always keep fighting…

(crossposted from my Facebook page)

Depression lies. And you’re not alone.

Mental illness is a son of a bitch. Even when you know what’s going on and you’ve made a vow to be open and honest about your own illnesses so that others don’t feel alone in theirs, it can still be very, very difficult.

Over the past four or five months, I’ve been able to tell that my medication stopped working. But I was too busy to take the time and make an appointment with my psychiatrist. So I just upped the dose on my own in late June, from 40 mgs of Prozac a day to 60 mgs. Six weeks go by and nothing is better. In fact, it’s worse.

Additional responsibilities at work and in my personal life don’t help any. It just piles on. My inability to focus and concentrate make my work duties very difficult. I get further and further behind, which ratchets up my stress levels. The death of a dear friend in April makes it tougher still.

My injured groin muscle throws everything off, making my back pain come on quicker than before. The groin muscle is taking forever to heal, even though I’m following the directives of the sports medicine doctor I lucked into when I finally took myself to urgent care. So yeah, the daily pain isn’t helping at all.

Then comes the play, which I am thrilled to be working on, but which is also contributing to my stress, depression, and anxiety because, no matter what I do, learning my lines proves to be even more difficult than usual. (A rousing thanks to the director for having the confidence in me that I didn’t have in myself. I did get the lines down by opening night, but it was a very close thing.)

Right before Hell Week for the play (the week leading up to opening night, for those unfamiliar with theater), our beloved twelve year old cat Loki gets very, very sick and we lose him. I’ve got to be there for my dearest HSG, who raised him since he was a six month old kitten, and I try to be as much as possible while still honoring my commitment to the play (thank you so much for understanding, fellow cast and crew) and grieving for our lost Loki without burdening my grieving partner. Because I’ve got to be the strong one, right? That’s my job.

And I try so hard to be strong. I can do this. I know I can,

Except I can’t.

The same week as Hell Week, a big two day meeting at JPL that I’ve been helping to coordinate happens. There are several things that I don’t complete before the meeting. Nothing too huge, but if I had been able to think clearly in the proceeding days, even those Not Too Huge things would have been completed with no problem. And my thigh pain is flaring up really bad, as is my back. And one of the other assistants on the floor basically bails my ass out and the meeting runs relatively smoothly.

The night before the two day meeting starts, I finally realize that something is very, very wrong. I finally break down in front of HSG and let him know that I’m not doing well and what I think is going on. And the first day of the meeting, when I feel like everything is spiraling out of control and I can’t think and I’m in physical, emotional, and mental pain, I break down at my desk and sob. No one is around. Me being me, even when I can’t take it any longer, I manage to lose most of my shit in relative privacy, despite having my desk in a very public place.

Hey, it’s a talent.

Borrowed from the fantastic Robot Hugs:
Borrowed from the fantastic Robot Hugs – (c) 2014. (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License)


Despite knowing and living with depression and anxiety for the majority of my life (and being treated for it over 10 years), my asshole brain still manages to lie successfully to me. It took brick after brick of despair and stress and anxiety to build a wall of, “No, I’m okay, really!” right on top of my heart and soul before I finally realized the wall was there and I sought professional help to tear it down again.

And now…now, I’m on medical leave from work. For three weeks. I’ve gotten a new prescription from my psychiatrist, have started seeing a therapist again, and am attending a 3x/week work stress clinic to help manage my stress (and so that I can actually be on medical leave – that’s what proves I’m under the care of a doctor).

Not being at work will also – hopefully – help with my thigh pain. Some days it’s okay, other days it isn’t, but the less I put strain on it, hopefully the better it’ll be. On the other hand, being in pain as often as I am, with pain meds really not helping all that much, frustrates me because I can’t go for a nice walk during the day. I can’t exercise, not really, not the way I like to, because it hurts too much.

(Maybe I should seek out some exercise that won’t strain my legs or back.)

Anyway, I thought it was finally time to be open and honest about what is going on with me right now. I’m not seeking sympathy or empathy. Really, I’m not.There was never any fear of self-harm with me, so please, don’t worry about that.

But if me being open and honest helps someone else, well, I’m all about that. Which is why this status is public.

Remember, you’re not alone. Depression is a lying mother-fucker. And even if you know that, you’re not a bad person for listening to its seductive ways. You’re human. We need you here. We need you fighting. it’s a tough fight, I know, but you’re worth all of it.

In the words of Jared Padalecki, “Always Keep Fighting.” And know that I am in your corner.

well, that explains it…

Brain Attic
Image found at machinartorium

Over the last two years, my dentist and I have been working to get my teeth in good working order. Not that they didn’t work well before, mind you. I had no problem chewing or ripping the heads off gingerbread men with my incisors. It’s just that I had a bad dentist many years ago who decided that it was best to save a wisdom tooth on my mandible and get rid of a molar on the maxilla, very close to the saved wisdom tooth, and that threw everything off, since the molar was never replaced and the wisdom tooth shifted and chipped my now unstable teeth above it.

Yeah, he wasn’t the brightest of dentists.

After many years sans dentist (because I didn’t know who to trust), in 2013 I found a good one through my boyfriend. Even better, he’s within walking distance of our place.

We’ve now got all the previously endangered teeth saved, fixed, or replaced with crowns. And now, we’re finally tackling my two upper incisors. He’s been wanting to replace those since the day we met.

See, when I around 8 or so, I was riding my bicycle down a hill, trying to catch up with a friend, and I fell off my bike, slamming my face into the concrete. I knocked all of my teeth loose, so I was given braces to help tighten my teeth. I only had to wear them for a few months, so that was of the good, but I’m not sure slamming one’s face on concrete is the best way to avoid wearing braces for several years during one’s teens (and I probably would have).

In my early 20s, when my nerve-damaged incisors broke after chewing on a pen, my then-dentist (a good one, not the bad one mentioned above – he came later) replaced them with crowns. They lasted many years, but after 20+ years, they were showing their age and the gums were looking irritated. So my current dentist recommended that they be replaced with more current dental work and after almost two years, I finally agreed. (Mainly because I have over $1,000 left in my health flexible spending account and if I don’t use it this year, I lose it).

This is all a roundabout way of saying that I started thinking about that childhood fall. And I thought about my fall last October, where I slammed my face into concrete again, receiving a rather impressing black eye in the process. And I started counting up the number of times I’ve hit my head over the years (usually through my own clumsiness).

The time as a child where I slammed into a clothesline pole left eye first when playing hide-and-seek or hit my right eye on a sink because I wasn’t paying attention (lovely bumps from those).

Or the time I got in a verbal fight with one of my brothers over who was going to take a shower first and he lost his temper and punched me in the face. (No real damage there, but apparently I screamed and fell. I remember the verbal fight and the falling. I don’t remember the punch or the screaming, but I must have screamed, because the entire family ended up looking down on me.)

There was that time when I fell off the high part of a slide when I was maybe five or six and hit – yes, you guessed it – face first in the hard dirt and cut up my mouth. And when playing volleyball or other sports during my school years, I’ve had objects accidentally hit me in the face because I just managed to move in the exact wrong direction when trying to catch or avoid these objects.

I hit a single spot on the back of my head enough times over the course of two years in the mid-Aughts that there is now a divot in that spot.

(None of this is takes into account the falls/missteps/accidents I’ve had that didn’t involve my head.)

I’m thankful that I’ve never broken a bone and that I apparently have a really, really hard head. But I’m not sure that I haven’t been affected.

My memory has always been a little shaky and it seems to be getting shakier as I get older. My ability to lay my mental hands on the appropriate vocabulary word is also getting more iffy, which is absolutely frustrating for me. I’m sure that some of that is due to age – my experiences piling up and my brain attic filling up to a precarious point where it looks like a hoarder lives in there.

But I wonder, how much of my unreliable memory, or my loss of vocabulary, is due to these head injuries?

I tell ya, it sure would explain a hell of a lot.

a real, honest-to-goodness hike?

Yes, I’m a bad blog mommy. I’ve long been a bad blog mommy. This should be no surprise to anyone. Hell, many of the links on the right are almost a decade old. I really should update them. Anywho. Moving on.

So after many years of not hiking (unless one wants to count urban hiking, i.e. walking around the city – which I do), last year I went on a hike with my friend Sarriah (who is my usual weekend urban hiking buddy). I couldn’t quite finish the Eaton Canyon hike to the falls due to slippery rocks, but we got pretty close before we had to turn back.Unfortunately, I have no photos to commemorate the day, unlike the hike I took with my friend Boychik on this past Saturday, this time on the Bear Canyon Loop Trail, not far from Lake Elsinore. Again, we couldn’t finish, but this time was due to time constraints – we started a little too late, it was a challenging hike, even for Boychik, and we didn’t want to risk being out there when night fell. We got in about 2.5 miles, so that was fine. (Just as well, as I’d already run 3.72 miles earlier that day due to my Zombies, Run! 5K training app.)

This time, however, I got some photos!

This is the wide part of the trail.
This is the wide part of the trail.

This part of the trail is a bit more narrow. And there are rocks.
This part of the trail is a bit more narrow. And there are rocks.

Lookit my dirty shoes perched on a rock! I need new shoes.
Lookit my dirty shoes perched on a rock! I need new shoes.

Moar Rocks!
Moar Rocks!



Setting sun shining on the mountains.
Setting sun shining on the mountains.

Slowly setting sun.
Slowly setting sun.

Sun almost gone! Looks like a sand painting.
Sun almost gone! Looks like a sand painting.

The next day Sarriah and I embarked on our almost-weekly urban hike. Our goal each week is to find a coffee shop we’ve never tried before, hopefully in an unfamiliar part of the city. We then agree to meet somewhere about 1-2 miles away from the coffee place and walk there, then walk back. Sometimes we take the MetroRail, sometimes we each drive to our meeting place, and sometimes we’re just lazy/tired from a long week and decide to stick close to either of our homes. Most of the time we try to be adventurous. We swap weeks as to who finds the place and decides where to meet, which helps to vary the places we find, since I tend to find stuff in the San Gabriel Valley or near Metro Gold Line stops (what with me living in Pasadena), whereas she will often find places near her close-to-downtown-LA neighborhood or in Hollywood, Koreatown, etc.

This week she chose the Beachwood Cafe, a place we’d walked by before, but had never been to. We met at her place, drove to the northern part of Los Feliz, then walked up Beachwood Drive. It made for a nice – and somewhat steep, but not as steep as the hike the previous day – walk, lasting over five miles total.

This is the view from Beachwood Drive. And no, you can't get to the sign from this road. It takes some serious hiking to get to the sign.
This is the view from Beachwood Drive. And no, you can’t get to the sign from this road. It takes some serious hiking to get to the sign.

Welcome to Hollywoodland!
Welcome to Hollywoodland!

This is the original Hollywoodland Real Estate office. It is currently owned by Hollywoodland Realty.
This is the original Hollywoodland Real Estate office. It is currently owned by Hollywoodland Realty.

Beachwood Cafe Menu. Aren't you excited?
Beachwood Cafe Menu. Aren’t you excited?

Pretty good meal, but I had to ask for a second piece of toast. What?
Pretty good meal, but I had to ask for a second piece of toast. What?

Butterflies in the window of Beachwood Cafe.
Butterflies in the window of Beachwood Cafe.

This is ye olde timey time switch. I have no idea what that is, but I liked the look of it.
This is ye olde timey time switch. I have no idea what that is, but I liked the look of it.


And when returning back to Sarriah's car, we ducked into a used everything shop. CDs, DVDs, books, LPs. There may have been cassettes and 8 track tapes somewhere, but it wasn't obvious.
And when returning back to Sarriah’s car, we ducked into a used everything shop. CDs, DVDs, books, LPs. There may have been cassettes and 8 track tapes somewhere, but it wasn’t obvious.

Sunday was finished with hanging out with CuteFilmNerd and Boychik, showing CFN how to use Outlook to its fullest potential in preparation of a new job assignment, introducing him to The Slaw Dogs and getting dessert at Real Food Daily. A very busy – yet physically productive – weekend, all told.

check her for a concussion…

Seriously, that’s got to be the only explanation for my recent foray into 5K training.

It can’t have anything to do with my new awesome app Zombies, Run! 5K Training by the cool folks over at Zombies, Run!. This app – which, again, has nothing to do with my sudden desire to move faster than a saunter – has a story built into the 8 week training. One that you can only unveil, bit by bit, as you complete the missions (aka training sessions).

Nor can this weird need to keep up the running (or, in my case, rather slow jog) have anything to do with the endorphins that flood my system (kinda like they did back when I was training for a half-marathon, before the days of too many injuries and the onset of asthma).

Nope, I must’ve hit my head recently and, due to the trauma, can’t remember doing so. It’s the only explanation. You should probably take me to the hospital immediately.

Or, you know, maybe in about 8 weeks. I’m sure I’ll be okay until then.

like an old friend in a new (to me) dress…

Much as I love listening to music while working out, sometimes I can get a wee bit bored of it. This morning I tried something new: listening to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I had never heard the radio series before. I’m so glad I am now.

While I am very familiar with the novel, I’ve played the the video game and I was one of maybe three people who enjoyed the movie (it was my first real exposure to Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell and Bill Nighy — all of whom I adore, so I can never really diss it), it’s so wonderful to hear where it all began.

If you love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and you haven’t heard the genesis of Douglas Adams’ brilliant series, I highly recommend that you pick it up. You will not be sorry.

i’ve got a goal…

…of sorts.

Regarding my whole “striving towards fitness” thing I’ve got going, I mean.

Sure, I want to be stronger and healthier. I’m looking forward to continuing the increased stamina I’m experiencing and hoping that I’ll be able to participate in stair walks around the city. These are my primary reasons for working my ass off (figuratively speaking, of course; an ass this large and shapely will never go away entirely — for that, I am grateful).

But I’d be lying if I said I had no concept of what I want to look like when I reach my goal. I have a very clear visual of the body I’m aiming to achieve:

The Stunning Christina Hendricks


The Always Beautiful Queen Latifah

I mean…damn! Those are some fine looking women.

I have no desire to be skinny. Even if it were possible (my bone structure precludes me getting down to a size 0 or 2 or 4), I just don’t think it’s a look that would work for me.

But I would like to rediscover my hourglass figure. One that has significantly less sand in the bottom than the one I have now.

I recently realized that I was actually happy with most of my body — except for my rather prominent tummy. However, since it’s absolutely impossible to spot reduce without liposuction (not to mention that whole strength and stamina thing I’m aiming for), I’m doing cardio and strength training to strengthen my core and endeavoring to eat better to lose some of my fat. I’ll be happy at 200 lbs – I have about 49 lbs to go.

And then, baby, my hourglass is gonna be stopping traffic and turning heads!


i’ve finally done it…

…I’ve taken the plunge and started New Rules of Lifting for Life.

I’ve had the book for almost two months. I read it cover to cover the night that I bought it. Within a few days I copied the exercises that I would be doing, as well as the blank training logs, and placed them in a pressboard three-ring binder so that I would have something easy to use to take with me to the gym in the basement of the building where I work.

And the binder sat on my desk at JPL for close to two months.

Oh, in that time I’ve been working out almost every day: walking, treadmill, elliptical. A couple of weeks ago I started using the weight machines. High weights, low reps. I definitely worked hard. Sweating and pushing myself. But I realized that, well, I wasn’t as sore the next day as I should’ve been.

Not that I enjoy being sore. I am no masochist. But having been a bit of a gym rat in my 20s  – and going through spurts of activity in the 20+ years since, including a failed training for a half-marathon that left me with injured ankles due to crappy shoes – I knew that I should be pretty sore for at least 12-24 hours afterwards.

Monday (6/3/13) was my first Pilates class, taken through our fitness classes at work (JPL is a big believer in promoting wellness). It was tough because parts of me just don’t stretch and bend like that (yet), but I made it through. I felt better for it.

I tried to do NRoL4L yesterday during my usual lunchtime workout, but I just didn’t have the time, so I started again after work. Though there were times I really, really wanted to stop, I pressed on and finished the workout.

I am certainly feeling it today. So very sore, but not to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed. And not to the point where I couldn’t walk my usual mile from my car to my work building. It’s the good kind of sore – the kind where my terribly underused muscles got the wake-up call they desperately needed.

I’m looking forward to Pilates today to stretch out those muscles. Then I’ll be ready for Round Two of NRoL4L tomorrow.

Bring it on.

wanna write, wanna write, wanna write…

…but come up short when presented with a blank screen. Gah!

Much as I love Sondheim, I can no longer agree with his sentiment of, “White. A blank page or canvas. His favorite – so many possibilities.” (The last line in my favorite musical of all time, Sunday in the Park with George.)

This is, of course, why I’ve been such a crappy blogger the last few years. And I miss looking forward to the blank page and/or screen. But what’s a permanently blocked girl to do? Seems like I’ve written about my tendencies for blocks ad nauseum, so obviously writing about it isn’t knocking anything loose. Blech.

Anywho, it’s a new year (says Mistress Pays-Attention-To-Calendars) and I’m starting it off in a pretty stellar way: living with HotScienceGuy.

I moved in at the beginning of December and, as of today, most of my stuff is still in the garage because the condo is small and we have no idea where anything is going. Some of it is going to be gotten rid of via Craigslist and some of it will be permanently stored in the garage. Thankfully it’s a two car garage, so I can park my car in there – he doesn’t have a car by choice and we live within walking distance of his workplace, so we’ll probably be a one car household for the foreseeable future.

We’re still doing the, “What’s the best way to live together without wanting to commit homicide?” dance that two stubborn people set in their ways tend to do, but for the most part it’s going well and I’m very happy I made the move and am living with my man. And it’s soooo nice to be living closer to JPL – I can be there in about fifteen minutes or less. Yay!

Christmas Day was spent with his father, step-mother and about fifteen of his extended family members at his father’s place near San Jose, with Boxing Day at his mom’s place with his mom, step-father and half-siblings (they’re about twenty years younger) about forty-five minutes away from his dad’s place. Though I was a tad bit overwhelmed at times and had to dash to the restroom for a moment alone, I really had a good time. His family all seem to pretty cool and, from what I could tell, I executed no horrific faux pas that would make them hiss at the sight of me, so I count that as a win.

Unfortunately, the schedules of my own family precluded us from heading to Fresno, so I’ll have to find a way to see them this year before the holidays roll around again.

A serious ankle sprain in November put me out of commission for awhile, right as I was starting to move things from my old East Hollywood apartment to HSG’s condo, so that delayed things a bit, but I was up and around enough by Thanksgiving to invite Sarriah and CuteFilmNerd to join HSG and me for T-Day dinner at Doomie’s Home Cookin’ and dessert/drinks back at the apartment, which was very nice.

Of course more things happened in 2012 – things I never got around to writing about – but I figure that’ll do for now. The writing joints are creaky and the muscles are stiff, so I’ll ease back into it so I don’t snap off a limb in the process.

Hope y’all have an amazing 2013!

who are you and what have you done with carol elaine?

Oh G-d, I’m one of them now.

One of what?

A calorie counter.

I’m actually paying attention to my calorie intake and expenditures.

I’ve been working on bettering my stamina and activity level for about a year now. Being the hard-headed person that I am, I really had no desire to lose weight because, well, I am who I am – a big girl – and if you don’t like it, that’s your problem, not mine. If I lost weight as a result of my efforts, that’s fine with me. It’s just my body doing what it was meant to do. But it was never a focus. I’ve had some success with improving my stamina. I have a long way to go, but in general I do feel healthier.

But earlier this year I realized my knees were aching a bit more than I would have liked. This did not please me. I’ve known people who, due to excess weight, have had serious knee problems. Having been forced to use a cane last year after pulling my calf muscle in a freak bowling incident, I knew I absolutely didn’t want to rely on anything like that if it were within my control to avoid it. So I decided that maybe losing some weight might be a good thing after all.

My goal weight is 200 pounds. I know for some that’s a starting point, but when I was 200 pounds I liked the way I looked and felt. I felt healthy and liked being curvy. Plus staying around that weight satisfies the contrarian in me that refuses to let anyone tell me that I’m not sexy and attractive unless I’m a waif (which, frankly, I could never be – my bone structure isn’t built for waifdom).

Luckily HotScienceGuy – who thinks I’m outrageously sexy just the way I am – is okay with my new focus. Not that I would stop if he weren’t, but it’s nice to know that he sees my point of view regarding improving my health. Besides, he’s already started…reaping the benefits of my improved stamina and flexibility (ahem), so he realizes this is a win-win for everyone, even if he thinks my desire to exercise is more than a little weird.

And so. Here I am, 12 pounds lighter since April, thanks to my fitbit and MyFitnessPal and the support of various friends. I’ve got another 49 pounds to go before I hit my desired number and I know it’s going to take awhile, but I am determined to see this through.

Wait, did someone say cake?

*grumble grumble*

Still alive, still kicking, back at my blog because I got distracted at the end of January (someone must’ve been shining a nickle in my eyes – that or a nice fluff of pocket lint) and didn’t renew my hosting. So anything that I wrote in January is gone (it’s a good thing I wasn’t updating all that often), but I was smart enough to backup everything at the end of December, so not much is lost. I had my old host point the DNS for my domain to my blog, so this is where I’ll be for awhile. At least until I get off my ass and sign up with Dreamhost again. I’ve been with them before and liked them quite a bit, plus my friend Michelle is with them and will get credit if I say she referred me, so it’s win-win!

Except for losing my January entries.

Anywho, part of the reason that I let my blog lapse was my stupid depression. While things had been going pretty well, especially with HotScienceGuy (seriously, I am constantly amazed by how fantastic he is), I noticed that I was getting very easily wound up over stupid things while having difficulty giving much of a damn about anything of importance. I realized that my Prozac wasn’t working as well as it had previously, which made me nervous because the thought of having to stop using a medication that I knew didn’t give me any side effects and move on to another one which was unknown to me was not a pleasant thought. When I ran out of Prozac in March, I decided to stay off it about a month, then refill the prescription and start taking it again, just to see if I could kickstart things again. I’ve been taking it again for a little over ten days now, so I’ll see how I feel in another couple of weeks. If it doesn’t seem to be doing me any good, I’ll talk to my doctor to see what she recommends.

While getting back on Prozac, I read a blog entry by Keith Wilson, the husband of my lovely friend Kim. Keith has been battling bipolar disorder for most of his life, but didn’t realize it until last year, when he went through a major breakdown. He’s been chronicling his struggle and journey and, while I haven’t followed him every step of the way, I have been reading and catching up when I can.

Back to the blog post – he wrote a sentence which leapt out at me and slapped me in the face:

In a nutshell, I really don’t give a shit about anything. When I do, it’s forced.

A big part of my depression is my brain racing around in circles about all the things I should be doing that I’m not, which digs me further into my depression. But not being arsed to care about things that are important to me and mine – while hating myself for not being arsed to care – is another huge component. When I can rouse myself enough to let people know that I really do care on some level, it’s very difficult and takes way more effort than it should, which brings out the self-loathing and, yes, burrows me deeper into that gawd-awful hole.

The thing is, I know my depression isn’t anywhere near as bad what other people have to suffer. As in many parts of my life, I’ve been relatively lucky in the Mental Illness Lottery – if anyone with any kind of mental illness can be considered “lucky.” But, as Keith wrote in an entry on Wednesday (which happened to be my 46th birthday):

If I’ve learned one thing since this journey started it’s that there are millions of people out there suffering the same thing. Whether it’s Anxiety issues, Panic, Depression, or any of the multitude of other conditions collectively labelled under mental illness, I’m just one in a million. My friends all know someone who suffers, some in silence, some are very vocal. I tend to be one of the vocal ones. Yet I feel alone.

That’s the issue with many of us suffering from depression or any kind of mental illness. Even when I know I’m not alone, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. I feel like I suffer it in the dark and maybe that’s where I should fight it as well.

But I don’t have to.

Not only do I have friends who are going through the same thing and aren’t afraid to talk about it, I have friends who are there to support me and help me, if I would just allow them to do so. They may not suffer from mental illness themselves, but they know others who do, whether it be friends or family members. They may not know what I’m going through exactly, but they are compassionate human beings who understand that my struggle with life is just different from theirs and doesn’t make me a lesser person.

And I have HotScienceGuy.

There is this fear that, the more he sees what a mess I can sometimes be, the more he’ll realize that I’m just too much to deal with and will disappear. But that hasn’t happened. If anything, he’s shown me time and time again how much he loves me and that my issues aren’t going to scare him away.

While my past boyfriends have been good people, I have to say, I really lucked out this time.

I’m trying to think of a pithy way to wrap up this post, but nothing comes to mind (proof positive that I really need to work out my writing muscle). So just a huge shout-out to my awesome friends and to my fantastic boyfriend. In so many ways I’m a very fortunate person. Thank you to all of you.