Daily Journal – August 24

It’s a double-page daily today because I went through a mighty struggle, resulting in having a bit more to say than usual.

Daily Journal - August 25

Transcription:

Stressed and anxious. Despair. Woke up prematurely again, feeling completely unrested, unable to fall back asleep. Fitbit reported only 5 minutes of deep sleep in a 6-hour sleep period. Even though I’ve had less than ideal sleep for years, this makes me feel so defeated.

I was so fatigued I couldn’t even get excited about journalling. Without this joy to sustain me, life is bleak and colourless, void of all reason. Hello depression.

Past trauma, self hatred, dissatisfaction with the world, people, situations.

Everything crowds in all at once, as if competing against one another, all clamouring for attention.

I am overcome. My body is weighed down by fatigue, my mind and soul weighed down by anxiety and depression.

So many times in my life, I let it take me. It’s so hard to fight when your body won’t sleep. My energy and strength and willpower don’t get replenished and I’m dipping into reserves I don’t have anymore.

But, today, I fought.

I fought because I started this fight for the nth time and this time I have a journal to complete and streaks to maintain and I’m damned if I don’t last at least the month. Because if I don’t fight it, I go back to drowning in video games and self-loathing, day after day after day.

 

Today’s Wins

  • Did physio, yoga and meditation. Today’s meditation graph is like a captured butterfly desperately trying to break its bonds and fly away.
  • Did some online shopping for groceries and essentials. But that was relatively easy.
  • Did my daily walk, although was cut short at 40 minutes due to hypoglycaemia.
  • Did not have ice cream! I craved it so badly I very nearly gave in. I’m actually very surprised I didn’t. But I didn’t want to ruin my dairy and sugar free streak and somehow I found the strength. A small win, a big step!

 

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For the memories

Sheylara

Exciting times! I have decided to stop being depressed.

But I was being flippant. I don’t decide depression; it decides me. Recently, after months and months of hounding me, it decided to take a break. One day, depression just up and scarpered off on a holiday or something, I don’t know. I hope it gets lost, or kidnapped, or dies of old age, or something, and never comes back.

Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, which is not new. I’ve been thinking too much since I was old enough to, and it’s not a good thing because I can’t ever decide on anything when I can make equally convincing arguments for all sides. This explains why I’ve had so many failed restarts in blogging in the last few years — I keep changing my mind. Also explains why I’m thirty-two kinds of strange.

But never mind all that. What’s significant is that the latest think dictated I must blog again because I’m losing memories. The last few years of my life amount to a series of blank pages because I’d failed to document all the highlights, like I’d done between 2003 and 2013-ish. As a matter of fact, my life before blogging is a lot of blank pages, as well.

That makes me sad. I need to save more memories. We all do!

So, I am now determined to start documenting again, pretending my life is really cool and everything, in millennial fashion, when, in reality, all I do is stay home and obsess over my sad obsessions. But 100-year-old me won’t remember that when I look back on my blogs with nostalgic fondness. All I’ll see and remember is that I was pretty cool. And that’s pretty cool.

In other news, I have a new obsession. It’s desk-bound and rather time-consuming so, I actually don’t know I will have any time left to get up to cool stuff, much less blog about them. But I can blog about my obsession, can’t I? Ooh. Aren’t you so very excited to read all about it?

She said self-deprecatingly.

Can Yanny vs. Laurel explain why autistic people freak out

I think I just discovered my autistic superpower…

I can hear both Yanny and Laurel AT THE SAME TIME without even trying.

:o

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read about the Yanny vs. Laurel debate here. (I won’t judge you for living under a rock because, if I had a choice, I would live under one myself.)

Or, if you can’t be bothered to read, watch this short video:

 

 

Also, if you don’t already know, I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome five years ago, which means I’m autistic and therefore not trying to be rude to autistic people.

I felt moved to write this post because, as I was freaking out trying to find articles explaining why I can hear both words at the same time, and not having any luck — most articles just talk about some people being able to selectively hear one or the other but there’s no mention of both at once — I realised that this phenomenon could explain/illustrate the sensory overload that autistic people experience.

I mean, growing up over the decades not knowing I was autistic and not knowing that sensory overload was even a thing, I put up with it as calmly as I could because I saw that people didn’t generally freak out in public, which meant they were coping, so why can’t I? So I coped by writing emo poems about our strange world that is too bright and too loud (and too smelly). I lived my life trying very hard to fit in because it was the only thing I knew to do.

 

Jigsaw piece trying to fit into the puzzle

 

But now I know that this stress that lives in me almost 24/7 isn’t typical. Every autistic person experiences things differently, or has the same experiences with varying degrees of intensity, so don’t think we’re all the same, but I’ll attempt to explain sensory overload.

When I’m in a group situation (party or meeting, for example) and many people are talking at once, it’s difficult for me to concentrate on one voice and tune out the rest. I hear everything. But because all the voices overlay, plus there might be music, it’s all a noisy garbled mess and I find it difficult to follow any one conversation. Trying to isolate a conversation or a specific action to focus on tires me out very quickly. I’m often completely drained and useless when I get home from an outing.

I’m extra sensitive to light and sound and smell and can feel everything at once, the same way I can hear Yanny and Laurel at the same time. So, in particularly vibrant scenarios (people, traffic, light, noise, pollution), all the sensory elements rush into me like a herd of panicked elephants stampeding through a field, tearing up all the wild vegetation. Sometimes it gives me vertigo. Sometimes I have a meltdown. Mostly, I’m just stressed and anxious inside, trying to keep it together.

This means I’m not great at social events. If I have to go anywhere, I fare better in quieter places. And, the few people, the better. Alcohol helps me dull the senses and then things get a bit more manageable but I don’t generally enjoy the taste of alcohol so it’s not a big help.

 

Dizzy alcohol bottles

 

I was joking when I talked about having a superpower. I mean, heightened senses could be seen as a kind of superpower, like in Daredevil, and I relate to his need to sleep in a coffin of water, but my “ability” is not that advanced so what I have is more a hindrance than anything else. Besides, I can’t do fancy martial arts, which I totally regret.

But the point I want to make is, if you read all the scientific explanations in the Yanny vs. Laurel debate, you’ll learn that most people automatically tune out whatever they don’t need to see or hear or feel. Their brains filter out all the noise, presenting them with only what they need to experience.

Also, there are people who have smaller hearing capacities so they literally can’t hear some frequencies so, by default, the world is already a quieter and calmer place for them.

I don’t know if all autistic people have the same frequency hearing as I do but I know that for most of us, if not all, our brains either don’t have sensory filters, or our filters function at varying low capacities, so we end up experiencing sensory overload.

I’d be interested to find out if anyone else who has autism can also hear Yanny and Laurel at the same time. And, take note, I’m not saying that you’re autistic if you can; you’ll need to fulfil a lot more criteria to receive an autism diagnosis.

I’m just saying that this Yanny vs Laurel debate is a great way to raise awareness for one of the invisible struggles that people with autism face. In fact, we have many invisible struggles which make us appear weird without a visible explanations, but I’ll stop here for now.

So, which camp are you in? Yanny? Laurel? Alternating both? Or Encompassing both?

 

Yanny vs. Laurel

 

The eulogy I couldn’t give

This is the post I’ve been wanting to write but also never wanted to write.

I suppose it’s fitting that I should be typing this on my shiny new rose gold MacBook, the last gift from my father.

Some months ago, as he lay in hospital in unending pain, waiting for meaningless days to pass, waiting for the cancer to go away, I sat by him, sometimes in helpless silence, other times with useless chatter.

That day, I told him I was thinking of buying a new MacBook because I thought it would be nice to sit in my new garden to write when I eventually got back to the business of writing.

This was in September 2017 and Piers and I had just moved to the countryside in England, into a pretty English cottage with a pretty garden. Or, more accurately, Piers had moved to the countryside in England all by himself because I was at the time in Singapore to be with my dad.

“Let me buy you the MacBook,” dad said.

“Oh, no, don’t worry about it,” I said, “I haven’t even decided.”

“I want to buy you one,” he said.

Then he made me promise I would go home that night and use his credit card to buy it.

Six weeks after that, he left us.

 

I was never able to completely appreciate the grief that one goes through after the loss of a loved one, even though my mum had passed away when I was 11. Then, I just felt a little lost and a bit mad, but I got over it pretty quickly.

Now, I know.

My dad’s passing has been a completely different monster. Trauma has weaved its tendrils all over me and sunk its hooks right into my soul. The pain flares up during the most innocent moments. I would be doing something inconsequential, like maybe drinking a glass of water, and I’d suddenly remember that I would never see my dad again. Never hear him laugh, never listen to his passionate discourses on the finer points of political propaganda, never taste another meal he has cooked with love.

It is frightful.

Saying goodbye is frightful.

The biggest fear in my life had always been to lose my dad because he became my everything when I lost my mum as a child. I suppose in compensation he tried to give me and my brother everything he had and everything we wanted. He was the kind of father who would give the best parts of a chicken to his children and eat the parts nobody else wanted. He was miserly to himself but overly generous with us. He would not spend a single cent more than he needed to on himself so that he had more to give us.

I carry a lifelong scar of guilt over being frivolous with money at my dad’s expense.

Financials aside, he was also my fount of wisdom and safe haven. He could answer every question, solve every problem and cure every ill, from my perspective. He was my Google and Wikipedia before Google and Wikipedia existed. Every time something broke in the house, I just had to holler for him and it would be magically fixed before you knew it. When I got lost driving (this was in the days before GPS or sat nav), it didn’t matter where I was, I only had to call him and he would immediately know how to direct me home.

Once, I got his Mercedes scratched really badly and thought the world had surely ended, but he didn’t scream at me or ground me for two years. Instead, he bought me my own car. When I got my own car scratched really badly, he just sighed quietly and got it fixed.

He spoilt me beyond rotten, but I think I still turned out to be a good person (albeit quite helpless at times) because he never stopped lecturing us on the values he deemed important: Honesty, punctuality, gratitude, kindness, education, reliability, hard work and perseverance. He slipped these lessons into our lives every opportunity he had without being naggy. In fact, he never once nagged. He just trusted us to always do the right thing.

Even when we didn’t always make the right choices, he was always supportive. For example, he would give me lectures but he never stopped me from pursuing what to some may be considered frivolous pursuits: acting, modelling, blogging. He revelled in my triumphs and soothed my failures (often with more lectures in the art of perseverance).

The knowledge that he is gone forever is horrifying beyond words.

But what haunts me the worst is the knowledge that he really wanted to live. For two years, he fought multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer, never once giving up, even when the pain was unending and unbearable, largely due to his refusal to take his pain meds for fear of damaging his kidneys.

My dad loved life and fought very hard to keep it, so it’s all the more heartbreaking that, in the end, after enduring all that suffering, he still lost the one thing he really wanted: To live a long life all the better to enjoy the family that he’d worked so hard all his life to provide for.

He was looking so much forward to coming to England for a long holiday because he loved gardens and gardening and was so thrilled when Piers and I bought our new home. I would have liked to have written this in the garden like I’d talked to him about, but it’s the middle of winter and rainy all the time. Everything is grey and drab outside, which I guess is fitting for the mood.

My dad reluctantly succumbed to cancer on 3rd November 2017. I was given the opportunity to speak at his funeral but I didn’t take it because speeches are not my thing. In an alternate world where I am not the scaredy cat that I am here, I would have done it.

In this world, though, I’m a writer, so all I have is a written eulogy.

Goodbye, dad. If I could be half as brilliant as you, half as successful as you, and half as selfless as you, I would want for nothing more, except to have you be around again. I wish you didn’t have to go so soon, I really do. Thank you for everything and I’m sorry.

 

Family

 

 

Not the last post ever

Ok, let’s try this again.

As I have done many times in the last few years of intermittent blogging, I considered quitting altogether because, nowadays, it’s just very, very difficult for me to sit down and write.

Besides genuine lack of time and also genuine inertia, I think I’ve got writephobia.

I mean, there’s an actual scientific word for that (graphophobia) but I’m sure it’s very obscure and people would probably understand me better if I made up my own word.

Obviously, I don’t have the condition for reals since I have gone and written this, haven’t I? It’s just whenever I think to sit down and write, I instead want to cry, sleep, eat something unhealthy, stab myself with something sharp or puke all my insides out.

Of course, I don’t usually do any of these things because they’re counterproductive. So I give in to the old survival instinct and run far, far away from my computer. I do sometimes end up running to the snack cupboard.

But today I succeeded in scaring myself with the possibility that the previous post I published six months ago would be the last ever post on my blog. It’s a stupid post and will stay in prime position on my blog FOREVER, or until the internet dies.

It is certainly not ideal, so I thought I would fix it by writing a really good post to end things. Except this isn’t at all a good post so maybe I can’t end things just yet.

We’ll see.

Thing is, although I have stopped publishing posts for yonks, my mind has kept on writing. It won’t stop, the stupid noodle. My mind makes words all the time, so I’ll be thinking, why don’t I move my stupid ass to my keyboard and transfer all these lovely mind words to the screen because how hard can that be?

Then the mind will be, like, yeah, maybe, hmm, naaaah, OH I feel a vomit coming.

Even now, I’ve got a Jekyll and Hyde situation going on. Half my mind is spitting this nonsense out while the other half is thinking RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

Now, you think I’ve gone mad. But I can assure you that I’ve always been like that.

You’d perhaps want to quietly unfriend me on Facebook. I would never find out because I have 1,646 friends, of whom probably 95% are strangers. Damn social media games. My Facebook newsfeed has become a cesspit of horror and it is now a bit scary to visit.

Anyway, I have digressed so much from the main point I wanted to make that I can’t even remember what the point was.

Oh, I think I just wanted to say hello, peace and sanity to all.

Also, happy 8th day of 2018.

I will write more. Unless Hyde wins again.