[brain fart] making things work for me

i just finished another book, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by charles dugg.
the author analyzed how habits form, and how we can change them and form new habits.

the more technical parts like finding out what’s the cue and the reward isn’t what i want to talk about today though.
i’m more interested in changing the environment to make adopting a new habit easier.

i speak from experience, as i noticed i’ve managed to work around many obstacles in constructing good habits.
and it’s really quite serendipitous how i discovered them.
i had an “aha” moment when reading the book because i realize i’ve been doing some of the suggestions outlined in the book long before i know how habits work.

one of the hardest thing for me to do when my skin is bad is waking up.
after being dried out for 24 hours (from my last shower), and an 8 hour period without water,
i wonder if this is how rising from the graves feel like.
i have come to believe that our will power is a limited resource, if we don’t find other sources of motivation,
we’ll soon wear our will out and end up not doing anything.
getting myself out of bed used to be a problem, but over the past 5 years i’ve found routines that can help me get into motion.

the habit i want to talk about today is getting myself to leave bed even when i don’t feel like it.

last time, i used my breakfast to motivate me.
lately, it’s been the morning shower that i freshen up my skin with that keeps me from staying in bed all day.
even then, there’s still room for improvements – not just to get myself out of bed, but to minimize stress.

i’ve been through several versions of my morning routine even though they’re all me doing the same thing.

  1. wake up around 7+ when the sun rises, have my breakfast, shower, meditate (on a side note, i sleep with my curtains open so that the when the sky lights up, it’ll act as a natural alarm clock)
  2. wake up around 7+ when the sun rises, shower, meditate, have my breakfast
  3. wake up around 3/4am, shower, meditate, have my breakfast

that’s 3 variations of my morning routine.

some things don’t change, like meditating straight after shower because that’s the most convenient time for me.
i need to cool down after my shower anyway, instead of spending half an hour doing something aimlessly, i might as well use it to calm my mind and focus on my breathing.
in fact, this is exactly why i find it so easy for myself to keep meditating day after day – because i have a very convenient time slot for it to happen.

when adopting a new habit that might not give you immediate rewards, creating the environment that encourages the action is very important to help you stick to it.

it’s as though i built a set of rails over the uneven terrain, all that’s left for me to do after that is to turn on the train and it’ll make its way through the designated stations instead of having me drive a car on the road through the different roads, requiring my mind and effort at every turn.
it’s like auto-piloting!

what surprised me is how a small little change in my waking time can impact my mood so much.
i’m really just working with my body – i’ve been having trouble sleeping lately and i’d wake up around 2 or 3am, scratching and itching while being half awake.
even if i were to fall back asleep, i’d still wake every 2 hours and i feel extremely frustrated by the interrupted sleep.

one day i was watching some health videos, and as the chiropractor talked about how to get a good night’s sleep,
one should go to be before 10pm and then wake up at 4am so that over a month,
the body will be adjusted to sleep soundly throughout the night.
that was what gave me the idea of “why don’t i try waking up at 4am instead of trying to fall back asleep? i should wake up before i scratch myself to death!”, and that’s what i’ve been doing the past few days.

my sleep isn’t good yet, i’m clocking around 3-4 hours at night if i’m lucky.
the thing that bug me the most is falling asleep late. like way later than i would like to.
for optimal health, i really want to knock out before 11pm. there’s a bunch of TCM theories behind this time 🙂
some days i’ll have to supplement with day time naps, but i’m trying to cut it out so i can be tired enough to sleep earlier at night instead.

it’s only been 3 or 4 days since i tried waking up so early, but i’m really loving it!
very unexpectedly loving it 😀

one of the best thing about waking up at 4am is that the sky is still dark.
i can’t see my skin when i wake up – and it makes a hell of a difference when my skin isn’t that good yet.
seeing it dry and red stresses me out, and surely that’s not the first thing you’d want to feel in the morning!
not seeing it makes me feel better. a whole lot better.

also, the temperature tends to be cooler in the dead of the night,
i wake up feeling comfortable – not too hot or cold.

because i’ve only been in bed for 7 or 8 hours (as opposed to 10, because i go to bed early but i toss for several hours till 7am the next morning), my skin isn’t as dry at 4am, which means more comfort.

lastly, because i wake up after 1 sleep cycle at 4am (instead of an accumulated of 3-4 times if i were to try to sleep till 7am),
i don’t feel like my sleep is interrupted when i don’t expect myself to go back to sleep.
i don’t feel as frustrated!
and the thought of knowing i don’t have to force myself back to sleep takes away the pressure when i can’t fall asleep.

all in all, i actually look forward to waking at 4am now.
it gives me even more motivation than breakfast, but that’s partly because my diet is quite pathetically simple at the moment.
the lack of a savoury meal takes away a chunk of the original motivation.

luckily for me, i’ve found better ones.
and it happened so accidentally.

i guess if we can all keep an open mind and constantly try new stuff,
we’ll chance upon better options and routines for ourselves.
i seriously can’t remember the last time i felt so stress free in the morning,
and i think having lesser stress would contribute to a better well being and faster healing too.
so it’s really a win-win situation for me: i get out of bed happy, and a happy me means a faster recovery!

if you’re currently having a hard time living life the way you should,
see if you can shift things around to create a conducive environment for you to live easier with lesser effort,
because you need to save all your other will power to keep your mind positive.

it’s one of the tricks i learnt while dealing with TSW last time,
and it’s definitely proving to be a very valuable skill.

of course, some habits are easier to form than others.
i’m still trying to break the habit of scratching mindlessly when i’m stressed out, or bored.
when it comes to matters that require my own consciousness, it needs more effort,
and mindfulness.
so far, i find that whenever i catch myself scratching when i’m not itching, taking in a deep breath usually calms me down so much that i don’t need to continue scratching anymore.

xoxo

juliana.

[brain fart] how to not feel depressed

dep_title

i think i’ve received this question before, but i haven’t gotten a chance to really address it properly in a blog entry.

how do i stay strong despite all the bad times i have to go through?

to answer the question simply,
i’d suggest you pen down the list of positive changes you’ve observed in yourself ever since you quit steroids.
it can be simple stuff like..

i appreciate my family so much more than before,
i no longer take things i have for granted,
i am thankful all the fucking time such that i can tear up any time any where,
i am more empathetic than i ever was,
i’m not that snobbish bitch anymore,
i lead a healthier lifestyle now that i know what to do.. etc.

once you complete the list, you might be able to resonate with what i’m about to write. Continue reading

[brain fart] being kind and happy


it’s more important than you might think.

i’m in one of those pensive moods lately, it’s sort of the side effect of feeling moody.
not every thought gets to be written down and shared with people,
so this thought came at the right time because if it hit me a week ago, i’d be “meh!” and let it slide into the depths of my mind.
thankfully, i’m feeling a bit more motivated to get things done this few days,
so here goes.

as i was surfing the internet on my laptop,
i randomly look down at my hands that are laid out on the keyboard.
i think it’s a subconscious habit to always take a look at my hands and scrutinize my skin (which explains why i always felt bad the past few months because my hands looked kinda bad),
and it only surfaced to my awareness just now because i noticed how beautiful my skin looked.
for once, i’m not upset after looking down! i didn’t know i can NOT feel upset until just now!
it’s not perfect yet, but they look so much better than before.
lesser wounds, lesser redness, skin isn’t as elephant-y.
it actually feels smooth and soft again (i did use a moisturizer, as i felt it’s the right time to use it now).

what i did next made me think i’m borderline crazy.

i looked at my left hand while caressing it with my right hand as though it’s a little puppy in need of love.

“you look so good! you’re doing so well! keep up the good work!”

then i looked at my right hand.

“you’ve done an amazing job healing! keep up the good work!”

as i touched it with my left, i looked at it lovingly before holding it near my lips and giving it a kiss.
i know, i know. it sounds dramatic as hell, but i really did that! haha!

and then i smiled to myself and thought “how wonderful and amazing is my body? you’re doing such a good job healing from the damage i’ve dealt, yet i have been undermining your efforts by thinking you’re not healing fast enough.”

i wrapped my palms around my cheeks (they’re currently going through another cycle), gave it a light pat of affirmation, closed my eyes, and took in a deep breath.

and i smiled again.

being kind to myself elicits a surge of good feeling, and it puts my mind in the right place that aids healing.
it takes away stress and channel more positivity into a difficult time like this.

surely, you’ve felt unappreciated before in your life,
that didn’t feel good, right?
if my body had feelings, it probably felt like shit because i neglected the fact that it’s working over time to recover.

just because i’m not seeing progress on the surface doesn’t mean it isn’t progressing!
“no observable changes” is not the same as “no changes”.
even though other parts of my body might look worse, focusing on what’s getting better worked really well for me.

you really have to experience yourself, it’s cathartic somewhat.
it might be easier to imagine your body and skin as something adorable.
in my case i really felt like i was speaking to a cute little puppy.

love yourself, and feel better.

xoxo
juliana

p.s. photo of my hand over the month


click to enlarge to see the details, you can zoom all the way in!

MONTH 59

this month is the month when i start to experience healing more obviously.
plenty of changes within 2 weeks, and i’m totally surprised.
of course when i’m going through the bad days of my cycle, i still feel like time stretches out – 2 days felt like 4 days.
but i’m slowly getting there! if i can feel myself healing, I PROBABLY AM.

very long entry with a lot of photo updates.
you might want to find out what changes i made to my diet. Continue reading

[brain fart] when my guts rule my feelings

would it be too far fetched to say that our guts can impact our feelings and emotions?
it might sound crazy at first, but the more i read into it, the more the two appears to be related.
it’s called the gut-brain-axis.

the first time i came across this idea, i was reading GRAIN BRAIN by david perlmutter.
by now i’ve forgotten the proposed scientific mechanism relating the gut to the brain,
but the general idea stuck with me – the idea that eating wrong foods for you can play some nasty tricks on your mind.

===============================================

i remember the first time i tried going on a low carb diet (late 2013?), i had a lot more anxiety issues than before.
i’ve never really felt that way before, so i didn’t know it was anxiety at that time.
they hit me like a bat to my head, bringing my positive outlook down to the ground with it.
i’m normally a positive person who thinks the future is filled with opportunities,
but those dark and bleak moments filled with uncertainty are coming at me increasingly over the months i continued on the diet.

i don’t know what an actual panic attack is like,
but there was once i suddenly feel like my future is doomed (for no apparent reason),
that everything i’m doing right now is meaningless,
my heart rate rose, i’m restless, uncomfortable with my surrounding (which was perfectly fine just minutes ago).
i tried my breathing exercise but it didn’t seem to work, so i just tried to let it pass.
thank god it did.
it was a strange experience, because i’ve never felt anything like that before.
is that how it’ll feel like if dementors kissed me?

i never had another episode of whatever it was again.

==============================================

there was also another time when i was talking to my then bf,
he was talking about how the future might turn out to be – the death of the lower income group because living will become so expensive in the future.
the normal me wouldn’t feel much for that sentence because being the positive person that i am, i know there will surely be ways for them to survive. if there’s a will, there’s a way.
but the overly worried me was so affected by what he said.. i pictured myself drowning in the sea because i’m not able to afford a boat.
what the hell!? that wouldn’t come to my mind normally at all!
i felt so upset i told him i don’t feel like talking and ended the call, also something i never did because..
i have always enjoyed and wanted to speak with him then.

i lived through many tiny episodes of self doubt and uncertainty about the future during that period of time.
at that time, i thought it’s just mood swings, PMS, and you know.. everyone has a healthy level of self doubt right?
sometimes i thought i was moody because i didn’t feel like my skin is doing well.

===============================================

lately, i realized that the relationship don’t always hold true.
bad skin don’t always result in negativity.
even though my skin was shitty the past month, i never had those fears about the future.
i was upset, but not depressed.
and i don’t self doubt any more than usual.
in fact, my outlook is more positive than ever.

i didn’t feel like there’s a black hole sucking away all my positive energy away, whereas in the past, there was no way of escaping a negative thought no matter how hard i try to think positively.

what’s more interesting is, i think i can predict what’s going to happen to my skin based on the frequency of my anxiety attacks.
in september 2015, my skin was pretty good. probably the best it has been in the entire year.
but in the same month, i started having those attacks a lot more frequently,
almost once every week.
i passed it off as PMS at the very beginning, but things don’t add up.
i can’t be PMS-ing for the entire month, can i?

by now, the nature of my anxiety attacks have changed.
it’s no longer me fearing about the uncertainty of my future, but rather..
self doubt and negative thoughts taken to the next level.
like every trigger will just bring up the worst possible scenario in my mind.
i know there’s a devil living in the empty spaces in my reality, and it has upped its game by 10 folds.

for example, if the guy you like doesn’t respond to your text for the entire night,
instead of thinking that “oh he’s just busy” and getting on with whatever i’m doing, i automatically think “he’s with another girl right now” and i proceed on to feeling like shit and wallow in a downward spiral of bad feelings.
the thing is, I’M NOT EVEN THAT KIND OF GIRL WHO WORRIES ABOUT THIS KIND OF SHIT NORMALLY.
i was NEVER insecure or needy like that.

i know it’s not about my self confidence either, because my skin was fine at that time,
which guarantees a healthy level of self confidence for me.

no matter how i try to rationalize my thoughts, i just can’t figure out why my mind had that tendency to go to the worst possible explanation and making myself miserable in the process.

i’ve tried meditation, which helped me by being more conscious of my feelings,
but it didn’t stop them from coming.
acknowledging my feelings did help me come to terms with it so it can pass by faster though.

anyway, my mental wellness wasn’t that great in september and october.
i catch myself being controlled by the devil in my mind way too many times, and there was nothing i can do despite being a positive and confident person.
i know something was wrong with me because it’s a deviation from the norm.

and then my skin took a bad turn after october.
i guess the anxiety issue is just one of the symptoms of a compromised gut, just like how my skin issue is a symptom of a bigger issue.
i don’t remember much about how my gut health was like back then, but i know i was very gassy, which isn’t a sign of a healthy gut.
the relationship here is this: the gut will affect the mood and auto immune system.
so if my mood wasn’t normal, my gut probably isn’t, and of course my immune system is out of whack too.

==============================================

i want to improve my gut health,
on top of eating more vegetables (which i have been skimping on lately) and lesser meat (i feel like i don’t digest them that well) so that i can feed the bacteria in my gut,
i also began drinking ACV and taking probiotics again.
i’ve done ACV and probiotics before, but i never felt any significant changes back then to be honest.
maybe i wasn’t looking at the right place to observe the appropriate signs.

this time round (i’ve only been on the probiotics for a week),
i do feel a difference in terms of the amount of gas, and the quality of it.
TMI: it doesn’t smell like undigested food.

i’ll try to stick to it for as long as i need to because i’m not just doing it for my skin health.
i’m doing it for my mind too.
a healthy gut means lesser inflammation and auto immune problems too, so i really have nothing to lose.

looking back, there were experiences that stood out to me as evidence that the gut-brain-axis really do exist,
but reflecting on my past after i’ve read about such a relationship means there may be a case of confirmation bias.
whatever it is, i’m just sharing my personal experience with anyone who might identify with them.

did you notice yourself feeling more anxious/negative/depressed?
if you experience those feelings even when your skin appears to be fine, it could be your gut.

xoxo
juliana

MONTH 58

time seem to have slowed down for me again, because i’m not filling up my time with meaningful task.
guilty as charged.
i finally made it through another month, and it’s also my first month back on my old TCM medication.
i’m finally uploading some photos this month because..
i know for a fact things are gonna get better with time, i don’t have to worry about you guys feeling upset seeing my skin behaving badly again.

Continue reading

YOU MAY BE DELAYING YOUR HEALING

i hope i caught your attention with that title.
i’m just hopping in to write a short entry because after almost 5 years off steroids,
i’m starting to know a little more about the situation i’m in.

TSW (topical steroids withdrawal) should not be used interchangeably with RSS (red skin syndrome).
to put it simply:
if TSW is a cause, then RSS is an effect.

you quit steroids, you experience symptoms that can be described by the RSS.
but TSW is not equals to RSS.

TSW will be corrected as long as you quit steroids and give your body time,
but RSS? you might need medical/nutritional/holistic intervention if you’re not getting better over time.

erythroderma is a term that closely resembles the symptoms encompassed in RSS,
it doesn’t just go away on it’s own if your body is unable to regenerate itself after the trauma it went through.
now by the power of google, i believe you can read up on that if you think my idea is too radical for you to swallow.

of course, i’m not a doctor.
but i’ve been in this shit long enough to realize that you really have to do something about your situation if it ain’t improving.
i noticed children tend to recover fully with more success than adults do,
i believe this is partly due to their vitality (since they’re young and has more energy), hence they don’t need much external help to stimulating their body’s healing abilities.
adults are different. our bodies are battered, and look what happens when you’re sick and fatigued?
you don’t clean your house as often as you use to, junk piles up, stuff that are broken aren’t replaced because that’s not your priority right now.
same thing goes for your body. makes sense?
you’re sick, and if you do not have enough energy to fix up all those blows you’ve dealt the past few decades,
it ain’t gonna start fixing itself.

obviously i’m not going to recommend medication because i’m in no position to do that,
secondly i do not believe that medication is the answer to help you recover your health.
you should already know by now that drugs were never the answer to good health.

instead, i’m going to point you guys in the direction of nutrition and gut health because that is the most scientific non-medical thing that has been shown to make an impact on one’s health.
go on and find out as much as you can about all the different gut healing diets that’s available.
do the entire healthy lifestyle package, you have nothing to lose here because if it doesn’t help out with your skin,
you’ll just end up with a healthier lifestyle and a healthier body (which should technically lead to your skin clearing up).
if you’re not opposed to the idea of alternative healing, you can do your own research on that too.

bottom line is, DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR HEALTH.
the sooner the better.
and if you can do it under the guidance of an experienced practitioner, you might just find your way a lot sooner.