I’m coming to the end of a long first week of something I thought I’d never get myself involved in: the Atkins diet.
My boyfriend’s brother talked the two of us into it. Saying he would do the cooking may or may not have been a huge factor in my agreement, but I’ll admit – I didn’t think it was going to be this difficult. I now have a fridge and pantry full of food I can’t eat, I work in a restaurant that serves Italian food, and I can’t even explain to you how difficult it is to set aside the buns when I order a double bacon cheeseburger during my occasional lunch out. (I recently discovered Hardee’s has a “low-carb” option where they will wrap your sammich in a bunch of lettuce leaves, instead of bread, which is definitely helpful).
I’m keeping a stash of Atkins shakes and bars at work so I don’t feel tempted to eat a butt-ton of garlic bread in a moment of weakness, and I don’t have to give up my beloved Diet Coke or tea (although the latter I can no longer put honey in). I think if I were doing this by myself, or doing the cooking/meal planning myself, it would be a lot more difficult, but thankfully my boyfriend is a good partner for this, and essentially all I have to do is wait around for someone to feed me. I’ve already lost 5lbs, so there’s something. ^_^
My daily routine has finally fleshed itself out; since coming to the revelations that I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recognized the need for a routine, even just to keep myself mentally stable and acceptably sociable. Five days a week, I get up and make breakfast pretty early in the morning. My boyfriend picks me up on his way to work, and I walk three blocks to the coffee shop just south of ISU’s campus. The employees already know what I want and where I sit, and usually what I’m reading at the time. I tend to alternate between writing and reading, and then at noon I meet my boyfriend for lunch. Usually there is more reading, or some errand-running, afterward, and then most days I go to work at 4pm. It’s a full day – or at least, it feels like it to me – but I get a little bit of exercise, and don’t feel like I’m hiding in my apartment, which makes leaving my apartment for other things much easier. Most of my friends are gone from the summer, so the social interaction I get from the employees here is pretty crucial. also, I have a place with few distractions where I can work and be more or less left alone.
In the past week I’ve blown through Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84. I fell in love with Murakami just after I graduated high school in 2007, and I try to read one of his novels at least once a year. They’re a bit of a challenge, so I always need a lengthy break between them. 1Q84 was absolutely lovely, although at times I did find myself kind of wishing things would move slightly faster. At almost 1,200 pages, it was a bit of work, especially after having read mostly pop lit for the last year or two, but I got through it and was thoroughly satisfied. Five stars, hands down. You can pick it up for Kindle for about $13 bucks on Amazon, or just through down a little bit more for a paperback copy that will also double as a doorstop.
(Also, for the record, it is entirely acceptable to refer to this book as “1984.” “Q”, or “kyoo”, is the pronunciation for the Japanese word for “nine.” Those Japanese sure do love their puns. Haha. Stop it.)
Now that my brain has successfully been challenged, I’ve decided to let it relax with some significantly more “fun” reading. I dropped by the library and picked up Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen novels (I enjoy Pride and Prejudice, but Sense and Sensibility is more my thing), and this looks like, while not particularly deep, it will be a pleasant experience during which I can let my brain relax from the Iron Man-esque marathon I ran it through with Murakami. The book currently feels like a slightly AU (alternate universe) Austen-esque novel. You can follow my progress on Goodreads, and feel free to friend me! I’m always looking to share and receive book recommendations.
I’ve chosen not to push myself on the writing, given the problems I’ve been having over the last couple of years with it. Instead of holding myself to a specific daily wordcount, I’m choosing to sit down and write as much as I feel like I can, twice a day. If it’s a sentence, or five pages, then that’s a great thing. Even this blog post will probably be most of what I can manage today, but at least it’s something. I’m hoping to gradually “work out” my writing muscle a little bit every day, until this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’ve been thinking about applying to be an ML, but we’ll see how I feel. I don’t want to push myself too hard. Like I’ve been handling my issues: do what I can, and try a little bit every so often to do a little more. No punishment or shame if the “new” thing doesn’t pan out… just try again later. My comfort zone needs to expand, but it doesn’t have to explode.
Having run out of things to say, I will leave you with this .gif I found on tumblr. I guess I should also say I loved Star Trek Into Darkness? I’ll talk about that more next time, I supposed. I’ve got a lot of things to say, but I’m still digesting, so to speak.
Here you go.
I’ve been beating around the bush with this for a while, but my writing has been pretty stalled for the last couple of years.
Yeah, I get things done. Sort of. I have a hard time starting things, and continuing with them. Lately the people I’m close to and I have been talking about my high levels of anxiety, and we’re coming to the conclusion that I probably have an anxiety disorder, and while I don’t have the emotional symptoms of depression, I seem to have the physical symptoms of it. The signs started showing up around puberty, when I was in middle school and I went from having lots of friends to having very few, and getting picked on a lot, and my grades went from awesome to embarrassing for everyone involved. Grades were always something I struggled with, usually passing my classes by the skin of my teeth all the way through high school, and college was a real test of not necessarily my abilities, but my emotional and mental endurance. It was hard. Not the classwork, really, but just being involved was exhausting. I skipped a lot of classes not because I overslept or couldn’t make it, but because I could not muster the emotional and mental fortitude to even get out of bed and into the shower. Going from my kitchen table to the car seemed like a daunting task. Sometimes I didn’t go because I had no clean laundry; putting things in a basket, walking across the parking lot, and putting my things in a machine was just too much for me to comprehend, even on a Saturday when I didn’t have to work.
I still deal with this. If I can handle the socially nerve-wracking experience of committing to a social activity outside of my home with someone who is not my boyfriend, it’s about a fifty-fifty chance – sometimes not even that good – that an hour before the activity I will come up with an excuse to back out; not because I’m busy, or don’t want to, but because the idea of leaving my home to see a movie, grab some lunch, go sit on someone else’s couch and read a book… “overwhelming” is the only word I can really think of. A couple of persistent friends will drag me out of my place anyway, and usually when that happens I DO enjoy myself, and am glad that I went out… unless overwhelming anxiety over whether I can find at seat at Panera while I’m waiting in line makes it necessary for me to leave, even though I can see an empty table for two from where I’m standing. (That actually happened last week, which is when I started to realize I have a problem.)
Socially and academically, I’ve been dealing with this crap for most of my life. My friends and family have learned what I can and can’t handle, sometimes better than I have, and accommodate me when necessary and push me when I need it. It has gotten worse in some areas and better in others, and I’m looking into seeing a psychiatrist to figure out what exactly may be going on with me, and how we can fix it. My trichotillomania, mild tachycardia, panic attacks, nightmares, and social anxiety are likely all symptoms of one thing, instead of being all separate issues by themselves.
The most devastating symptom of this, however, has been fairly recent, within the last few years: writing has become a struggle.
I remember in high school and my first few years of college, the words just spilled out of me, and I didn’t even have half as much to say as I do now. By my junior years, though, it was like a dam had been built up. The words were there… but they weren’t coming out. Trying to organize a plot – in my head, on paper, visually or verbally, any way you like – feels like trying to do pre-calc in my head in a room full of screaming toddlers. For the last three years, I’ve been writing and re-writing the same ten chapters of my novel – the ten chapters I managed to get down on paper before the dam set in. It’s not writer’s block – I’ve had that before, and I know what it feels like. I still love writing, and I can’t see myself doing anything else, but anymore when I sit down to write I feel the same way I do an hour before a pre-planned social engagement. I have so much that I want to put down on paper, I have so much to say, but if my brain had a tongue it would have developed a debilitating speech impediment. The process has become so slow and painful and frustrating, especially because I know what I want to say and how I want to say it and for some reason it just won’t come out.
So, that’s what I’m working on right now. If I can finally finish Resurrection this summer, great. If all I can churn out is one or two pieces of flash fiction a week, great. If all I have to show at the end of every Friday is one entry in my diary, then… that’s progress. That’s improvement.
I’ve got a lot of hope, though, and it’s in the realization that something in my brain isn’t working right. I thought the way I feel every day, my average state of mind, my “normal” was the same as everyone else’s “normal.” Now that I realize, no, it’s not… that means that it’s possible for me to feel better, to get better. And that’s pretty exciting. That means I’m just stalled, not totaled, to go with an automobile metaphor.
So I’ll keep trying. I’m not going to give up on myself, or my stories. I hope you won’t, either, those of you who have stuck with this blog through it’s stops and starts and hiatuses and lord-knows-what-else I’ve pulled. Knowing that someone actually cares about what I have to say, and what I have to write, is what keeps me trying at this. 🙂