Today’s Month of Faves topic is actually favorite books read this year. However, I’m still reading, and one of the two books I’m currently finishing could make that list. So instead, today I’m going to talk about how we celebrated Jólabókaflóð (Yule Book Flood) that I mentioned in my #AMonthofFaves This Is How I Holiday Away From Home post. This can either be categorized as a part two of that post OR as fitting the day/weekend in the life post that I missed because I was grading non-stop.
Here was the plan for Jólabókaflóð.
Everyone (me, my best friend Fernie, her husband, and the four kids–“kids” even though three of them are grown) are all going to put our names in a hat, draw a name, and then go to the used bookstore and pick a book for that person. Then, we’re going to make hot cocoa and sit around and read on actual Christmas Eve.
Here’s what we actually did based on ideas we all contributed as we tried to work out logistics. As a reminder, there were seven of us in total participating.
FRI. Dec. 20 – #AMonthofFaves This is How We Holiday – Rep your home’s holiday look, share pictures of your holiday decorations. Christmas tree, your favorite holiday traditions, holiday festivities, favorite ornaments, places to go, holiday drinks, holiday eats, holiday themed reads.
I’m visiting my friend for Christmas this year, which means I’m doing things a little bit differently.
For one, she has decided that we’re going to participate in the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod (or Christmas Book Flood). She has a voucher from a local used bookshop, so everyone (me, her, her husband, and the four kids–“kids” even though three of them are grown) are all going to put our names in a hat, draw a name, and then go to the bookstore and pick a book for that person. Then, we’re going to make hot cocoa and sit around and read on actual Christmas Eve.
As previously mentioned, I went to see a headache specialist who prescribed Topomax for my headaches.
The Topomax turned out to be no good for me. At all.
In fact, the Topomax caused symptoms of depression. What that means is I have been depressed for the past few weeks. I don’t have to tell anyone who suffers from depression that it has been awful, but, still, it has been awful.
I realized I was depressed because my do not want and lack of engagement with almost everything has been so high. Like, I literally did not want to do anything. I was late to my office hours the past week because the thought of sitting in my office for no reason felt so pointless. And we have meetings, which I largely feel are inane but that I usually am fine with going to because I get to catch up with people, and I just could not force myself to go to them. Everything has felt stupid and dumb, and I come home and sit on my couch and the thought of doing anything else fills me with dread.
This weekend, I was invited to a Halloween party, and I stood in the door to my closet trying to figure out which of my costumes I was going to recycle and the thought just exhausted me and I knew if I stood there any longer I wouldn’t go to the party, so I just made myself leave the house and go because I knew once I got to the party I would be fine, but the idea of the costume was exhausting. The thought of even going to the party was exhausting, and I could and would have used the costume as an excuse not to go. AND I LOVE PARTIES. This behavior is so uncharacteristic of me that I knew something had to be wrong.
Last week, I had to text several people to see if anyone was available to get together to grade/work because I knew that if I did not have anyone to hold me accountable, I would just sit in my house and not do anything. And, y’all, I know I complain about grading and there are a million things I would rather do, but when it’s time to get it done, I will power through, but I was like, “If I don’t get help with this, I’m just going to be staring at my students like ‘Sorry, I don’t know what you want from me because I’m barely showing up for this’.”
So yeah, I knew something wasn’t right. I mean, teaching was basically the only thing keeping me going because I know from just when I’m in a generally pissy mood that engaging with my students makes me feel better, so showing up for work helped. Showing up for other commitments and being around people helped. And then just as I was thinking I should probably get to the doctor, I reread the insert on the medicine and saw the bit about contacting the doctor immediately if I started experiencing symptoms of depression.
When I told my therapist I would rather go back to having headaches than dealing with this, she was all, “Are you sure?” and I was like, “Yeah, the headaches sucked but I was able to show up for my life and my students and my friends and now I’m barely going through the motions. So, yeah, headaches >>>> Topomax-induced depression, for sure.”
I also have actually hated coming home because when I’m with people, the depression is there, but it’s at bay. I’m able to laugh and cut up and have fun. But on the drive home, the emptiness that’s awaiting me has been daunting. I actually just left a friend’s before coming home to write this (it’s Sunday), and I was for a moment gripped by terror that I would cross my threshold and the desire would completely leave me as soon as I sat on the couch–that all my plans for myself would collapse in that black hole of nothingness that’s been swallowing me up lately. And this is different from procrastinating and goofing off because even those things have held no appeal. It’s just been nothing, and that’s been terrifying.
But there is good news. I have started decreasing my dosage and feel better already. In two weeks, I’ll no longer be taking the medicine and in three, it will be completely out of my system. (I wish I could just quit but apparently that leads to seizures and possibly death, and I’ll be damned if I let that happen after all of this. So. Slow as it goes.) I’m writing this blog post. I have been honest with my friends about what’s going on with me. I’ve reached out for company when I’ve needed it. I went back to the gym Friday, and I went to church Sunday. I’m actively thinking of the things I know that I enjoy or that make me feel better and doing them so I can not feel terrible all the time. And it’s working. And for that, I am grateful.
Since my last post, I have been to seven doctors’ appointments, and that’s not counting the ones I took my daughter to before she left for Japan. I am exhausted, and it turns out that I’m not just exhausted because it’s a thing I like to say but probably because of medical reasons.
Here’s what I’ve learned from all my doctor’s appointments:
Ugh, I hate starting blog posts by pointing out how long it’s been since my last post, but, well, it’s been over a month since my last post, so there is a lot to cover, which means that every time I think about updating my blog, I get overwhelmed by the fact that there’s so much to cover, so I just…don’t. This has been a terrible plan because it just gets me farther and farther behind. So, let’s get to it.
1. This past week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and I want to give a shout out to all my colleagues and teacher friends past and present. They inspire me every day and help me in so many ways. I was going to try to list just how they do that, but I realize that it would just be too much to catalog because it’s just that much and that often. I am just truly grateful to have so many awesome people in my life.
1. I went to a panel with the Jane the Virgin showrunner as well as several members of the writing staff. They played the clip of Jane’s reaction to the major spoiler that happened at the end of last season and then answered questions from the moderator (who was the show’s narrator!!!) about the process.
Two fun facts: (1) The whole season is planned in detail from the beginning. (2) They always reveal secrets instead of having characters keep them.
Whew, there is a lot to cover from the past two weeks, so let’s just dive in.
1. First of all, my brilliant daughter got accepted to not one, but two study abroad programs: one for the summer and one for next school year. The summer one is at a Buddhist monastery in China and completely funded through scholarships. The second is at a university in Japan, so she has started a GoFundMe to help cover the costs. Please click over, read her story, donate if you’re so moved, and/or share her page with others. Everything helps!
My daughter is also posting all of her pre-study abroad prep on Instagram and plans to keep it up while she’s abroad, so if you’re interested in that, please follow her there (@starless_knight39) as well. At some point, she’s going to start a vlog about all her adventures as well. I mean, the girl is on the move and living all of her dreams. I’m so proud of her.
I had high hopes of participating in the month-long Slice of Life Challenge, but my eyes had other ideas. So, basically, my eye fatigue or computer vision syndrome came back with a vengeance–just in time for the beginning of the semester AND the start of SOL. So even though I had already signed up and had every intention of blogging every day, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the commenting commitment and wasn’t entirely sure I would be able to post every day, especially since I knew I would have to do screen-free weekends to give my eyes a break. This also led to me not updating my blog at all for the past two weeks. Of course, that could just be typical beginning of the semester stuff.
Anyway, all of that wonky eyeball stuff also led me to getting glasses. More specifically, I got glasses that are specifically for filtering out blue light so I can use the computer without causing my eyes extra stress.
When I went to the optometrist to double check on the prescription I got last summer for reading glasses and ask about the computer glasses, the young woman who explained my prescription to me pointed out that I have a very slight astigmatism.
Now. This might not be a big deal to those of you who already wear glasses, but I have often bragged about my 20/20 vision. Do you know what an astigmatism means? No more 20/20 vision! But, I told myself, there’s a bright side to this diagnosis. Because do you know who else developed an astigmatism? Malcolm X. And he was a brilliant civil rights activist, so obviously I am (a) a huge nerd and also (b) in fine company.
But then I reminded myself that he got his astigmatism reading voraciously by dim prison light in order to educate himself, and I got mine from fooling around on the internet. So, you know, never mind.
In conclusion, I’m posting today because I got my new glasses. It’s a different world behind lenses, y’all.