Posted in anxiety, health, Life, meditation, Mental Health, mental illness, mindfulness, Musings, People, women

Not Myself

frustration

It has now been exactly one week since my massive panic attack, and I am still not myself.

I am okay, I guess…but I wake up every morning to a racing heart, to a stomach that is clenched as if waiting for bad news, or a swift punch.

This is NOT ME. This is not the way I wake up, the way I am. I hate it and I don’t know what to do to make it stop. I’m doing all the things I normally do that have helped me before- rest and meditation, exercise and prayer. Nothing seems to keep the moments of pure anxiety away.

It is very hard to pretend to be okay when you are anything but okay. But when you are a mom, it is important to at least try. The thing is, when I am very anxious, I am concentrating so hard on just trying not to let things spin out of control that I have little room for anything else. My patience is worn so thin. This is not the way I want to be living my life.

And I can’t help but think…what is this about? First, a panic attack at the end of December, then another one at the beginning of February. Before that, years and years and years since the last one. What is trying to come up? What is it that is asking to be healed? What am I missing?

Crazy to think that my own mind might be hiding something from me, or that my own consciousness is choosing not to understand something, but I can’t help but wonder- is this really just a fluke, or is this an opportunity for resolution? Resolution of some pain or some wound that I am just not seeing? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just bat shit crazy, but I’d like to believe that there is a reason. I’d like very much to know what that reason is.

Today, I am just going to try to be patient and loving with myself, and with others. I am going to remember that I can survive my feelings, even when it doesn’t seem like I can. I have a perfect record so far of withstanding every single one of them.  I am going to take my dog for a walk, and if the walk doesn’t feel like enough, then I will run. I will run until all this nervous energy dissipates, and if it comes back, I will find another way to discharge it. I will tend to myself. I will continue to work through this. I bet there will even be moments today when I am happy, as there have been every other day.

But I am still not at all myself. And I really want to be again.

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Posted in anxiety, health, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, parenting, People

A Different Kind of Storm

Another storm came the evening before last, only this time, it wasn’t happening outside of my house, in the sky.

This time, the storm popped up out of nowhere, inside of me, in my head.

I had another panic attack. Another really, really bad panic attack. Over 24 hours later and I am still not myself. My stomach is in knots and I feel afraid and shaky, embarrassed and ashamed of my uncontrollable mind. I had to call off work yesterday because I hadn’t slept at all the night before, and to be honest, I still have barely eaten since this all started.

I am doing everything right. I have been exercising every single day, eating healthy, praying, meditating, working hard and treating myself well. To know that I can go from the very top of my game to an utter shaking mess in a matter of one single, illogical, triggering thought…well…that is terrifying. I don’t know any other way to look at it.

I remembered everything my therapist told me the last time this happened. I told myself all the things I knew, all the logic and facts and practical wisdom I had- I threw all of it at this monster, but it pinged off his skin like nothing and continued to advance. When I am in that state, there is no safe place I can go, no way to escape, because the feeling is inside of me. You cannot outrun yourself.

I am so upset with myself for things that happened during this episode that I almost wasn’t going to write about it. I don’t want to tell the truth. I am ashamed of it. But I will tell you this- my panic started over a very minor injury that happened, not to me, but to my daughter. It should have been something we put a band-aid on and forgot about. Instead, we made two trips to the ER and didn’t make it home until 5 in the morning. The doctors were kind to me- they could see that I was not okay. But the idea that my panic can spill out onto someone else that way, that frightens me. I didn’t reach out to anyone, didn’t pick up the phone and call a friend, give them the chance to talk me down. I put my poor kid through so much because of MY fear, and that fear was so BIG, I couldn’t help it. I literally couldn’t help it.

And now the question is- how long until it happens again? Because once is an anomaly, once is…just a weird glitch that happened, and whatever. But this is twice now since December and I can’t imagine going through this again. Or regularly. I can deal with, I guess, my average daily anxiety. But this panic- no. I can’t. I won’t. I will find a way to fix it. If I have to just steam-roll it with pure stubbornness, I will.

But today, I am just so tired. I don’t want to feel like this ever again.

Posted in adventure, happiness, inner peace, Life, living, magic, Musings, People, random

Stormy Weather

I went to sleep last night to the sound of rain pouring down outside. What a lovely way to drift off…I can’t think of a better sound to lull me to sleep.

I woke up this morning to the sound of the wind howling through the trees outside. Shaking the windows and screeching around corners. Camryn must have gotten scared, because, as I lay there just listening, I heard her little feet padding through the house, and soon there was a warm little body snuggled up against me. And I love it- the storm, the rain, the wind, the little girl curled up next to me.

I love the wildness of a storm. So many times over the past few weeks, as the rain poured and the wind howled, as the dark clouds roiled in the sky, I have opened up my front door and invited a little of that charged air to sweep through my home, cleaning out the stagnant air and replacing the old energy with new. I have stood on my porch and looked out over the rooftops and up into the sky and let the cold air wash over me and wake me up completely.

In this verdant place where I live, trees are snapping like twigs and whole limbs are crashing to the ground, blocking roads and rerouting the world. Rivers flow down streets and waves crash, littered with branches and boiling with foam, into stairs we once used to walk down to gentle beaches. And I watch all of it with breathless wonder, the might of mother nature never failing to thrill me.

I cannot seem to resist the call of the outdoors despite the weather- or maybe even because of it. I made my way through Carmel on Sunday, having to turn different corners and drive down unfamiliar roads due to all the trees down, but we finally made it to the shore only to find the sand had been devoured by the angry waves. Still, I had to go- I had to see it for myself, and only returned to the car when I was soaked and so cold my fingers ached.

Yesterday, I rolled the dice and went with my dog for a run in between rain showers. We made it far up the hill when the rain decided to begin to fall in earnest again. I couldn’t help but smile the whole way home, breathless and soggy and more alive than I’d felt in forever.

And in the evening, we went to the beach. I wanted to see what treasures had been washed ashore, churned up from the ocean floor and left for my fingers to pluck up from the sand. What I found instead was a sky so breathtaking with clouds, the sun burnishing them the most indescribable pink gold in places, and leaving them so ominous and black in others. The greens and oranges of the ice plant and the metallic, mercury waves, the angelic pink and doomsday gray of the clouds…I was frozen solid by the time we made it back to the car, but my soul was fed. And just as we began to drive home, the rain swept back in from out to sea, and began to fall once more.

Oh, how I love a good storm.

Posted in Blogging, family, fitness, fun, Goals, health, home, housekeeping, Life, manifestation, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

January in Review: How’d those goals go?

hello-february-goodbye-january

Hello, there! Can you believe it’s February already? Okay, okay…I know- some people like to complain about how long January was, but can I tell you something? It really bothers me when people are wishing their time away like that. I know it’s complaining in fun, but seriously, life is so beautiful in every season, the world would be a much happier place if we all could spend more time appreciating things than we did whining about them. Says me in my best whiny voice. Also, I do live in California, on the coast, where at most we get a little frost on our windows maybe once a year. But I saw plenty of my local friends complaining about how long January is when they know full well that they were barefoot at the beach last Sunday. Big babies.

Anyway, I made a promise at the beginning of the year to re-visit my rather lofty list of resolutions at the beginning of February and see where I needed to put in a little more work, so that’s what I’m here to do. I just went through my resolutions post with a fine-tooth comb, and here is how I am doing:

I wanted to have a two-tiered step goal, with the gold standard being 10k and the silver being 7k. I hit my high goal 10 times and my low goal 12 times, getting within about 20 steps of my low goal several times as well. There were also a few days when I only got like 3000 steps, so I must have been spending the day in bed or something, because how is that even possible?! Anyway, I think this one needs a little work.

As far as my other fitness related goals, although I didn’t get started right away, I am in the midst of a 30 day at home challenge which I really like. I’ve done some yoga (at home) and I have been excellent about walking Miss Lucy pretty much every day without fail, unless it is absolutely pouring outside. Also, we have been hitting her off the leash goal as well by hitting the beach in Carmel on the weekends, which is so much fun for both Cam and I.  I feel really good about all this stuff!

I am going to break one promise, however. Can I tell you that I did not go to the gym, not even once, in January? January is the WORST month at the gym. So many new people, it’s crowded and gross. So I am going to give myself one final month- if I don’t make it ten times in February, I really will cancel. It’s just too expensive. I might start at a cheaper gym, I might forgo the gym altogether, but this is truly my last chance.

I have kept my promise of no fast food. I haven’t missed it one bit. I am doing Hello Fresh, and Cam has been helping me, and I am really impressed with how much I am learning, and how much fun it is. I will probably take a break soon to try a different service, but so far, so good. My eating has been really excellent this past month.

Again, I didn’t start right away in January, but I did meet my no smoking, no vaping goal. I started January 11th, made it a few days, messed up. Started again January 17th, made it ten days, smoked. Started again the same day that I smoked, the 27th, and today is the 3rd, so it’s seven days again. That’s about 20 days altogether, so I’m okay with that. I’d like to have no slips at all in February. It really only makes it harder when you mess up.

As far as the house goes, I think quitting smoking and trying to be more active in general has really helped me with the house keeping stuff. I have all this nervous energy, trying to avoid cravings, so I find myself doing laundry and cleaning out drawers just to give myself something to do. Yesterday I cleaned and organized all my drawers and closet, and got rid of a huge garbage bag full of clothes I hate or never wear.  I am trying to get in the habit of cleaning up every day, and I’ve definitely seen improvements, but I need to keep at it. I have gotten way better about keeping up on dishes, though.

Savings are definitely up!

My writing routine is not where I want it to be. I am going to get back on track this month, for sure.

And as far as my “Two trips this year” thing goes, guess what? I’m headed to Tahoe next weekend for a skiing-sledding-snow ball extravaganza. So, looks like I will be knocking both trips out as planned. As long as I make it to Maine in June, which I will.

I have spent a fair amount of time with friends already this year, as well. Far more than usual, and I’m so glad. It is so good for me.

All in all, I’d say I’m doing far better than I imagined I would be. Maybe there really is something to writing down your goals, eh?

And how are you doing with the goals you set for yourself, if you set any? I’d like to know!

Posted in adventure, advice, anxiety, Goals, happiness, inner peace, Life, meditation, Mental Health, Musings, People, spirituality, women

Gentle

gentle
From The Desiderata

Gentle is my word for today. I will try to be gentle.

Not only with others, but most of all, with myself. I am my own worst critic, always thinking back to some awful thing I did in the past, or worrying about things that I might do wrong down the road, rarely able to give myself any credit for the beautiful life I have provided for myself, here and now. I am forever berating myself for almost every little thing I do- and even when I do it right, I could have done it better.

So today, I am practicing being gentle with myself. Every time my mind starts galloping off into the future or flailing away uselessly at the past, I am gently bringing it back, to right here, right now. This morning, I was morbidly imagining myself with some life-threatening illness, worrying about how my children would fare if I should die. I had to pull myself back- Courtney, you are not dying in a hospital bed. You are standing at your sink, washing your daughter’s water canteen, absolutely healthy. You are fine. You are fine.

Yesterday, while I was meditating, I was having trouble with the sheer volume of my thoughts. There were so many things my anxious brain needed me to acknowledge right NOW. All of the sudden, I had this immense compassion for myself. An image popped into my mind, unbidden, of big me holding little Courtney in her arms. I ran my hands down 7-year-old-me’s back, and could feel the little knobs of my spine, the little angel wings of my shoulder blades sticking out. I told myself “it’s okay. Shhh…it’s okay.”. I don’t know where that image arose from, but it was powerful. The little girl in me needed that hug, that acknowledgement so badly. I may be a grown woman now, but that child is still in there, somewhere. And if it is hard to be gentle with me, perhaps I won’t struggle so much being gentle with her.

Here’s the thing- I want to fully inhabit my life. I do not have a desire to be bound by all the rules and dogma that I have either grown up with or invited in myself over the years. I want to be free. And all of this is brand new to me- it’s like I woke up two weeks ago and started questioning every single thing I believed to be true. I am starting at zero, trying to figure out who I am, really, and how I want to show up in the world going forward.

And the very first gift I choose to give myself today is this- be gentle. Be gentle with yourself, and with those around you. Let other people have their thoughts and feelings and perspectives, and choose to walk around them- let things be. Just like I told little me in that meditation yesterday…Shh…it’s okay. Everything is okay.

Posted in adventure, Blogging, family, happiness, home, Life, love, Musings, People, random

Introducing…Lily!

It’s the moment you’ve all (well, at least two of you) have been waiting for. The first thing you should know is that I have created an Instagram page exclusively for my new kitten, Lily. Do I have other pets? Yes I do. Do they have pages of their own? Not even close. Do I feel a little bad about this? Kind of. But she’s tiny and feisty and so freaking photogenic, I feel I really had no choice. Anyway, her IG is @thelifeoflittlelily, and if you are a gram fan, we are just starting out, so come follow us!

Anyway, we adopted Lily a week ago tomorrow from this great animal rescue here locally called Animal Friends Rescue Project. I have fostered for them before (a dog) and am such a huge supporter of “adopt, don’t shop”. If you are an animal lover, you understand…it’s so hard knowing how many sweet cats and dogs are abandoned and unwanted, and I’m so grateful that these no kill shelters exist. And, at the AFRP they are so much more than a no kill shelter. They give the animals there a happy, sunny, good life. Lots of fosters lend a hand, so many great volunteers, these little babies get lots of love, attention and hope. So I was happy to support them.

Lily is something else. We walked into the shelter, and she walked right up to us as if she’d been waiting for us forever! Within 30 seconds, I knew she was coming home with me, and that’s exactly what happened.

She is everything I wanted in a cat- she’s full of spirit, bouncing around the house, defying gravity. She’s a snuggler, and her purr is loud enough to make her whole body vibrate. She head butts your face, hard, with affection, and she loves to sleep cuddled up close to either Camryn or myself. Or sometimes, on top of our heads, or across our necks like a scarf. Anyway, she’s pretty incredible. I’m so very glad she is part of this crazy menagerie I have here.

Everything else has been kind of rough this past week- not sure why, but I’m just kind of feeling low. So I’m glad to have this little bright spot to play with. She really is a breath of fresh air- if fresh air smelled like cat, I suppose.

Posted in adventure, fun, funny, humor, Life, Musings, People, random, women

I don’t know what happened (the story of my week)

Okay, so…last time I posted, I basically announced that I was quitting recovery, and then I disappeared off the face of the earth. I’m assuming that some of you figure I’ve been in a blacked-out stupor since then, busy torching the life I worked so hard to pull together.

Well, let me reassure you (or disappoint you, depending on what kind of person you are) that nothing could be further from the truth. I may or may not have mentioned that I finally fulfilled my resolution to give up smoking and vaping? Yeah, that happened last Thursday, so I’m a little bit over a week in now. I’ve been using the patch to get me through it, and some weird things happen to me on that patch. Well, not that weird- actually it’s pretty common, but…I have the most crazy dreams. Super freaky. My dreams are kinda strange and vivid anyway, but this turns up the weirdness to full blast. The thing about it, though, is that I enjoy the hell out of those dreams. I can’t seem to get enough of them. Or maybe it’s just harder to get out of bed, knowing there’s no nicotine reward waiting for me- either way, I’ve had a harder time getting out of bed in the morning. So it’s harder for me to fit in writing here, you see.

What else? Oh yeah, I’ve been eating as though it were my mission in life to explode my body from the inside out. Basically, I’ve completely lost the reigns of all my January resolutions this week, and I don’t know why, but I suspect it’s the giving up the smokes/vape thing. But yesterday I had an excuse- I went to my works anniversary brunch for people who have been with the hospital for ten years or longer. My first one! It was at the very swanky ballroom at Spanish Bay (in Pebble Beach, the golf mecca) and they provided a lavish buffet. I am not one to ever turn down a buffet. And no matter how I promise myself I will make wise choices and eat fruit and yogurt, I crumble in the face of Eggs Benedict and piles of bacon and sausage. I just can’t help it.

So that was my breakfast. I got to have the rest of the day off, and had offered to buy a good friend of mine lunch if she’d pick up Camryn from school, assuming I’d be hungry again by then. I had scheduled my annual mammogram for that afternoon, forgetting that I had it off. I would have much preferred to do that on a day I was working, so I could feel like “hey, if I have to get my boob squashed, at least I got out of work”, but I messed that up. Anyway, I was NOT hungry by the time I got out of there, but did that stop me from eating a massive sandwich? Of course it didn’t.

The end result of that being, I wound up in bed with a horrible stomach ache around 6 p.m., and Cam’s dad had to come over to see to her dinner and homework. I got up once to check on them, and he was asleep on the couch, while Cam had made some type of slime concoction to which she’d added a pencil sharpener, a hair clip, and something else I can’t recall. The fact that I didn’t even care should illuminate my state of mind for you. Normally, that would have really pissed me off, the lack of supervision. I just noted it and went back to bed. I didn’t even wash my face last night, that’s how zonked I was.

In other news, we got a kitten on Monday. Her name is Lily, and she is a 3 month old long-haired Calico. I can’t even deal with how cute she is. I’ll share pictures with you soon!

So, there’s my week- eating too much, sleeping too much, not handling my business the way I generally prefer to do. But I haven’t put anything in my lungs besides air, so I’m still calling it a win. I think today I will pull it together again.

Happy Friday!