Month In Review: December 2016

December flew by. This month, I finished all of my classes for university and have officially completed my transcript! I won’t have my diploma until June 2017, but…

I’m done university!!!

I’m so thrilled to be done. It’ll be a tough road once I get into 2017. There are some administrative things that I need to do regarding my loan, which I’m not looking forward to. But I’m excited to set out on my journey into the workforce doing freelance projects.

Really, I spent most of the month in a blur. My dissociation has been very strong this month, along with my depression (both the mental illness depression and the return to my natural hormone cycle, since I stopped birth control last month). I did my studying and my exams, which all went well, and… can’t remember what else I did.

This week, I’ve been binge-watching a Chinese drama called Ice Fantasy (which you’d know if you follow me on Twitter #selfpromo), and let me tell ya… It has been incredible. I’ve been inspired by it so much. The show adapts a Chinese book, is produced in China, and stars an east-Asian cast (the main cast is all Chinese except for one Korean woman who has been phenomenal). It’s been refreshing to get away from all the European fantasy. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy.

I’m not going to talk much about Christmas. The holiday season is very, very difficult for me and my family. My main gift this year was a new keyboard. In October, the hand-me-down keyboard gave out, and I was borrowing one from my boyfriend’s family. But now… I have a new, very shiny mechanical keyboard. I picked the Corsair Strafe with brown switches so I could light up the keys differently depending on what I do. (Writing at night, the shortcuts I use the most in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign… That kind of thing!) It’s so nice to have my own keyboard for the first time in my life. I’ve shared family computers, and I’ve been given hand-me-down keyboards when I got my desktop. So I love having a keyboard that only I will wear down.

I’m visiting family until some time in January, so my blog posts will be a bit less until then. I’ll probably get a New Year’s goals post out, like I did last year. I’m doing goals differently this year.

May we all find peace in some form, whether it is hope for the future or acceptance of the present, as we reach the end of 2016. ♥

I’m Not Doing Great

This is a spontaneous blog post.

But I’m not doing the greatest lately. I’d say since my rabbit died. PTSD makes events like death, loss of other forms, and stress a whole heap harder. This hasn’t been my first grief and mourning. That’s probably what makes it hard. My sadness has been compounded.

And I am one of little faith. It’s hard for me to hear the phrases, “They’re in a better place now,” and feel comfort. I struggle to be a spiritual person, despite the fact that I know it helps me. Not religion–never religion. But spirituality… I need it. And I haven’t been able to practise it in any way.

I’m trying to find places to lay blame. Sources where I can say, “Yes, if I stop this, it’ll stop the flow of horrible lethargy.” But the thing is, there are no sources outside of my head. It’s all in my head. It’s all going on in the mush in my skull. My boyfriend is on anti-depressants and thinks they would benefit me.

I don’t think anti-depressants would help me.

The ball-and-chain isn’t just the lethargy. It’s a long metal linkage of trauma, paranoia, hallucinations, forgetfulness, depression, and lethargy.

I’d go back to therapy, but it was offered through my school. And I’m no longer in school. I don’t think I have the funds to seek out additional therapy–and let’s be real here, I don’t want to have to unpack two decades of crap again to someone who might not be helpful.

I’m trying to remember the things I learned from therapy. I’m trying to remember the things that helped me. I’m trying to remember that I have the tools to get better. I’m trying to remember. I’m trying to remember how it feels to be a person again. I’m trying to feel okay again.

Last Day of University Classes Ever

I feel like I’m being born again. Or, rather, I’m approaching a rebirth. I’ll come out screaming, crying, and helpless, but with more knowledge and contextual fear than any infant that ever existed.

I’m more excited than scared, but I’m still scared. I have been in educational institutions since I was four years old. I went straight from high school to university, moving out in the process, living in a city I’d been to once, five hours away from everyone I knew. 

I’m mostly scared because of the financial problems I know I’ll end p facing. I’m in so much debt, and it’s hard to think all that money is worth anything when your degree doesn’t exactly have a “field” and any related careers can’t pay off that money in a reasonable amount of time.

I never had a job when I was in high school. It wasn’t a viable option. My parents’ work schedules were hectic, along with the personality of one of them; so even if I did manage to overcome my depression and anxiety, land a job, and mingle it with trying to stay in school, getting to and from shifts would be unstable. I didn’t work through univesity for the same reason: it wouldn’t have been accessible.

I always feel like a cop-out when I say that my mental health issues have hindered me from getting jobs. I have friends who are depressed, who have bipolar disorder, who have anxiety issues, and yet they hold jobs. They’veee had jobs. They work multiple jobs. They’re doing something that I can’t, and I feel like I should be able to. Like my mental illness can’t be a good reason for not working a shit job at Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s or in retail–all in the service sector, because that’s the only place you can really work if you don’t have a degree and a few years of experience.

But I need to remind myself that I’m my own person, and they’re all their own people. We’re different. The feedback has been unanimous, too, when I talk to them about this: I would be terrible at working in the service sector. I would hate a job like a cashier or fast food cook. I would end up being fired, really, because it wouldn’t be a good fit for me and the company would be able to hire someone else who could do a better job.

That’s a hard concept for me to reconcile. The fact that everyone I know has understood what I’m someone trying to reject: that I’m not suited for a certain type of work–the work that seems to me to be the “gateway” into the workforce. It isn’t like I’m not good enough and that I’m somehow less of a human, or less capable. These types of jobs wouldn’t work for me. 

I’m writing this post in my last class. It’s “Introduction to Rhetoric.” It’s okay. I don’t have anything to complain about. Frankly, I don’t have a lot to complain about when it comes to my university career. The one thing I can complain about, though, is the most frustrating: the creative writing courses. I applied to this university, this program, specifically because of those classes. And they were a huge disappointment. I feel like I’ve wasted my time. It’s hard to see the non-monetary value of my experience when it costed so much money.

I’m being birthed into the world again, ignorant of so much, but it isn’t as huge of a celebration or explosion as it might otherwise be. It’s quite bitter and extremely relieving, and I am very unenthused about being done. Well, I’m excited to be done because I’m looking forward to not being in school. But I’m not super thrilled about the “accomplishment” I’ve achieved. I think someone else could have done this experience better than me. 

I guess I’m feeling worthless agin. Standard day in my life, even the last day of my university classes.

Bullet Journal Notebook Follow-up Review

A worn-out black notebook that says "Matte Black" on the cover.

Well, this book only lasted 3 months and I’m preparing to start a new 7 x 10 inch book (from the same company) in 2017. For December, I’m not going to be doing bullet journaling to the degree I did the past 3 months.

So how did the book hold up?

Well, compared to how it looked in the original review post, it doesn’t look too bad. I’m glad that it didn’t constantly fall open!

Here are a few pictures of the wear on the outside!

A worn-out black notebook that says "Matte Black" on the cover.

Close-up of open pages that are slightly swollen from usage.

Close-up of a worn-out spine of a black notebook.

Side-view of a closed notebook, the cover with lots of smudges.

As for the interior, I have a few other posts that show my layouts. (Here is one post for monthly spreads in October and another post for weekly and daily logs.) I’m incredibly pleased with how the paper handled my pens. There is next to no ghosting or transfer!

As such, that’s why I’ve purchased another Productive Luddite “Every Day Carry” book in the dot grid style. Since it’s from the same line, the new book also has 100 pages like the one I just finished. The new book is bigger, though, measuring 7 x 9 inches. The one I just finished measures 6 x 9 inches. A one inch difference shows up more than you’d think, especially in a dot grid.

I’m excited to set up through December. Expect a post on the new notebook in the new year! New new new~

15 Months of Birth Control And Why I Stopped

I started oral contraceptives—birth control pills—in September 2015, and stopped in the third week of November 2016. I was on Alesse’s 21-day packet that included 7 days “off” that lacked the hormonal contraceptives and was supposed to simulate a period.

Why I started

Well, the most obvious reason was the sexual health and not getting pregnant. But my PMS symptoms were getting really bad. The change in hormone levels made me moody and really affected my depression. In a way, I used the birth control as a form of mental health: I was not capable of handling the emotional changes that come with menstruation. For the first few months of 2016, I went to therapy once a week and finally learned some tools to deal with my mental illness. The birth control helped to balance out everything, and I was able to get more in-tune with how my emotions and mental state were affected by hormones. It was easier for me to see what was depression, binge-eating, and trauma—and what was simply change in hormones. My acne was also causing me a lot of stress and body image issues, and I knew taking birth control could help with that.

How it affected me

I knew I would go through a transition phase as my body got used to the change in hormones. It lasted 3 months, actually, and my withdrawal bleeding (like a period, but an egg doesn’t get released) was incredibly sporadic. My mood was also very up and down, although mostly up. But aside from that, I felt fairly normal. I moved around when I took the contraceptives and the placebo pills a few times, to coincide with when I’d be seeing my boyfriend, or to stretch out the pack until my next refill. The only downside was the 7-days-off: I would have breakouts more easily, my overall body odour was a lot stronger, and the bleeding was a bit sporadic. Sometimes the withdrawal bleeding (the simulated period) would come a few days before the 7-days-off pills; sometimes not at all; sometimes longer than the placebo pills; and sometimes just as scheduled. I thought this was caused by the change-arounds I did, but it happened when I was taking the pills on a schedule too.

Why I stopped

First and foremost, my coverage and prescription both ended and I would have been paying about thrice as much for the pills. But I decided not to get a refill for reasons other than finances. I want to see how my mental health would be with the natural hormone balance in my body. I’m also curious to see how my skin handles the difference. The main reason, though, was to get out of the 7-days-off transition. It was a little unpredictable, with the odour, acne, and bleeding. I could look into different brands with different levels of estrogen/progesterone, but I don’t want to go through the larger normalisation period again, or risk a birth control pill that doesn’t work or have more intense negative reactions with me. I also felt that nearly a year and a half was a good span of time considering the reasons I went on to the pill. I also kind of missed having my period, complaining about cramps, and the joy of wearing cute panties again without fear.

If I need to in the future, I would definitely go back onto the pill. I might not use the same brand, but I might stick with it just because I know what to expect.