I realised I haven't really posted much of substance in recent weeks -- I've just. Been really busy.
Due to my persisting fear of driving in traffic (since the accident last March), I've been coming into the office for 6AM and not leaving until 7/8PM, except on days when I can leave before 2PM (which is when GTA afternoon rush hour starts gathering steam along the highway I have to take). And even though I'm not expected (or paid) to be working 100% of the time I'm in the office, most of the time I end up doing just that. And it's kind of funny how there's always something that needs doing (or at least improving) when you're management-level. :\ Obviously I don't sit here working for 14 hours straight -- sometimes I nap from 6 to 8:30 (my official start time), sometimes I spend a few hours working on a fannish project or another, but even though I know it's okay and my boss doesn't care what I do as long as all everyday tasks and any urgent issues are taken care of, I still feel vaguely guilty, so often I end up making busywork for myself. :"> But my increased hours have led to a much better organised office, more streamlined procedure, better overall customer support, and, indirectly, higher sales. We just closed a very successful fiscal year last week, and today I will find out about a bonus. :D
The important thing is I have managed to hopefully permanently siphon my generalised fear of driving into situational fear (driving with many cars around, a situation that is avoidable, if not always conveniently) so I am no longer housebound on weekends, as long as I plan my routes carefully and don't go anywhere unfamiliar. The other day I took a wrong turn off a highway and was nearly in downtown Toronto before I realised what was happening -- luckily there was a supermarket parking lot to my right in which I could hyperventilate safely. >.> Downtown driving has always made me nervous, but since the accident I can't even think about it without cringing. But anyway, it is just A Thing now instead of being The Thing that got in the way of me doing pretty much anything last year. Remember, kids: facing your fears is great if you can, but running away from them is likely to be much more beneficial to your mental health. Well, unless you can afford a head shrinker, which I can't, and my insurance company doesn't think there's anything wrong with me, despite two independent diagnoses of clinical depression and specific phobias -- one of the diagnoses came from the shrink the insurance company hired to try and prove there was really nothing wrong with me. Pleh! Anyway, I am very lucky to be in a position to shift my lifestyle to reduce the stress that was keeping me down and miserable.
And reducing the stress has made me able to focus significant effort on taking other steps to mitigate depression, namely paying attention to my nutrition and physical fitness. I've been carefully monitoring my essential nutrient levels for about six months now, which is somewhat dangerous territory for me as I had -- and recovered from -- an eating disorder years ago, and I never ever want to relapse. As obsessive as I tend to get about things, it could be easy for me to slide into focusing on the wrong points, like total calories consumed, instead of on actual nutrient intake, which is what matters. Because I am aware of how easy it would be for me to fall back into a disordered eating pattern, I started really slowly, monitoring micronutrients only for the first while, making sure things like iron, calcium, potassium, sodium, etc were at appropriate levels, which has helped me cultivate (and make habitual) a very healthy diet -- when I finally felt up to looking at macronutrients, it turned out that all I needed was more fat, and when I allowed myself to look at calories, I discovered I was already doing fine.
This has led to increased energy levels and immune system function, paving the way to my finally being able to exercise regularly. I did daily cardio for the first three months, then started adding bodyweight exercises and flexibility training -- dynamic stretching and calisthenics pre-cardio, static stretching post, and in the last month I've been doing circuit training, gradually building up to a strength training regimen that I plan to start in earnest after the summer ends. The circuit training -- I've been doing the 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels -- has wrought things I didn't think possible; I'm down 3 inches all around and I have muscle definition in places I've NEVER had muscle definition, even back when I played sports. I've never carried a lot of extra weight to begin with, so weight loss is not a goal for me, but it's a damn nice bonus. My posture has improved dramatically -- I actually have an extra centimetre of height now, that's how bad it was before. (I had actually forgotten that it was possible for a human to keep her back straight without effort. /o\)
All this is taking a lot of my free time, needless to say, so that's another reason why I've been busy -- but it's not really a question of "no pain, no gain"; I enjoy the time spent exercising because it feels really good, and the fitter I get, the better it feels. The issue now is having to eat more to make sure I have the energy for all this exercise -- it's not that I don't want to eat more; I'd love to, but I'm just not hungry, and it's hard for me to eat when I'm not hungry. I need to eat carbs for expendable energy, so I can't just cheat and eat a handful of peanuts instead of a bowl of rice. I've already swapped half my daily water for fruit juice, but it's not a long-term solution and it won't be enough. I could swap all my whole-grain stuff for white carbs, but then my fibre intake would take a hit and it really wouldn't make that much of a difference energy-wise. I'm not expending so much energy yet that it's a struggle, but when I start the "real" strength training, I'll really need to be careful.
The thing I (or my family doc) can't figure out is why my exercise seems to lead to increased nicotine cravings. :\ Google has been unhelpful -- useless, actually; Google and the research it throws up claim that it should be the opposite.
And yeah, I know I could just take antidepressants, but I am pretty anti-medication and will generally exhaust all alternatives before I take any pill, even Ibuprofen. The fitness/nutrition route is working just as well as it had the last time I had an episode, so. Since I'm making this public and there are as many ways to read a thing as there are possible readers, I would like to stress that this post reflects my experience, not my advice. This is what is working for me; it doesn't mean it will/would work for anyone else, or that anyone else out there is wrong for doing something different.
I'm not happy, but I will be, now that I no longer want to die. Ironically if I didn't have a tendency to get sucked in to fictional storylines, I don't know if that would be true now. I got over the lowest time period in this episode by throwing all my available attention at fiction, mostly of the anime variety. Once my attention was sufficiently diverted from my constantly bleak moods, the sane part of me was able to do enough to effect lifestyle change, and before I realised it, I had no time to brood in dark corners and actually was taking an active interest in my own well-being. (So yeah, if you ever want me to do something I don't want to do, try distracting me with shiny things while you attempt to convince me. Just make sure I don't see through you, because then I'll just get angry and become even more stubborn. Why yes, I do have a mental age of fourteen. /o\)
So, yeah, a steady intake of Bleach, Gintama, Naruto, and One Piece pretty much saved my bacon this time around. Still obsessed with Bleach and, increasingly, Gintama -- it helps that Gintama actually has a fandom full of people who aren't skittish about admitting they love the show/manga instead of spending all their time hating on plotlines, characters, or the creator, like most of Bleach fandom seems to (that I've seen, at least). :| I'm working on a Gintoki/Hijikata novella for pectus_pectoris which is making me even more in love with the pairing than before -- not sure when I'll finish it exactly but sometime before the year's out. There are a few Bleach and Reborn stories that I've been picking away at, but I'm waiting to see how the current Bleach arc plays out before I do any serious work on them, and the Reborn manga has been so disappointing lately that I'm rather half-hearted about the fics.
In HP news, I signed up for hd_canon_fest and asked the mods to surprise me re: prompt. I'm kind of wondering if that was such a bright move, in retrospect, because watch them be evil and assign me a prompt that requires mpreg. D: Oh well, I've
I'm working on three more help_japan fills, all for scrtkpr which I hope to be done with before I leave for Japan in 3 weeks (!!!); two (a LotR stick art comic and some book meta) will be posted here and one is an original story (that I actually really like, for a change) will not be.
I've also been keeping busy with the Two Decades of Ladies tumblelog. The few hours at work that spend doing fannish stuff every once in a while are usually dedicated to this project; I just queue up a bunch of them at once, then when the queue starts running low, I add more. Posts go up 5 times a day (morning to midday EST), and right now it's alternating film/book/tv/comic or video game/animanga, though I'm going to run out of video game characters soon, then comic book characters, then animanga characters, so if you have any to suggest, please feel free to do so here (don't worry about duplicates -- I've got a spreadsheet). The TV character list is the longest right now, so it's possible I'll end up posting 1 TV character a day for a while. I will open it up to submissions once I'm down to the last hundred, but I'm still not sure of the logistics, and I haven't really had time to think about it yet, but I will.
In ~passive fannish news, I've watched Misfits, LOVED it, and am really looking forward to the new season; watched Nurarihyon no Mago (eh, it was ok) and almost done watching Dark Angel (lol latest, I know -- the first season was much better than the second one has been so far) and Soul Eater (I like it, but not enough to be excited -- might change when I have time to pick up the manga); next in line are Sengoku Basara and the new Who, and there's a long list after those, still, mostly anime. I only really have time to watch things when I exercise, though, so the most I watch is 2 episodes of regular TV or 4-5 episodes of anime a day, if that. I've been keeping up with Tiger & Bunny and SKET Dance, plus the Fairy Tail, D.Gray-man and Skip Beat mangas. Nothing's grabbed me fannishly yet, though I adore both Fairy Tail and SKET Dance to ridiculous degrees. I fell off the Idol wagon somewhere after the top 6 -- even Steven Tyler's adorable antics could not make that show less of a snoozefest. I'll give Simon's new show a try next fall -- heard good things about The Voice, but it aired when I had my Japanese classes and I was not motivated enough to go looking for the episodes later. I loved the first season of Game of Thrones and can't wait for A Dance With Dragons next week.
Speaking of Japanese classes, holy shit, you guys, I am going to Japan in THREE WEEKS. Like, three weeks from tomorrow I will be on a plane with incapricious and then meeting with goneril in Tokyo! We'll be there for two weeks. I don't want to talk about it right now because I'll just get too excited and spend the rest of the day reading more about all the awesome places we're planning to go to, but I'll update about it later. I'll have a rented smartphone with unlimited internet during the trip and if all goes well, my Twitter and possibly Tumblr will be active with photos and random tidbits and such. :D :D :D
OK I'd better stop here because I've already been typing for way too long. A lot of this stuff would be normally locked, actually, now that I think of it, but I'm too lazy to make two posts, and I think the fact that I don't mind posting all that stuff above public means I am at a point where I can think of last year's mental horror show in my head as just something that happened to me, rather than as something that still affects me on a deep level. Which is good. I guess that's how I get over things, by filing them into a "shit happens" box. My life.
Summary: I work a lot, I am less crazy than I was a year ago, I've been eating well and working out, I love Bleach, Gintama, HP, and KoL, am consuming inordinate amounts of other entertainment fodder, and I'm going to Japan soon. ^_^