"Gay guys who aren't really gay but are," or "This rice cooker is so simple to use…I can't mess it up!"

When you’re reading this*, I’ll be back at work. It will be my first day back after the new year, in fact! Am I ready to return? No. Am I hopeful for a good semester? Yes. I’ll also be returning to school to finish the last few classes that my injury in late 2018 and subsequent 2019 recovery prevented me from finishing. (I’m also going to have to take another elective to earn my certificate because even though I have a BA already, colleges are money and time grubbing. I’m not bitter at all.) So, it will be a busy time, to be sure. But I’m glad to be alive, aren’t you? That’s something.

Now that I’m done being dramatic about the impending trials and tribulations of higher education, I’ll move on to more joyful things; I am the proud owner of a rice cooker, and I could not be more thrilled about it. I’ve been using it fairly regularly since receiving it as a Christmas gift; I really like rice, but I’m pants at cooking it. This rice cooker is so simple to use and to wash. I can’t mess it up!

And that’s my life. It’s super dull, and yet I’m filled with anxiety nearly every minute. It occurred to me that I didn’t watch very much anime at all the last 6 months. Well, let me clarify. I didn’t watch much NEW anime. I’ve re-watched a lot of things, but the seasonal offerings lately haven’t spoken much to me, and that’s alright. I’m still OBSESSED with the MDZS-inspired webseries “The Untamed,” and I watch it basically every single day. Husband refers to them as gay guys who aren’t really gay but are. And… he’s not wrong?? Like, they so are (clarification: Wei Ying is Zhan-sexual and I will die on this hill), but… censorship. I could blog about it forever, but it’s not really anime, so… Should I? Should I ramble? Should I??

We’ll see, I guess. (I probably will.)

Anyway, after I finish this update, I’m off to work to prep for the upcoming semester. I can do dis!! (And if you’re going back to school, so can you!!!)

Love,

Shoujo ❤

*Even though the words are slightly different, I can’t help but think of the song below, so now I’m sad, but I’m not as anxious. Is that a win? No, but seriously. This song. </3


“It’s about carrying on when all you want to do is quit.”

To preface this in case I have new readers, I’ve struggled with anxiety and OCD all of my life. I’m also a Christian, and there is this stigma about mental health in some Christian circles that I feel can be pretty powerful.

Last night, par the course for my demons, I was /convinced/ that I would be fired from my job. Highly irrational, almost certainly, but there it stood. A single request from my admin had me worried senselessly. But even so, in that period, I couldn’t shake what was rapidly becoming absolute dread in spite of my best efforts.

As the anxiety worsened through the afternoon into the evening, I lay in bed agonizing at the whims of alternating mindsets: an adamant, “well if they fire me, to heck with it! I’ve worked so hard for them!” and a far more realistic, “what will I do about insurance and also about my calling in life?? What else would I ever want to do??” It was a lot, and it continued to be a lot until words from Casting Crown’s song, “Praise You in this Storm” popped into my head. They’ve done that before, honestly. And they comforted me like nothing else could have at that moment, I think.

There is a portion of the lyrics which read, “And as Your mercy falls, I raise my hands, and praise the God who gives and takes away.” Even though I couldn’t shake my irrational dread (what’s new?), I also realized that God does give—He gave me a vocation—and if He takes away, He only has more planned that I can’t yet see. Somehow, miraculously, I accepted that it /could/ be taken away, but…you know, God would be in that, too.

And I was okay.

If you have OCD, you know how difficult the acceptance that bad things can and will happen to you really is. It’s like end-game Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, right there.

I’m not always able to do that. I try to trust and breathe through the fear and have faith, but mental illness is something that no amount of faith in my Lord can just… you know… cure. Because it’s an illness. So unless a miracle is worked, it’s just how my brain IS. I’m so worried so much of the time. It doesn’t take much to set me spinning, and when I’m not fretting over something, my brain ACTIVELY searches for the next big concern without restraint. I often have to mentally repeat over and over “Stop it. You’re fine. Stop it. Stop it.” in effort to take up enough brain space that I can rest from the constant nagging and go to sleep.

But in that moment, over this issue, I truly gave it to God. I realized that He’s seen me through so much in this journey, and He’s been beside me all this time, and I know that His plans are beyond me. And it’s going to be His will. The will of a Father who loves me even when and if things don’t make sense.

As a Christian person, there is sometimes this expectation that if you truly trust God, you can let go of fear and anxiety and just be. But it doesn’t work like that when your brain is actually not *right,* you know? I mean, that’s not an easy task for anyone, much less when your brain seeks dread like a dehydrated frog seeks water. (Oh, wow, that was a sad image. Poor frog.) The same can be said about depression, because if the Lord is your joy, why should you ever feel despondent to the point you can’t escape with the help of God? (Sigh. See what I mean?) It makes mental health in the Christian community kind of a taboo subject, sad as it is.

The point is, my brain doesn’t always like me, but even anxiety-brain can’t shake those lyrics that so long ago touched my heart and refused to leave me. I’m not into tattoos on myself, but as far back as college, I had contemplated getting lyrics from the song tattooed on my body as a constant reminder.

I fear /so/ much. I worry /so/ much over things that are big and real, but also things that are little yet smash through the walls of my mental composure like giants swinging clubs.

But even in that, God is there, and these words to live by help me deal with all of that, if only just a little when they hit me out of the blue. Because they reference what it’s like to say “amen”—Lord, please help me. Please, please make /it/ go away. Amen.—but then the illness, the dread is still there, laughing at me, filling me with fear.

Songs mean different things for different people, and for me, this song is about acceptance. It’s about knowing that God is there through the struggles both real and those that seem much larger in my head (that in itself a major life struggle). It’s about crying out to God asking HOW CAN I CARRY ON?? when I don’t see a way out—when there ISN’T a way out—and getting simply in answer, “I am with you.” It’s about holding to that answer even when “my heart is torn,” and knowing that it is enough. Even when it isn’t easy. Even when it hurts.

I don’t expect God to miraculously cure me, though it is within His power, but I know He’s going to walk with me. And I don’t expect that I’ll always understand the things that happen in my life both real and in my mind, but I know He’s going to be there.

And sometimes, that’s enough to bring quiet when anxiety is screaming.

Image from God Girl Life

I’m Finally Taking the Leap! Shoujo’s Voice Acting Commissions are OPEN

I’m getting bold, dear readers. Life’s too short to not take a leap when given the chance, and getting hurt taught me I shouldn’t wait around for “someday” when today is perfectly good!

I’ve been told by various people at work and in my personal life, “You should narrate audiobooks!” or “You should work for Disney!” I’ve done a bit of narration and acting in my real life which received gracious feedback, and while I can’t tell you how happy those comments made me, I know I’m not in a position to throw myself into seeking fulltime VA work. I’m also not a professional by any standard. It’s an occupation that takes dedication, practice, and a good deal of risk. However, none of that means I can’t take this thing I love to do and turn it into an awesome side gig/hobby. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I even made a portfolio webpage (under my real name) for if I ever worked up the nerve to pursue anything.

I guess every pipe dream needs a first step, so this is mine.

I don’t have a great setup at present (as you can probably tell from the audio quality of this reel), but I’m willing and able to upgrade if this sort of thing takes off for me. I truly think it would be great fun to voice indie otome/visual novels, for example, or narrate audiobooks. Even audio fanfiction (podfics) could be such a cool experience! I’m making my interest known in hopes that, if any of you like my short reel and happen to stumble across any projects, you’ll send me their way or vice versa! I’m ready for action, as it were!

Please take a moment to listen to my reel, if you’re interested. I’ll keep practicing as I have been, and I hope to continue improving with time and (hopefully!) experience. ❤

(And, if you’re missing my anime content, no worries! I have a new post coming next week, so please stay tuned!)

Love,

Shoujo

VA contact: shojothoughts@gmail.com

CBD and Therapy(ies) for Me

So. Things are happening. Let me keep you updated.

I know I haven’t said much about my health since I herniated my back, except that things have been difficult. Vague allusions are vague. But I plan to clear just a bit of that up today.

Just a bit. But before that, news.

Firstly, I tried CBD oil today as a treatment option for chronic pain and anxiety. I sincerely hope it works miracles. That would be very nice. The tincture tasted like butt. Honestly, it was awful. But if it works, I sure won’t complain. I guess I’ll keep you updated on that process so you know if CBD oil is something you’d like to try, too. (I’m not a doctor or anything, and I asked mine before I started this little adventure, so you should, too.) I took mine under the tongue, but there are other ways to ingest or apply it depending on your needs.

Secondly, I’m going back to my counselor tomorrow. I dropped off the map for a while because work got busy and then my anxiety and misplaced guilt wouldn’t let me go back. But I did it. I scheduled. I also scheduled more PT which I should have been doing for like 2 months but for reasons similar to those above my brain wasn’t letting me do my best for me. So there’s that, too.

I’m seeing a specialist in chronic pain management, but I won’t get there for another month, and then they’re probably going to do some genetic testing (yeah, that’s a thing that I didn’t think I’d ever do), but I’m unsure of the timeline on that. Because progress and official diagnoses have been in the air even if symptoms have not, I’ve yet to tell anyone on the blog anything since I herniated my back. I mean, I want my information to be accurate. But I CAN say that I have a few more bulging discs in my neck that are comparably mild, unpleasant stuff going on with my various joins, severe chest pain that hasn’t been diagnosed just yet, and deep muscle stiffness/aches because they’re trying very hard to hold me together. I’ve also been struggling with daily headaches, anxiety which has peaked because of pain (yay anxiety attacks yay), and uninterrupted tinnitus.

I am always very tired. 💤

Things have been hard; I’m not going to lie to you and say I’m doing very well. I’m not exaggerating when I say 26 has been a hellacious year. Unexpectedly so. I was always healthy before. I’ve taken more trips to hospitals this year than I have in probably my whole life. I didn’t expect this.

But I can walk; I was able to finish out this semester of work after being off so long. Metholatum and noise machines exist. My hair is burgundy tipped. So bright sides. Yes. Very bright sides. I’m trying hard to stay positive. And it is hard. And sometimes I feel like a weak person. But there it is. I’m trying.

Anyway, I might start a new Mystic Messenger route tomorrow. I REALLY want to play. But I’m supposed to get good rest and stuff. So. You know. Decisions. You’ll know if I do.

And I’m getting hearing aids. Which as hella expensive. RIP my wallet.

I’m gonna rest now and maybe take some Tylenol. Until I ramble next, keep on keeping on. I hope each and every one of you are well.

Love, Shoujo 🌸

No One Ever Told Me

No one ever told me that being an adult would be so hard, or maybe they did, and I just didn’t listen.

No one ever told me that holding on tightly to things might cause them to squirm within my grasp, or that it was possible to love something too much.

No one ever told me what finding a calling feels like, or losing one.

And I guess there’s a lot of things that no one ever told me, or didn’t tell me honestly, or that I didn’t understand.

I didn’t know that black doesn’t go with blue for business casual.

I spend a lot of time wondering what it is I’m wondering about. I spend a lot of time thinking that things are going to get better, and then they do, and then they get worse again. I’ve learned to breathe in ways that no one ever taught me, because I don’t think that they could have, and when things get better again, I smile. I hold my breath too much, and I sing too little, and I talk to myself when no one’s listening. I can lose myself in ways that no one ever told me.

I didn’t know that pain could feel like you’re suffocating. I didn’t know that love feels like a crying child in your arms. I didn’t know that I could hurt myself so badly. But I’m pretty sure I wanted to.

Wondering if pink is the color of happiness only got a girl so far, but I’m hopeful most days that it’s the color of lips and not the color of chest compressions.

I don’t know why it’s so easy to believe that all God’s creatures have a purpose when I haven’t completely figured out mine, but I do.

Speaking of which, this morning I woke up. I got out of bed. I went through my stretches and I learned that, sometimes, tears are cold. And no one ever told me that.

 

“Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns

I wanted to share this with you today because I needed it, and maybe you needed it, too. ❤

“I was sure by now, God you would have reached down
And wiped our tears away,
Stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
That it’s still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear your whisper through the rain
I’m with you
And as your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
The God who gives and takes away

And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone how can I carry on
If I can’t find you
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear you whisper through the rain
I’m with you
And as your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
The God who gives and takes away

And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of heaven and earth

And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm”

https://youtu.be/nBj9NLPa2cs

I herniated my spine, but because I am a woman, the doctor refused to get me proper treatment. (or, more positively, “I’m salty but so thankful and I’m gonna be okay, guys. <3 <3 <3")

Doctors don’t take women’s pain seriously. Don’t believe me? See Professor Google. Better yet, here: educate yourselves.

Image result for here educate yourself

I never knew this was a widespread phenomenon until it happened to me. But after months of steadily increasing pain, after all the doctor’s instances that I was just experiencing !!!muscle aches!!!???, after reaching an inability to work, all the trips to the ER without results, pain to the point of panic attack, constant refusal to be granted an MRI even after I emphatically told my GP “I cannot WALK,” I’m sad to say that I, a grown woman, even had to resort to bringing my FATHER (a manly 54-year-old he took seriously) for him to change his tune and approve my need for leave from work. Listen to this well. (He immediately decided the situation was serious both my enormous relief and righteous indignation. I guess he knew SOMEONE wasn’t getting the answers we needed…)

A few days later, I went over his head and saw a specialist on my own. Only then was I properly diagnosed (by a woman, I might add), only after my condition had deteriorated to the point of utter immobility.

I’ll save you the total drama of diagnosis, injury done me by a chiropractor, and the details of every terrible thing that happened and all the patronizing things that doctor said, but it was exceptionally unpleasant. Downright scary, in fact. Of that, I can assure. When I finally reached the point (quite suddenly in fact) of disability, I was terrified out of my whits. What was I to do, where could I turn? In pain worse than what women who’ve had both describe as worse than labor, there I lay, and the doctor and the hospital had failed me. Acute L5 disk herniation into your spinal column is no joke, friends. I was very fortunate that things didn’t turn out worse than they did.

Thanks to the specialist, more X-rays than I can count, and an eventual MRI, I have some answers. My herniation (the very thing my own doctor refused to believe I had even after it was suggested by both myself and a physical therapist) is as such that the nerves in my spinal column (those that control important things like keeping you from becoming incontinent, for example) are blessedly, blessedly, not impacted aside from painful inflammation/muscular seizing and, because it is a central herniation, my legs are now in proper working order.

Related image
This is not my X-ray. My discs are not all so pretty. I also have an uncommon extra vertebra so yay?

The discs  in your spine are kind of like jelly donuts; and when the outside cracks and spews out the inner goo, that’s it. The degenerative disk goes dark (unlike those in the image above) and they never regain that fluid cushion. The disc will continue to shrink throughout my life, though what that will mean for my level of pain, I cannot say. It may stabilize and decrease pain, or it may be bone on bone and require intervention. My anxiety doesn’t like it at 3 o’clock in the morning, but it’s reality I’m just going to have to live with. So many people are far worse off, and if this is my thing to deal with, I can live with it. I can deal with this.

Image result for jelly donut
I don’t even like jelly donuts.

I’m much younger than most people who get herniated disks. Due to age and other factors, I’m not a good candidate for surgery at this time. (Hopefully, it recovers to the point that I can go about my life (the specialist feels positive), and hopefully it stays that way so I never need it!) Basically, my back freaked out and seized up because “NO THAT DOES NOT GO THERE DISK; THAT IS THE SPINAL COLUMN THERE ARE IMPORTANT THINGS IN THERE WHAT ARE YOU DOING??” Genetics play a large part in this, as my dad’s family all suffer from disc problems, dislocations, and hyper-mobility. (Read: We’re all too stretchy and things don’t stay where they should. Just ask the wrist currently wrapped and angry at me for blogging.) Having said that, my dad had a similar issue with his L5 disk acutely rupturing at the exact same age I am now, and though he has chronic pain, he can happily live his life. ❤ My daddy has been very understanding and encouraging, and looking to him as an example has given me the drive to know that I WILL get through this. He did it and I will, too.

Positives? I’m walking again. I can sit for a while. I’m slowly getting better. (Not to jinx it as progression is nonlinear.) Yesterday I briefly left my house for pleasure for the first time in at least a month. I managed to blog this post by alternating between sitting in a chair and then lying flat on my back. (Thank you, Lenovo Yoga, for your acrobatics.) It’s getting really uncomfortable, though, so I’m about to end here.

Negatives? Again, nonlinear progress. Atop that, my back is GOING to give out again. It’s basically guaranteed, though whether that’s in 2 weeks, 2 months, or 5 years, the specialist cannot say. To hear my dad tell it, the first few years are the hardest. But, you know, that’s okay. At least I know what is going on. I can live with that.

I’ll end on another positive, though. I’m never going to take walking for granted ever again. Or taking a shower. I nearly cried when I got to take my first shower after being bed bound. ❤ ❤ ❤ Be thankful for those little things, like the ability to get to the living room or sit in a car. (I’m still working on that one.) Honestly, don’t take them for granted. ❤ Husband has been so good and patient with me. (Also, man alive, he’s so strong.)

I was hoping for a more eloquent ending, but there you go. That’s all I have, sorry to say. I’m quite sleepy now and I need to lay down again, so off I scamper. I hadn’t had anything out but scheduled posts in a few weeks, so it was fun to blog again. The email to my giveaway winner goes out tomorrow. I’ll blog when and if I can.

God is so good for taking care of me. I was really struggling before I got answers, but in every dark or scary moment, He never left me alone. And he gave me such wonderful people (Husband, Mom, Dad) to help me through this.

Love to every single one of you beautiful people, anime enthusiasts and otherwise. I truly, truly wish you well. ❤ ❤

Shoujo ❤ ❤ ❤