It’s a new season!

yellow petal flowers in clear glass vase

Welcome to a brand-new season of life here in the after times! What a time, eh?

I’m sitting here on the sofa; staring at the screen, considering what to write. There’s so much that I could write about, but where to start I don’t know. Much has changed in my life, yet much has stayed the same.

How about we start with the big changes!

Moving

I moved to the Vancouver area a few years ago and at first I was living with my mother and sister. It was pretty great! After a few months of job searching I was hired at the cafe where my sister worked, which meant we got to work shifts together a lot. Then I met my partner Steven and, because I couldn’t stay with my mom for too much longer, the two of us quickly moved in together. We made a wonderful little home for the both of us in that apartment over the past two-ish years. But Steven had to move back to the US and I couldn’t stay there by myself any longer.

This past January/February I had the opportunity to move in with one of my brothers, which was quite ideal as we get along very well and like to collaborate on creative projects together and play games. I also kind of need someone around to help me when my Crohn’s is being cantankerous, which my brother is good with.

So now I have moved across town and am enjoying a new apartment, a new neighbourhood, and reconnecting with my brother more! 😄

My tummy

In the fall I started a new treatment for my Crohn’s disease, which has been pretty okay. It’s been kind of a major change for me that’s taken some discomfort and adjustment, but my body’s been responding well to it so far. I’m still not 100%, but I don’t really expect to be since this is kind of just the way things are.

The new treatment is also to help with some other health issues I’ve developed over the past year, and it seems to be helping with those things as well. It doesn’t fix or reverse the problems, but it does alleviate the symptoms significantly, prevent further damage, and manage the inflammation in my body. Which is a huge blessing!

But the hugely good news is that my disability application was approved! 🙌 That has opened a bunch of doors to additional support for my healing journey and taking care of my body, so I don’t have to live with quite so much adversity day-to-day. I’m thankful every day that I’m able to take care of myself better with this extra support.

Oh yeah…

There’s also been this whole COVID-19 pandemic happening. It’s not been that big of a change for me so far as I mostly stayed home to begin with. (Physical disabilities and depression are too real!) But with my compromised immune system, it’s especially important that I stay quarantined from the rest of the world right now. I don’t want to deal with more health issues and be more of a problem for medical professionals to deal with! 😹

Otherwise, quarantine has been alright. There’s a lot of not-so-great things that have happened in my life because of the pandemic, but I’m alive and (mostly) healthy, I have food and a bed, so yeah… not too much of a deal for me. I’m an old pro at this.

Other stuff

You’ve heard of Murphy’s Law before? Yeah? Cool.

You know how when things start to go wrong, they all go wrong at almost the exact same time? Right? I can’t be the only one that’s familiar with that phenomenon (do do dododo).

Well… with the world going crazy, right now’s the perfect time for more things to go wrong! In fact, the universe is making almost everything go wrong right now! I mean, for the most part things are okay. But there have been significant changes in my life and within my family that have forever shifted the way my world functions.

I won’t go into specifics as this doesn’t seem like the proper place to do that, but suffice to say that things have happened and people have made decisions that have left me… hurt and confused, I guess. I’m not entirely sure what all the implications are yet. This whole situation is still fresh and developing so I don’t know what’s going to be happening tomorrow let alone next week. And some pretty big decisions are heading my way, along with some big challenges that are going to be difficult to face.

There’s more…

Here’s a picture of my dog, Macy!

Other than that, I’m doing pretty well. I want to blog a little more, maybe do some live streams with friends, play games, work on coding projects, and deal with life as best as I can. Oh, and I’ve also had another significant change in my life occur in the last month… but that’s a secret for now! I’ll share more later. 🤐😝

For now, I’m going to say goodnight to you and probably read over this post before I hit publish.

So…

Goodnight, friends! 👋

Note that the title of this post is a reference to a song from one of my favourite shows, Galavant!

Also note that I gave up editing this post before I published it. Cool.

Thoughts on my current health situation.

As you may or may not know, I have Crohn’s disease. This causes a lot of problems for my day-to-day activities and lifestyle, especially when the symptoms worsen like during a flare-up.

Now I can’t control what my body does as far as my Crohn’s goes and I can’t always control how it affects my life; that’s something that just is. I can, however, control my treatment and choose to make the best of the situations in which I find myself. That’s not always easy. Especially during and after extended periods of turbulence.

This past summer has been one of those extended times, and in a lot of ways it’s still happening. But I’m fighting to get out of it or at least take some control back.

An evolving treatment plan.

Because many of my symptoms worsened over the summer months, the decision was made to alter my treatment plan. Going forward I will be taking biologics on a regular schedule. This means that for the rest of my life, unless something changes, I’ll be injecting my medication every few weeks.

So that’s a pretty big change. Hopefully it’s one that will lead to a more stable state of health for me. That would be amazing and life-changing!

Wow. I reread that last sentence and it’s kind of… it’s a weird concept to wrap my head around.

More than just a physical problem.

You see, for the past year especially, my mental health has also taken a big hit along with my physical health. It makes sense for many reasons, but it’s something that needs to be treated promptly just as any other health issue.

Luckily for me, I was able to start seeing a counsellor and they’ve worked with me to help get me back on track. Doing simple tasks can be a challenging and that messes with my head a fair bit. I mean, I’ve been living with Crohn’s for several years now, but only recently have some of the problems really caught up with me.

I’ve always had a huge issue with energy levels. Often I’ll wake up with less energy than I had before I went to sleep, so it’s hard to do anything in a day. I’ve lost my sense of passion for doing things– for living life. Creative moments are far and few between. My drive to do things and complete projects or tasks is non-existent most days. And it’s easier to count the days that I…

Let’s pause here for a moment because I’m trying to remember where that last sentence in the last paragraph was going and I can’t recall what I was going to write. It’s one of the other things that’s been happening to me quite frequently; short-term memory loss. Which is scary and annoying. Sometimes mid-sentence I’ll just completely stop because I’ve forgotten what I was thinking about and thus what I was saying.

Anyway, the point is that I’m doing my best given the circumstances, but I don’t feel like it’s enough or that I’m keeping up with the demands of modern life. Everything is a drain on my well-being. I can’t heal fully in this environment. Which probably means I need to adjust my environment to help facilitate healing.

Yeah.

In conclusion…

While I’m trying to manufacture hope and optimism, I’m going to probably start posting my thoughts on here a bit more. This blog is meant to share my adventures, and the biggest adventure of my life is also currently my only adventure. Well, it’s my only big adventure at least. I have been having little adventures as I am able.

I don’t know if there was a point to this post. I just started writing because I wanted to and I actually pushed myself to do it. Which was difficult. But it doesn’t have to be… does it?


Edit: I forgot to mention that I added support to my blog for dark mode. So if you’re on a supported device with dark mode turned on, my website will now match the colour of my soul a bit better. 😹

It’s been a long time…

…but not that long.

I’m back now and that’s what counts.

Besides, I’ve been unable to blog for various reasons.

Sounds like it’s time for an update!

What’s new with me

I think that I told you about leaving my job a few months ago due to health problems relating to my Crohn’s. Well, that’s been an ongoing issue with a bunch of other problems that go along with it, like mental health. That’s been a major struggle.

I have an app to track my mood and activities on a daily basis, which is really helpful for me. I can look back at the past and see trends in a colourful graph with information that connects activity and mood. The app is called Daylio; I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in understanding their mental health and mood. It’s not a complete solution, but it’s a great tool. The best part is that it’s well designed, free of ads, can be used for free, and when you pay for it, it’s a single, one-time purchase. So good.

Anyway, the past several weeks have been not so great-looking in my app, with some really bad days. Depression has been a constant companion for me, which isn’t fun or easy. Panic attacks, lack of motivation, and no interest in doing “normal things” have become the norm. Don’t get me wrong, there’ve been some great things happening too. But overall I’m feeling not so good.

Which brings me to another not fun thing that’s happened. My partner had to go back to the States for the summer. Which isn’t fun either. Especially in a city with not many close friends.

There’s also good news!

On the flip side, I finally FINALLY have a family doctor!! 🙌 It’s taken so long for this, but it’s finally here and it’s just so helpful and good for my continuing medical care.

There’s a clinic that is one SkyTrain stop away from my house that recently had two new doctors move in… and they have been accepting new patients! Which was such a relief, let me tell you. Although, the process was kind of underwhelming… I was expecting more issues getting a family doctor. Like it ended up being too easy.

I filled out the attachment request form, or whatever it’s called, they called me back, setup an appointment, and voila! I have a doctor. Simple, easy, peasy. Glad that it wasn’t more of a pain to do that. So YAY! 😸

I also have a counsellor that I don’t have to pay for out-of-pocket. Which is amazing and really quite timely with all of these long-term mental issues coming at me full force. Things really have worked out as I always believe they will. It’s just difficult to deal with my obsessive brain panicking and whatnot.

Good times!

So yeah, things have been very wild these past few weeks! There was also a little thing with my blog’s domain name expiring and I couldn’t renew it right away, but now that I have, I’m back to blogging weekly. Yay for rebuilding the writing habit!

I think it’ll be good for me to get back into my blog. Gives me something to focus on that’s not too strenuous and a good creative outlet that feels good on my brain. So get ready for more posts from me!

Oh yeah…

I also started recording a new podcast with a friend here in Vancouver, which just rocks. Every time that I’ve done a podcast it’s been with people across the internet, which is amazing—don’t get me wrong. It’s so wild that I can do podcasts with people who live across the continent from me. I love it.

It’s nice to be able to do a project like that with someone in person. So this has been a real treat! Especially since we record at the Vancouver Public Library’s studio space. Such a fantabulous resource.

We haven’t quite published the podcast yet… but it’s coming very soon. I’ll keep you update.

Anywhom!

That’s all for now. Tune in next week to hear me giggle like a hyena! 🤣

Thoughts on imposter syndrome and my health.

In preparation for writing this post, I decided to take some random imposter syndrome tests I found online. It was a very spontaneous decision so I don’t know what to make of it yet.

Note to self: You’re probably experiencing imposter syndrome about your imposter syndrome. Please try to remember that you don’t need to prove anything or need to manipulate the results.

Wait! What is imposter syndrome?

Let’s all get on the same page here. Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon (do do dododo) where your brain doesn’t believe that you have the abilities you claim or that you’re not worthy of recognition for what you accomplish.

Here’s a proper definition.

Imposter syndrome is the inability to internalize your successes, coupled with the fear of being outed as an unqualified fraud.

If you’re reading my blog then you probably already know all about imposter syndrome. 😜

What type of imposter am I?

First was a test on the Grammarly blog. This test assumed that you do at least occasionally experience imposter syndrome and tried to categorize it kinda like a personality test would. The types of imposters, as defined by Dr. Valerie Young, are as follows:

  1. The Perfectionist
  2. The Superhero
  3. The Natural Genius
  4. The Rugged Individualist
  5. The Expert

Before I began the test I thought that I was gonna be a strong perfectionist. My actual result?

The superhero! 🦸‍♀️ (Bold and italic, Matthew? Yaasss, Queen!)

That’s right! I’m a superhero imposter syndrome haver! 😁 The test has this to say about my result:

The Superhero imposter is one who feels like a less legitimate professional than their colleagues and takes on more and more and pushes hard to seem like the real deal.

In fact, Superhero imposters are workaholics, hooked on the validation they get from work rather than the actual work. Fixing this kind of imposter syndrome should be focused on training yourself to find internal validation rather than external validation. By shifting your focus, you’ll learn how to incorporate more balance into your workload.

I can relate, but I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. While I do have some validation issues–probably more than I realize or acknowledge–I would not call myself a workaholic. Though I may just be denying reality. Who knows for sure? I certainly don’t.

My partner took the test too and got “the perfectionist” and oh boy can I relate to what that one had to say!

Perfectionists are the most common personality type to experience imposter syndrome, and it makes sense – perfectionists set unrealistic expectations for performance, and when those expectations aren’t met, they question their self worth. As a perfectionist you likely have trouble recognizing your achievements and feeling proud of yourself since everything could be done better.

To beat imposter syndrome, you should focus on learning to celebrate your successes and truly appreciate how much you accomplish. Likewise, when you make a mistake, remember that mistakes are natural. Accepting that your work will never be truly perfect will free you to start your projects and try new things.

It’s weird though because while I think that I’m predominantly a perfectionist, I’ve always wanted to be good at failing and using those experiences as a learning tool. I even adopted the mantra “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” from The Magic School Bus as my own. Maybe this is a blind spot of mine? Perhaps I am less the perfectionist I thought and more just of a workaholic seeking the validation of others? Mayhaps I shouldn’t be reading so much into this silly online quiz that I googled randomly?

Maybe both types are true and accurate for myself. I do identify with each of the descriptions and can think of lots of examples in my life. I do seek validation and acceptance as well as setting unrealistic expectations for myself and then beat myself up when I don’t meet them. It’s all so complex!! 😫

If you’re wondering about the other imposter types, you can read all about them in this article from The Muse.

But how bad is it, Doctor Internet?

The next test was linked to from a blog post, but the test was gone! But my Wayback Machine browser extension kicked in and showed me the archived test from 2016. This was just a simple little questionnaire that told me I have a moderate amount of imposter syndrome. It had this to say about the matter:

Sometimes you worry that whatever success you have enjoyed was simply the result of being in the right place at the right time, or that people will discover you’re a fraud.

Okay, makes sense. That’s fairly broad, but good to know. It’s here that I want to remind everyone, including myself, that confirmation bias is deffos a thing to be weary of in this little exercise. If you go looking online to see if you have some sort of problem, you’ll probably find your suspicions are confirmed. But I definitely know that imposter syndrome is a major part of my daily life, I just want to use these tests as a way to explore the issue for myself.

The next test said is was “developed to help individuals determine whether or not they have Imposter characteristics and, if so, to what extent they are suffering.” Good to know that I’m suffering!

After I finished answering the long list of questions I was presented with this helpful graphic:

That’s not as much ‘helpful’ as it is ‘scary’. 🧐 At least the colour matches my hair!

Last one, I promise!

The last test I took was quite intensive with its questions; I felt like I was filling out some kind of overly personal marketing survey to earn a gift card! But I pressed on and got another graphic which was less ‘scary’-looking.

You may take pride in some of your achievements, but still struggle to take full ownership of them. Sometimes, in spite of all that you have accomplished and the effort you put into achieving it, you feel like a bit of an imposter. As a result, you may attribute some of your success to factors beyond your control and therefore, feel like you haven’t entirely earned the respect and praise that you were given. You want to believe that you are worthy of success, but can’t fully convince yourself.

Cool. Good to know. I mean, all of our lives’ successes and failures are to some degree attributable to factors outside of our control. Does that mean we don’t deserve the success? Does that mean we didn’t have some part to play in the outcome?

What does all of it mean?

I had a thought yesterday that was the inspiration for this little adventure. It’s popped into my head on occasion but I haven’t given it too much conscious thought in the past. What if my Crohn’s Disease isn’t as bad as I think it is and the symptoms I perceive are there because my mind is rationalizing undesired or otherwise lazy behaviour?

In other words, am I making it all up? Am I just using my Crohn’s as an excuse?

I know that I’m definitely not making it up. My symptoms and physical challenges are all too real and there are tonnes of lab reports that prove it. True I tend to be asymptomatic these days, which is good, but that’s because I’m in remission. It’s not because my Crohn’s is fake or made up. It doesn’t mean my Crohn’s is gone or that I won’t have problems, symptoms, and bad days… it means that I’m in a good place, physically speaking, which is ideal. It’s good!

That all being said, because of the Crohn’s (and probably for various other reasons) there are mental health issues at play. It’s part of the deal. Depression and anxiety are challenges that I face and Crohn’s doesn’t help at all. It makes it hard to do day-to-day tasks or feel motivated to work on projects.

Anyway, the point is that I have imposter syndrome and it affects many parts of my daily thinking. (Like maybe I’m not actually human after all!) It’s not great, but I know it’s a factor so I can manage it to some degree. Plus it’s just the way it is and a part of who I am.

I’m not a Crohn’s imposter.

I have a disease.

I was getting ready for to go sledding at the landslide, which meant that I had to first locate my ski pants. Every year around Christmas, our family has a sledding party with a bunch of friends. We’d grab our plastic sleds, our crazy carpets, and our single GT snow racer to have some fun in the snow.

This year, a wonderful Christmas in 2013, everything was as normal as ever. I couldn’t find my ski pants, everyone else was getting their snow stuff on, and I was still begging Dad to help locate my ski pants. Typical Matthew. Only, everything wasn’t quite normal. Sure, everything looked normal, but something was different and I was about to discover what that was.

Somehow I eventually found my ski pants, though my family was already geared up and headed out the door. I shouted that I’d catch up with them as I sat down on the floor to begin the intricate process of suiting up for the cold. And as I slid my legs into my ski pants, I felt a sudden pain in my stomach. A sharp pain that seemed to cut from the inside out, almost like someone or something was inside of my tummy using a knife to cut it’s way out. I curled up on the floor for a few minutes hoping the pain would pass. It didn’t. So I phoned my dad and asked him to come back and help me again.

Typical Matthew.

Dad returned and I told him what had happened. The pain had filled a little by this point, but it was still present. Dad said that it could be a hernia and that I should see a doctor after the Christmas break. I agreed and after asking if there was anything he could do, Dad went back to the landslide. I stayed home and waited for the pain to eventually pass.

The pain did pass, and I got to join my family and friends for the sledding party. But what I didn’t know at the time– what I couldn’t know at the time –was that eight months later I’d be hospitalised and diagnosed with a chronic condition known as “Crohn’s disease”.

What is that? Well, I’ll give you the short answer for now. Crohn’s is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the body’s immune and digestive systems. It’s basically a malfunction of the autoimmune system that causes the body to attack the digestive tract. For me, that results in severe pain, inflammation of my bowels and joints, food intolerances, and extreme tiredness, among other various symptoms.

So that’s me. Rather, that’s part of me. I figured I’d start writing about my Crohn’s journey by telling you how it started for me.

M3

A funny thing happened today…

…but I don’t recall the details.

*shrugs*

Oh, well. You’ll just have to live with the knowledge that there was a funny moment in my day today, the details of which you will not know.

Today was a good day! So very much better than yesterday. Granted, I didn’t have a good night’s sleep last night, and my tummy decided to be a pain this afternoon and evening, but everything else was so good!

I finally got to see a gastroenterologist, which has been such a long time in coming. Things are looking good in getting a better Crohn’s support team established! Which is quite important for me. And I’ve been learning and discovering just how needed this stuff is over the last couple of months with some changes and observations I’ve made in my disease. Such a win!

Other than that, I am not in Vancouver yet. Because of unforeseen circumstances, I will instead be leaving tomorrow morning. Which is perfectly fine with me!

I hope that you’re having a wonderful day, my friend! 😀 If not, here’s a few gifs that might not help at all, but I’m going to include anyway. Maybe it’ll do something for you.

Note to self: Find gifs and put them here.

Note to self: See? I did it. 😑 😀

M3

I’m up toobe sixteen now!

I was sitting here feeling uninspired to write. So I decided to count through my blog posts and when I realized that this post would be number sixteen, I flipped! Mentally. I’m toobe tired to physically flip right now. Plus there’s not enough space to do that here in my room.

There’s a podcast called The Inner Tube that I used to listen to all of the time. Over the course of the show’s run, several inside jokes have developed, and one of the most prominent ones is the phrase, “we’re up to sixteen now!” The hosts also turn anything that sounds remotely like “tube” into “toobe”, hence the title of this post.

So there’s that!

Let’s just do an update.

I’m still not doing completely well, but I am doing better. Some really amazing friends hung out with me in the past few days, and that’s helped. I am completely thankful for their time and love and I’m so blessed to have them as close friends.

I’ve been really pumped about making food again. A fact that is very apparent if you visit my Instagram feed! 😛 It hit me super suddenly yesterday when I woke up, and it’s still in me today. Although, today I lacked the energy to actually do anything super creative with what I ate.  Unless you count mixing peanut butter into the vanilla icing on a slice of cake. That was good!

One of my friends is forcing me to visit them this weekend, so I’ll be taking a short weekend trip in a few days. I’m excited about that! And I will see the doctor on Friday, which is a little overdue. But it’s happening. Yay for Crohn’s!

M3

I didn’t forget…

I’ve been thinking about this post all day and I still don’t know what to write. But as usual, something will come to mind once I just start writing.

Let’s do this!

I was recently given a keyboard! A musical one. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that it has MIDI ports, which means I can plug it directly into my computer. I’ve been wanting to get back into composing music and recording stuff for fun, and this will make it easier to do that. I’m so excited! It’ll be good to finish working on a couple pieces I started in March after my grandmother died. I don’t like leaving something incomplete. Oh, and now I can record some fun parodies and stuff for The Aux Cable! 😀

I was also given an accordion, which I still have yet to try out. In fact, I haven’t even taken it out of the box yet. I haven’t had the energy. But oh it’s gonna be so much fun learning to play that thing! I’ve always wanted to try one out, and now I have my very own. It’s brilliant!

Gosh. Can you believe that it’s already Thursday? I mean, it’s still technically Wednesday as I write this, but it’s basically over. It feels like the week just started, but nope. Maybe it’s partly because of Victoria Day which extended the weekend and gives the illusion of a quicker week? Nah. I’m talking nonsense. This is why I shouldn’t have a blog. I can ramble and talk a lot, as most people know. Or maybe I should have a blog, because then I don’t have to force my talking on anyone, yet more people have the opportunity to hear it! I mean read it. Pffftt, you get what I mean.

Actually, tonight I’m kind of quiet and not wanting to talk. Today’s been a very hard day and now I just want to watch TV, cuddle, and eat popcorn. I shouldn’t eat popcorn because of my Crohn’s, but I still want it. My family and I all want to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie this weekend and I’m considering getting a small bag of popcorn while we’re there. It’s been so long since I had popcorn and I really, really want to have some. Even a handful would be nice. And popcorn is kind of a necessity at the movie theatre, eh? Especially since popcorn is my most favourite food in the world. But now I can’t eat it.

Great… I’m gonna start crying again.

Okie dokie. It’s late and I want to stop staring at a screen. Well, I want to stop staring at this screen and get back to staring at the TV screen. I’m currently going through the new season of Grace & Frankie, which is quite fun! Plus I feel horrible and TV is easy to do.

Wish you were here.

M3

Barely Made It!

I’m cutting it close with this post! I’ve been working on writing up a bunch of stuff for The Aux Cable (my podcast with Ryan Matlock), and I got carried away. Oh well! Here comes my post of the day. 🙂

Let’s just do an update, eh?

My body has been feeling horrible lately, and it’s likely mostly due to my Crohn’s. But today was a really good day! The sun was shining brightly and my tummy wasn’t hurting. What more could I ask for?

I started with an early morning conference call (while still in bed) that went very well and ended with much laughter. Then I napped for a little bit, made some really yummy food, and then played some Just Dance. After singing in the shower, I decided to pack up my things so I could do my work outside. I mean, it’s a gorgeous day! How could I not be outside in the fresh, warm air? It was soooo nice to be outside, especially after the rain of the past two weeks. Rain is great too, but it can be depressing after several days.

When I came back inside for the evening, my sinuses became all stuffed, I’ve been sneezing like crazy, and I keep having to blow my nose! My allergies have kicked in over the past few weeks because of a new kitty in the house, which has been manageable. But I’m thinking that these symptoms have something to do with being outside today. Which is lame. I love being outside, this can’t happen!

Note to self: Maybe you should undergo some allergy testing?

I also got to hang out with a friend and introduce them to Corner Gas.

Anywhozzles, today I’m extremely thankful for the sunshine and for feeling much better!

M3