Sunday, December 27, 2015

Another blog post?!

What's this? I'm posting regularly? Is the world about to end??

Sorry. Had to. I feel pretty accomplished for continuing this. You see, I have this big plan that I'm working on that I'm not even going to share until it's gotten to the point where I'm certain it'll work. That'll be in what, six months? I'll probably throw in some hints here and there as time goes on but I'm so scared of it not working out that I've only shared it with a few people and these are people who I've been bouncing ideas off of.

So let's move on to the topic of things you actually do get to hear about.

Twitter story update: so far our main character is exploring an opening in the cavern she woke up mysteriously inside. And we've learned her name! Tune in for more story time!

Also, what's going on with my facebook page? I'm not entirely sure what to center it on and I came up with a great story idea a bit ago so now there's a story bit on the page and I don't know what to do next. Do I continue the story? Do I keep posting random things because who knows what's going on? 

That's stuff I'll work on figuring out eventually.

Moving on we have my snowman. 

Remember that etsy project I was talking about? Well here's a picture of the first attempt. Yes I used orange thread. Bare with me. I knew it wasn't going to be the very best so I used the thread I use the least. I have some white thread and bleachy white felt for the version going on sale. I'll hopefully have the finished product up and selling by the new year. I'm really excited for this and I hope it will be the start to many a joyous etsy pieces.

I'm still looking for my lion and teddy bear patterns. When I find them I can guarantee they will also be made available. But that won't be until after the new year.

Speaking of which! Budgeting is hard. I'm trying to figure out my funds situation for 2016 considering I want to save as much as possible for my proyecto de sombra (which I guess is now what I'm calling the mystery project.) I also want to pay off all my student loans within that year. Guess how hard that is? Like $200/month hard. But I have faith that I can do it. Which is why if I'm not making a certain amount by, say, March, I'll get a second job. My key to 2016 is saving.

Obviously that's helped by the fact that I got a little raise. It's my first ever traditional job raise and it made me so happy.

The other key to 2016? Learning. I have so many things I want to learn. Right now I'm just trying to get the basics of everything but I'll probably share bits and pieces as I go along.

Studying is important because I'm eventually going to college. Eventually of course means when I can qualify as an independent on my fafsa. And choose a school. And decide between chemistry or biology or just do biochem and whether I want psychology as a minor or a major. It's a tough choice.

In the meantime I'm going to get a psychologist. This will be to help me with my anxiety and depression as well as to help me plan for my future, the proyecto de sombra, and my studies.

Before I head out let me leave you with this:
What does a clock do when it's hungry?
It goes back four seconds.

...
-Alexandria


The Facebook Story in question.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas and Minnesota

Well, I think I'll just move around the pictures on my computer, though that makes future posts kind of difficult. Although I guess if I have internet to post than technically I have internet to move things around. So huzzah?

Anywho, merry Christmas. For me this is a pretty chill holiday now. I spent the day at home with my dog for the most part. I got some gifts from my folks when I visited Minnesota.

Oh yeah. Guess what? I VISITED MINNESOTA! I missed it so much. I went along for the ride to drive someone down and I'm so glad I did. I got to see some friends including my two best friends who I haven't seen for 1-2 years. Lots of smash bros were had.

I got my permit before the trip which means of course I drove part of the way back up. Everything was pretty great even with the small mishap with black ice. I'm actually pretty glad that happened because I feel I needed to experience that so I'm prepared better later.

I got city driving and highway driving. My top speed was about 72 mph. I much preferred the hundred or two miles that weren't in cities. But I'll work on that.

Fawkes came along for the ride. The cats didn't like him too much. They were like "what is this strange non-aquatic sniffly barky thing?"

He seemed to enjoy the ride. He napped for a good portion.

His training is also going well. He's a little more responsive to "drop it" thank goodness. And his food bowl manners have improved.

He's learning "bed" and "wait" fairly well.

There are some things I wish he'd improve faster on. Namely barking.

He's a little more responsive to quiet than he used to be, so that's good, but it would be nice if he didn't start barking any time someone in the house moves.

But I know these things require patience and if there's one tip I took to heart, it's don't get frustrated. If you get frustrated then they do and it's sad. So when I've gotten frustrated I've taken deep breaths, told him to sit, rewarded him, and decided whether or not to continue from my mental state there.

The reason I tell him to sit is because I feel like it would be weird to give him a command he doesn't know and then just leave him hanging. And I know he knows sit, so he will sit (and has sat every time) so it helps both him and me out.

Oh, by the way, I'm still doing the twitter story. In fact, I'm at 7 tweets worth of material as per this posting. The plan is to do five tweets a week but we all know how things go with me sometimes.

When we reach the end of my story I'll edit it into something hopefully awesome and publish it.

I really ought to update my website soon. I think I might change the web address as well. Maybe to AlexandriaWolf? We'll see when I get to that point. I'll want to do it sooner rather than later, though.

Speaking of Wolves I got this neat wolf calendar for 2016. I'm so pumped for the new year!!

Hm, last thing of note is I'm attempting etsy stuff. Right now I'm trying to see how difficult it is to make a cloth snowman. I'll report back when I have a picture of my first attempt.

Stay Awesome!
-Alexandria

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Machetes, Puppies, and Snow! Oh my!

Good morning to all of my friends and readers. Even though I don't post much I just want to mention that I have posted more this year than in 2014. I see this as a grand improvement which I think will continue to improve with time. At least it will if my plans work out the way I want. Ha.
You know, amusingly enough, my boss told me that one of my best qualities is consistency. The irony is not lost on me. (The other one was attitude. Apparently I keep my cool quite well and such.)
Anyways. I'm using the app on my phone to post so I don't know how pictures will come through. This concerns me but hopefully it will look okay. I hope they don't just all sit at the bottom. I'd like to move them where they ought to go. The first picture would be a picture of Fawkes. If you'll remember last post, I applied to adopt a dog. Well, I was accepted and I named him Fawkes thanks to a suggestion by my mother.
This hyper little pit/terrier mix is a sweetheart. He loves people. Maybe a little too much. While he doesn't chew on cords he does bark and jump. Just so you know, the addage "it's easier to teach a dog to do something than to not do something" is completely true. Teaching him not to bark is incredibly difficult. Teaching him not to jump is also difficult. Teaching him "quiet" is hard. Teaching him "off" is much less difficult.
But he is quite teachable. He knows sit very well. He's learning lie down and how to wait for his food bowl. He's learning how to take treats more gently. He's started to catch on to what "drop it" means. And he almost always comes when I say "come here" or give a shrill whistle.
He gets a little excited about things like food and people which is a big distraction but all in all he's doing well. He's helped me so much in terms of my mental health. And our bond is pretty good too. So good, in fact, that I'll be looking into registering him as an emotional support animal (which means you can't be discriminated against for rent because you need this dog) and then perhaps later training him to be a service dog for my anxiety and depression. It would be nice to have him help me realize when I'm picking or nudge me when I start to fall into the darker depths of my brain or come up for hugs towards the beginning stages of an anxiety attack.
I love this dog.
More news. No college for awhile. I've decided it is in my best interests to wait until I don't have to rely on anyone else's information for my FAFSA. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't study. In fact, another reason I want to wait is because my study habits have dropped and I'm not used to classes and the like. So I've been studying a little bit at a time this past week.
I'm studying biology, chemistry, psychology, and anatomy. These are big components of my neuroscience goal.
In other news, and this is where I wish I could move pictures into places on this app, I got a super awesome Christmas gift. It's shiny, it's sharp, and I like it a lot.
Speaking of pictures I want to move into place... check out outside! It's wintery and cold and snow is everywhere! No idea if the picture I took is even attached.
Found it. Can't figure out how to move it.
 Edit: Moved on computer. XD
So last on the list of things I wanted to mention is my line cook job. It's going really well. Though slow season feels more difficult than the busy season. I'm still not sure why.
Anyways, have a wonderful day.
-Alexandria

Friday, November 20, 2015

What is HBJ? My twitter story.

Starting today and until the story is finished, you'll be seeing tweets like this a little more often.

 The story will come out in a series of tweets. How many and when really will depend on a lot of factors like how often I come up with something to add and whether or not my feed has already been spammed with stuff.

Now, I don't expect the story to be my best work but I don't expect it to turn out too terrible. In fact, my goal is to eventually take the entire series of tweets and edit them into a full-length story. Just to confuse people I decided to use the hashtag #HBJ1 which, for those of you that know my projects, is the acronym for Hannah-Belle's Journey which is going to be a short series that is a work in progress.

I'll use that acronym for this story but I don't think the acronym is actually going to signify anything about the title when I get there. I am pantsing this story - meaning that no thought as to what will happen next is going to be written down anywhere.

You all know I like planning, but in this case we're going to leave it open-ended. Let's see where I can go with this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Moving! Life Changes! New Dog?

So my life has been pretty weird lately. And by weird I mean great changes have happened. And by lately I mean, well, you'll see.

So firstly, for those of you who don't know already, I did not end up making it to school. FAFSA got turned in, but information oddness made things weird and I was not going to deal with all of the stuff, especially considering deadlines were... pretty much already upon me.

However, I do plan on applying for college next fall. Starting over from scratch.

Secondly, I have a job. I had two jobs, but the first one did not work out on either side and 6:30am is not worth $8.15/hr. So the other job, the one that's still around, that is a line cook job. That's right, I managed to not people. I have bad social anxiety and peopling is not my thing. So huzzah.

However, my need for variety has kicked in and so I'm looking around for a second job. Preferably one that pays at least $10/hr. Two jobs I should have applied for over two weeks ago have already been filled, so now I'm just searching for the right opportunity. I am ready now.

Next, my fiance and I ended our engagement. This is a sad moment in my life, however I am happy that instead we are friends. And not in that "let's stay friends but never talk" kind of way. We actually still hang out and chat.

Oh, also, about a month before that point I ended up moving out of the apartment I shared with said awesome guy.

I now live in a room in a house with other people. Scary. But fun. It provides me a lot of freedom as well as an odd responsibility. This is the first time I've ever been truly "on my own." Maybe sometime I'll make a post about freedom or being on my own but that time is not now.

Now is the time to go into something a little more interesting.

SURPRISE! I'm a dog person.

Yes. Cats are cute and cuddly and I would adore one as a pet. (And if Simba {Cat} magically didn't have a "must pee to mark territory even though I've already been fixed so this is definitely attitude" problem, he would have a furever home. Here. With me.)

In order to have a pet here at the house I have to pay a little more rent each month but it's worth it for the great gift that pets are for your mental sanity.

So I went to the local humane society and walked around all the dogs. I saw ones that I liked and seemed to like me back in those brief instances and I would ask questions. I took a large, black dog out for a walk... and ended up having a housemate hold the leash because the dog was stronger. I was a little sad because I would've loved to help an older dog but we didn't gel in the room together either.

After walking the dog we were asked if we wanted to walk another. Behind the door was this cute little face jumping up and down in a kennel. It had the markings I tend to enjoy and reminded me of a pit, but smaller and skinnier.

So we walked that dog.

It turns out, this dog and I get along great. For the next week and a half I visited every couple days, bonding with and trying to understand the dog. I attempted to teach him how to sit. I walked him a couple times.

And today? On the 9th of November I, Alex, put in an adoption application for this adorable middle sized pup. If I get accepted it will be my first ever dog that I will own.

(For concerned parties: I have dog-sat multiple dogs before in multiple homes, not to mention my grandfather would always have dogs. This is all to say - I'm not going into this blind. Thankfully.)

I'm pretty excited. I'm also pretty scared. But I made my decision and I think it will be good for me and the pup. Now if I could only decide on a good name. Right now it's between Wonder and Focus. I plan to take obedience classes with this dog so I can learn how to dog properly and hopefully find a way to help him learn what my anxiety signs are too so he can give me a hand when I'm having an attack or start picking or some such. That will of course be further down the road but I'm hopeful.

I'm excited for daily walks, playtime, naps, and everything good that comes with a dog. I'm also prepared for all the things that could happen on the other end of the spectrum like chewing cords, barking, jumping on guests, and knocking over my stuff.

I'll be "dog-proofing" my room tomorrow.

Yes, I know I haven't been accepted yet but the way I see it I'm going to have a dog eventually and I might as well be prepared right now.

Charmed!
Alexandria

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Ready?

I think I might be ready.
"Ready for what?" you may wonder.
Ready for school. Ready for work. Ready for life.

I've done a lot of healing since I left Minnesota. I learned a lot; I grew. I've published books and have ghostwritten blogs and articles. I've taken walks on trails and throughout the community. I've visited coffee shops, watched the Northern Lights, and throughout it all made some really cool friends.

But now it's time to continue the growth.

I am going to college in the fall, provided my FAFSA gets done on time (waiting for info.) If it doesn't? Well, that's the other part of this. I'm looking for a job.

I've submitted three resumes by email, hand delivered an application (with my resume obviously), and am in the process of getting more applications and applying for more places. I'm a little scared about how this will all turn out. I'm about as scared of getting a job as I am of not getting one.

I haven't worked a traditional job since mid-2013.

I'm applying for part-time. I'm applying for full time. I'm applying mostly for jobs that don't involve people. But there are a few customer service oriented jobs in there including an office assistant job at the nearby college.

I'm also applying for scholarships.

While I might not get them, this is a very important step for me. I'm working towards bringing every aspect of my future into my own hands.

Am I still tempted to pack a backpack and bus to Colorado?

Absolutely. That will always be there. But I recognize that, right now, it would not be my best option. I need to get my BA and a little more work history before I can modern-day nomad. So until then, that's my plan. School. Job. Skills. Saving.

Currently I live with my fiance who lost his job about a month ago. We're trying to get by with our lack of a usable vehicle (no registration/insurance), our lack of income until one of us gets a job, and our lack of any idea what the future holds for us. We're both working to make this work. We're both healing.

I'm ready to handle what life throws my way. I'm just hoping one of the things it throws is a job or scholarship.

Stay Awesome,
Alexandria

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Just Because I need to write this down part two

Yet again you've come across another list of my ideas of things I need to create and do and learn that I will otherwise forget because I don't have the time or energy to do them now. Some of these are even a year old. *Cough* cat purrs * Cough* Hence what I mean by needing to write them down. Luckily some of these have made their way into conversation and so are less easy to forget but hey, always nice to have them somewhere besides my brain.

  • Harnessing cat purrs into usable energy
    • Find someone that understands stuff like this
    • Or just learn it all mahself
      • And then employ someone to do the actual complex mathematics. Because there will definitely be complex mathematics.
  • On a related note, making shakelight style phone chargers
    • WHY HAS NOBODY DONE THIS YET??
  • Solving the problem of death by "old age"
    • We don't actually die of old age. Ever.
    • Evolution doesn't care about how old we get.
    • Metabolism and other "normal" things kill us.
    • Yes I'm serious.
  • Inventing a robot that would take my garbage out for me.
    • Kidding. Mostly.
  • Write a recipe book where everything is garlic based
    • Make the title some terrible vampire pun
  • Figure out how to write a "cozy mystery"
    • And write one
    • Because apparently they're popular right now
    • Although I could just do a murder mystery instead
      • Always a good idea
  • Get a fitness specialist certification
    • And do pretty much nothing with it because how does one even fitness business?
    • The knowledge would be pretty cool though.
  • Write a page on my life for every year of my life.
    • Write pages for the last 21 years as well.
    • Try to become a centenarian.
    • Make sure someone knows to publish it when I die.
  • Do the picture a day for a year thing
    • And actually keep up with it
  • Learn how to French Braid
  • Learn how to write a sales copy
    • What even is a sales copy?
  • Using the term grown (as in grown ass woman) in a photo series about the fact that I'm a "grown" adult but I like crayons and glitter, etc.
    • The term has been used too often recently
    • Liking cartoons does not make you not an adult
    • The stereotypes attributed to adults is irksome
  • Create a book series based on current events
    • to help educate people
    • so when someone says "this is unrealistic" I can show them WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
So these are more of my ideas. Within the next 3-5 days expect a post that touches Charleston, Racism, and my ex. It's a thing that is important to me and it is a thing that I feel needs to be said.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Biphasic/Siesta Sleep

Biphasic sleep. This involves sleeping twice a day, or as shown by the phrase "siesta sleep" it's basically a "normal" chunk of sleep plus towards the middle of your day give or take.

Yes, I know. I've tried this before and stopped. But that was years ago and I was operating under different circumstances.

Right now I am in Michigan, I live with my fiance. I am a stay-at-home freelancer with no set schedule for anything. This is actually not the perfect setup for biphasic sleep but it's actually pretty good.

The perfect setup is having a set schedule that already allows for a "break" in the middle of the day. Like having classes go until noon and not start again until 3 or something like that. That is the perfect setup.

So I'm setting up a "schedule."

Biphasic sleep, or siesta sleep which is a much less controversial term, has two parts. The first part is the main chunk of sleep. Most of the time this is between 5-7 hours, depending on how long your nap is and how much sleep you need.

For me, I'm going with about 6 hours. I'll go to sleep earlier if I'm tired earlier. Allowing that part to be relatively fluid because I need to figure out how much sleep I need anyways.

Next is the nap. The nap can either be something like 20-30 minutes (a power nap) or 60-90 minutes. I'm going the power nap route this time. Last time, I tried for about two hours. This was not a good idea. Some people are more inclined to longer naps, some are for shorter. If I'm napping, it needs to be short - even if it is under the term biphasic sleep.

The difference between biphasic sleep and a nap has to do more with the routine, anyways. When your body is used to taking a nap every day at a certain time, it goes through the two phases.

Amusingly enough, I think this will allow my wake-ups to be easier.

My naps should probably be before or after lunch. I'm going to start on after lunch and see how that goes. The good things about after lunch is that it's middle of my day and it should hopefully be right before I'd hang out with someone. So yay, right? We'll see.

Anyways, toodle-oo
-Alexandria Hathaway

Monday, June 8, 2015

Just Because I Need to Write These Down

I get way to many ideas and they're all going to escape me so here is just a big list of my current ideas on random things that involve obscure references and oddity.


  • Secrets of The Job Process Book... Series... Blog... Website... Something.
    • Awhile ago I wanted to do a thing about all the different job related stuff because nobody seems to understand how resumes work. Nobody understands how interviews work. And nobody seems to understand that you don't just miss a day and not call in. 
    • This idea was shelved because effort and stuff.
      • And because I'd have to get a new retail job for research.
  • Get a Retail Job.
    • For research.
    • And hilarity.
    • Plus the cash wouldn't hurt.
  • Make a book about a crazy adrenaline-obsessed person who must continue to do crazy awesome things in order to avoid depression.
    • And don't rip off the Pretties or whatever that one book was.
      • Which I just now realized was a thing.
        • Of course that's not even the actual premise of their book.
          • So I'll be good.
    • I have a friend like this. More research is needed.
      • Obviously some details will be fabricated. Because fiction.
  • Have different days where I go to different places to do my work.
    • Like the library one day.
    • And coffee another day.
    • And all that jazz.
    • Would fit well with a retail job.
  • Make a blog full of article samples.
    • But then someone might take them for their own in an attempt to get a job and so that would be bad.
  • Make a How To Elance kind of site.
    • Because Fuck the "water cooler."
  • Write a huge philosophically intense book... that all ends with a dick joke.
  • Write a book that seems like it's just a bunch of dick jokes but is actually philosophically intense.
  • Actually succeed at finding a sleep schedule that fits me.
  • Actually take a typing test and then try to improve said typing score because I can't type as fast as I think and it gets annoying.
    • Holy shit you could literally see how fast you think by increasing your typing score until you can type as fast as you think and then you could be like "I think about 110 words per minute."
      • Of course this would only work if you thought:
        • At a speed slower than the response time of a key press
        • Only thought one thing at once
          • Unless you could type like 110 words a minute on both hands on separate keyboards. But that's only two lines of thought.
  • Work on that whole ambidextrous thing again. Cause that was legit.
  • Learn how to Leatherwork.
    • Get materials for leatherwork.
  • Learn how to treat wood.
    • Get materials to treat wood.
  • Actually have an exercise routine of some sort.
    • Because my arms are way too flabby.
      • And they need to be stronger so I can use my saws effectively.
    • Because I need to be able to outrun bees.
    • Because I want to be a ninja.
  • Write that one book on productivity.
    • Actually get to the point where I have successfully learned how to be that productive.
  • Write a book that showcases the cost of someone's time, regardless of what they're doing. 
    • Because you're not paying me to scan your groceries, you're paying me to not do anything else I could be doing at that moment.
  • Work on a book about effective ways to handle anxiety.
    • And do a bunch of blog posts on the subject so people don't have to spend money to not have anxiety attacks. That would stop them from making money/conversing/living.
  • Learn how to use my sewing machine or get a newer one.
    • Because I need to figure out how to do the halter top thing I was planning on doing.
    • And because Story Bears are still a thing.
Congratulations. You just spent your time reading all this stuff. Now go make your own list. You know you have those ideas. Do them.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Part Two of my Food Intolerance Journey!

Fried Foods week was not as hard core as any other week has been thus far. It was very laid back. My conclusion? Moderation, moderation, moderation.

Honestly though, this week wasn't as needed as it would've been a year ago. This is because I stopped using as much oil. When I was younger I would use WAY more oil than was needed. Everything needed to be deep fried. Now? I do the cute little teaspoon thing.

So I just need to keep doing the small teaspoon for frying and make sure my week doesn't consist of only pan-seared foods. This is easy.

Simple stuff.

Next week we move on to sugar. By sugar, I mean no sugar. Nada. I have lots of veggies and noodles and other things so I don't have to be too concerned. The goal of this week is to see if no sugar makes me feel better.

If I feel the same, I'll resume my sugar eating habits. If I feel better, I'll just use moderation with my sugar and mostly stick to the unprocessed stuff. (I.e. less soda.)

Remember, this is all based on how I feel and is only happening to make me feel better. I feel I should mention that because some people cut out sugar for other reasons and those are not my reasons. My reasons involve my stomach, my fatigue, and just in general how I feel.

In other news, Wings is out on Amazon. Which is nice. I'm walking to cats almost every time they're open, which is cool. This also means I'm getting some exercise.

I've also been trying to get better at not taking on too much at a time. Believe it or not, I've been improving. This is great news, especially since I've just started an online course on elance. Hopefully my funds will go up and my stress will go down. That's the plan anyways.

Finally, for those of you paying attention and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the fancy progress bar and how to help! From what I know of the car, we have definite transmission issues and potential intake problems. NEW! We now also have suspension problems!

And all the cars problems are expensive, so working towards getting a new car would be beneficial.

Apparently there's also the potential of the car exploding. This would be exciting if it didn't mean potential injury/death.

New Car Downpayment
$325.75$2,500



Note: I heard there was trouble with the previous donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com

You're all awesome!
-Alexandria Younk

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2nd Book Officially Out!

Many of you have been waiting for this announcement from me. I promised it a little earlier than this but I forgot about the verification stage involved in self-publishing.

Without further ado I present to you Wings. Fully published in both ebook and paperback form. My website has been updated to show this awesome new step.

The next step for Wings, as well as An Addictive Personality, is to become an audio book.

I will be recording the MP3 of myself reading the books out loud and will attempt to figure out how to create my own site shop where I can receive payment for this audio and send it out to buyers. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

I do not want to use a "publishing platform" for the MP3 version, I want it to be exclusively available through me and my website.

The journey to publish Wings has been long. Longer than I expected, actually. Writing it was very, very quick due to the 10k writing challenge day that I completed a while back. Then I did the traditional thing of leaving it and not touching it for a good month. Then I procrastinated editing it for a while.

It was very hard to come back to. I wasn't sure exactly how I should go about editing it and what I should do with it. So it sat for long periods of time. Then it got to the point where I just decided to go all out and I used two documents to figure everything out.

There were some easy parts and there were hard ones but I finally got it all edited up. From there I needed to finish my book cover. I had the front cover completely finished, but I didn't have a back cover. I worked on it, (Thanks mom!) uploaded it, and after one re-upload it was completed.

Now it's out there. It's out there to read. It's out there to enjoy. It's out there to provide a narrative.

Thank you. Everyone.
-Alexandria Younk

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Shelter Cats and Why I Need Them

Mary. Stella. Simba. These names have been uttered by me an awful lot. They belong to three beautiful cats at the Humane Society nearby.

While they may not mean much to you, they mean the world to me.

Mary
First, I love cats. I love all furry animals and even non-furry animals. I have two betta fish at my apartment. There are four cats plus my turtle at my parents house. My favorite animal is the grey wolf. Humane societies? They're awesome for animal lovers.

But this love is not just about loving animals.

It's about needing their care, their affection, their quirks, even their moody days. And them needing me. It's about my anxiety and my need to nurture. It's about personal growth. It's about saving lives. It's about my depression and finding beauty in every single day. This is why I need these cats.

When I first moved to Michigan I was still having high anxiety. It was less than it was in Minnesota, sure, but it was still making life hard for me. I somehow managed to publish An Addictive Personality and pull a 10k Writing Marathon. Progress.

Stella
But anxiety caught up to me and I wasn't able to do much else. What was I going to do with my days? I started aching for something to nurture. I wanted something small and warm. I really wanted a pet. And not just any pet. I wanted a cat, a dog, or some kind of rodent larger than a hamster.

Of course, I can't own one. The apartment does not allow pets. This is a common problem.

So here is where the humane society comes in.

We started going there and met all the pretty kitties. They were awesome. I loved them. The more we went... the better I felt.

I felt good enough to restart freelancing.

It was an amazing thing. I began to actually work on things. I started working a little more on Wings and other projects. I did some mturk tasks. I didn't feel like every day was one step closer to a potential anxiety attack.

Simba
The more I came, the better I got to know the cats. Mary is described as a "diva." She does not like one too many pets and she wasn't too friendly towards people she didn't recognize. She started warming up. Now every time I can pet her I feel pretty great because I know that it's because I put effort into getting to know her.

Mary taught me a lesson about working to get to know someone. A lot of times people think they know each other long before they actually do. They think they know a lot because they talk a lot and hang out a lot but there are sides that take a long time to see. And so Mary taught me to be patient for those layers to show themselves.

Stella is described in terms much less nice. She has been at the shelter for a very, very long time. After gaining Mary's trust, attention to Stella became a thing. She already understood that I was a frequent visitor, which helped matters. Cats like stability, too.

Eventually, she allowed me to pet her and actually has sat in my lap a couple times. Her biggest thing appears to be trust. Trust and stability.

I don't know much about Stella's past and frankly I don't know if I want to know. Maybe she was just never around humans, but maybe it's something much worse. What I care about is that she has grown and adapted and is well taken care of.

Rory
Stella is teaching me about how long it really takes to trust someone and about taking baby steps. She has taught me restraint as I make sure not to pet her when she is likely to be upset. Moreso, she is teaching me how stability of my actions has an effect on others. I feel like this is a very important lesson.

Then we have Simba. Simba is constantly bullied by other kitties. I'm not sure why, though he is a little standoffish. It's widely accepted that a single kitty home might be best for him, especially one where he can be left alone a lot. Simba has taught me about personal space, reading a person's discomfort level, and about how to make yourself seem like a safe person.

I didn't begin to work with Simba until February when I decided to sponsor him. I had already learned some restraint and had grown up knowing how to respect animals, so I wasn't a threat to him. But I also wasn't his friend.

Simba needs a lot of personal space, so I learned how to read the signs about when he needed it. And I knew not to go after him. Because I respected this and took the time to learn about him, but didn't neglect to offer petting and treats, he began to see me as "safe."

Since then, he's still standoffish, but when he sees me he comes to get a head rub. And when other cats are bullying him and my lap is clear, he'll jump on up.

Edited to add: These are my personal opinions and experiences about the cats. Your results/opinions may vary. 

That's actually another thing, all the cats have learned or are in the process of learning that my lap is a no-brat zone. Meaning no batting or growling or hissing at cats to cats on my lap or from cats on my lap. So far it's worked surprisingly well.


Monica

And that is why I need them.

Also, because they've helped me so much, I've started to sponsor them. I sponsored Simba in February, Rory in March, and I finally got the funds to sponsor Monica for April! This way I'll help them find new homes.



Oh, a quick update - Not doing no-sugar week this week. Not because "I can't handle not having sugar" but because that's the kind of thing you REALLY need to plan ahead for. I learned this only AFTER checking labels of foods.

Fried food week goes on as planned starting on the 3rd. Because I have more than enough oil and things to fry.

Love the felines in your life,
-Alexandria

Oh, and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the fancy progress bar and how to help! From what I know of the car, we have definite transmission issues and potential intake problems. And all the cars problems are expensive, so working towards getting a new car would be beneficial.

Apparently there's also the potential of the car exploding. This would be exciting if it didn't mean potential injury/death.

New Car Downpayment
$25.75$2,500



Note: I heard there was trouble with the previous donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Editing, Writing, and Anxiety - Tips

If you haven't yet, please read my blog post entitled "Mental Disorder Series - Anxiety." This is a great resource if you don't know what the difference between common anxiety and an anxiety disorder is. It also provides a bit of background with my anxiety experience for those of you interested.

This post, however, is not about the generals of anxiety. No. Instead it is about how Authors can manage to revise and edit their own books, even through suffering from anxiety attacks, avoidance, and other anxiety disorder related problems.

This subject was brought up to me by this twitter comment by user @hannahswiderski:
This was after I posted my tweet about dealing with my anxiety while editing my upcoming book, Wings. Because guys, editing is hard. Writing is hard. Doing them with anxiety? Even harder.

So when an author writes a book, they sit down and basically put their soul on paper. (Or into a word/scrivener/etc document.) The process begins with an idea, moves into the writing part, includes some pre-emptive editing, maybe some outlining... Honestly it depends on the author.

Anxiety can strike at any time during the writing process, but it most commonly seems to strike while editing. The reason for this has to do with the fact that, hey, we just spilled our guts out and now we have to go back, re-read it, and change it.

Big problem number one: Re-Reading what we just wrote. Why is this a problem? Simple. "What if it's terrible? Why am I such a bad writer? How did I forget this comma? Why should I have to edit this?" And then of course there's the fear of just plain reading what you wrote. Yes, it's normal to be scared of what you've just written. Even moreso if you have an anxiety or avoidance issue.

Big problem number two: CHANGING what you just wrote. Hun, this is my pure emotion in word format for you and you think it needs to be edited? Changed? Re-arranged? This is my baby!

And then of course there are other issues too such as compulsive editing and not being sure if your editing is good enough.

(Some of you will note that you can hire out an editor to edit your work for you but I must remind you that in the end the choice of what to do with your book is ultimately yours. Every change is your choice whether to accept or deny.)

Here are some tips for all of you:

  1. Take a deep breath - Hyperventilating isn't going to make your job any easier. No you can't avoid it. You wrote this, you want to edit it. Take many deep breaths and ground yourself and get to it.
  2. Get a warm drink - Whether it's tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or something else, the warmth will help calm you down and let you relax. That's really what you need to do first. Relax.
  3. Ground yourself - Meditate, prey, go for a walk, whatever your method of grounding yourself is: Do it. If you aren't grounded you won't be able to concentrate on your work.
  4. Re-read your story - This may feel scary at first, but read the whole thing. Many of you have let the story sit for at least a month (as suggested for anyone editing their own book!) You need to get acquainted with this piece before you can change it. One cannot edit what one does not know.
  5. Edit a section once and move on - Yes, you can come back to it later, but just change it once and come back to it after you've gone through the rest of the story. This helps with compulsive editing. If you edit one part too many times, it might stop fitting with the rest of your story and then you've begun creating a completely different book entirely.
  6. Don't edit your story in the original document. - Whether you paste the whole thing in a different document, print it out and edit it, re-write parts on paper, just don't edit the original document. You may need it for reference. You'll need it for a backup. And all that stuff is just distracting.
  7. Don't try to edit the whole thing in one day. - Editing is a process. You'll have to go over it multiple times, look for different things, and honestly you're stressing yourself out by trying to change 10,000+ words in 24 hours.
  8. Take breaks. - Constantly re-editing? Take a break. Stuck on one part? Take a break. Out of coffee? Take a break. Breaks will allow you to re-focus later.
  9. Have someone else look it over. - They don't have to do a full edit, not even a proofread. They just need to read it and give you a semi-detailed opinion on your book. That way, you have something to go off of as you edit. Do this before and then after you edit. If someone looks at your edited version and says "hey, I like this" then you can feel okay going on to publish it.
  10. Remember, you're not the only one with anxiety. Scott Stossel, the author of "My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind" is an editor at Atlantic. He suffers from anxiety and nobody even knew until he published this book. In fact, it's really sad that more authors and editors don't come out and talk about their anxiety. It would really help the rest of us. Of which there are many.
  11. Don't Procrastinate. - The hardest part of finishing is getting started. Get started now. Read your book, figure out what tools you're going to use to edit it, and start.
  12. Go paragraph by paragraph. - First, this gives us the 'one step at a time' mentality, which is comforting. Secondly, it helps separate this section from the rest of the book which allows us to focus.
  13. Read it out loud. - Sometimes our brains aren't working right when we edit, so we need to calibrate them. Read the part that you're working on out loud. It exposes a lot of errors you may not have been able to previously catch.
  14. Remember this book is YOUR baby. Because it is your baby and you care about it, you need to remember that it deserves a lot of your respect and attention. You wrote this and you should feel proud. It's your love, your work, and it's marvelous. Be sure to cherish it for what it is.
  15. I said, this book is your BABY. That's right, it's a baby. It is your child. It's your job to help this baby grow into a wonderful piece of work. Use this editing session to teach your baby new things. One day it will be able to go out into the world on it's own. You'll be such a proud parent.
I hope these steps have helped you out. Another thing that helped me out recently was being told that the rough draft of your book is you telling the story to yourself. That means that after you write it, your job is to add more details so other people can understand as much about your book as you.

Editing is and always has been a difficult job. If you have anxiety, your job is to remain calm, take breaks, and go at it bit by bit. 

With all that being said, I need to get back to editing wings.
Happy Writing!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Part One of My Food Intolerance Journey

Hey guys,

So I wrote a little bit before on how I'm doing this food project thing where I have these foods I think are causing me stomach problems and that I'm cutting them out and then reintroducing them to see what's up.

The first week was onion week. Onion week was very hard for me because I react to the juices of the onion in the air. I have since found out that partially freezing it (so you can still cut it) minimizes the spray. However, I still reacted VERY badly. I react to raw onion juice worse than most people. In fact, the verdict of that week is that I pretty much avoid raw onion altogether. I can buy frozen pre-chopped onion but I can only use it sparingly.

The second week was potato week. I suspected potatoes to be the cause of my fatigue. What I found out is that potatoes give me fatigue, yes, but they also give me bloating and other related problems. It doesn't appear to matter what form they're in. The verdict on them? Well, the fatigue wasn't as bad as I thought so really I'm just going with avoiding potato heavy dishes and using them primarily as sides.

The third week? Meat week. Meat week is inconclusive. I will continue my omnivore ways.

Now we're on the fourth week. This is dairy week. It is only Tuesday and I give up. Yes, yes I am lactose intolerant. Yes, yes it does give me stomach problems. Also, it's the primary cause of my fatigue and even gives me a really bleh mood. The problem is I love cheese. I love icecream. They are amazing. I also love pizza. So what am I going to do? I figure I'll just cut down a lot and allow myself a little dairy here and there... Just not when I have a serious deadline to attend to.

The reason this post is titled part one is because starting Sunday I am on to the next part of this... I found during my journey that I might have other food triggers I hadn't previously thought of. We're talking Sugar and Fried Foods.

So this means I'm going to have a part two and a part three. Maybe a part four if I'm not sure of things by the end of it.

For sugar week, the plan is to cut out all the sugars, be they natural or not. Except, obviously for naturally sugary foods like fruit. So I guess no added sugars.

I'm also going to keep to my regimen of no/limited dairy, onions, and potatoes for both weeks. I can add meat back in, however, because as of yet its results are inconclusive.

From now until Sunday, I'm just going to eat whatever I want. Maybe make some freezer space available.

Yes, by the way, that does mean I've actually completed a project that I've set out for myself. Pretty neat. And mostly on deadline, too. I might even make a recipe book out of it, or a series. I could do something like "Cuisine for the Potato-Impaired" featuring dishes commonly using potatoes. Or I could just make a "Recipes for Food-Impaired" using as few ingredients as possible. Or both. I see no reason why not. Except time.

Anyways, in other news, still working on Wings. I have both Sumbola and Amazon waiting for this and it's progressing slowly but surely. Will be open for another set of eyes soon. Might make someone make a platformer based on it. Or something. We'll see. I should probably quit rambling about my potential ideas.

Oh, and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the paypal button and a fancy progress bar! From what I know of the car, we have definite transmission issues and potential intake problems. And all the cars problems are expensive, so working towards getting a new car would be beneficial.

Apparently there's also the potential of the car exploding. This would be exciting if it didn't mean potential injury/death.

New Car Downpayment
$25.75$2,500



Note: I heard there was trouble with the previous donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com

You are always one choice away from freedom.
-Alexandria

Monday, April 20, 2015

Update Thing!

Good afternoon or whatever time of day it will be when you see this!

I hate writing articles. Content pieces, articles, etc. I don't know why. I mean, they're simple and short and on point, but I just dislike writing them. This is part of why I stink at keeping this blog updated.

But I know I have to keep up on my blog because this is my journey and when I do projects I'd like some accountability, you know?

Anyways, I ran into some issues with mturk, not doing that anymore, and now I'm working on doing elance stuff which I've had an account on since I turned 18. I'm working on creating work samples of editing, transcription, Spanish to English translation, and creative writing.

I'm also going to try to do some learning stuff. Because learning is cool and gives me more marketable skills.

My website will be the host for my samples, as well as elance. Because I already have a section called "treasure chest" I figure it can't hurt to have a freelancing section. I mean, I already write. And the website it basically the home of... my projects. ^^"

I'm hoping Wings will be ready soon. Both Amazon and Sumbola are waiting for my work. So that's where my focus needs to be, besides projects. I'll probably also look for some writing contests to submit to because why not.

I might quit my reading a hundred books in a year challenge. I want to read all the books, I want to record video of my reviews, but it's all so much effort and takes time and I'm finally beginning to understand that I'm a human.

The fact that I am only human is something I've been trying to ignore for years. It's caused me a lot of problems. I still have a lot of interests and things to take care of, but I now realize I can't do 20 zillion projects at the same time. It's not good for my mental health.

So there will be more blog posts in the future because this has been my blog for forever and it's not going to stop.

Oh, and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the paypal button and a fancy progress bar! From what I know of the car, we have definite transmission issues and potential intake problems. And all the cars problems are expensive, so working towards getting a new car would be beneficial.

Apparently there's also the potential of the car exploding. This would be exciting if it didn't mean potential injury/death.

New Car Downpayment
$25.75$2,500



Note: I heard there was trouble with the previous donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com

Stay Cool and Remember You are Human,
-Alexandria

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Featuring Wings!

Good Afternoon my lovely viewers! Here is the post I promised you on my currently-being-edited book, Wings!

First, let's take a look at the cover of Wings.


The cover depicts a bird in a tree, which plays a role in the book itself. I wanted to use a piece centered on the beginning of the book so that when a reader steps into the world, they start around the image they see. This allows some connection between the look of the book and the story inside.

"Wings outstretched. Darting. Soaring. Gliding. Trees creating mazes in the playground of the sky."

The story begins in the dream of our main character, Melissa. Melissa is a young girl just trying to make her way through school. Unfortunately, she doesn't have many friends, her best friend has ditched her, and now she has these bony lumps growing on her back! What's a teenager to do?

To top it off, her mom wants her to go into the doctor for surgery, but Melissa hates doctors! Her only escape is in her dreams, but they start feeling a little too close to reality. I can't say much more plot without spoiling the story, so I hope you give it a read!

Wings is set to be published within the next month! See future posts for more details.

Stay Awesome!
-Alexandria

Oh, and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the paypal button and a fancy progress bar! From what I know of the car, we have definite transmission issues and potential intake problems. And all the cars problems are expensive, so working towards getting a new car would be beneficial.

Apparently there's also the potential of the car exploding. This would be exciting if it didn't mean potential injury/death.

New Car Downpayment
$25.75$2,500



Note: I heard there was trouble with the previous donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com

Friday, April 10, 2015

Making the Numbers Add Up

Wonderful stuff, financial stability is. With financial stability you can buy food and pay bills and even do some fun things. But financial stability is hard to get and sometimes some people have problems making the numbers add up. I know I do.

Today, I have one less bill. This bill is the last changeable red mark on my credit score, so it's pretty spiffy to have gone. It's what I've been doing with my freelancing, trying to pay off old debts and get my life together. So far it's been working, but it's hard.

There are many things in life that cost money that are unexpected, unplanned for, and sometimes feel unmanageable. This includes medical problems, car problems, computer issues, and broken items, as well as a wide variety of other things.

A lot of people talk about building a safety net for those unexpected incidents, but how does one build a safety net when all of their money is spent on things they need?

This is part of why we're doing a once a month grocery trip instead of once a week. It's not as healthy, no, but it helps to save money.

It's why we're considering bikes. It involves an upfront fee, but might save on car-related things later.

How do we make the numbers add up?

There are two factors that are a part of every big money debate. They are lowering costs and increasing income. Which do you focus on? Well, obviously both. So we're doing a bunch of things to lower our costs, which will help us a lot. But we somehow have to increase income. So I've been seeking out more freelance opportunities.

This is also hard. One reason people love the idea of lowering costs as a means to making their money last is because it's easier to control. You can control how much you spend, to a point. It's a lot harder to control how much you earn. There's a lot more that goes into it. You have to find work, be hired/accepted, get verified, and be given the work to do. Then there's all the reporting and stuff. And if you're earning income by selling a product, you need to find buyers.

But increasing income is needed if you have those unexpected incidents. What can you do but work harder? Try to work smarter? Well, you can have a loan but that will increase month by month costs. So even if you do get a loan you still need to work harder and smarter. And it's hard. It's hard but I don't think it's impossible.

I'm going through a mild down turn in weekly earnings through my freelancing, but part of that is due to the time investments on finding more and better opportunities elsewhere. An investment into my future.

And as stated before, I'm also working on Wings and will have a blog post out soon on its behalf!

Oh, and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the paypal button and a fancy progress bar! From what I know of the car, we have definite transmission issues and potential intake problems. And all the cars problems are expensive, so working towards getting a new car would be beneficial.

Apparently there's also the potential of the car exploding. This would be exciting if it didn't mean potential injury/death.

New Car Downpayment
$25.75$2,500



Note: I heard there was trouble with the previous donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com

Stay Awesome!
Alexandria

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What is Alex's Journey?

After the mental health series I did, I got a lot more views on things. Part of it is the content, the other part is that I actually posted regularly (which makes a huge difference in numbers.)

So because of that, I wanted to take a moment to express the "point" of this blog and welcome any newcomers along to this journey.

At it's most basic sense, this blog is about me and my journey. It's not really a journal blog, though, because I don't just write about my day. I often write about issues that are close to me, new things I'm trying, and pieces related to things I'm doing, such as the 10k writathon series I did last August.

So far this blog has covered work-related, writing related, lifestyle related, and health related subjects.

I refuse to make this blog be about anything more specific. And why? Because this is my journey. If I had a blog for everything I was interested in and did, I would never be able to keep them all updated. The central point of this blog is the journey. The journey, the planning, the ideas, the goals and how things change.

I made a point early on to mention that not everything I try will work. But that doesn't matter. That's the appeal of this blog. The changes. The ups and the downs.

And of course, soon there will also be cat pictures. As the weather gets warmer, I'm going to try to go down to the Humane Society more and get way more pictures. I try to sponsor cats every month but it's a little hard with other bills. I haven't made much this month, but I'll keep working towards it. They need me.

As part of your update on me and how my life is going:

The car is still broken and we still don't have much by way of funds. Luckily there's been a donation since then because closetdemon is awesome. However, I may soon have to ask someone for help with a loan. And by help, I mean cosigning because I've been only working on increasing my credit score since the start of the year.

I've paid one and a half bills since then that were overdue, talked with my student loan place who is going to start bringing things out of deferment like yesterday so I can pay them, and am not only saving for a car but also for one of those credit cards you pay into to get your initial balance. I think I need like $300 saved to start one? Either way it's save first, spend later.

I've been freelancing on mturk, applying for jobs on elance, and working on my book so that I can publish it soon. An Addictive Personality has netted me a couple bucks a month which may not seem like much to most people, but the fact that it's been going steady is amazing. I hope Wings achieves the same results.

Later I will be posting a blog post dedicated to the story of Wings, what some symbols are, etc. Oh, and you'll all get to see the cover. My mom took the picture for me. All the birds up here were way too elusive. And from that picture I designed the cover.

And for those of you interested in helping out with the car,

Oh, and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the paypal button and a fancy progress bar! From what I know of the car, we have definite transmission issues and potential intake problems. And all the cars problems are expensive, so working towards getting a new car would be beneficial.

Apparently there's also the potential of the car exploding. This would be exciting if it didn't mean potential injury/death.

New Car Downpayment
$25.75$2,500



Note: I heard there was trouble with this donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com

Stay Awesome!
Alexandria

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mental Disorder Conclusion - Dermatillomania

Whelp. One problem of my various disorders is I randomly vanish from time to time. Just a lot of stuff to handle. (A lot of car stuff being part of it.) Plus, I have mild avoidance issues. I like to just go "ugh" and fall asleep. So that's what I did this weekend. That and playing Catherine, which is a puzzle platformer style game with a great story line complete with alternative endings. I got the best possible one.

Taking a break now and then isn't a bad thing. It's just really difficult for me to get back on track. 2-3 days is actually on the lower end of how long I vanish.

And now it's time to talk about a problem that doesn't contribute to my vanishing! Although, it does take up a lot of time. And it can trigger (or is triggered by) my depression and anxiety. This mysterious little disorder is called Dermatillomania.

What is Dermatillomania?

Dermatillomania is not widely heard of. In fact, not even spell check knows what it is, so I will probably have a hundred red squigglies by the end of this. It thinks I'm trying to spell dermatological, which is related in subject, but not what I'm trying to type.

Dermatillomania, also known as Skin Picking Disorder (SPD) is sort of an OCD cousin. The person with dermatillomania picks at their skin compulsively. It can become a pretty big problem leading to an excess of scabs and tissue damage. It also takes a big chunk of time out of your life, with serious sufferers spending hours per day. Luckily mine isn't that bad.

People with dermatillomania exhibit a wide range of behaviors. Some people only pick briefly a couple times a day without even realizing it. Others spend hours picking at a single spot. Most people use their fingernails to pick, but a lot of people also use various instruments such as tweezers or nail clippers. Some people even injest the skin that they pick.

There are two main time periods when dermatillomania starts happening. Puberty, when pimples first start appearing, and around age 30-45, which is when a lot of life stresses tend to come up. As for me, it started during the puberty time. What happens is a person starts picking at the perceived imperfections (I have keratosis, too, which means I get random excess skin bumps.) It becomes a habit and is usually tied to anxiety or boredom.

A shocking figure is that about 11.5% of pickers make suicide attempts. Also, people with dermatillomania are very likely to do other types of self-harm like cutting and banging their heads on things.

There is a controversy over whether dermatillomania is a disorder of its own or a symptom of another. As the primary issue with dermatillomania is the picking, and not something else, I stand by the opinion of the DSM-5 which puts it in its own category.

What treatment options are available to somebody with Dermatillomania?

There isn't exactly a specific cure for dermatillomania. There are some treatments that may help such as behavioral therapy similar to people with OCD, as well as trying to address potential root causes. There are not always root problems. If the person experiencing dermatillomania found a way to stop chewing their fingernails when they were younger, using a similar method may help get rid of or at least reduce their dermatillomanic behaviors.

Also, some doctors provide SSRI's, which do help some individuals.

What you shouldn't say to someone with Dermatillomania.
  • You're crazy/psychotic.
    • We're only as crazy as people who bite their nails, stay up too late, drink too much, or smoke. Our behavior is just less socially normal.
    • If we were psychotic, a treatment of the psychosis would stop the behavior. For a majority of us, it doesn't.
  • Why don't you just stop picking?
    • If we could, we would. Do you think we enjoy the scars left on our arms and face? The pain and irritation? High risk of infection? Ridicule? Not really.
    • Our bodies become addicted to the hormones released when we pick, so it's not really a "habit" we can easily break.
  • I don't see how this is a problem, you're making it up.
    • If you can't see a tree fall in a forest, does that mean it never existed? Dermatillomania is a real problem that affects real people. 
    • Just because we're not covered in blemishes, it doesn't mean the problem isn't serious. The other important factors besides how many scabs we have is how much time we spend picking, how the picking has effected our views of ourselves and our bodies, and how much the picking has changed our lives.
  • You must have really bad skin if you're picking all the time.
    • Not all picking starts from having a skin condition. Some people pick at perfect skin that they perceive as imperfect.
    • Also, thanks for the insult.
  • I pick at my scabs sometimes.
    • That's perfectly normal. People with dermatillomania do it more than "sometimes" and it's not always scabs and acne that they pick at. 
  • I used to cut, so I get what you're going through.
    • Skin picking and cutting are two totally different things, started for completely different reasons. 
    • Cutting usually relates to depression and, though it can be compulsive, it usually isn't a life-long uncontrollable compulsion. 
    • Skin pickers do not pick their skin for the purpose of hurting themselves. Often they don't even realize they are picking until after they've done it.
  • You're leaving marks on your skin for attention.
    • Actually, the marks are our least favorite part of picking. Many people with dermatillomania use make-up or clothing to cover the marks. They reduce our quality of life. 
    • Also, giving attention to them is like social suicide, especially because most people don't understand or even know about the existence of the disorder.
  • Stop taking drugs and you'll stop picking.
    • Very, very few people with dermatillomania are on drugs. Dermatillomania is a disorder, not a side effect. This is very damaging stigma.
    • On the other side of things, people with ADD often take stimulant medication which WILL worsen their picking. 
  • If dermatillomania were a real disorder, it would've been in the DSM a long time ago.
    • A lot of "real" disorders were just added to the DSM. The DSM is a lot like the Vatican in terms of stances it takes, they only want to publish what they are absolutely sure of. With more medical advancements comes more information and therefore the realization of what is going on with people.
  • Skin picking is only a superficial disorder because it's only harming your looks.
    • Skin picking also harms your self-esteem, perception, and body-image.
    • It creates a higher risk for infections.
    • Some people pick to the point of needing surgery.
    • It's not just blemishes, it's tissue damage.
How you can help out the Dermatillomanic!
  1. Suggest they seek some help! Less than half of people who suffer dermatillomania go to get treatment for it. 
  2. If they start picking, point it out. A lot of the time they don't realize they are doing it.
  3. Gift them or recommend to them various lotions, loofahs, soaps, and anti-acne things that they can use. Even though people pick with great skin, I at least don't pick as much when I don't notice any bumps or scabs.
  4. Help us keep healthy sleep schedules and keep to other lifestyle things that lessen anxiety and depression. Those are two potential root causes, so helping one helps the other.
  5. Don't comment on how it looks. We try to hide it, bringing up the scabs and blemishes will only make us more self-conscious and therefore more likely to pick.
  6. Hang out and keep us busy! One of the other causes is boredom. The best way to fight boredom is to hang out with somebody. This way we don't become bored and mindlessly find ourselves in a picking session instead of, say, reading a book or going on a walk.
  7. Likewise, if we text you saying we're bored, reminding us of things that we can do like going on a walk or solving a puzzle might stop us from going into a picking session.
My Personal Struggle with Dermatillomania.

I might have technically had dermatillomania for longer than most people because of my keratosis. All I remember from my childhood is when my keratosis would spike, I would scratch at it and then I would get these scabs all over my arms. My peers thought it was chickenpox. Needless to say I was ridiculed for the marks on my skin.

Then came acne. I started to go after my face more than my arms. This did two things. First, my arms had way fewer scabs because I was focusing on my face. Second, my face was battle-ridden from my picking sessions. It still kind of is.

That's the thing, I'm still picking. I go through bad times and good times, but it's still there. Sometimes I make sure to add an extra half hour to my "getting ready for an event" time just so in case I start picking, I'll still be ready on time.

That, by the way, is how you know it's a problem. When you have to maneuver your life around your disorder is when it desperately needs to be managed. It has taken hours out of some of my days. It has decreased my self-esteem. It has increased my anxiety. I'm just glad I have a name for it, really. Nothing like explaining to people why you've been in the bathroom for an hour, picking at your face.

I'm working on trying to take care of it. I've been trying to lessen my anxiety, which I know is a trigger. I've got more than enough things to keep me occupied. And when I go to the bathroom, I set specific rules about what I can and cannot touch on my face. I'm still trying to get into the "wash my face everyday" habit, but I know that will help as well.

Thank you for staying with me until the conclusion of this mental health spotlight! 

It really means a lot to have people listen to all the things that effect you. Making this series is also great because hopefully it's helped spread some awareness on these disorders. At the very least it's put the names out there one more time.

Alex's Journey will continue it's random subject matter as normal, except with an attempt at posting every day. Minus random vanishes, of course. Those are going to happen. But at least now you all know why, right?

Oh, and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the paypal button and a fancy progress bar! From what I know of the car, we have definite transmission issues and potential intake problems. And all the cars problems are expensive, so working towards getting a new car would be beneficial.

That $19 is just me saving so far. After one of my debts is wiped out (FRIDAY!!) hopefully I can make that number climb a little higher. Please consider helping out, it would be much appreciated.

New Car Downpayment
$19$2,500



Want to donate some Shinies?
 
Who is this rad giver?
Note:
 
Note: I heard there was trouble with this donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com

In other news, I'm trying to figure out Minnesota ride stuff. The fiance and I have a ride to MN, but not back. I'm hoping we find one because it's kind of a special weekend. You see, on the 20th, he and I will have been in a relationship for a full year. We plan to go to Baker's Square because that's the place where we first met up. We can't stay until the 20th (a Monday) so we'll be going either that Saturday or Sunday. But as you can see, it's relatively important to me.

Hopefully we'll get a ride. And hopefully they'll have pumpkin pie in stock.

As always, Charmed
-Alexandria

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mental Disorder Series - Depression

We're on day four of five guys! Bear with me! Learn some stuff and help out your friends! Obviously today's subject is probably the most common out of all the subjects you've seen and will see on this blog. (Also, I feel pretty awesome for blogging five days in a row with such huge posts! Because, you know, consistency and writing.)

Let's talk about depression!

What is Depression?

In this post we're going to mostly talk about depression in general, rather than lighting on the different kinds such as bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder.)

Depression is, at the most basic level, a constant feeling of sadness that doesn't just last a couple of days. It can be a series of periodic episodes or it can be a constant feeling. Sometimes it is dull, like a small, grey cloud in the back of one's mind. Other times it is a severe storm which can cause a lot of very unfortunate decisions to be made.

Depression hampers a person's ability to function 'normally' and can lead to problems with work, school, romantic/platonic relationships, or even just general daily existence.

What it does is it puts up a wall in front of positive thought patterns and reroutes ideas to negative thought patterns. We don't purposefully think terrible things, it just comes to us.

Depression is often tied to self-esteem and self-worth, but another huge aspect is quality of life. With self-esteem and self-worth, sadness is rooted in how we feel about ourselves whether it be from our own ideas, societies ideas, or family and peer's ideas. With quality of life, sadness is rooted in how we live our lives. People with low income, people living in abusive situations, people in dead end jobs, they all could easily get depression from quality of life.

Of course, there are always more places it could come from, but those are the three ones often featured.

There are also biological aspects of depression. In fact, according to NIMH, the brains of people with depression and the people without have distinct differences in regards to how they look.

Some signs/symptoms of depression are:

  • Suicidal thoughts (These are NOT necessary to be diagnosed with depression)
  • Loss of interest in activities or just things in general
  • Change in appetite and/or sleep patterns
  • Fatigue/Decreased Energy
  • Difficulty with concentration and memory
  • Persistent sad or empty feelings and thoughts
  • Irritability and restlessness

How does Depression get treated?

Two main ways! Medication and psychotherapy!

Medication tends to be SSRI antidepressants but this varies from individual to individual. In fact, there is almost no way to tell exactly which one will work for you without trial and error. Doctors tend to first try you on the least risky SSRI with a long half-life and then they move on up in risk and complexity until you find something that works. Family history or recommendation may speed up the process as genetics have a correlation, though not exact match, on which medication may work for you.

As for psychotherapy, a lot of people go in for some kind of "talk therapy." The two most common types of therapy for depression are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT.) CBT focuses on thought patterns whereas IPT is more about working with your relationships with others.

Then, don't forget, as with most disorders there is one other way to handle it. Life style changes! Most doctors say you should exercise, get more sunlight, and make sure to sleep at least 8 hours... especially when you have depression! Yes, all that stuff seriously effects your brain chemistry. And of course then there are the other lifestyle changes like being organized and accomplishing goals as well as just plain getting out more.

What you shouldn't say to someone with Depression.

  1. "Just be happy!" - Oh yeah, as if it were really that simple. We cannot change our moods on a whim. I've tried, I really have. I've faked a smile and looked at cute pictures (and videos!) of cats for about an hour before giving up and taking a nap. I've put on comedies. I've tried to think happy thoughts. When you're depressed sometimes you need fuzzy pajamas and tea, not forced smiles and positivity lessons.
  2. "You'll get over it!" - This is a chronic disorder, not an event related sadness. There is nothing to get over. 
  3. Or "Get over it" - Again, there's nothing to get over. Plus, rude. If we could stop being depressed, we really would. Nobody WANTS to be depressed.
  4. Or even "Get over yourself!" - For some reason there's this idea that people who are depressed are really self-centered egoists. I'm not even talking the "killing yourself is selfish" way. (Which, by the way, is another thing you shouldn't say.) Depressed people do have an enhanced level of introspection, especially during episodes, but that doesn't make them selfish. 
  5. "I feel sad sometimes, too." - As stated in this and many other posts, this is not the way to empathize. Sadness is a common and completely okay feeling. Depression is a recurring and painful and extreme level of sadness that changes lives and worlds.
  6. "Stop being lazy." - Depression causes fatigue and apathy, not laziness. Laziness is a term used by people who just think that people simply choose not to do things for no other reason than they don't feel like it. People who are depressed have multiple reasons not to do things.
  7. "You're just seeking attention." - WRONG. If someone is pointing out their depression to you, they're not seeking attention. They're seeking help. And if they are using depression as a means for attention? Then, yet again, they need help. Help them, don't chastise them.


How you can totally help out the clinically Depressed!

It's actually really easy to give depressed people a hand! It's so easy, I can use simple bullet points to describe it! Without even an explanation!

  • Encourage them to seek help for their depression.
  • Give them a nonjudgmental listening ear.
  • Invite them to hang out away from home with you.
  • Go on walks with them.
  • Give them tea, stuffed animals, chocolate, or other simple comfort items.
  • Let them know you're there for them.
  • Let them know everything will be okay.
  • Check up on them to make sure they're taking care of themselves.
  • REMIND them to take care of themselves, like eating.
  • Send them pictures of cats or other adorable things.
  • Send them uplifting videos, quotes, pictures, or stories.
  • Communicate with them.
  • Tell them that they're appreciated.
  • Support them.
  • Help them come up with solutions when they're stuck on a problem.
  • Tell them how great they are.
  • Encourage their talents and passions.
  • Bring them to hang out with pets.
  • Encourage them to learn new things.
  • Help them meet new people.
  • Let them have their moments to decompress and let our their sadness.
  • Make sure they can list at least five positive things about themselves.
  • AND MORE! (Basically, be a good friend.)


My Personal Struggle with Depression.

So I'm already tired as I write this so it won't be as long as the post for anxiety. It might even be about as short as the bit for Focus Disorders! So probably about the length of the one on ODD. Let's find out!

I'm having trouble starting this out. Partially because I'm tired, but also because my depression has sort of just been with me for a majority of my life. Like I can't remember anything that started my depression or when it appeared or anything. For me, it's just kind of been there.

There were times, of course, where I'd have depression rages and I'd text my friends looking for support. There were times where I would cry randomly. There were times I would say screw it all and just go into my bed and sleep all day. It made homework difficult because I could never focus on the work. It made work difficult because the ever present thoughts plagued me. I would lay in bed sometimes simply because I hadn't the motivation to get out of it. I had no interest.

Obviously, my depression is a chronic thing. It goes through ups and downs but it's always there. Sometimes I think I'm good until I have these nagging or intrusive thoughts. I always have this cloud in my brain filled with negative things. It waits for... I don't know what it waits for before it strikes, actually. It's like a complex algorithm that one cannot crack without getting inside my head and visually seeing the variables.

My depression works in conjunction with my anxiety and focus disorder. It's like a weird cycle of emotions and feelings that I don't understand.

See tomorrow for my next mental disorder spotlight!

Oh, and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the paypal button and a fancy progress bar! :) Also, here's a quick update on the situation! The car is currently out of commission until further notice. The coolant was leaking and there's some other problems, too. It'll be drivable for work-related purposes as soon as a couple things are done. So it's not a problem there. Sadly, however, it's showing signs that it's getting to be about that time.

New Car Downpayment
$19$2,500



Want to donate some Shinies?
 
Who is this rad giver?
Note:
 
Note: I heard there was trouble with this donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com

In other news, I learned the game "We didn't playtest this at all." It's basically a card-based micro-game that briefly (very briefly) reminded me of munchkins. On each card is an action, and you do that action. For example, there's a duel card where you play rock, paper, scissors, and if anyone chose rock, they lost. I now need to add this to my list of games to get, along with Munchkin and Cards Against Humanity.

As always, Charmed
-Alexandria