Tag Archives: self-care


C171388F-633B-443C-98FC-342EBB11876EMy time on Effexor is drawing to a close, slowly, but surely. This week, I tried to stop completely. I was on half a pill all last week and experienced very few symptoms. Monday was a bit rough, but I was optimistic. Then Tuesday came. I woke up feeling like a can of soda pop that’s been violently shaken. The pressure in my head was so bad I felt like I might go blind. It got a little better after I had breakfast, but it was very hard to focus still. Luckily, I had a good excuse to not write very much: my computer’s keyboard broke. I used Chris’ computer for a while, but I hate it because it feels like the keys weight a million pounds and I’m always accidentally opening tabs, so I just worked on one project for a little while.

A nap will help, I thought. The pressure got worse when I lay down. It was like it all flooded into my brain when I went horizontal, so that was a no. I took a shower in the dark and felt a little better, but I knew that wouldn’t last very long. Showers are just temporary relief. Since lying down wasn’t an option, I decided to just read. I ended up reading like 300 pages of Tana French’s “In the Woods,” finishing it, and writing notes for my own mystery novel. The good news: I definitely have enough plot points. I’ve always been worried that my novel’s story was too simple, but “In the Woods” oddly mirrored mine in that it had plot threads going on in the main character’s past and present. I also figured out how to structure the law enforcement/police department, so it feels more real. That will mean going through my pages and changing every incidence of “Sheriff” to “Chief” and the deputy is now a detective.

It’s a really weird feeling to be starving, but then when you eat, you throw up. That happened twice yesterday; weirdly, the only thing I did eat that I kept down was Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked Ice Cream. I spent the evening reading and propped up at a weird angle, and eventually my head felt so close to exploding that I took a quarter of the Effexor. I almost immediately felt better, though falling asleep was still rough and I started getting sharp chest pain.

Didn’t set an alarm for this morning and ended up full-on sleeping till 11:30 am. I took a quarter pill again, because I did not want to be completely debilitated. It’s been much better today. The usual neck and shoulder stiffness, some head pressure, but no throwing up and I’ve been able to catch up on my writing projects and clean. For dinner, it’ll be zucchini bread pancakes, bacon, and eggs, and I should probably stretch really well, since the last 30+ hours have consisted of moving as little as possible.

The plan is to stick to a quarter pill for a week. Who knew that 18 mg could make such a big difference? I’m happy to push off the withdrawal for another couple days, at least, because I have a fun weekend coming up with baking on Saturday at a friend’s, and then MST3K-ing on Sunday with another friend. I’d rather not be on the verge of head implosion.


songs-that-calm-my-soulIt’s been a while since I really blogged. Honestly, I’m still in shock about the election, and the government that’s being built. I’m afraid for people I love. I’m frustrated and confused by others. To cope, I’ve been listening to a lot of calm music. A lot of it isn’t happy music, but it has a soothing quality to it that forces my heartbeat to slow down. Here’s a sampling, for anyone interested:

Eponine – Penny and Sparrow
Low, How A Rose E’er Blooming – Penny and Sparrow
New Ceremony (Acoustic Version) – Dry the River
Husk – Dry the River
When It’s Cold I’d Like To Die – Moby
Comes and Goes (In Waves) – Greg Laswell
Closer – Johnnyswim
Stars – Jay Nash
Light – Jon Bryant
You Speak – Audrey Assad
How To Breathe – Matthew Mayfield
Sarah’s Prayer – Eden’s Bridge
Pull The Stars Down – Lucie Silvas


Songs For Sad People

To me, music is the antidepressant I know best, and one that is devoid of side effects. While necessary for many, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors frighten me because some artists and authors say they stunt their ability to create. As a writer, that’s unsettling, having my voice muffled or extinguished.

I know I may well have to use them at some point. I may need to find some stability from the ups and downs that characterize my depression, instead of white-knuckling as I have. But for now, I find, tiny instances of relief can be found in the furthest reaches of depression, small reminders that life is worth it.

Sometimes you just have to find the strength to push play.

Full article: http://www.laweekly.com/music/the-music-that-has-helped-me-battle-depression-5014322

I love how this writer described her relationship with music. Music has always been a huge part of my life, from when I first began listening to music on my own, late at night, discovering the rock music of the 1980’s on my Walkman to now, when I create playlists based on specific characters I’m writing about. My main playlist is just called “Writing,” even though I don’t listen to music when I’m actually writing. It’s the music that inspires my writing, and it brings me calm. Kristian Libman listed a few of the albums, bands, and songs that have helped her depression, so I will do the same here.

  • Blue October – I’ve written about them before, and their impact is still true. Lead singer Justin has been through hell and back, and listening through the band’s albums is like hearing his life story.
  • Audrey Assad – One of the few Christian artists I consistently listen to. Her songs are like hymns in their lyrical sophistication, but so intimate and personal at the same time. Every song is a prayer.
  • Ingrid Michaelson – there’s something about the simple strength of her voice that calms me.

Additional artists:

  • Joy Williams
  • Jetta
  • Brandi Carlile
  • Jason Isbell
  • Bee Bakare
  • Greg Laswell
  • Matthew Mayfield

I wrote a book!

So, I wrote a little book called “To the Brokenhearted: Being a Christian with Depression,” and it will be coming to Kindle very soon. I’m using their direct publishing service, and I’m super excited for everyone to check it out. It’s about my experiences with depression and anxiety, specifically as a Christian, and the lessons I’ve learned on how to deal with symptoms, people who deny mental illness, and so on. I have an author page on Facebook set up: https://www.facebook.com/eshubertyauthor

“Like” me and stay tuned!

Avoiding Triggers

I have a problem.

I let what I see on Facebook trigger me. I’ve even directly searched for stuff I know will upset me. I’m not quite sure why. A big reason is because I want to have an example ready when someone says something frustrating, like, “Oh, no one thinks that about such-and-such!” I can whip out my phone, shove it in their faces, and say, “Oh, really? Explain THIS.”

I’ve stopped seeking out stuff like that, but it still pops up automatically sometimes. I have made liberal use of the “Unfollow” button, which I believe is Facebook’s most genius feature.

Avoiding triggers on Facebook has been an important (albeit slow) step in my self-care. At first, I didn’t even realize they were actually triggers. It was just stuff that upset me, and a lot of times, I would directly engage. Many long-winded and angry Facebook “discussions” later, and I gave up. I would be left shaking with anger, sometimes weepy, and feeling sick to my stomach. Sometimes the exchanged words would stick with me for days. I would think back on all the bad experiences I had dealing with the subject matter in question, and the people.

I’m done with it. I’m done expecting people to censor themselves for my benefit. I have to take responsibility for what disrupts my life, and make it a point to avoid it. I’m extremely privileged in that I can do this, and that Facebook is essentially the only forum where I have to tip toe around. If I had to deal with triggers in a more in-person, consistent setting…yeesh. That would require more grace and strength than I have at the moment. For all of you who have to deal with triggering shit day to day, hats off. You are braver, bolder, and more worthy than I.

Forgetting How To Talk

I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. Finding the motivation to get out of bed has been more difficult than it’s been in a while. I sleep too much. I don’t eat enough. I write a LOT though, but it’s all for work. For the last two weeks, I’ve been working on my first sci-fi novel. It’s supposed to be 38,000 words. It’s my second book with my raise, so I’m eager to get it finished and get paid. Money has been tight, but Chris and I both got raises, so we can breathe a little easier. Still, I have trouble…being, I suppose. I’ve lost my ability to talk. As in, have verbal conversations with people.

I don’t spend a lot of time around people, so when someone asks me what’s going on in my life or how I am, I kind of freeze for a second and I don’t know how to answer. I’m ok when they just talk about themselves, or issues at large. That’s easy. But I don’t know how to have an evenly-divided conversation where we really share with each other one-on-one. I usually just start talking about ghostwriting right away, because it’s ever-present and most people find it interesting.

Writing is easy for me. Having conversations…not so much. It doesn’t help that the people I’m closest to (besides Chris) are far away.

Finger on the Trigger


I recently read one of many articles addressing the issue of trigger warnings in academia. A group of students at a university brought it up and the media was quick to jump on it. A “trigger” is described as an extremely negative response – such as PTSD flashbacks or urges to self harm – to pictures, text, video, and/or audio. Warnings serve to alert a person that what they are about to encounter might have content that could trigger them.

The comments on the article were astoundingly ignorant and insensitive. One person objected to using trigger warnings, justifying their stance by saying, “Life is a trigger.” Others expressed contempt for those who need trigger warnings, describing them as weak or overly-sensitive or having a victim complex. One commenter said people who wanted trigger warnings were incapable of using the Internet (and informing themselves about the content of a textbook), had not heard about cognitive behavioral therapy, and were just bored. A common thread I noticed was that people believed trigger warnings were in place before content that was “offensive.” That’s not what a trigger warning is about. Being offended is not the same as being triggered. At all.

I have been triggered. I immediately began having a panic attack and had to leave where I was and curled up into the back of a car, unable to stop shaking and crying. That episode subsided, but the next day, when I was back at my dorm, I locked myself in my room for two days. I was unable to do anything besides lie on the floor and fight the flashbacks. People had to bring me food. Being triggered disrupted my entire life, at at the end of the school year, had a negative effect on my final exams.

It’s bizarre that people believe that those who want trigger warnings are sensitive or even naive. More than once I’ve heard people say that life is hard, suck it up, you can’t be protected forever. It’s not like these students are unaware of life’s suffering. They have literally already been through trauma, including rape, abuse, eating disorders, and self-harm. They are the opposite of naive. They would just like a head’s up so they don’t have to relive these painful memories without warning. A professor at a college in New York says that most decent professors essentially already warn students, in his syllabus, he includes a brief note that makes it clear that some of the material in the class may be difficult for certain students, so if they need to excuse themselves, they are free to do so. They are responsible for the material missed. In a film class on violence I took my third year, we watched some intense clips. My professor always told us that what we were about to watch might be too much. For one film in particular, she emphasized just how brutal and disturbing it was, so I simply did not attend the screening at all. For the essay we were assigned on that film, I simply read a brief summary online and went from there. Students are masters of this, which is often called “bull-shitting.” It’s why cliff notes exist.

A criticism of having trigger warnings in academia is just how far this will go. People love the slippery slope argument, and in the article’s comment section, people were spinning wild presumptions about the kinds of content that would be labeled. “If a book has a troubled relationship between a father and son, will that be labeled too?” If that relationship includes sexual or other physical abuse, then yes. There are well-known triggers that encompass a wide range of content (sexual abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, emotional abuse), so that’s a good place to start, and it isn’t asking too much. Movies have MPAA ratings that specifically outline why it has that rating; this is not a new concept. It’s strange that people are so opposed to implementing warnings, it’s incredibly easy, something that any decent professor is already familiar with, and saves students from being surprised and sent into a full-blown anxiety attack or from self-harm.

I use trigger warnings. At least two of my posts have included a warning at the top. I do this because I care about those who have been through trauma, and because I don’t want anyone’s experience of my writing to be overwhelmed by negative memories. Any distraction from a core message (in movies, books, etc) is problematic, and a distraction that disturbs and triggers someone can completely override any positive effect the movie/book might have had. Sure, you could tell that person to just get over it and enjoy everything else, but you would be revealing your ignorance. This person would love to “get over it,” but it isn’t that easy and they weren’t necessarily prepared to be dealing with their trauma in this way at this time. A classroom isn’t really the ideal place to be hashing out your past.






4 Things To Look For In A Therapist


With conditions like depression and anxiety on the rise, more Americans are seeking out therapy for treatment, and with the price of medications and therapy’s recorded success (75-80% effectiveness), it is a very popular option. What makes a good therapist? This is a question each person must work through and it may take a few visits to different therapists before the answer is clear. Therapy is an extremely intimate experience and there are several guiding principles to keep in mind when selecting a counselor.

1). Is your therapist understanding and non-judgmental?

Everyone has a unique backstory and lifestyle, and it is crucial that your therapist does not judge you based on either of these factors. It is part of their job to help you work through unhealthy habits, but if you feel like they are disparaging you because of your choices, you should not continue with them. Therapists should be sensitive and understanding no matter where you are in your recovery.

2). Does your therapist provide you with a sense of hope and inspiration?

Motivation is quite possibly the one ingredient than you cannot do without when it comes to recovery. If you are not motivated, it doesn’t matter how great your therapist is in other ways; you will not make progress. Your therapist should be a source of encouragement and prompt you to keep working towards your goals even when you are discouraged.

3) Is your therapist able to track and communicate your progress?

A very common fear when it comes to therapy is that it will last forever. No one wants to keep spending time and money on something that seems to be going nowhere, so it is imperative that your therapist be able to tell you where you are succeeding and how to keep making improvements in your life. Some therapists do a regular check-in where you are asked a series of questions and scored on a 1-10 scale. The lower the number, the better your well-being. However they chose to monitor you, a good therapist will be able to tell you how effective their guidance has been.

4). Do you feel like the therapist is a partner in your recovery?

The last principle to keep in mind is perhaps the most important. There are many different kinds of therapists, including ones who serve more as listeners than coaches, but the key is if you feel like the therapist is on your side and invested in meeting your goals. It is irrelevant if a therapist is sensitive and inspiring if you feel like you’re doing this thing on your own. The whole point of therapy is that you have someone who is walking alongside you, and if your therapist seems detached or uninvolved, they are not the right therapist.

When searching for a therapist, it is perfectly acceptable to be selective. Don’t settle for a therapist you feel is only “ok,” but instead keep looking until you find someone you really click with and who can make a strong impact in your life. Utilize resources like client reviews to gather information about the kind of therapist you want to work with, and be patient. A therapist is a person who will be developing a very close, unique relationship with you, and you want to be confident in their ability to help you.



Novotney, A. (2013, February 1). The therapist effect.. Retrieved May 3, 2014, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/02/therapist.aspx

Whitbourne, S. (2011, August 8). 13 Qualities to Look for in an Effective Psychotherapist. Retrieved May 3, 2014, from http://m.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201108/13-qualities-to-look-in-effective-psychotherapist

Polishing Up

ImageI used to never be into makeup. I got my first piece of makeup – a black eyeliner – when I was a sophomore in high school. I just bought my first lipstick for my wedding last May. Gradually, I’ve amassed a collection of powder foundation, eyeliners, lip glosses, and nail polish. Nail polish is my favorite. My hands have gotten steadier and I no longer have to take four hours to get a coat that stays on. I’ve even attempted some basic nail art (stripes, dots, etc) with nail brushes. Colors include various shades of purples, pinks, black, white, tinted grays, glittery, and matte. My brands of choice are China Glaze and Sally Hansen.

Painting my nails gives me a feeling of calm and productiveness, like I have somewhere to be. When the depression is really bad, I stop taking care of myself physically. I don’t brush my hair or change out of my pajamas. Taking a shower is incredibly difficult. The idea of putting on makeup or contacts is laughable. Painting my nails is one of the easier things I can do to preen myself, and it sometimes is enough to jolt me out of a really bad mood. Choosing a color, carefully applying it, sitting and letting it dry, are all relaxing actions and when it’s done, it doesn’t seem so much of a challenge to also brush my hair or change my clothes.

It’s the little things that help.