleeping pills you take.
Like anxiety created from not being able to quell the millions of thoughts or being able to facilitate the 1000s of movements being demanded of the human body all at once.
I don’t want to admit it, but I think I’m hypomanic. My sleep got absolutely fucked one night in the middle of the month, and hypomania is both triggered and characterized by lack of sleep. It’s a “chicken vs. egg” scenario in most cases: sleeplessness can trigger hypomania, and hypomania can cause sleeplessness. My hypomanic history is very much Summer Madness, so the time of year fits, and it’s been over a year since my last hypomanic episode—I was due for another one, I suppose.
June gets a 2 out of 5 because my sleep has been god awful because of my mental health. At least my work only suffered for five days this time (over the whole month!), instead of other times where an episode derailed an entire month, day after day. I’m just glad that I’m not on social media anymore, because the impulsivity combined with easy-access attention is a recipe for embarrassment and regret later on.
🏆 | June Accomplishments & Highlights
I’ve been getting the hang of my new position in Quality Assurance that I started last month and have really enjoyed doing this type of work. It’s nice to be able to think critically again and use words in a more personal way. It’s turning out to be a lot less “high stakes/high pressure” than I assumed it would be, so I’m relieved and less stressed now. My team is also really great and helpful!
I managed to book my second dose for the COVID-19 vaccine, which I’ll be getting in July. Ontario opened up eligibility for accelerated second doses on the 28th (for those over 18) and I’m so glad I secured a spot soon. I know many people in the Toronto area have struggled, so living in Ottawa does have its perks. I’ve had a lot of anxiety about the pandemic and what will happen when we start reopening for, what is it now, the fourth time? Having more vaccination gives me hope again that I won’t be scared going outside and getting sick.
I also bought a new laptop finally. My previous one was purchased in 2012, got me through 3 years of an English degree, and has slowly been breaking since then. I had it in for repairs to fix a screen that wouldn’t change brightness and a keyboard with a broken shift key. Even when they replaced the screen and the keyboard, it wouldn’t work, so the issues were deeper and it was just time to get a new one. Did I mention that my laptop used to take 15 minutes to boot up from a powered-down state? Yeah.
The new one is a Lenovo Ideapad 3, 15-inch machine with Ryzen 5 4000U CPU. So far, I’m really happy with it. The keyboard feels lovely, the performance speed is great for what I use it for, and I can envision myself drafting novels and poems on this. I still have my desktop machine for the bulk of my computer activities, but having a laptop gives me the flexibility to work in bed on my sicker days when bipolar disorder and migraines make it hard to sit at a computer. I don’t need a powerful machine that is also portable; the laptop is for the basics, and so long as I can type and navigate comfortably, it’s a perfect computer.
The mobility also means I can go to the library or a coffee shop to do work to help me get out of the house (pandemic permitting, yadda yadda, “back to normal”) and I’m really excited about that idea. Working from home during the pandemic—as someone who was already working from home with 100% remote contracts—has been a struggle. But we’re nearly there. And I think surviving the pandemic for this long is a grand accomplishment to mention.
And as a tiny note, I put up my first Pride decor to celebrate the wonderful queer experience I get to have. I stuck small flags (handheld size) into the plant containers on my balcony. Feels good to say I’m here, I’m queer, deal with it to any neighbours and passersby. I also ordered a Pride flag for myself.
📋 | July Plans
July 1st usually marks Canada Day, but with the pandemic stopping organized fireworks displays, as well as the residential school happenings, I didn’t celebrate this year. I’ve never been very nationalist or patriotic, despite enjoying fireworks. Instead of getting some Canada Day gear (we have such a nice flag, c’mon), I made a donation to Tewegan Housing to support locally; they are an Ottawa-based transitional home for First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, ages 16 to 29. The transitional home opened in 2004 with the vision that all Aboriginal youth in Ottawa have access to safe, affordable housing. Canada has treated Indigenous children horribly, and it needs to be acknowledged and recompensed, so donations are a great way to support if you’re unable to participate in demonstrations. Reconciliation Canada is another charity that I’d recommend donating to if you want to support Indigenous groups, as they work nationally. Since moving to Ottawa, I’ve learned there are a lot of local organizations for Indigenous peoples compared to the places I grew up and went to school. The Aboriginal coalition also links to organizations operating in Ontario and nationally across Canada, so if you’d like to find one to donate to as well, definitely check it out.
I want to be in a position to donate more frequently, since currently I can make just a few donations a year on my budget. 2021 has actually been the first year of my life that I can make donations over five dollars, so I’m glad I’ve made progress over the years. Manifest wealth, I suppose! Maybe that’s a plan for this upcoming month, as I’ve toyed with the idea of reopening Patreon. Same deal as always: I want to share more writing and artwork.
But of course, I need to be making more stories, poems, drawings, and paintings. Which I haven’t been… At all.
I have a long list of random projects to do like decluttering my old writing; recycling artwork and sketches from college (photographing the ones I like); and generally making room for new creative projects. It’s been over a year since I’ve worked on a novel or finished a piece of art. We have a canvas print in the bathroom of a cherry blossom branch on a lovely blue wash background that I want to emulate into similar paintings to have around the house, so I might try that this month. But I don’t have expectations for myself, because I know that I struggle with holding myself accountable to my own plans.
I should work on that—holding myself accountable to my own plans. I know I’m the only one who suffers from neglecting goals and dreams, so public accountability doesn’t do anything for me. There’s no real risk or reward to telling people, “I’m going to finish my novel!” and I need to remember that. I keep seeing advice to “Find your ‘Why?'” in terms of staying motivated for goals, and that’s hard for me as well, what with the history of mental illness and what feels like a complete inability to envision a long-term future. Perhaps that’s another area to think about for July.