The past few weeks have been a lot. I won’t go into detail because despite this being a personal blog, the events of the past few weeks are simply a little too personal and too close to home to want to share in their full detail. Needless to say, I have been stressed and likely more so than I have in years. At times, it’s easy to forget that stress is a biological response not just a psychic phantom. The body responds to stress poorly and I think we tend to forget that when we ache and feel rundown while being under constant pressure.
I wanted to explore what was feeling and I hope that in sharing and being vulnerable that you all take a moment to think about the stress in your life and how it’s affecting you. With that being said, here is where I felt my stress the most.
Nausea, loss of appetite, increased appetite, food being unappealing
I won’t go into gruesome details here but when people say that you “trust your gut” part of that is because your stomach is a vital part of the system that stress can impact. The past few weeks have been marred with upset stomachs, wanting to eat everything in sight, wanting to eat nothing at all and just generally not feeling well. I remember feeling similarly when my mother passed away and being shocked because I simply hadn’t correlated the shock and trauma of losing my mother as a contributing factor to my then deteriorating health. I’ve been able to feel better by eating when I’m hungry, drinking water and the occasional ginger candy but I’m still working hard to handle my messed up gut biome.
Headaches, dizziness, vertigo
I’m not usually a headache sufferer, only when my blood pressure is too high. So with the recent swaths of severe light-sensitive headaches that can’t be linked to high blood pressure I had to assume that of course, it was the stress. I would get dizzy if I stood too quickly and had to bury under the blankets to avoid light (a perfect place for a depressed person) and I exhausted almost all of my cold compresses just to keep the feeling of blood rushing in between my ears at bay.
Back pain, stiffness
When I’m stressed out I don’t tend to move. I’ll post up in one place and remain there until a biological function usually forces me to move. I stay in that one uncomfortable place for so long that my already ailing back typically grows sore from having to keep me either hunched over, sitting in some kind of impossible twist or laying down in the most inelegant position humanly possible.
Insomnia, fatigue, racing thoughts, obsessive thoughts, negative self-talk
The brain is a cruel hunk of tissue sometimes. The worst part about having mental health issues is knowing that you’d never let your friends talk to themselves the way you talk to yourself. I’m fortunate that I’ve had a network of friends and family propping me up and motivating me and reminding me that I am not a sad miserable slug who doesn’t deserve happiness and I’d truly be lost without them. It was the fatigue I couldn’t deal with at first then the fact that once I tried to sleep that I just couldn’t. Fortunately, I’m on medicine for that now and my nights can be somewhat restful albeit very artificially but I can sleep even if it is often dreamless and rarely restful.
The last few weeks have been hard. The state of the world is…well, it is, my personal life is not what it was and I am nostalgic for a version of my home, my family and myself that likely truly never existed. But in thinking about all the ways stress impacts me and my choices and my body I’ve been working hard to be more mindful and intentional about the choices I make. And in that mindfulness, I have been able to get much more done: like finishing up this blog post.
This video is much better enjoyed having watched the Stromae music video first:
Please enjoy this hilarious and informative panel on how to be the best possible writer through research from AnimeFest 2021.
Today is my Blogging Anniversary and 9 years ago when I started this blog as a mandatory assignment during my time in university: I would never have guessed the highs and lows this journey has taken me on.
I’ve written about my darkest moments, my highest highs, my life and times and the world as it was.
I got canceled by guinea pig stans, finished college, got my first career job, fell in and out of love and coped with the loss of my mother and father.
Thank you all for joining me on this journey. I wouldn’t be here without you.
Weeks after the death of my mother, I fled the country. I laughed, I smiled. I enjoyed Innsbruck, Austria. I drank, enjoyed time with friends, studied and improved myself.
Weeks later, I would have an emotional breakdown in an Italian cemetery while draped over the bust of a long dead Italian general. I was grieving during the entire thing but I may not have looked like I was grieving. I never said much about missing my mom, rarely complained about my sadness or depression and to the untrained eye, I was just a young woman out enjoying her college years.
I watch a lot of true crime, like…too much true crime; and one common thread I keep noticing is that there is a lot of attention paid to how someone grieves. Especially in shows focused on female murderers like Deadly Women. Cases where women are involved are particularly rife with commentary about women moving on with their lives too quickly, or remarrying too quickly or trying for another baby too quickly or even just appearing to be normal too quickly.
Not to defend women who have murdered their families but…what that even means puzzles me to this day. Even when my father died 20 years ago I went back to school as soon as possible, continued in extracurricular activities as soon as possible, sought routine as soon as possible. Hell, the day of, my aunts took me to the zoo as no one was quite sure how to break the news to me yet that my father had passed on. I remember that morning being one of the happiest of my life coated in fun safari animals, sweets and laughter until I came home to see my mother crying and surrounded by all of her friends. After that I don’t think I truly processed any of his passing until months later as I was literally 11 years old. What was my grief meant to look like?
Was I supposed to throw myself into the grave with my father? Was I supposed to weep? Was I supposed to skip months of school and put my young life on hold? Better yet, let’s compare to my mother because at least by then I was a 20 year old college student. I was told frequently that I was brave for going back to school and possibly even a little reckless for studying abroad. I was told that I should take more time but I never understood what I should be doing with that time. I apparently wasn’t meant to be spending that time out or with friends, I shouldn’t have gone to school, I wasn’t supposed to like going shopping or enjoy pancake soup in Innsbruck.
I was supposed to sit and grieve I suppose in the most dramatic sense of the word. I should have been ripping my hair out and sobbing and building semi-pagan altars to my dead mother and wearing a locket with a piece of her shorn hair in it.
Not to say I didn’t cry, sure I did. I cried a lot. I was catatonic one day in college because I just hadn’t processed anything but one thing that I kept thinking of day to day as I missed my mom, arranged funeral plans, called family and kept friends in the loop was that I missed my routine and was desperate to return to it. Sometimes grieving was laughing at jokes that only my family understood or eating peach cobbler in the kitchen and demanding that it was to only be served with Bluebell ice cream. Sometimes grieving was telling my friend that he couldn’t cry during the service knowing that I’d lose it if he did. Sometimes grieving was picking the song list for my mother’s service with my grandfather’s in mind and choosing to bury her catholic despite what would likely be her wishes. Grieving was deciding to donate her organs moments after her death knowing that it would be the one decent thing my mother could do after having died in the most dramatic way possible.
My grief didn’t look normal because normal for grief doesn’t exist. Everyone processes things differently and everyone moves on differently. Some never truly move on at all.
I didn’t see the announcement right away. I heard about it from a youtuber I’ve never heard of and raced to my own Twitter to confirm. The news still has me a little shaken in the way that only a parasocial relationship can. Lindsay Ellis has quit making videos and has quit social media entirely. While at first I was shocked as this felt sudden, after her Mask Off video and her canceling over a pretty non-problematic opinion; I can honestly say I’m not surprised. I wanted to quit after my pretty mild canceling and I’ve always said if this is mild, I can’t even fathom what it’s really like and the truth is: because of Lindsay Ellis and Natalie Wynn, I can and it’s terrifying.
But while I could lament and grieve for an entire post, I want to spend this time thanking Lindsay Ellis. So let’s get into that.
I knew Lindsay first as the Nostalgia Chick under the now very Channel Awesome umbrella. She was snarky and sullen and a critic: like me. And at that time I meant the old school critic where basically you just hated everything but with “reasons”. I love that she readily called out the sexism in media and I thought she was a great foil to the Nostalgia Critic whomst I did at one time unfortunately find funny.
It took me a while to come around to some of her solo content under her name: Lindsay Ellis. They were mostly think pieces but at the time shorter and more about comparing different versions of the same character in various mediums. I thought they were mostly funny but nothing that really sold me on her brand. That would change when Lindsay started making video essays and goddammit did I find my bread and butter with that. Lindsay was biting and intelligent and used sources and resources that seemed only rivaled by her friend Contrapoints, another video essayist and thinker I admire greatly. At the height of “Breadtube” greatness between Philosophy Tube, Folding Ideas, Contrapoints, Hbomberguy, T1J and Lindsay Ellis were staples in my media diet. If you listen to my literature podcast, you know just how many times I reference Lindsay in conversation because I think she’s just that brilliant. She has changed my mind on media I love for good and bad. I never thought of RENT as that harmful until her video eviscerating it made me see just how damaging it was. I didn’t see much value in some Disney movies until Lindsay explained what their value and legacy was. I admired Lindsay and when I started making video essays, I tried (and let’s be real, mostly failed) to be like her and try to bring the same level of thought and care to my work.
Then the drama happened. Lindsay had been no stranger to criticism before. She had some hot hot takes back in the day trying to fit in with the boys, which is something I can very much relate to. And it seems like her tweet about Raya and the Last Dragon just stirred all of that up. She had faced criticism before but not like this and this seemed to be the instance that broke the camel’s back. I’m not here to say that her choice to leave isn’t valid; hell, if I faced criticism like she did, I would have quit forever ago. I remember messaging someone about her now infamous Mask Off video and with it’s large runtime I knew this was going to be a lot. I remember commenting that I wasn’t fond of her tone during the video at first like she owed me a damn thing and it took me thinking critically and realizing that an internet celebrity owes me nothing to make me realize that her anger in that video is so valid and earned and it wasn’t my place to comment on her anger and scathing tone.
She continued to produce videos for a little while and I had simply adjusted to her extended production schedule. She is an author, too. I was understanding. Perhaps that was why it was a shock that she said she was done and so a part of my media diet faded.
I want to take this time to thank Lindsay even though I know she’ll never see this and likely she won’t care. But I wanted to put my sincere gratitude somewhere. I had to put these feelings somewhere. I don’t feel like I’m losing a friend. Lindsay’s brand was always very…aware of parasocial bonding and I never felt some false closeness to her. She is unapproachable and that always made me respect her. She wasn’t my gal pal or my friend, she was a creator and someone I deeply respected and still do.
So goodbye, Lindsay. I hope you find peace and success in whatever you continue to do.