I honestly cannot believe that November is here already! I feel like October just flew right out the window. One moment I was sitting down and looking up scary books to read for the month and the next I’m writing up my reading wrap-up. I feel like 2018 has just been one of those years that slaps you in the face with one difficulty after another and then disappears right out from under your nose.
Today, I wanted to briefly chat with you guys about what has been going on with me as an individual and how it’s affected me as a content creator, as well as some minor changes that my return to blogging shall bring.
On October 7th, I had announced over on Twitter that I was going on a hiatus from blogging. You can check out the full tweet down below, but essentially, I was struggling with my anxiety and I needed a break from everything and anything that was contributing to it, no matter the level of impact it was having on said anxiety. The most difficult part of that decision was not giving myself a time constraint, or not forcing myself to get better within a specific amount of days or times. I wanted the healing process to be very natural so that I could grow and become stronger at a pace that would be beneficial for my mind and body.
I suck at not having a plan and by not setting deadlines that is basically what I was telling myself to do: wing it. Nevertheless, creating a plan and constantly having deadlines to meet, even if they are self-inflicted (my form of disciplining myself since I have ADHD), almost always causes me anxiety. Yet, simultaneously it also works as a cushion to help alleviate some of the same anxiety because then I’m not paranoid about having nothing to do or talk about or utilise to feel productive. It’s such a vicious cycle.
Additionally, I didn’t allow myself to consume anything that I enjoy with an analytical perspective. If I was going to read a book, I would do it without the lens of a book reviewer. If I was going to watch anime/Asian dramas, it would be purely for the entertainment value of it, and not with the intention to find something to discuss or critique. At its simplest level what I was making my mind and body do was relax.
I fucking hated it. At least for the first week.
It added to my stress levels even more. I am someone who likes to have an active brain. My brain should be working on something constantly or I get bored and being bored leads me towards unhealthy activities or thoughts. Then one morning I woke up and decided to catch up on Persona 5: The Animation. I just turned it on, laid back, and watched. It felt amazing. I was able to tune everything else out and enjoy the silliness and the stylishness of the anime without a single thought. I ended up finishing the series in about 3 days, which is one hell of a record for me.
This led me to find and finish other anime that I had stashed onto a “will return to” shelf. Within one week, I finished three anime serials that I was behind on. Even though it was purely for pleasure, it still left me feeling immensely accomplished and productive, but without the nauseating side effects of analytical thought processes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love reviewing things, whether I am gushing about them or bitching about them or balancing a line something in the middle. However, when you already have a plate full of shtick to deal with, adding more will either weigh you down and make you buckle, or make you so sick to your stomach that you’ll want to roll over and never get back up. Mine was the former. Instead of processing through my stress in a healthy way, I ignored it and tried to bulldoze my way forward.
When my cat Azizi got sick in August, I had just begun a 3-month program with my health and wellness coach to get my life on track so that I could get heart healthy. Him getting sick and needing this absolutely horrifying surgery all-of-a-sudden broke me emotionally and mentally. Aside from the unbelievably intense fear of him dying, I was also straddled with a brand-new financial debt I never saw coming. It caused my stress levels to skyrocket to the point where I nearly suffered heart failure a few weeks after the fact. Of course my stew of anxiety and depression kept on boiling to boot. I never recovered from the emotional and mental turmoil of that event, particularly with the added fear of mortality in my kids, and everything that occurred afterwards—big or small—just got tossed into the stew until it all boiled over. I knew that if I didn’t take a break from life—all aspects of life—that I either wouldn’t survive, or I would lose the ability to enjoy everything that made me want to live.
Since taking my break in October, I’ve had one very intense breakdown where I had resolved to give up. I wasn’t suicidal in the literal sense, but more in the emotional and mental sense. I didn’t want to do anything, which included eating and moving. Showering: yes because I’m a germ-a-phobe, but aside from that I didn’t care about jack shtick. Then one night as I was sitting on the floor, reading a book I couldn’t stand, my brain began to wander and it hit me like a ton of bricks: I’m going to be 31 in a little over a week. What the fuck am I doing with my life?
This year was spent fighting one challenge after another. It’s just been one of those years where everything goes wrong that you can imagine. But the year in its entirety wasn’t all bad all the time. Even if it were that bad, do I really want to ring in my birthday feeling so miserable and helpless? Do I really want to bitch and gripe about the things that I cannot control, or do I want to get off my arse and take back my power over things that I CAN control?
I was overcome with an epiphany of sorts. I don’t want my existence to pass me by because I am too scared of my anxiety, my depression, and just the overall uncertainty that life brings. I went from 30 to 31 without realising that life will keep on driving by, even if you step out of the vehicle. I like being the person who grabs the fucking steering wheel, shifts into the next gear, and rides that drift into a beautiful sunset. Not the one on the side of the road watching these drifts, wishing I could be the one driving.
These are things that have been said in other emotional phases such as this, where I feel all gung-ho about life and I’m ready to conquer everything. But what makes it so different this time around is that my mortality and my recognition of the fragility of life is extremely real to me. This year, dealing with all of the bollucks that has come up, has shown me that life won’t wait for me at all. I can either drift my way around these curves and hone my ability to steer with each new experience, or I can crash and burn.
After this beg existential realisation, I felt so bloody refreshed… and relaxed. I knew that I had finally found the elusive answers I had been searching for all year. Just took me turning 31 to figure it out. Of course. *face palms*
My decision to return to blogging in November (today) after that was a no-brainer. Blogging is my comfort and my passion, as well as my way to connect with other people out there. As an agoraphobe and a mysophobe, it is very difficult for me to find ways to make friends. Yet, this community has shown me that friends don’t have to be physical, squishy, skin-and-bones folks right next you. They can be squishy, skin-and-bones folks in another country or continent… or another planet…maybe. I didn’t want to stay away from those connections much longer. I wanted to jump back in and make the most of every moment that I have. So… let’s ride, baby.
Now, I mentioned some changes waaaaay back up at the beginning of this thing. Stepping away made me realise that when it comes to reviewing anime, while I do have certain criteria I look at to give it a score, when I sit down and actually chat about the series/film in question, I much prefer to look at themes or characters. Instead of trying to discuss every facet of what made an anime good/bad/meh, I just want to chat about how it made me feel while I was watching it. I also want to try to be more positive with my reviews with anime. Yes, there are some super terrible things out there (Elegant Yōkai Apartment Life, anyone?), but I also think that most of them have some good to offer and I’d like to spread positive vibes rather than hateful ones (unless you’re Diabolik Lovers, then you belong in a trash fire).
That is the only real change I shall be making. I will also be picking my Japanese Journals segments back up (I did, like, one and then got pneumonia and then forgot about it… oopsy) where I will share how my experiences with learning Japanese goes. I’ve fallen super behind on it because of Life, that nasty mistress, and I want to take learning it far more seriously.
Well… that wraps-up this kooky update essay thingy. I know I have said this so many times this past year, but I shall say it once again because I really mean every word, dammit…
Thank you to every single person who has ever taken the time to show me compassion and support during my struggles and difficulties this year. Whether you’ve sent me messages or comments on Twitter, IG, on the blog, or via personal emails—I cherish every single word so much. The gratitude I feel will never be expressed in words because there aren’t words to describe how much you have helped me survive and conquer 2018, as well as my anxiety and my depression. So… Thank you and know that I love and appreciate every single drop of it.