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...except I'd totally intended to write this post last month. Better late than never?

Things That Happened in 2013 That I Remember (I've realized that if I don't write things down, I won't remember them. Sorry to everyone who's had to have repeated conversations with me because my brain is a sieve. ^___^;;)

January: Turned a ~milestone age and had a breakdown. Best not to dwell on that...

According to an automated email I received from Tumblr a few days ago (~celebrating my first ~Tumblr ~birthday), this was also the month that I caved and opened up a Tumblr account (and of course dragged darling [ profile] applegeuse with me. WE EVEN COORDINATED OUR USERNAMES. A year later, I still dislike Tumblr. /o\)

February: Started watching actual hockey, lololol, I still don't know how it happened. Nope, nope, no idea. I latched on to the team that eventually won the Stanley Cup (:D), and somehow, this season, I also decided to finally pay attention to my ~hometown team (THIS ENTIRE COUNTRY IS OBSESSED WITH HOCKEY. HOW DID I MANAGE TO IGNORE IT FOR SO LONG??) which is predicted to win the Cup when hell freezes over.

March: Idk what happened this month. /o\ Apparently the Pens didn't lose in regulation at all this month. Why do I remember this garbage and not, like, my own life. /o\ (MARCH OF THE PENGUINS. THAT'S WHY I REMEMBER IT.)

April: My 10th LJ anniversary -- ten years since I first created a Livejournal account, back when they had ~invite ~codes AND ZERO ADS. I was legit going to write an entry that day because I can't believe I've spent so many years on this platform (and now it's dying and i crey because i thought i would move on from LJ before LJ moves on from me), but that didn't happen because 2013 was the year in which I attempted to use other social media platforms and pretty much failed at all of them.

May: Hawaii trip! TRIP TO THE OCEAN. It was such a gorgeous place -- I really want to go again! I met the lovely [ profile] hardboiledbaby :DD (fangirls are everywhere! \o/) and went snorkelling and hiking and got sunburnt for the very first time.

June: I went to Montreal for a weekend with my friend and met more fangirls (Tumblr fangirls!! Whom I knew nothing about prior to setting up the meet-up! Meeting internet people that I didn't know at all was a new one for me! But it was super fun :> Also, I suppose I'm at the age where my concern when meeting up with internet fans is no longer "what if they're old? and creepy??" -- it's now: "WHAT IF THEY'RE YOUNG. AND I'M THE CREEPY ONE??"). All I remember from Montreal was walking a lot and eating a lot and a lot of rain. I hiked around Mount Royal in the pouring rain (with an umbrella. The locals went around umbrellaless idek) by myself while nomming on a delicious Montreal bagel and texting people back home and trying not to get lost. That is how I ~roll.

July: Idk it was really hot and I boiled.

August: AVOIDED ALL THE WEDDINGS O/ I will continue this trend for as long as I am able. I have told everyone to not invite me so that I don't have to make up an excuse not to go. :>

September: BAH, A NEW SCHOOL YEAR. But hooray, I had a [ profile] happyhanabi for a weekend! Lots of walking, lots of eating; somehow spent 4+ hours inside the Hockey Hall of Fame (lololol, it's right beside the bus terminal and I've never noticed it for 8+ years...); recorded a super fast podfic right before Hana had to leave for the airport because you can't have a fellow podficcer visit and not collab on something!

I finally caved and called the school's counselling services in August for a phone consultation and had my first therapy session for depression/anxiety in September. I've been seeing a psychologist 1~3 times a month since then.*

October: Went to Chicago for a conference and was so so so so so nervous about my talks (they went fine, lol), and I met [ profile] slumber for the first time, even though we'd been LJ friends since, idk, 2004 or so. Every time I visit a city, I want to meet up with a fangirl or two. :>>>

The second memorable thing that happened this month was that I got laser eye surgery! I am the biggest chicken about anything and everything (needles, SURGERY) so I have no idea how I made it through that procedure (I mean, well, I did have a minor panic attack between the first eye and the second eye, but I calmed down quickly enough). the process was surprisingly fast, and wow, I had zero consideration for the side effects (halos, dry eye, slight farsightedness) before the surgery. ;;; I'm still experiencing some side effects now, but they've gotten better and will hopefully continue to improve. NO MORE GLASSES. FREEDOM.

November: I taught a class for the first time! Two sessions on consecutive nights, and it was...okay! Idk! My supervisor let me do a guest lecture (on pretty much whatever I wanted) for his first year undergrad classes, and I talked like I was on speed the first night, but managed to slow down the second night. My reviews were good and I'm glad I got the experience (because you just don't know how you'd react in some situations until you're actually in that situation).

December: One of the profs held these "mock interviews" to help prep us for what real job market interviews are like. Oh my god. It was so terrifying. The "interviewers" consisted of this prof, my supervisor, one of my committee members, and one of my friends who just finished the job market (and landed her top choice school :>), and the ~peanut ~gallery (aka other classmates), and man, I got some hardball questions. /o\ But these are the types of questions I'm going need to be able to address during real interviews and OH MY GOD THE JOB MARKET IS GOING TO BE SO FUCKING SCARY. (this is another one of those situations where I had to actually experience to know how I would react. so, yes, it was 100% valuable. but so terrifying \o\)

Other things that happened at some point in time: I bought a second-hand ukulele! I've wanted one for so long because I think it's such a fun and low-maintenance instrument. I'm sloooowly learning the chords. I should actually go through some Youtube tutorials properly, but it's been fun to try to figure out things by myself. X3

I started baking more! And I've figured out how to make jam! The jam has been coming out pretty well each time (it's so easy that even I can't screw it up. Unless I burn it. *knock on wood*), but I've had a few failed experiments (peanut butter cookies, ~skin brownies \o\, oatmeal...things, muffins). The brownies have a success rate of 75%; I can't remember if I've figured out how to make cake yet (maybe they just tasted exactly like the brownies...); the jam tarts that I've recently made have turned out wonderfully though. :D YUM JAM TARTS.

*(continued from the September point)--This is significant for me because while I've probably always been plagued with some level of depression, I haven't had the...courage(?) to seek professional help and then stick with it (I sort of tried twice in the past, but quit both times -- once with SSRIs and once after the initial consultation). Now, three months later, I don't really feel any improvement in my emotional state or in my cognitive state; I do feel more aware of my...situation(?) and that there's obviously something wrong, something impeding my day-to-day functioning. Also, at some point between September and November (I don't remember the exact date and I don't care to look it up), I had my first full-blown panic attack. A week later, I had my second one. I've had minor anxiety attacks in the past (especially in 2012), but nothing full-blown like these, and it was really scary (tbh, I'm kind of shaking and crying now, just remembering what it was like).

It seems so obvious to me now that there is Something Wrong. It's like a shadow, dogging my every step; some days it's small and not so very noticeable (but still there), some days it stretches and it's so much bigger than I am. I wonder if the reason I don't feel that therapy is helping much is because I've only really talked about the context that has highlighted this..."shadow", the context that makes the "shadow" grow. But maybe what I need is to figure out the root of the shadow? Or to at least address some underlying causes that make my chest seize up every time I even let the thoughts reach the surface of my consciousness? There are some issues that I think I need to talk to my psychologist about, but I panic at the thought of even explaining them, much less discussing them.

It's taken me a long time to consciously recognize and accept that there is a problem and that I need to tackle it and not let it continue to fester. It boiled down to the belief that I couldn't possibly be depressed because there wasn't anything horribly wrong in my life (I blame the fact that I never took the abnormal psychology course back in undergrad; I didn't immediately pick up on the fact that depression isn't necessarily the result of anything in your external environment; but rather, it's a combination of your internal state plus the environment which holds all sorts of potentially nasty landmines/triggers. Duh.). I was kind of struggling with this whole idea of "are my feelings valid or not" when I came across a Tumblr post (OF ALL THINGS. A TUMBLR POST.) that said something along the lines of, "You would never tell someone that they can't possibly be happy when there's always someone else out there who's richer or more successful (etc) than them. So why would you tell yourself that you can't possibly be sad when there's always someone else out there who's poorer or less successful (etc) than you?" And that is how I got a wake-up call from Tumblr.

Both the depression and anxiety have worsened in the past few years, and I can easily think of situations in the near future that can trigger attacks. On the days when the "shadow" is small, I can encourage myself to do things that will help me cope -- and maybe even take some preventative measures. As far as preventative measures go, I'm going to try to learn (and regularly practice) mindfulness meditation. My psychologist talked about a few CBT techniques for coping, but I feel that I can only engage in them when I have a certain amount of mental resources available, and this isn't always going to be the case, especially when things get bad. What I want to encourage myself to do is to use this platform to do some sort of writing exercise because writing out my thoughts often helps 1) clarify them and 2) provide a slightly different perspective.

If (WHEN) I do post such entries, I'll always post under a spoiler-tag. Most of me wants to bury and hide these entries under f-lock and filters, but part of me wants to post publicly. Some ridiculously large number of people are afflicted with depression -- but I can't even bring myself to tell anyone I know in real life about my situation (it sounds so wrong to me when I even think the statement "I am depressed"). Maybe posting publicly in a semi-anonymous space will habituate me to the idea that, hey, what I'm experiencing is real and valid; I don't have to hide it.
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