Whatever pops into my head

Posts tagged ‘Japan’

A tough journey

So yes, it has been a long time since I have posted here. About three years. What have I been doing in all this time? What happened to my hobbies of cooking and nail art? Well to put it simply, I had fallen into a depression and I am now coming out the other end of it.

On March 11th, 2011 there was a huge earthquake in Japan. I was here for that. I was on the 7th floor of a department store in the middle of a lesson and we felt a small shake, and then the world turned upside down. My student clung to me and was wailing. It was then I realized how big and serious this was. I was working in the Shonan area and we are known for having awesome beaches. After we cancelled classes for the rest of the day, we were told to evacuate the building and to find high ground because there was a tsunami warning. None of the trains were moving and the buses that were moving were packed. There was no way to reach my home that was over 45min away. Thankfully a student’s mother saved me and my friend and allowed us to stay with her and her daughter while we waited for the father to get home (He literally walked all night from Tokyo to get home).  I remember laying down in the futons the mother had laid out for us and trying to call my aunts to see if they were ok. No calls got through, everyone was calling loved ones, the lines were all busy. I was able to call my home in the states. My younger brother answered because he was awake at this odd hour that I called. I told him not to wake up my parents and to leave a note on the counter that I was ok and to contact me on Facebook. I am so grateful for Facebook. It was the only way I could communicate to anyone that I was ok, and for me to check if all my friends were ok. I remember freaking out as I watched my iPhone battery dying. I had to conserve it’s battery and watch how many times I checked Facebook to check on my friends. (I now carry power cords and a portable battery with me everywhere)

I tell you this all in detail because this was the cause of my depression. My PTSD. I didn’t even know you could get PTSD from an earthquake. I always associated it with soldiers fighting in a war, or a trauma from something that happened from a person’s childhood or horrible experience. I was very naive on the many aspects of it. It’s still hard for me to think of it this way. I like to call it my PTESD (post traumatic earthquake stress disorder). But it wasn’t only this that had contributed to it. I am a person who likes habits. I like to know what to expect from a situation. The unknown scares the crap out of me, and I don’t trust people for a long time. Unless you know me really well, I would seem the opposite. Completely open and trusting of everyone. NOPE, not me. Maybe when I was five.

The thing is, I was supposed to move into my new apartment on the 13th. I had packed everything away, I had eaten or thrown out food  (I wouldn’t have a fridge or stove for the first 2 weeks), most of my stuff was inaccessible. I was also getting ready to leave the job I was working at and starting a new one in less than a month. For me, these are two huge changes that cause extreme stress. And to throw an earthquake/tsunami and then a couple days later a nuclear scare on top of it all. It was just too much for me. I was able to keep it in for a few years. I busied myself with making lessons for my new job and decorating my apartment etc. But about the end of the second year, I started to notice a huge change in myself. I was extremely moody, didn’t want to talk to people and sleeping a lot. I started to order pizza 2-3 times a week because I didn’t even want to talk to the people at the cobini (convenience store). No human interaction was ideal.

Of course I gained about 25lbs since 2012. All that pizza… I still order pizza pretty regularly. I feel like I have forgotten how to cook. It takes forever to put together something I used to throw together. But I am slowly reteaching myself, and rediscovering my love for cooking.

This past year has been a year of healing and rediscovering myself. I am so lucky to have friends and family who loved me even though I am really good at shoving people away by jackhammering (push seems too nice) the right buttons. I tried to reach out to a therapist at the end of 2013 but the guy, while certified in the states had to collaborate with a Japanese doctor to write scripts for him. This made him very expensive. $180 per hour and he was all the way in Tokyo. I couldn’t afford that and was feeling desperate. He tried to do what he could through email. I think even from my messages he could tell how low I was. I was so embarrassed but I knew I needed help and I called my friend. She found me a doctor and went with me to my first appointment. When I met her I was hyperventilating just from the train ride. I think I really freaked her and myself out. At this point I had to take two weeks off of work, but I was stressed because I couldn’t afford that. I was put on medication and was slowly recovering. I had a goal to get off the antidepressants before my trip home. I didn’t want my family to see me at my worst. They saw bad but not worst. They gave me what I needed and what I always know I have from them. Unconditional love. My mom chanted with me, we are buddhist, and renewed my faith. I knew I had the strength to overcome this hurdle. My dad chatted with me, and actually helped me to uncover the timeline of my feelings. He was the one who said the depression could be a result of the trauma from the earthquake. I brought it up to my doctor, she looked at what I had talked about in the past and agreed then told me about PTSD. My poor brother took the full force of my anger multiple times and never fought back. Just allowed me to get it out. I feel so bad for this now, I know I must have seemed crazy. I needed an outlet. It was the wrong one but he let me have it. I am so lucky to have the family I do. No one else could have gotten me through this. I returned to Japan, with a better understanding of myself and my emotional triggers. My true healing started from this point.

In Japan, in my Japanese class I had made two instant friends. They met me at one of my lowest points, and they also loved me unconditionally. They got a lot of my crazy while in Japan. Again, I’m good at pushing people away, but they just pushed back and let me know I wasn’t alone. When these two people can love me when they met me at my worst, I knew I had made friends for life. I hope someday I can show them the better parts of me. I love them and recognize them as family.

Another person who has helped me heal, is my chiropractor. I threw my back out and my friend who took me to the doctor recommended him. His office is a 5 min walk from my house. I started to go to him regularly and he explained to me about how my body works, and how it deals with stress and anxiety. I’ve had a problem with my hip feeling like it dislocates sometimes when I walk, for about 10 years. I went to several doctors before but he is the first to give me a reason why this happens. I have learned about my body and stretches I can do to help myself when I am unable to see him. In Japan, Chiropractors are not covered by insurance. I pay 6,500yen for each hour. But I will happily give him my paycheck, because what he has taught me about my body and my mind, and how it is all connected is priceless. Also, he has doubled as a second therapist and his English is very good. He also accepts my American side and when I broke down crying realizing what I was doing to myself and that my pizza diet only contributed to my downward spiral, he surprised me by giving me a hug.  You may be thinking “so what” but in Japan you don’t really hug. As an American who needed comfort he adapted to help me. It’s one reason I love the city I live in. It’s a mix of culture, just like me.

One more person who has helped me is my coworker. For as long as I can remember my mother told me don’t say negative things. The karma will come back around. I was always like” yeah whatever” until I was in college. Then I finally understood this. But I only understood half of this. My coworker tells me it’s human nature to think negatively about yourself and your situation, but don’t speak the words out loud. You are listening to yourself. You must tell yourself, “you are enough” and things “couldn’t be better.” My mother texts me guidances everyday, but it’s not the same as having her there with me by my side. Because I see him almost everyday, through him I understood another layer of what my mom had told me. It’s not just about other people. It’s about myself too.

Why did I feel the need to poor my soul out today. I thought about how I haven’t posted in this blog and realized that it was one of my interests that just stopped being fun to me. Another sign that I was falling into depression. I felt like it would be therapeutic and I hope if someone needs help they can find some comfort in my story. I feel like depression is such a negative thing to talk about. It’s hard to understand if you haven’t gone through it or lived with someone who has it. I thought I knew because my friends had it, but people with depression can be pretty good at covering up how bad it actually is. I’m still on sleeping medication because of insomnia, but I am at a point where I’m not shy about talking about what I have overcome. This topic needs to be talked about more. I remember feeling so much shame. I should have gotten help months before I had my breakdown. Even in Japan like back home in the US, depression is whispered, ignored, and shameful. You can’t just choose to be happy. It is not a choice that you just switch on. It is a war, not a battle that goes on in your mind and body. The chemicals in your body are literally out of whack. It is not a choice. It is a serious medical issue that needs to be recognized and openly talked about and accepted.

A year ago I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and now I am basking in the sun. I still have struggles, but I know how to handle it now. I feel like I have turned poison into medicine. My first true understanding of what this saying I’ve heard since I was a kid really means. I have grown from this hard experience and have come out stronger. I don’t know if the war will ever end, but I know I can win each battle that crosses my path.

So now that you know my tough journey, I hope if you see the signs of depression in someone you love, just be there for them and know it means the world. It is life.

Advertisements

I’m getting lazy

Sorry peeps, I’ve been getting lazy with this whole blogging thing. I’ve also been extremely busy. I teach at a school and my kids graduated. I almost cried but managed to suck it up. They were my first graduating class so I will miss them even though they made me want to tear out my hair most of the time. Those kids have a good heart. I just hope they grow up while they are in school before they get to the real world.

My life has become a boring pattern of waking up at 5, going to work, coming home, working on some stuff, showering, sleeping and doing it all over again. I’ve seriously lost months over this. I feel like it should still be November! My goal is to make something of my days. I’ve fallen out of touch with lots of people recently and i’m trying little by little to get that back. That seems to happen a lot in the winter months for me. My doctor once told me I have seasonal depression. I just think i must have been a bear in a past life, only in this life I’m not allowed to use hibernation as an excuse from work.

Anyway, I haven’t been doing much cooking at home or cleaning for that matter. My place is once again a disaster area that I hope to remedy tomorrow. I will dedicate an entire day to cleaning and getting my pots ready to transfer my cooking herbs! I’m growing from seed… cucumber, tomato, basil and shiso leaf! I can’t wait! My cucumbers were pretty good last year!

Let’s see what else…. oh I’ve gained weight…. yes, again! So i’ve decided to do a get out of the kotatsu table diet. For those of you who don’t know a kotatsu table is a low table in japan that has a heater under it. You throw a blanket over it and it keeps you warm in the winter months. The upside, keeps you warm but keep cost of electricity way lower than using a heater! Downside… you won’t move from your very toasty spot. I have created a nest so that I can reach everything i need from the one spot i sit in. Hence the mess in my house.

20120408-001525.jpg

I’ve also purchased a new blender! I know yay! I hope to create some new smoothie recipes soon! I’ll wait til it warms up a little. Anyhoo! I broke down and bought a magic bullet. I’ve made a smoothie and hummus so far. i’m not sure how I feel about it yet but i will say i’m not in love with it. we will see if that changes.

20120408-001543.jpg

Yeah, so the new school year has started! I’m excited to meet the new teachers and 1st year students, and of course happy to see my old students! I really hope this year will be a less stressful year because I can’t go through what I went through last year again… I just can’t. It’s looking a little iffy now, but i hope that’s just cause we are starting off.

On a happy note, I’ve got a lot to look forward to this year. I have two wonderful friends visiting in the month of May. Also my dad might come for a visit on business! This year I will also get to visit home! First time in 2 years. I am very homesick and can’t wait! So many amazing things for this year. I will also be going on my very first cruise, so I need to get swimsuit ready. I’m glad that Americans don’t care as much about body image, If you’ve got it, flaunt it! And I’ve gots my jigglies!

I’m also really, really, really excited to see my friend’s baby. He was born a bit ago and will be about 3-4 months when I visit! I hated that I wasn’t there for his birth so I’m glad i’ll get to see him soon! I also miss my other kids that I took care of since they were babies. They are growing so fast without me. I feel old.

I guess those are mostly the highlights… i’ll try to get to more useful posts later! Maybe more recipes, or info on Japan! I’ll try!

 

 

Bento

So, here’s the thing. I’m broke… I wasn’t expecting the big resident tax bill you get slapped with here in Japan, because my first company didn’t tell me to expect it. I’m still paying it off. But I’m out of time. My visa is up for renewal and I have to pay it off by the end of the month. So I’m in money saving mode which equals me packing my lunch for work.

There are of course other benefits. It’s way way healthier for me to pack my lunch. Every time I walk into a conbini I get tempted with their goodies. I know they design the store that way but I still fall victim to a good ole’ chocolate bar or bag of chips… or both. Also, I’ve recently gained weight, read the previous sentence for the cause. So yeah it’s getting colder and I consider my winter weight gain my extra coat but I’m not liking how my clothes are fitting me.

So about my bento. I’m not interested in those crazy character bentos you see when you google bento.

Here is a picture of a cute Winnie the Pooh Karaben made by a fellow wordpress blogger!

Why is that? 1) I’m not that creative and 2) I make my bento at 5am do you really think i care if it’s cute.

So I will post practical looking bentos on my site. I will warn you though I am a beginner. You may see many burnt, misshaped, dry food. Again I’m cooking at 5am, and anyone who knows me is fully aware that I am NOT a morning person. I often get made fun of because of how grumpy I am.

So why am I posting about this now? I was a cooking machine tonight! I decided to get a lot of prep done tonight (sunday night) and then just throw my bento together in the mornings. So I wanted to try my hand at kimpira gobo, it is a very popular dish here for bentos. I also salted some cucumbers and cut up some takuan its a type of pickled Daikon radish I think. I’ll post pics—->

20111213-185006.jpg20111213-185123.jpg

Also, here are a few bentos i’ve made —->

20111213-185144.jpg20111213-185155.jpg20111213-185207.jpg

20111213-185135.jpg

Palm Reading

In Japan, fortune telling is a big deal. You can find it anywhere!! People will randomly walk up to you at the station and ask to read your palm. (I always avoid those people though…)

So yeah I don’t really rely on fortune telling. I feel that I control my own destiny, but I do enjoy seeing what they can “get” from my palm.  If I don’t like what’s said, I’ll change it. So anyhoo, I went to China town with two friends because one of them was going to Fiji to study English. We were having a sort of farewell dinner. We decided to get our palms read since Chinatown is the perfect place to do so.

Here’s what the lady said about me…

1) I will live a long life.

Dude I hope this one is true

2) at work, people rely on me to do things that are outside my job description. I am a capable  and independent worker. The company is lucky to have me.

I would say HELL YES! This is true with a capital T! I won’t go into detail because I’d like to keep this somewhat private but yeah… I’m doing someone else’s job and I was lied to about it in the beginning. I’m getting paid the same amount as people who do ZERO planning… its BS.

3) I am a human treasure.

Dude I know this to be true (haha)

4) I should start my own business or join in with a friend.

I’ll be joining a friend next year, at first part time… it’ll be epic!

5) I worry about other people’s feelings and think about other people too much. To the point it causes me stress

Yeah, thats me but thats my personality and it won’t change

6) I have poor blood circulation and get cold easily

Yup this one is true too

7) I have a weak stomach. Take care of my health

This is true too. The people around me know I get food poisoning at least twice a month

8) She asked if I had a boyfriend, on my palm it looks as though I do

I told her to point him out to me cause I’ve been single for a while

9) She said I would marry at 32 or 33 to a guy i’ve continued to have a friendship with even though we don’t stay in contact regularly

WTF, I have no idea.

So there you have it guys… my very first palm reading! She got my personality traits right on. But i believe these are easier to read because if it does show in my palm, then i’ve been that way for a while. The future can change based on my decisions so for the future, well we will just have to see!

It’s been a while

Yeah, So I was a mixture of lazy and busy for the month of September. I didn’t post at all. So here are a few updates on what I’ve been thinking about…

September was my first month back from summer vacation. Unfortunately, my memory stick that I use for work deleted itself. I pulled it out of my PC without ejecting. BTW i don’t recommend that. So yeah, September was the month I used to catch up on all I lost. Still not quite there yet but it’s getting better.

October 1st and 2nd I had weddings that I attended. Both were beautiful ceremonies. I’m honored that I got to be apart of both of them. I sang a song at each of them. I will say this though… That will probably be the last 2 in a row I do. I was dead this week at work. I slept most of yesterday and a good chunk of today and I still feel exhausted. I’m also fighting a cold. Now that I thinking about it, if I didn’t have a cold I probably would have faired better.

Today I went to my local softbank shop to hear about the new IPhone 4S and place my order. I’m proud of myself. I was able to ask my questions and order my new phone. I can’t wait to get it! I’m rockin the Iphone 3GS and the camera and display quality are crappy. I really need a phone that takes great pictures. I also really wanted a phone that had an internal camera and decent GPS system. I don’t know why but i think i have a glitch in my sense of direction. I tend to go the exact opposite direction that I need to be going. Never fails… so yeah an accurate and idiot proof GPS system would be great. My current one never pinpoints my exact location. It always seems a couple streets off.

So smoothie update…

My blender broke :*( It had a very short life. I’m not sure why or how. I went to use it and it just stopped working! Unfortunately, things aren’t easy to complain about or return here in Japan. One of the things I miss about the US. I’ll just have to absorb the cost for that one. Til i can figure out how to dispose of it and buy a new one… new smoothie entries will have to wait. Sorry guys… but do feel free to post any of your ideas!

Nail update…

Like I said I’ve been pretty lazy and busy. This also equals to me being stressed out. My nails have become more brittle and break easily. I’m having a hard time growing my nails out. I don’t have enough of a canvas to do my marble french so I’ve turned to crackle. Now i’m using black crackle over hot pink nail polish. I’ll post a pic.

 20111009-175912.jpg

So that’s pretty much it. Nothing exciting really. I’m hoping to get back to a normal schedule again soon.

 

Tarty Triple Berry Smoothie

The other I day I had the fortune to go to Costco! I know those of you in the states its like so what, but here its a big deal. I try to never go on the weekend because it’s as packed as Disney World on the 4th of July! I work in public schools so my weekdays are busy. I’m on summer vacation now so I’m free for 6 weeks. so getting back to Costco….

I was really excited because I was looking to get my hands on some blueberries! I think you remember from my previous post, blueberries, even frozen ones, are freaking expensive! So I get to Costco and i get really excited because i found a triple berry mix! I was so excited I bought 2 bags only to realize that when i got home i would have to shove them in my tiny freezer. (side note: i did manage it don’t ask me how, i still don’t know 😉

20110807-051336.jpg

Due to space demands I decided to mix up a berry smoothie… Here’s how it turned out.

20110807-051346.jpg

Tarty Triple Berry Smoothie

1/4c milk

1/4c plain yogurt

1tbs honey (to taste)

about 1 cup of mixed berries

blend together with liquids at the bottom and berries on top.

*I added a lot of berries because I wanted a thicker smoothie. Feel free to tweak!

 

 

Almond smoothies by way of festivals and earthquakes

I get up this morning, not in the best mood. There was an earthquake at 4am… My phone alarm was going crazy and then it hit. Unfortunately, I took a sleeping pill last night and didn’t get up to open my door. They say for earthquake safety to open the door because you don’t want to be trapped. If the building shifts you may not longer be able to open the door or windows. At 4am this morning, i really didn’t care.

When I woke up for good, it was already 11:30a. Talk about a wasted morning. I have to be at the station at 3pm today because I’m going to the 金魚掬い (kingyo sukui) festival! Kingyo means goldfish and sukui means to scoop. It is a festival held in August every year. At this festival you scoop goldfish with a paper scoop. The goal is to get as many as you can without breaking the paper. This is my favorite festival activity. As I child I often visited my Aunts and Uncles and I always look forward to doing kingyo sukui.

Anyhoo, in Fujisawa they have the largest kingyo sukui in the world! It is even recorded in the guinness book! I’ll post pictures later. (too busy having fun… maybe next year… sorry guys!) side note – asahi dark draft=awesomeness!

Wow did I get off topic… I was going to talk about putting almonds in my smoothies! So i made my usual smoothie. I decided if I wanted to try variations, I would do it to a taste I was familiar with because then I could see if it was that particular thing i didn’t like or the entire mix. You know what I’m saying? So… yeah almonds not my favorite. At first it had an almondy aftertaste, and after I got used to that it was a texture thing. I only added 6 almonds but it was enough for me to notice. I think I mentioned before that I can’t stand weird textures. If I were drinking smoothies just for the health benefits then yeah this is a keeper but I want to make delicious healthy smoothies that have all the benefits but none of the cardboard weird texture of many healthy foods. IDK maybe if i roasted them first, or crushed them into powder in a plastic bag. If anyone has had any luck adding almonds please post and share!

20110731-013034.jpg

Tag Cloud