mental health, Uncategorized

Hacking my sleep when so much keeps us awake.

What do you wear when it’s time to take the train into Tokyo to sign a work contract and you know that Japan is not socially distancing?

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I’ve made many styles of mask but by now there are 20 times the online tutorials that there were towards the end of February when I first made one. There are ample places to get that info.

Today at the company office I entertained a handful of “OMG did you make your mask?!” which, if they noticed my matching shirt (and how could they not?), means they also wondered “Are matching button-up shirts and masks now commercially available?”

Nowadays everything seems simultaneously possible and impossible.

Let’s skip back a few days.

Shortly after my post, March 24th, about having found a job for the next school year came the family reactions to the news, most noteworthy being my mom’s.

My mother is strong. She’s a whole universe to me. When she’s scared…it’s not something I can  handle.

When the texts reminding me that she had started restricting early because I had worried…they hit hard. Reminders that neither of us live somewhere where we should trust the government to be honest…yeah

They also gave me flashbacks to 3/11 Tohoku/Fukushima. Things like panic buying have reminded me of those days…but just reading my mother’s stress brought me back to her tired and crying face on Skype in those days. The emotional return to a time I wrote extensively about and then tucked away.

By 4am I was ready to accept financial help, study Japanese online, turn down my job offer, and live in a bunker for the forseable future.

I was also ready to jog because it was 4am and I hadn’t and couldn’t sleep. A few minutes into jogging a blister made me aware that jogging wasn’t a possibility and I’d just have to be awake with my thoughts. Screw you, feet.

I slept from 5-7am. I made a few dramatic LINE texts to friends about my plans to give up work and be a studying hermit… which might violate my visa..yeah. They asked reasonable questions.

I started to focus again and remind myself:

  • You have two hours of sleep.
  • You are emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed.
  • You have ADHD.

Those things combined are a recipe for making impulsive emotional decisions. The sort of flamethrower decisions that burn away all other options, leaving you no other path but the one you were sure was THE ONLY CHOICE…and no way to retreat. I know. That’s how I once rolled all the time.

I told myself :

No. Decisions. Are. Being. Made. Today.

I contacted the company office to move the contract signing from that day to Friday…and to discuss a bit about their plans if COVID19 shuts down Tokyo (because really, how can it not?).

I believe that there are going to be huge changes between now and two weeks away when I’m slated to start being in classes.

I video chatted with my mother.

Mom had also lost house wifi during all of this and had only her phone…which wasn’t adding to a sense of security. We figured out a usable app for her not-apple phone and just video talked. It was good.

Going forward near daily videochats will be essential. We’re both more rational when we can see and hear each other and know the other isn’t being reckless.

The plan:

I’d go ahead with my job and contract signing. I’d accept financial help so we could both know that if things got scary I could drop my job. I’d check in more regularly.

Then there was a whole day of “do I nap or power through?”

I’ve had so many days this week of bad sleep and naps to help offset it that I knew I couldn’t rely on naps to reset me.

Instead I stayed awake and busy. I listened to podcasts and youtube advice about ADHD and sleep issues.

I’ve had lifelong sleep issues. I have medication but it can only keep me under for about 4 hours.

Everything about sleep habits always screams “USE THE BED FOR BED THINGS ONLY AND DON’T USE ELECTRONICS IN BED.” and I always say “THAT MAKES SENSE” and then watch tv on my computer from bed and “sleep” with my smart phone next to me.

I’ve moved a very comfortable chair, one of two, from my sewing room (where it never gets used) to my bedroom to create a “cozy electronics nook”.

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It took some testing and additional pillows to make it both slumptastic and useable as a chair if I actually want to type.

I’m trying to train myself when the impulse comes to flop on the bed and check my smartphone to get my butt in this chair instead. I’m also trapping my phone over here at night, out of bed reach, and going back to reading printed books as a bed wind-down.

It’s gone well for 2 days but….we’ll see.

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Chair test.

Ready for more video chats with friends. We both are.

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General JinJur is quite a hit during video chats. She and I are about to have our birthdays in April…so I switched my journal temporarily from Plague Motif to Hedgehogs and Birthdays.

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I’m also starting a page of tracking my sleep times and notes. I have a notebook by my bed to write both sleep and wake times (before charting them) AND so that if a thought wakes me up at night I can write it down and move it to morning instead of fixating on it.

Last night I woke up around 3am and, instead of trying to follow through on the thoughts that popped into my head, I wrote them down. Can you figure out the difference between my awake-wearing glasses handwriting and my 3am handwriting?

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I can actually read that but I assure you that in the light of day it it was an idiotic idea not worth following through on.

I’m also taking down notes to figure out a bedtime routine (when to dim lights, what pattern to stick to to remind my body it’s wind-down time).

What are you doing to help yourself sleep in these uncertain times.

 

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mental health

ADHD: PeeWee and Mari

My friends know this: my love of Mari Kondo (known here as KonMari) the writer of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up, is deep and unshakable.

Many of my friends have also known this: if I am hyper-focused on organizing to the detriment of other aspects of my life it might be a sign of my anxiety ramping up prior to a depressive crash.

Now we can add this layer to those knowns: I am an adult woman with ADHD and, like others of my ilk, I have a life-long complex relationship with the concept, and execution of, Being Organized.

Yup. My mental clinic doc agrees: ADHD. However, Japan has a difficult historical relationship with medical stimulants so there are only two available choices for ADHD: Concerta and Strattera. Ritalin exists in Japan but can only be prescribed for narcolepsy, it’s prohibited to prescribe it for the treatment of ADHD. My doc is wary of prescribing either of these due to the common side effects of nausea, loss of appetite, and sleep issues. For now I work on behavior modification and knowing this new part of me I’ve lived with all my life.

Back to my BFF, KonMari.

I’ve never viewed her as someone denying me things. I’ve never cast her as a bringer of stoic minimalism set on banishing my joy.

To me she’s one of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse friends we just never got around to meeting. Pee-wee, like me, enjoys joyous objects. He’s filled his playhouse with them. Like me, he thrives with some structure….I don’t wear only out outfit but I get the uniform impulse…but I don’t get the sense that he’s the sort of guy who came to organization naturally.

Thus, he had a KonMari somewhere who helped him learn how to organize his house, understand the feelings he has about each item in the place (like KonMari he’s literally speaking to his objects… although they answer verbally instead of having to spark joy) and not get overwhelmed. KonMari and PeeWee are friends. Friends of PeeWee are friends of mine. Period. Fight me on this.

I’m not alone in the ADHD world of having INTENSE FEELINGS about KonMari, positive and negative, a fact I’ve learned from scanning ADHD podcasts.

It’s time for me to glance back at KonMari through my emerging understanding of adult ADHD to see how my love of her is part of my neurological makeup.

First and foremost: Unchecked ADHD creates clutter. Let’s take that as a given instead of diving into how and why.

Fact: I create clutter and confusion. As a child it was rampant and as an adult I’ve got a lot of coping mechanisms for wrangling it when it’s reached certain levels…but I’m usually wrangling my chaos and very rarely just entering, functioning in, and leaving an area without MUCH WRANGLING.

My adult life has been one of actively looking for more answers to corralling object chaos. KonMari was just one of many things I looked into, but she was the first to really help make a large difference in my life…and keep me away from the cycle of trying and failing at the latest organizing trick…and disliking myself for my failure

Difficulty in prioritizing and properly sequencing steps in achieving anything is part of ADHD.

Knowing what step to take first is hard. Knowing what a finished step looks like is hard. Understanding the progression the steps must take….(brain shuts down)

This is an accurate graph of my mind starting on most things.

(Collect Underpants -> ??? -> Profits!!! Meme)

KonMari doesn’t take any chances.

She has steps. Lots of them. There is an order to those steps. She explains why that order is there. She explains why the steps yo’ve been told to use before aren’t going to work. She keeps reminding you that the order of the steps and doing the steps right is essential. There are clear steps.

For some people this is probably patronizing. I needed this.

People with ADHD are often afflicted with Time Blindness.

This is hard for an outsider to grasp. The idea that uninteresting tasks feel like they take longer and that interesting tasks create a time bubble where three hours can pass unnoticed is fairly universal. Everyone accepts it as facts.

But with ADHD that feeling isn’t limited to the extremes of interest and disinterest. It’s a constant expanding and constricting of time calibrated to the smallest fluctuations of thought and mood. It’s a time accordion given to a small child who isn’t losing interest in the squeeze box anytime soon.

It creates very real problems with estimating time. Period. How long will this take? How long have I been doing this? What time is it?

This problem is one I’m working on currently with a stopwatch and notes. Fun.

Attached to time blindness (when it’s not a known issue) are the feelings of shame and failure at not having managed time correctly…again.

KonMari tells you right off that there’s no way to estimate how long this will take. This undertaking will vary wildly. There are no estimated times to fail at meeting. There are just the steps.

She notes that things will look extra out of control for a while, because everything is out of hiding and can’t be ignored , but that’s a sign of the process and the steps being done, not a sign of failure. Adhere to the steps.

The wells of shame an adult woman with undiagnosed ADHD contains feel bottomless.

I’m immature. How can I be an adult and still like this? I’m lazy. Other people can do these things. I’m an imposter. The better I hide my true self the further I shall fall when it is revealed.

This is our soundtrack.

Confronting things we’ve failed at in the past, like being organized or cleaning our kitchen, increases the volume of this soundtrack.

This soundtrack gets even louder when we simply think about starting something perceived as difficult, increasing our distance from executive function and tying us tighter to procrastination (our most successful relationship ever).

KonMari has ways of addressing our shame…and a lot of them get called “woo woo”

Do I want to thank the items I’m getting rid of? No. I feel foolish.

But she’s right, I do feel shame about how much I’ve accumulated. I feel guilt about what I have and haven’t done with those things: the hopes they represented and how I felt they would define a future me.

So I have to find a way to process that shame. To look at something that cues up my soundtrack and not say “I failed” and instead say “I’ve learned from you. You taught me this isn’t where my priorities are. Thank you.”

“You brought the thrill of perceived change to me, thank you.”

“I wanted you to be part of my life but it’s not working. We deserve better. Thank you. Onward to your new life.”

Shame doesn’t just evaporate. you need to find ways to process it. Transform it. Bleed it off a bit.

If talking to objects gets me to process my feelings…and it did…I’ll do it.

I’ll procrastinate a bit but I’ll do it.

People with ADHD are very visual and as such we can be overwhelmed by visual clutter.

KonMari removing extra labels from boxes as not to be assaulted by too many words in a pantry or medical cabinet. Oh, I SEE you.

KonMari simultaneously suggesting we can line our closets and storage spaces with feel-good geeky images that we wouldn’t want on our main walls despite the fact this might count to some people as visual clutter. Oh, I SEE you too.

And I am seen.

I REALLY need places to be tidy and run on schedule. I can’t handle outside unnecessary clutter and disorganization throwing me off course because I’m expending so much energy just existing an staying focused.

I mean this only for places I need to do things in (home, class, workplace). I don’t care if I visit people who have messy houses.

KonMari: I get that…but if it’s not your space you can’t expend energy on it. Focus on your own things and place and stop trying to change others, you’ll only mess up interpersonal relationships that way.

Me: Buuuut I’m hyper focused on it and it’s driving me crazy and.

KonMari: Nope. Fix yourself. Know what your space is. Define it. Set it up. Defend the boundaries of your space. Let the world beyond that fall into chaos. It’s ok. you are master of your space and your space only. Now, please, go talk to those shoes you don’t wear.

Ok, Mari!

She speaks to me and now I’m better understanding why and how.

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craft, Doll, Uncategorized

A space for my craft.

My apartment is spacious and cheap. It’s why I refuse to move.

It’s also damned hot in summer. When I first moved here 8 years ago I tried to go a while without an air conditioner. By early September I was googling the signs of heat stroke daily and bought an air conditioner for my bedroom. Now  I’ve made the choice to face the latest heat with TWO, count them, TWO rooms I won’t melt in.

My sewing room is the darkest room of the apartment, which makes in horrible for doll work. All other rooms are very well lit.  I’ve done the majority of my doll work in my bedroom, which has given me a cluttered room as there is no space there that has been officially dedicated to doll in progress storage and work.

I decided to turn my dedicated dance space into a hybrid dance and doll space. And to buy a used window mounted air-conditioner off of Yahoo Auctions. Previously my summer dance practice waited until after dark when the room had cooled off and I would set three fans up.

 

When I bought my window mounted air conditioner (used again) for my bedroom years ago I paid to also get it installed. This time I figured I’d just do it myself.
That thing was heavy but I’m a smallish person full of stubborn strength.

I also bought a used table and had it delivered.

I’m still getting the storage sorted so I have most of what I need in one place and easy to find and clean up. I plan to swap the curtains for little half curtains once I finish making them. If I ever need to block out all the light in the room, all of these windows have metal shutters I can close…because we have typhoon season.

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And with that, the summer of crafting begins.

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craft, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

With and without…and another box.

It’s been a month since my last post.

A dooooozy of a month…but not as bad as last year. It was the one year anniversary of the horrible reveal that one of my friends is an international con artist and another friend is so much worse (the legal case on the second still drags on). So while things have sucked…last year around this time I was only getting 3-4 hours a sleep and had a few breakdowns.

This May…not great. It was physically busy as I continued to grow into my new job and  new commute, in that uneasy valley between full paychecks, and while still substitute teaching an extra night of dance lessons for the second month in a row. Then the last week hit HARD.

 

 

 

In October of last year, my shrink had to move to Hokkaido. She set me up with a decent doctor. That second doctor is now hospitalized and it’s not clear when or if he’ll return to practice.

After 9 months of waiting, my application for permanent residency was rejected. I’m waiting on an official reason.

And then there’s this…

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The baffling absence of The Professor. That’s a “have you seen my pointy antisocial pet” sign. It’s been almost a week with no signs of him.

My good friend Ebony went through health hell here on her Scammer-versary. ..so we’ve been using LINE to check back and forth in a “Hey, I think I”m doing better for these last two hours than you…how can I help?” way.

Mercury isn’t in retrograde, the universe is just an asshole.

But…life goes on and there’s much to doll up on so I figured I’d use some of my Sunday to start figuring out where to begin on updating this.

I do have a whole HAUL of dolls. A friend in America works at a consignment shop and sent me some photos. I promptly made a 9-year old girl  (who was supper nice to her dolls in a way I never was) very happy by buying her whole collection.

The Pics.

 

 

 

 

One doll isn’t featured because I’ll get to fixing her later.

AND props and extra shoes!
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Which brings me to the first thing I did. I primed and repainted that furniture!

 

 

My Dolls now have the fainting couch of my dreams.

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And I have another new shelf.

 

 

So, one foot ahead of the other and one hank of hair at a time.

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craft, Doll, pullip, Uncategorized

Coffee Nook/Doll Trunk half.

Let’s see if I can use my craft backlog of undocumented work to create…dare I say it…multiple entries based on a theme?

Welcome to the rabbit hole of Doll Trunks I’ve fallen into.

Alice was my first entry into the idea. img_8633

The two entries for the construction of Alice’s doll trunk are:

The size of the boxes I could find at a 100¥ shop (Seria) determined that my first trunk/container would be for Alice, as only a Little Pullip ( in this case a Little Pullip on a Picco Neemo body) could fit sitting/standing in the boxes…and I had just one. Then.

Later I found larger boxes at Seria and thought AHA! These are larger boxes and a Google search tells me that Dal Dolls are only 26.3cm.

When I got home I learned that my Dals are slightly taller than the 27cm of the inside of the boxes I’d bought. Time to rethink. I did decide that Bedhead/Monomono would be the primary occupant for this trunk.

 

I decided I still wanted a combined drawer/sitting area, because I like the idea of the trunk containing useful storage space & the only way a doll could fit in the trunk once closed was to create a platform for it to sit.

I originally got the idea for a case where the doll sits from the Angelic Pretty doll case made for Pullip dolls. It has a seat (with extra storage) for the doll to sit in when in transit. When the case is opened the seat can be removed and the space that has been freed up becomes a closet.

 

 

I also decided to make the other half of the doll trunk a bedroom with….a Murphy Bed! So when the trunk is open it would be possible to two dolls to hang out if so desired. I’ll cover that room in an upcoming entry…as it is awesome…but it’s awaiting finishing touches.

Here are both halves of the trunk in progress. I’ve included Alice for scale. I finally got around to buying better wood cutting tools at a DIY/builder’s store so this round of measuring and cutting wood for shelves/boxes/bed went smoother.

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I worked on the bedroom first and the decor started to take on a very 80’s flavor…which I ran with. I decided that I wanted the sitting nook to be inspired by 1980’s kitchens and found some inspiration photos that reminded me of the kitchen floors of my youth.

 

Browns, yellows, and orange! Hints of leftover avocado green from the 70’s still hanging around. Medium to dark woods!

I’d also found a magnet shaped like an espresso maker so my nook would be dedicated to COFFEE DRINKING! Were espresso makers very 80’s? I didn’t care. I feel strongly about coffee.

I once more went to the 100¥ shop and found a small trunk I could saw open to make tables and some adhesive finishes in fake wood/ fake reddish leather/ burlap with leaves.

I experimented with painting the burlap finish to bring it slightly more into the color theme I wanted. It became the drawer cover and the kitchen wallpaper trim.

Then I set about to sawing the mini-trunk into pieces and covering and gluing bits together. I used fake-wood washi tape for an edge on the wallpaper trim. I also admitted the green ceiling had worked fine in the bedroom but that this kitchen was a breath away from having had popcorn ceiling panels…so I went with a few layers of white acrylic on the ceiling. I painted the inside of the drawer and put adhesive corkboard inside it. Then I used a dremmel to create a small hole in the drawer and glues the shank of a button I had on-hand to work as a drawer-pull. This also helped tone-down the too-bright green hue I’d accidently applied to the drawer fabric.

I thought about adding a hanging fern above the coffee machine…as I encountered an alarming amount of 1970’s and 80’s hanging ferns in various macrame hangers while image searching for ideas. I have a mini hanging pot…

But the Dal Dolls dominate the box in a way that adding a fake potted plants might overwhelm it. Perhaps I’ll find a small fake fern with a stand to slip into the drawer for when smaller dolls are using the nook.

Dolls check out the nook and enjoy some coffee.

Now here’s a sneak peak into the bedroom. I’m debating if I’m still going to attach the two halves or if I’m going to change how the individual boxes close…

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Yeah. You want those sheets….meeeeeee too.

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craft, sewing, Uncategorized

I am Alice.

Brain: You leave for America on the 16th and you only have one full day off between then and now.  However will you do all the things you need to do?

Also Brain: Why don’t you redecorate your toilet room?

So I did.

Wednesday is usually a day off for me but today I substitute taught a bellydance lesson at a sports gym and then taught a private dance lesson at the studio.

And redid my toilet room.

Why do I say toilet room?

My bathroom here is actually three tiny connected rooms. One is the shower/tub room, one contains the toilet and a shelf for my cleaning supplies, the third is the general sink/mirror and toiletries room.

The room I redid contains a window, a windowsill, a toilet, and a shelf.

8+ years ago when I moved in I made a curtain to hid my cleaning supplies and a toilet paper-roll thingie. A dripping soap dispenser ruined the finish on the windowsill so I added a laminated fabric to that.

Today I re-did all of that for less than 2,000yen (20$usd-ish).

I love making curtains. Ready-to-buy curtains are ugly, expensive, and rarely the right size. My whole apartment is adorable with great curtains. No pictures today because my place is also a mess because I’ve been making stuff instead of cleaning.

Most of the money was spent on fabrics.

Two cut fabrics I bought and pieced together to hide my cleaning supplies.

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The toilet paper thingie.

 

 

It’s a fairly normal style in Japan. Most toilet roll holders have this over-flap to pull the paper against to ease in separating the segments. This fits over that flap and has space for a spare roll.

I used four different scraps of leftover Alice fabrics and canvas to make it.

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I used waterproof wipe-able fabric for the windowsill mat. If you’re thinking that Japan is FULL OF ALICE FABRIC you’d be SO RIGHT.

We’re gonna pretend my stenciled turtle is a mock turtle and just leave it there.

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The previous owners left the hooks above the window. At the 100 yen shop I picked up a curtain rod, curtain rings, a frame to hold a postcard my friend gave me (same friend who gifted me the lego Alice), and a tiny saucer to go with the tiny cup (it has a painted bunny design inside it) I’m using for my soap…tea party!

The cactus cup came from work. Someone was throwing out a chipped mug with a cat in a bow-tie on one side and a cat nose-mouth on the other. I re-purposed it for my many cactus. It’s now my Cheshire cat.

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I also made the red curtain. I have yet another Alice fabric I could have used but I figured it’d be better to go with some red to tie the red accents together. I have mixed feelings about the mis-matched curtain rings. I think the curtain would probably look better with wide fabric loops so less of the rod shows…but I can do that later after I’ve lived with it a while.

After all, I’m supposed to be wrapping up things before my vacation.

 

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