Walking in the chaos.

Unpopular opinion: I hate summer. The heat; the humidity; the sun burns but above all else; BUGS.

I am triggered by all of them; no discrimination. Even ladybugs and butterflies.

Seeing more than one in my home usually trigger fears and ocd-like behaviours.

Today was the first warm day in Montreal; above 20celsius; with the sun and all. I decided to open the two windows with mesh screen in my living room. I would never opened an unmeshed screen. Never. I’d rather cook in my own blood.

This day already started hard; I woke up late and groggy from nightmares; life and undecisions felt heavy on my shoulders. I was already fragile from the past day; so it wouldn’t have taken much to trigger me to be honest. I had already killed a spider on the ceiling earlier today.

I was mentally prepping myself to go do a little grocery shopping between two loads and forcing myself to walk the dog in this warm weather when I noticed 2 bigs ants in my living room. And two mores and two mores. I had killed at least seven after closing the windows. Quick survey of the room; all is fine. Or so I thought.

Less than 2 minutes after I sat back into the couch with an odd feeling; Another big ass ant walks on my armrest. After a scream and a killing; a couple more invaded the room. This wasn’t good. I felt very anxious by then; my ocd behaviours were triggered; panic attacks overwhelmed me. Moving furnitures around; I found a couple more; drowning them in cleaning sprays. After a thorough evaluation; it seemed to have calm down but I had a problem now and wasn’t sure what to do.

I did what I always do in those times; call the husband. After trying to calm me down; he advised to spray raid in the room; if it’s unpacked.

It’s helpful to mention at this point that I am still not into my apartment and this temporary place has done nothing but increase my anxiety; fears and triggers.

Back in the cupboard, I frenetically searched and found those little ant traps that I scattered around the room. A new ant had been spotted and drowned. Headache start to kick in.

I finally found the Raid; cleared the room of important stuff and started spraying. I know it might not be good for the environment but it’s mighty good for my mental health. Close that door. Will reevaluate and spray again tomorrow. I curse myself for opening those damn windows.

In the room next to it; the kitchen; I start noticing tiny ants. Shit. That’s when the panic really sets for the rest of the night.

Catastrophizing. Nausea. Headaches. Itching. Obsessive uncontrollable thoughts. Lead like stomach pit. Shallow breathing. It’s not a good night. Obsessive ideation of having ants on me. Headaches. Clenched jaw.

So I kill whatever I find on the floor. Vacuumed and washed the floors of the whole apartment; which I never do; to disinfect; showered, changed my clothes three times, clean every surfaces in the kitchen, all the dishes and did a couple loads.

I am exhausted now. I know I will not have a good night. My body is itching all over for what I suspect to be psychosomatic sensations.

Every spots, marks, dirts is subject to thorough evaluation. In case it’s an ant. I even considered a few being on my dog; as a carrier; which is unlikely. I examined my pillow carefully.

The obsessive mind never rests. It turns its hamster wheel endlessly. No preoccupation given to its owner.

I know tomorrow after I wake up; I’ll proceed to another thorough examination of the floors, the living room and spray the room again before cleaning it a few hours later. This wasn’t how I planned my day; my week.

Someone else might be unbothered; put some traps, kill the visible ones and move on with their day.

I am trapped in the mind chaos.

I know most of these thoughts aren’t rational and possible extremists; but « what if? » is the anxious favorite song.

And tonight; I’ll be singing it until dawn,

Catherine aka the anxious mermaid

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Out of coping strategies

It’s the third time I am trying to write this post.

The words just won’t come out. I can’t hear my thoughts over the screams of my soul. I can’t think over the fatigue, the nightmares. I can’t focus over the anxiety and the panic attacks. I locked my door at night, overcame by paranoia. Sounds and smells gritting my senses.

Every word I write is wrong, misplaced. I think too much, yet nothing flows out. My body aches, my soul is sore, my eyelids are heavy. Nothing appeals.

Every time I start feeling better, I think I am finally out of the fog. This dense forest that wraps my mind, from which I can’t see the future clearly. Only storms going infinite into the horizons.

I try to fake it. To appear functional. Try to be more helpful, do some chores, go to my appointments. But I can’t write. I am bored. I am sad. I am lonely. I fail.

I have been lonelier than usual. It should be a time of increased productivity. Yet between appointments and regular activities, I watch an ungodly amount of TVs and sleep.

When I go through this phase, I question my choices, my life, my goals. I try to numb my mind. Go through a bunch of unhealthy coping skills, but there is so much you can eat. There is so much you can spend. I have overspent a lot in the past week. I do not feel better.

I find myself stimming and turning. Impatient. Needy. Irritable. I want to go off the grid. Do nothing. No pressure. No expectations. But it’s always there, it comes from within.

My mind is blank, yet it’s full. I hate myself and this mind I can’t control. This mind always so sad and insecure. This mind that always looks for the worst outcome.

I want everything and I want nothing. I am out of coping strategies. I stand still and I wait. For the feelings to go away. For a magical answer that possible will never come. I loathe myself and this ugly face. This body that does not conform to society. That I can’t love, even on my best day. This image of myself that is not aligned with who I appear, who I am. This impossible self. This ethereal glamour.

This is today. Tomorrow may be different.

I may love myself a little more.

I may be a little more positive. Or not.

It seems unlikely. This sadness inhabits my mind and soul. This darkness I have yet to embrace to find the light.

Those words that line up and have yet to make some sense. Maybe they only make sense for me, but for now, it’ll have to do.

I am out of coping skills. I can’t eat anymore. I can’t spend anymore. I can’t sleep anymore.

It shall pass too. Meanwhile, I wait. And I waste time watching tv.

Until next time,

Cynical Mermaid.

Not just a pretty face

On the blog, I work hard to promote health at every size; body positivity and advocate for mental health amongst other things.

This week I encountered this post on facebook and I think it’s a nice chart of exemples of ways to compliment people outside of the physical realm. We are so much more than just physical enveloppes.

We have been conditioned to be kind to others by complimenting their apparence. Especially when it comes to women and little girls. The downside of focusing on that is that people will put a disproportionate importance on their external appearance. With time; this focus on physical beauty may lead to body dysphoria; eating disorder; psychological distress; self hatred; automutilation; for those who those who believe their bodies does not correspond to social standard of beauty. It’s time to change this.

Feed your soul. Feed other people’s soul. As Judge Judy brilliantly said “Beauty fades; dumb is forever”. We are so much more. Celebrate achievements; acts of kindness; internal beauty.

Here is a list of exemples. I am sure you can come up with your own ♥️

Try it; I am sure it will be a positive experience for both of you. Lead by example. Encourage content; not packaging. It’s so much more rewarding 💕

Until next time,

Cynical Mermaid

Fat Folks Matter

Some of you knows I have been pretty involved in the fat positive / body positive movements in the last years.

I had been thinking about it for a while and today I took the jump and decided to design a first set of shirts as a visibility campaign.

Daily; fat people go through discrimination; violence and intimidation because of their size. Whether it is from media erasure; medical violence; diet culture; any way seems legit for society to force us to conform to the social mold. To reduce our body at any cost.

It’s time to let our voices heard. Time to show your support. Time to speak up against fear, violence and the way fat bodies are treated.

We exist. We matter. We deserve love and good care. We shouldn’t fear going to the doctors or seeking help. We shouldn’t be declined health services because of flawed research and mentalities. Clothing should be available in every size.

We are not second class citizens. Let your voice be heard.

Catherine aka Cynical Mermaid

Families, mental illnesses and body shaming

Content Note: conflictual families; body shaming; mental health; eating disorder; trauma; abuse

With the Easter holiday looming around the corner, a lot of us may deal with anxiety at the idea of spending time with our so-called loved ones.

Today, I am addressing the specific intersection of mental illness and body issues. You may relate to some of it, or even none of it. We all have our own ways of dealing with our bodies and mental health. Be mindful that every family has their own dynamic and that I can’t humanly address all of them.

For some, families can be very triggering for those struggling with their own unruly bodies and/or mental health through comments, remarks, unsollicitated advices or an underlying discourse/tension, only to name a few.

Intergenerational traumas and social expectations can lead to a prominent diet culture and talk. It can also lead to shaming of different, disabled or larger bodies.

It can be triggering to stand around family meals; which is the main event for most families. Being faced with buffets; a wide variety of food; sugary and salty treats can be confronting/anxiety inducing for people dealing eating disorders, body dysphoria or any other traumas surrounding food.

Paired with less than pleasant family discussion around your different life choices; it can potentially be very distressful.

So, now what?

Well; I compiled a list of tips to survive the holidays almost unscathed. Let’s be realistic there.

**While this was written for the Easter Weekend, I believe it can be applicable to any other holidays.

1. Wear comfortable clothes. Family reunions can be lenghty and tiresome. Wearing comfortable clothes might allow you to feel more at ease with your body and feel yourself. Dressing for the part you are expected to play may only further trauma and confusion. It may also cause you to be very self conscious of your body and weakening your emotional barrier from the start.
2. Take your meds, hydrate well, have a good sleep before if possible. You want to be your most well enough self.
3. Eat the fuck you want. Fuck ‘em. Eat that dessert. Eat that comforting food. Fuel your body. Don’t feel guilty. You didn’t kill someone. 
4. If you don’t feel like eating and it feels too hard, don’t. Respect your body. Privilege nutritive foods if you do eat. Food is fuel. Let them talk. Tune out if needed.
5. There is no good or bad food. Food morality is a constructed concept. Because your family bought into it, doesn’t mean you have too.
6. If you feel triggered or attacked by your some family members comments, first take a few moments to understand what they told you. What was their intent? What is the best strategy for you to let it go?Escalating the conflict never ends well. If some family members pass remarks on your weight and/or mental health status; let them know you are doing well and do not wish to talk more on the subject at the moment. You could let them know that your weight is not your focus at the moment. That you are listening to what your body needs. That you are doing intuitive eating. That you are the experts of your own body. You can simply thank them for their concerns and move to another topic.
7. You don’t have the burden to educate them. Especially if you already did in the past.
8. You are not too young for that.
9. Sick leaves are not vacations.
10. Part time work and social welfare are valid.
11. You can leave if you need too or retreat to a safe space. If this is not an immediate possibility because of lack of transportation or else; it may be useful to have an emergency plan in case you need to leave.
12. A plan for panic attacks, high anxiety or any other mental health manifestation can also be helpful.
13. If possible, carry some self-care tools with you; for example your knitting projects, some hand cream, contact numbers; a change of clothes, socks, underwear, snacks, pain pills, extra MI meds.
14. Establish your boundaries and maintain them. State them in a clear and gentle manner. Remind them if needed. If they persist on overstepping your boundaries; it is okay to leave.
15. Pick safe topics you feel comfortable speaking about and stick with them. If a family member picks an unsafe topic, change topic or address your discomfort.
16. The most important thing is to be and stay safe.
17. Your sexuality and gender identity is your business only.
18. If you can and want, bring someone safe with you. Hangout with the safer members of your family.
19. Don’t spend time with people who hurt you. While your grandmother may be well intentioned, if she hurts you or has hurt you in the past, you don’t have to spend more time with her than greetings.
20. Plan something nice afterwards, a treat, a nap, a movie, a book, a chat with a friend. Whatever feels good.
21. Feel free to say no if you don’t want to go. No one can force you to go. If someone does; it may be time to reassess that relationship. Seek help.
22. Gentle tip: while screaming, yelling and standing your ground agressively may feel good while doing it, it never ends well. Before you get to that point, try to take some space, leave or if you have the energy, explain what is going on.
23. While it may hurts, the weight and power your family holds over you is only as much as what you give them. It’s much more liberating to let go and find a family with whom you are comfortable with.
24. Blood isn’t always has thicker than water. Find people who love and respect you for who you are. If your family can’t give you that; they are the one missing out.

While I tried to cover the most my mental abilities allow me to right now, this list is and always will be incomplete. I believe you can take whatever is useful from this list and make your own. Add your own tips to the specificity of your family or reality. Feel free to share them with me if you feel comfortable too.

Remember, you are not less or not enough if you don’t go or if you leave. You don’t have to take abuse in the name of blood ties. If your family is not respectful, you can always choose to severe contacts.

If you find yourself in emotional distress due to the holiday period, call a friend, a mental health professional, a helpline.

You may feel lonely, but you are not alone.

I am always available if needed.

Until next time; take care.

Catherine aka the Cynical Mermaid

At Night, The Monsters

Once the sun set,

Once the silent fell,

Once his soft snoring fills the room,

The monsters come out of their shadows.

They live in this darkness I know so well.

Presences I have grown accustomed to.

Filled with anxiety, I feel manic and empty.

The lack of sleep has made me restless, helpless.

Counting the sheeps had never been an option.

Two pills tonight doesn’t even cut it.

Two pills can’t chase the monsters away.

Their voices ever growing in the chaos of the silence.

At night, the monsters dance in my head.

They tug and pull the wires.

They disconnect what I try so hard to repair

Filling my mind with anxiety and nightmares

Filling my heart with darkness and coals

Filling my body with shame and lead

They show me what I could have

What I lack and what I miss

They tell me I am not enough at dawn

Before getting their rest for the day

While I wonder and ponder

While numbness fills my body and races my heart

The monsters creep at night

They lie about my worth,

They feed my soul with doubts and insecurities.

The monster at night rest in the shadows

While my sleep deprived mind confronts daylights

It’s everlasting brightness, safe from monsters.

But they come back.

They always do.

No matter what I say or do.

At night, the monsters.

Self care tips for Spoonies

Lately; I’ve been under a lot of stress and my mental health has been up and down. Mostly down.

This winter is dragging on, plus the temporary move, the appointments, the recovery from the car accident, it’s been accumulating in a subtle; and less subtle; but real way. I’ve found myself exhausted, yet I have a lot of trouble falling and staying asleep. I’ve been crying a lot; either while watching TV or just emotionally overwhelmed. I have a hard time managing my emotions, managing myself. I am being ask “how my vacations are going”. Definitely not vacations in my book.

So I’ve tried to practice a lot of self-care; but unfortunately it’s easier said than done. I failed at times. I put a lot of pressure and expectations on myself and everything ends up feeling like a chore or a waste of time. I’m so up in my head, I am not mindful or fully-conscious. I’ve compensated with food and social media a lot lately. The brain fog is thick; and if I manage to empty my head; I feel very anxious and I panic. So my self-care isn’t always refreshing.

So in my spoonies group; we started talking about self-care tips and how it might not always be expensive or time consuming. It is quite common for spoonies (either with physical or invisible illnesses) to make a box/bag of self-care things and tips may be very helpful in a difficult phase. Sometimes, you’re so wrapped up in yourself, focusing on managing your pain that you forget what could help you.

Here’s a short list of self-care that may help you build your own list/box/bag:

  • Hydration: Could be water/herbal tea/coffee/water bottles.
  • Moisturizer: Sometimes, some massaging some cream into your hands, your skin, can help you soothe and reconnect with your body.
  • Naps: For me they are the best self-care. It helps me disconnect from everything and relax my body. Some days; I find myself craving some foods, but deep down, I really just need a lie down.
  • Therapy: Illnesses can be very hard for mental health. We all have our own struggles. Having someone to help us look critically at my thoughts have been a lifesaver for me. If you can afford/have time for therapy, this is good self investment.
  • Contact list\Phone numbers: If you are in a very tough/dark spots; you may forget who is out there ready to help you. Keep a list of friends, family members, good ears, helpline. You are not alone. Reach out.
  • Move your body: Now when I encourage to move your body, It means within your limits. Joyful movements doesn’t mean torturing yourself on a treadmill or a gym. It could be going out for fresh air; taking a walk or light stretching. Whatever works.
  • Feed yourself: Some people tend to overeat; others struggle to eat. Feeding your body seems obvious but it is important. Don’t judge yourself; don’t judge the food you eat. There is no morality on food, but if you struggle to put or keep food in; try to prioritize protein/nutrient dense food.
  • Heating pad/Gel pad/Massage roller/ Medicated gels: Some of us struggle with chronic or acute pain. Having those on hands for flare up moments are a necessity in my opinion.
  • A list of your Happy movies/shows/movies/books: Whatever is your groove, putting on something to distract yourself may make this moment go faster or be a bit easier.
  • Take a shower/Wash your face/ Put makeup on: Now this one is a bit controversial as showering might take a lot of spoons. However; I find myself benefiting from a hot shower after a few days without, even if I don’t want or feel like it. It may also be very soothing for muscle pain. If you do shower; make sure you are doing it safely; either with a chair; bars; someone supervising if needed. There is no shame in that.
  • Deep breathing/Meditation: To be honest; I am not a big fan of meditation as I already find myself too much in my head. However, some grounding moments, big breaths can be very soothing; especially if very anxious or while having a panic attack. Guided meditations or spa music is something to consider putting in your bag.
  • Journaling: Whatever your struggles; jotting down and keeping tracks of your emotions; symptoms; pain; writing it down can help you get out of your head and put things in perspective. A warning: If it becomes obsessive; it may not be for you.
  • Masturbate/Have sex: Yes. This can be self-care. Sometimes; we have to redefine how we engage in sexuality and intimacy while disabled but more on that later.

I reached the end of the accessible self-care I could find. There is a lot of others ways you can engage in good care; petting an animal; being pampered; cuddling; but these are not accessible to everyone.

Pick the ones who speak to you. Curate your own list. Come up with new ones. Share them with us if you want.

There is no shame or guilt in taking time for yourself. You might need a lot of time. Especially if you have been negating your spoons for a long time or in a big flare-up. There is nothing wrong in saying no and establishing your limits with psychologically/physically draining people/tasks.

You can enjoy yourself. You can have fun. You can buy something nice. Even if you’re strapped on cash. Even if you are living off donations. You are entitled to be happy. Disability/Limitations doesn’t define you. You define you.

Until next time;

Catherine; the cynical mermaid.

Leg Fracture with a side of fat shaming.

Today’s post include a Trigger warning as it contains triggering material for some people.

TW: Intentional weight loss; eating disorder; fat shaming; mental health; medical violence

So today I had an appointment with the orthopedist for a follow up of my fracture.

According to the X-Rays; it’s healing well. I am ready for physiotherapy. Hooray.

Then I was caught off guard by the doctor’s physiotherapist. My legs apparently form a V. Which is quite common for women. It can be increased by my WEIGHT and my WEIGHT can IN THE FUTURE cause more damages to my knees. Which are fine now BTW thank you very much.

But I should be CAREFUL in reaching an “healthy WEIGHT” because of the added pressure my WEIGHT CAN cause on my knee.

I doubt the physiotherapist had a “healthy weight” but that’s not my place to judge.

He repeated his recommendations to the orthopedist.

The minute I entered the office I felt he was ready to discharge me. Looking at the Xrays; I felt he kept dimishing my pain and discomfort. You should be fine. Only some rigidity.

And then he started talking about my weight. He felt I should be aware of the consequences. I felt judged. I felt rushed.

All the negative biases and prejudices I hold against myself resurfaced. Gross. Ugly. Unhealthy. Lazy. Lack of will.

I was experiencing a high level of anxiety. Panic attacks waving on and off. I zoned out by moments.

However now; I know better than to give them the negative thoughts a voice.

I could give all the reasons why I can’t and won’t lose weight, but I don’t have to justify myself. To anyone. I am the master of my own health.

I also like to remind that the first reason I was referred there was that a fucking CAR embraced my leg. And that my knee braced the impact like a champ. Talk about iron caps.

I am 28 years old. I have been fat all my life. I am well aware of the possible impacts of my weight on my health.

I have been reminded countless of times, read on the matters, got testimonies of the impact of my WEIGHT. I have been the target of concern trolling many times. I know!

However; while they may be well meant and genuine; they are triggering and unsollicited.

We needto reframe HOW we talk and think about the intersectionalism of health and weight.

Instead of telling me to lose weight;

You could ask me about the health habits;

Take into consideration my limitations;

Positively encourage joyful movement;

Take into considerations the possible mental state of the person and possible eating disorders; current or in the past;

Ask me what I know and what I want for my health;

Facilitates the access to services that can improve my mental and physical health if I ask for them.

Talking about weight is highly triggering to many people. It shouldn’t be something taken lightly.

Telling someone to lose weight should be the last thing you tell them.

We need to rethink the healthcare system and the way we treat fat patients. Fat shaming is medical violence and it is unnaceptable.

What he said; as a general statement wasn’t bad and he is right that he may impact my knees. A lot of others things may affect my knees. Lower weight people can also have bad knees.

Weight is a factor amongst others.

All this to say my fellow readers; don’t be that person. Don’t perpetuate fat shaming stereotypes. Rethink health and weight. Reframe them. Consider that people are the experts of their OWN health. Educate yourself. Read on health at every size. Enjoy joyful movement.

You are not define by your weight; your body shape; your limitations. You are so much more than that.

Until then;

Catherine; the much cynical mermaid.

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