A day in the PTSD life…

I wrote this on my Facebook a few days ago, but figured it would be appropriate here!

[cw explanation of PTSD symptoms]

Hey friends as many of you know I was diagnosed with PTSD in January. Because June is National PTSD month and June 27th is National PTSD day (in the States, but we can recognize it up North here too) I wanted to give y’all a bit of an idea of what my day-to-day is like living with PTSD. Right now I have some other health issues going on (that I’m hoping to gain some more insight to with an all-day-test-day this Friday!), and that definitely informs how my PTSD symptoms present. A lot of the time people want mental and physical health to be separate beasts, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Because of that I’m not going to specify which symptoms inform which, as I don’t see that as a useful way to metric things.

But without any further preample: A Day In The Life! (this is actually taken from a few days, but none more than a week ago because my memory is shot lol)

0000 Been in bed for 2 hours, still awake. Had a rough convo with a friend and I can’t stop thinking about a single phrase they used, because it’s a phrase my abuser used to use.
0100 Having bouts of dissociation that roll into a panic attack that roll into dissociation and back again. I feel unsafe at night to begin with, but it’s especially bad when I’ve experienced a trigger.
0200 Still not asleep. I might try playing an app game, watching a YouTube video, or petting Sushi but they’re only temporary distractions.
0300 I honestly begin wondering how expensive it would be to replace my door with something that locks. In fact, I wonder HOW MANY locks I could possibly fit on the same door. I’m handy! I can install a bunch!
0400 FINALLY I fall asleep. Unfortunately I experience nightmares every night, and night terrors more often than not, so falling asleep is more bittersweet than anything else.
1600 I wake up! I’m still absolutely exhausted!
1700 I need to go pick up prescriptions (because I’m totally that person who anti-med people warn you about, and I take a fuck tonne) and lo there’s one of my major triggers at every pharmacy. Because of that I’m going to make sure I spend some quality time with Sushi before I leave the house (he’s a relaxing guy!), and this is usually when I decide to do his brushing/walking/etc.
1800 Shocking to no one the pharmacy trigger is still there, but despite my best prep I’m still caught having a panic attack in public. Because I could anticipate this would happen I’ve already mapped out where the closest bathrooms are in case I start crying in public.
1900 If I have the money I’ll grab myself a Starbucks or something for the way home to distract myself from the fear of having a panic attack in public. If I’m broke (like I am right now because I can’t work lol) I’ll flip through Sushi pics.
2000 Maybe I eat, maybe I don’t. Because I’m nauseated pretty much always my appetite is shot, so sometimes I forget.
2100 This is usually when my limbs get too heavy to move, so I’ll go lay down with an audiobook. If it’s been a trigger-heavy day I’ll re-listen to something I’ve heard a few times before so I can anticipate my reactions.

And then it repeats the next day!

I tried to pick situations that are fairly standard/average, so even though I’ve based this mostly off of yesterday/today for those in-the-know you’ll see that I’ve actually made this hypothetical day a lot easier than the last few days have actually been lol I hope this gives a bit of an idea of what PTSD can mean though (for me, anyways).

Wanna help me save up for my service dog? https://www.youcaring.com/briealmoireabhtetlock-1120298

Remember: not all disabilities are visible. Be kind.


10 Things You Might Not Know About Me

Heads up!

Although my blog has thus far been a class-work receptacle I’d like to begin branching out more and more into lifestyle blogging. This absolutely doesn’t mean the essays will stop, but rather that I’d like to try out some other content as well! While I’ve queued up a number of “Get to Know the Blogger” lists like this one, I’m also planning on posting my bullet journal spreads and note-taking methods! Studying is always more fun with friends, and I’d like to emulate that here!

me as a meme

As for the reasoning behind this change: as I mentioned in my Surprise! Pearls post making money in university while disabled has been difficult. In the last couple of years I’ve struggled with financial set back after financial set back, and in order to be able to continue schooling I need to have a stable source of income. While I’m working to build a freelance editing portfolio I’ve decided to go back to my roots and hustle the heck out of my life. This semester I’m taking courses part-time, and will thus hopefully leave me the room I need to get this blog moved in the direction and with the reach I need to be successful at this whole writing gig.

If you have any comments or suggestions shoot me a comment or let me know in a Tweet! Now on to the fun stuff!

  1. My favourite food is applesauce! I love it because it works as a condiment, a side dish, or a snack! Truly an all-in-one, ultra-versatile deal. Unfortunately because of my absolutely terrible memory I never get to eat it because I don’t ever go down the snack aisle at the store! A tragedy if I ever heard one.
  2. I always feel like I’m about to be late for SOMETHING, but I never know what! It’s like having a built-in Rememberall at all times!
  3. My minor is in English literary studies, and I’m so so so thankful for my literary education! I feel like I talk about my anthropology education all the time, and never enough about my other interests!
  4. My favourite colour is purple! That said, I never seem to buy purple things. I’d love to rectify this, but there are so many other colours I love that I don’t want to ignore either!
  5. Despite all my dog-related Tweets my favourite animals are actually turtles! That is, if I even have a favourite animal (all animals are good in their own ways)!
  6. I used to wear lolita! I fell out of the lifestyle when I began living my life more authentically with respect to my gender identity because I couldn’t parse for myself that type of hyper-feminine presentation with my non-binary-ness. I’ve since discovered this is an absolutely bullshit reason to quit doing anything you love, and I’d love to get back into it when I finish up my degree!
  7. I drink iced coffee and frozen drinks year-round despite living through snow every year because I always run super warm! What would be a fever for most people is pretty much par-for-the-course for me, so I have to cool down somehow!
  8. I can’t sleep if I don’t have at least two (read: 2) comforters folded upon themselves on my feet at night. Yes, even in the Summer! I’ve looked into weighted blankets before, but I’ve thus far found the cost prohibitive. I’d like to take up sewing now that I have a Craftsy Unlimited account, though, so if I ever get around to borrowing my sisfriend’s sewing machine I’ll definitely be trying to DIY my way through!
  9. My glasses don’t actually do anything! I had a mass last year in my left eye that ended up changing my prescription literally overnight, and I just haven’t had the money to replace my lenses yet! I tried going without glasses for a couple of days when it first happened, but my anxiety got the better of me when people started asking where they went so back on my face they’ve gone!
  10. I’m honestly a mostly open book, so thinking up this list has been super dang hard! I’ve kept to myself for most of my life, and in the last couple of years I’ve been making a conscious effort to begin working to talk about myself and my interests more and more. While I live with anxiety every day, working through small things (like openness!) has been invaluable for me in working to live comfortably with myself.

What are some things people might be surprised to learn about you? Let me know! I look forward to reading your comments here and on Twitter!

Disclaimer: This posts contains affiliate link/s. I may earn a commission, at no additional cost to you, if you click upon or make a purchase through my affiliate link/s. Your purchase helps support my educational goals in addition to allowing me to keep providing you with cool blog posts on the regular!

Surprise! Pearls with the Shucking Mama | #shuckyeah!

Making money while in university is tough. Making money while in university with disability? For me it’s been near-impossible. I’ve always known that freelancing is/would be the best fit for me in the long run, but when my mum and sisfriend approached me with an idea for a Facebook Live business I was still wary. Shucking oysters live? It honestly sounds ridiculous (maybe because it is!), but eventually I agreed to come in with them as a social media admin.

Let’s start with some introductions first!

Who are we?

Existential contemplation time (jk but kinda not).

My sisfriend, Deanna, is the Shucking Mama!

Deanna wearing a single pearl in a swirly heart pendant!

With 3 kids going on at home Deanna super enjoys the flexibility being her own boss affords her. She’s able to wear Elliott for the most part during shows, and Jordyn and Ryleigh have made guest appearances on the show when they’re not too busy playing! She also loves the community being built around our shows, and really enjoys seeing the same names pop up on her screens week to week!

My mum, Annette, is the Shucking Grandmama!

My mum wearing a single pearl in a cube pendant (also just generally lookin’ super cute with my dad)!

Mum especially appreciates the flexibility offered to her as well (see the theme forming?). Being able to pop on and off tasks as she has the opportunity is lovely, because it makes more time to hang out and play with the grandkids! With two kids already raised of her own being able to sit back and relax with her grandkids is one of her favourite things to do. She especially loves to see how excited people get over their pearls!

I’m the Ban Hammer!

Brieal (me!) wearing 4 pearls in a tube pendant!

Working for myself, with family, has been so rewarding. Even on days where I can’t seem to get any editing work I know that I can throw a message into our Shuck Squad group chat to renew my resolve for the coming Tuesday. Because I’m always responding to messages and comments in-show I’m so appreciative of the community that’s forming around our shows! That said: because we’re an entirely independent business the part that I’ve struggled with the most is getting people to really understand what exactly our business is all about!

So what do we do, exactly?

Short-form: Deanna shucks oysters over Facebook Live, and people get to keep the pearls!

Long-form: We work as a team to tailor a consistent experience of fun and community around the shucking of pearls over Facebook Live where people order lovely pearls and pearl cage jewelry!

One of the many unconventional projects that Deanna’s taken on for Surprise! Pearls.

We’re an entirely independent business which means that all of our planning, ordering, photographing, messaging, inventory-ing, sorting, shucking, etc is done by one of the three of us. While other people choose to go the MLM route through a larger company we wanted to be entirely our own bosses! While this has resulted in some extra work (… A LOT of extra work) it’s been worth it for us because we can tailor our business to meet not only our needs but also the needs of our fanbase!

Because we’re a Facebook-only business all of our show preorders are done through Facebook messaging. This means that one of us needs to have our phone on us at all times in order to keep track of inventory! Although I work as the social media admin due to my school schedule the person who most often responds to messages and makes posts throughout the week is Deanna, while my responsibilities are primarily in-show. My mum, Annette, works hard to keep track of our inventory and book keeping, and works as Deanna’s assistant in-show! She makes sure that Deanna knows who gets their oyster opened next, and keeps track of shipping everyone’s orders! But all of that would be for nought if Deanna didn’t shuck oysters Live! Right now we have a weekly show every Tuesday at 7pm PST/8pm MST during which Deanna shucks individual and giant oysters to reveal the awesome pearls inside!

All that said: our positions are made up and the points don’t matter! We all work all of the positions based on our abilities and time available. Everyone has done everything at this point, regardless of if it’s their wheelhouse or not!

How do we get our awesome pearl colours?

A lot of the fun of our shows is that you never know what colour you’ll get until Deanna shucks the oyster. Every oyster contains a pearl, so the only risk is colour result! This also means that although there are jewelry options for pearls a lot of people end up collecting the pearls as-is.

A great example of just some of the colour options available!

A couple people on Facebook wanted to know more specifically about how our pearls get their colour as well! Our single pearls are beautiful Akoya pearls. This means that each cultured oyster is implanted with an irritant or two (a graft of mantle shell–otherwise known as the pearl nucleus), around which nacre forms evenly to create a fairly consistent round pearl. We also sometimes order oval shaped pearls as well! This method of culturing means that we’re able to get pearl colours which (perhaps obviously) don’t exist outside of this method.


We additionally have begun ordering cultured giant oysters! These huge oysters hold 20+ natural ivory/cream/white pearls! Because of the number of pearls being implanted and cultured at once we’ve stuck to the natural colours as the “rainbow” giant pearls are implanted with coloured plastics as opposed to mantle grafts. This results in a less resilient pearl, which doesn’t hold up to our high standards (yet! anyways).

Why does all this matter?

We LOVE being our own bosses, and are so looking forward to taking our business further! As people just starting out we’re striving to be as upfront about ourselves and our business practices as possible! We’re three people who have come together to work hard, and we hope that others are interested in said hard work!

The entire Surprise! Pearls team!

I hope this has cleared up some of the more common questions we get about our business! If you figure I’ve left something out please don’t hesitate to message us on Facebook!

Investing in a #SelfcareSunday 

We are our own best investments. Time for some self care!

On Thursday I was a panelist speaking on Linguistic Violence at Macewan University, and it got me thinking about self care. Too often I don’t take care of myself. With the hustle and bustle of school, freelancing, and Just Being sometimes I need a reminder to slow down!

So with all that in mind I made a short list of things I do/can do to practice self care for myself:

  • talking about it
  • reconnecting with community 
  • reaching out to people
  • doodling
  • painting
  • doing readings on-time
  • taking meds on-time
  • petting Sushi 
  • journaling 
  • meditating 
  • putting on pants
  • playing a videogame
  • having a bath
  • getting out of bed
  • listening to music
  • playing with putty
  • listening to audiodrama 
  • looking at family pics
  • writing
  • hugs
  • doing my hair
  • high fives 
  • looking at pictures of cute animals
  • smiling 
  • brushing my teeth
  • doing my brows
  • reading about cool shit
  • listening to podcasts 

What are some strategies you have to practice self care?

Grief is a House


[cw: death, suicide, suicidal ideation, mental illness, borderline personality disorder, ptsd]

Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of your death bud, and while I think it would make sense for me to focus on all the ways I’ve struggled with your death specifically in the last year I’d instead like to focus on all the things that have happened with me this year that I wish you had been here for. While I definitely know that these two categories overlap significantly, the major difference here is that rather than focusing on how I’ve struggled to do some things since you’ve passed there’s so much I’m proud of that I think you would have been proud of me for.

This year has provided a plethora of twists and turns, and as of my writing this I’m still only barely in a space I’d consider “stable.” I have so much homework to do right now, but it’s so difficult for me to keep writing (something I think you can appreciate as a person who never enjoyed essays to begin with) and I’m actually hoping that writing this update for you will help me to move through this block. Being constipated is never fun, and if there’s anyone I’ve ever enjoyed talking shit with it would have had to have been you.


In January my Gramma passed away, and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve yet to deal with. It brought up a lot of the feelings of missing you again bud, especially since the 1 year anniversary of your death was only a month before. I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of death, and ended up overhauling my “Death Plans” (my will and shit) as I once again had to be faced by the concept of my own mortality. I’m not sure if this kind of planning is something you’d ever have been capable of, bud, but I definitely felt your absence in measures of pancakes and shitty McDonald’s food. Additionally I began speaking with my best friend after not having spoken to him (for very legit reasons) as well. I told him about you bud. I wish the two of you could have met one another.

February brought with it some of the most extreme stress I’ve yet to overcome with the execution of Reading Identity 2017. I know this is something you would have scoffed at, but after spending most of 2016 avoiding anyone and everyone possible I needed some kind of activity to bring myself back into some semblance of a social fold. While it worked (in a BIG way) it also reminded me how difficult it can be to trust anyone but yourself, and I spent a lot of time thinking about how much I missed your personal brand of Bright Cynicism.



I took my first Real Trip in March, and for all the wackiness it brought into my life it was overall a really great, formative experience. My major regret is trapping myself in my hotel room after encountering some very significant anxiety and being unable to check out the Gay Village. I’m always on the lookout for things to remember you by, bud, and I was hoping to find a cute gay turtle stuffy to bring home. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but it did get me to think about how to keep the memories of the people around me in my life, and finally I decided to keep a framed photo of you and Nirv in my room. It’s not as symbolic as I usually like for a memorial, but it’s a lovely photo and I’m still so glad to have it up.

April is always a boring month when you’re in school, I think. I vaguely recall taking exams and giving a presentation in one of my English classes, but that’s about it. I had to spend a lot of time learning about borderline personality disorder, as a couple of my friends and a family member were diagnosed with it around this time as well. It’s so hard to learn about the ways in which people you love are struggling, and I found it difficult not to think of you and the ways in which you struggled. I know that what happened is in no way my fault, and that we were frankly dubiously close at best when you passed, but seeing so many people struggle with some of the same things you did was difficult. I spent a lot of time thinking about death this month, and finally let my therapist know that I experience suicidal ideation. It went far better than I ever could have anticipated, and I can only hope you’d be proud of me for speaking up.

Looking back like this I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I’d been dissociating pretty much the entire month.


In May my life began to unravel. For various reasons I was left with no savings very suddenly, and couldn’t afford to buy my prescriptions. I spent weeks in absolute agony between ER visits, and after months of incredible stress I heard the name of my abuser in an audiobook and effectively shut down.

I was depressed and didn’t leave my house for any reason other than doctor’s appointments in June, and was luckily prescribed medication to help manage my symptoms of depression.

I began having multiple panic attacks a day in July, and subsequently only left my house to go to doctor’s appointments and occasionally buy groceries. We added on more medication.

I know Animethon was never your thing, but in August I finally felt able to challenge myself to be around others and presented a panel on a subject I’m super into. It’s something I know you would have absolutely hated lol but it would have loved to have messaged you after to celebrate in excitement. My nieces and nephew came along one day, and their adorable costumes would have put a smile on your face, I’m sure, because they really put a smile on everyone’s faces.


Against the wishes of my GP and psychiatrist I decided to go back to school in September, primarily for funding reasons. With no ability to maintain a day job my student loans became my saving grace. I got the opportunity to take classes with some of my favourite professors, though, and even though you never really liked English or anthropology I think you would have enjoyed seeing our Twitter shenanigans. Because of the stress school brought into my life, though, I had to start taking even more medication to manage my symptoms in light of some intense panic attacks brought on by presenting at the Edmonton Expo.

I started seeing a trauma-informed therapist in October, and was rediagnosed with PTSD. So far it’s been one of the most impactful things I’ve had the opportunity to do with regard to my mental health this year. I wish I could talk to you about how great my therapist is, bud. You were never much one for reaching out to mental health professionals and it was a topic I was hesitant to broach due to my own mixed experiences in therapy, but having such an overarchingly great experience I think it’s something I’d be more capable of doing at this point. For all the times you made sure I was healthy, I wish I had taken more to make sure you were.


It was only in November that I really, fully began to understand the cool shit that happens when you open up to people. I credit this to the perfect storm of finding medications that (mostly) work for me, seeing a therapist weekly, having my best friend move into the house, and having had the opportunity to take badass classes with badass profs and badass peers. It seems obvious to write it out like this, but being able to connect with other people when you’re not actively experiencing crushing depression is pretty great and I’m so thankful for this opportunity. I’m finally sharing manatees again.

We’re only barely into December, but I already wish we could talk about Christmas stuff bud. We never had the opportunity to celebrate Yule together, and that’s something that hurts me a heck of a whole lot. This is a time of year where I really want to be around my family and friends, and your absence is so obvious right now.


I wish I had more to write for you bud. I miss you so fuckin much so fuckin always.

I hope you’re at peace.

Thinking about suicide? For immediate help:
Call 1-833-456-4566
Chat: http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/
Texting: 45645

For more information and resources: