Category Archives: Health

Remember that time I had my ears candled?

This past weekend was a long weekend, and that was nice. I hung out with human beings for what seems like the first time in a while, which is probably a good/healthy thing to do. I also watched SO MANY episodes of Fringe. I watched enough that now I’m having super creepy Fringe-inspired dreams where I think people are performing experiments on me while I’m asleep, so that seems about right. It’s also a really helpful show because it’s providing me with a really great new ideas about impossible ways that supernatural/experimental science can kill me! Ways that my own brain could probably never come up with on its own! Good thing I’m going to watch all five seasons in the next month or so, I’m looking forward to having several psychotic breaks.

Being a hypochondriac who’s afraid of doctors is a really annoying kind of person to be. Basically on a weekly basis I become convinced that I have some kind of condition – mumps, angina, mono, lung cancer, etc. To the best of my knowledge, I have never had any of these things. Usually it turns out to be a cold, heart burn, maybe a stomach flu, but 95 per cent of the  time it’s just a panic attack. No matter how convinced I am that I’m dying, I’ll do almost anything to avoid seeing a doctor. I don’t want an expert to confirm my worst fears! As long as I’m not diagnosed with anything, I can convince myself I’m just being crazy.


Now here is a story about how hypochondria + hating doctors causes me to do ridiculous things sometimes. Whenever I get a cold my ears get all plugged up, and sometimes it takes forever for them to clear up and it’s super annoying. This happened in the fall – it had been months and my ears felt all blocked up and it was driving me crazy. So when I saw a posting online for some holistic health place that offers junk like reiki healing and reflexology and other things that I am not exactly interested in that also did ear candling, I don’t know why, but I made an appointment, and it turned out to be pretty much as weird as you would expect.

The building wasn’t sketchy or anything, but it was more industrial than I would imagine when picturing a holistic healing centre. When I got there, a lady named Tonia was lighting incense. I expected her to say “Namaste” but I think she just said hi instead. She talked to me for like ever about how it worked and I was just thinking Tonia had better hurry it up before I made a run for it. Finally we got started. She touched my face for a while (you know, to align my energy, duh). This was horrifying for me because I DO NOT LIKE TO BE TOUCHED.  She was seriously just touching my face in silence for at least 10 minutes, oh my god it was the worst. And then she put a burning hollow candle thing in my ear for a while, and that was also weird.

She did both sides, and after she showed me the inside of each candle and said it was wax that had been sucked up into it…but I’m pretty sure it was just candle wax? I mean, I don’t know anything about physics, but why would a candle suck anything out of an ear. I suppose I should have thought about that beforehand, but I was desperate, remember? Also I made a point of not reading anything about it in advance because deep down inside I knew it was b.s.

So yes, my ears were still plugged, but at least a stranger touched my face for a while? Also I guess I confirmed that alternative medicine is perhaps not for me. Next time I think I just have to force myself to go to a doctor.

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Sleep is overrated

I haven’t really posted anything in the last week because I’ve been pretty busy being super anxious and not sleeping. The thing about insomnia is, it makes regular day-to-day life so much harder. It’s like, do I want to do literally anything at all, or do I want to lie on this couch for six hours and stare at the TV. It’s fine though, I’ve been terrible at sleeping my whole life, so I’m pretty used to it by now. Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of solutions, and none of them actually work for me. Admittedly, I’ve never used prescription medication, but I’m worried about side effects like sleep eating or sleep driving or sleep shopping or death, so I’m planning to keep avoiding them if I can help it. Still, I’m basically an insomnia expert, so here are some of the things I’ve tried, and the many ways in which they have not worked at all for the most part.

Melatonin and valerian. These are like, natural things or something (valerian is a plant I think, I don’t really know wtf melatonin is) and they’re both supposed to help with insomnia, but I’m pretty sure they are actually just placebos. I’ve tried taking one or the other, both at the same time…nothing. I’ve never even experienced a more relaxed state, never mind a more sleepy one.

Sleep aid apps. Admittedly, I only tried this for the first time last week in a fit of desperation, but it turns out there are a whole bunch of sleep aid apps out there. I went for Sleep Pillow because it has a free version and it’s like, do I want to pay money to listen to supposedly relaxing noises? Eh, not really. The sound options are OK…I tried one that sounds like rain for a couple of nights, because the one that sounds like a rainforest is totally annoying. How can anyone sleep in a rainforest with all those goddamn frogs? It didn’t seem to do much for me, but maybe I need to branch out and try some of the other white noise/relaxation apps that are available.

Going to bed early. People say that if you go to bed early and don’t look at screens right before you’re likely to sleep better; I have not found this to be the case. Instead, I just have to toss and turn and think about all the things I have to do the next day from 11 p.m.- 3 a.m., instead of from 1-3 a.m., so I may as well just stay up and watch Seinfeld while writing blog entries and tweeting instead.

Reading. I think the problem with this is that I try to avoid reading super boring things, and therefore I actually want to stay up later to keep reading. What I should probably do is reread all the boring junk I had to read that time when I got my arts degree. I cannot even count how many times I fell asleep while reading Plato or John Locke or Thomas Hardy or whatever. Seriously, do people LIKE Tess of the d’Ubervilles??


Breathing exercises. I don’t know what’s wrong with my stupid brain, but taking deep, focused breaths doesn’t tend to help me much with either insomnia or anxiety. Actually, when I’m feeling anxious and I try to think about my breathing, I start to think about my respiratory system and I worry that thinking about it too much will cause it to fail somehow (because that’s normal) and then I start thinking things like, what if there isn’t enough oxygen going to my lungs, am I dying I’m definitely going to die, oh my god, I’ve forgotten how to breathe, what is happening. It’s just best if I try to always avoid thinking about breathing and just let my body do it on its own.

Unisom. OK, technically this over the counter sleep aid does work, but it’s so not worth it. It takes almost two hours for it to properly kick in for me, which means I have to decide whether or not I’m going to take it pretty early. Once it kicks in, it basically knocks me out into a dreamless sleep, and I inevitably wake up feeling groggy and sort of like I’ve been run over by a bus for the next few hours. I may as well just not sleep.

Focusing on something mindless. Actually, this one works too…sometimes. The idea is to focus on something mindless to avoid thinking about all the more serious and anxiety-inducing things your (my) brain wants to think about. It’s the basic concept behind counting sheep (I have tried this, does not work). Usually I play a version of Scattergories, except I pick a category and then go through the alphabet. The good thing about this is, if anyone’s ever like, “Hey Alex, what’s a fruit that starts with the letter E?” I’ll be all like, “Elderberry, bitch.”


Alcohol. THIS IS THE BEST ONE! I realized this on Thursday when I went out for martinis and fell asleep within 30 minutes of getting into bed. I mean, I also woke up with dry mouth and felt slightly nauseous, but I slept through the whole night! I think the moral of the story is, it’s time for me to develop a drinking problem. Don’t judge me, it’s for the sake of my health!

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