Posted in Addiction, anxiety, Depression, faith, family, happiness, inner peace, Life, meditation, Mental Health, mental illness, People, spirituality

Did…did Oprah Just Change my Life?

Glennon

(This is longer than usual, I apologize. But I needed to tell this story)

As you all know, I have been struggling like crazy (no pun intended) with my mental health recently, specifically an anxiety cocktail that includes obsessive thoughts, hyper focus on far-fetched illnesses, and catastrophic thinking. I would not recommend this cocktail to ANYONE.

I would like to announce that I had a little breakthrough yesterday. It actually started out to be a terrible day. I woke up anxious already, but I couldn’t figure out about what. I felt shaky and nervous and weird, and all I’d done was wake up. So of course, my anxiety is looking for something to hitch its wagon to. I see my brain start searching it’s data banks for the nearest fear it can blow out of proportion.

And let me tell you, I am just fucking sick of this shit. Pardon my language, but my GOD, this gets soooooo old. So, I sit down to pray and meditate. I send up an urgent prayer to God- please take this, please help me, HELP ME. And then I choose my meditation for the day- I love the calm app, and if you struggle to meditate, I cannot recommend this app highly enough. Guided meditations for every conceivable thing, plus you can choose your music, and the woman’s voice is incredible. Anyway, I chose one I’d never seen before…I just had to look it up, it was called “Investigating Anxiety” and let me tell you, it was one of the hardest 13 minutes I’ve ever sat for. She asked me to call up my anxiety, to feel it in my body, to sit with it. It was like opening up a fire hydrant and just letting it blast you in the face. But I did it. I sat there, with the knot in my gut and tears rolling silently down my face, and you know what…it didn’t kill me. For that time, it was just a very uncomfortable feeling. For some reason, I feel like that limbered me up a little bit- like I was looser, and less clenched, and so what happened next was able to get in, I was able to hear the message I was meant to hear.

Let me explain what I mean: I have noticed, throughout my life, that when I am desperate and asking God for help, God is listening to me. But I need to be open to the answers. Until I am open to the answers, I am not going to be able to receive the help even when I am begging for it. When my anxiety is full throttle, I am so shut down, just trying to make it through every minute, that short of appearing in the flesh in front of me and shaking me, I am not picking up what God is laying down- and for the record, if the idea of God makes you uncomfortable, just fill in that space with whatever word you use. (WOW that was a run-on sentence. My apologies) I really don’t think it matters.

Anyway, I was feeling a little less knotted up after my meditation, and when I returned home after dropping Cam off at school, I started listening to Oprah’s Super Soul Podcast. I started last week, and had moment of clarity listening to Brene Brown, which was so funny as I have struggled to get through her books…but something about hearing her speak got the message through. Anyway, yesterday, I trusted that I would find the right episode and chose Glennon Doyle, whose name I’d heard, but knew nothing about. She said some stuff about addiction, that it is a place where sensitive people hide because they learned early on that the cost of love and pain were too much. It blew my mind. Wow. There was more, but trying to convey it all here would be impossible- I didn’t take notes, I just let the message into my heart. After that, I listened to two episodes with Iyanla Vanzant- again, heard the name, know nothing about her. Let the message flow into me.

I couldn’t tell you the exact things I heard, but I can tell you this- I remembered a few things that my anxious mind was keeping from me. Things like, oh yeah- I believe in a benevolent universe, and I have a God in my life who loves me. That you can’t bank worry to keep you from future pain- it doesn’t work like that. And that sometimes bad things do indeed happen, but that is true whether you choose to live in fear of them or not.

But it wasn’t exactly what was said, I don’t think, that really got me. It was more like…my mind and my heart opened up because I was thinking in a different way.  The guests and the questions and the stories were like WD-40 for my mind, helping the wheels to start turning, getting me thinking again. And right in the middle of all of it, I opened up a notebook and wrote a letter to myself. I’m not going to share it with you here, but my therapist had asked me to write a letter of self-compassion last week, and I balked like no one has ever balked before. Just, YUCK. No. But lo and behold, I pulled it off yesterday. It didn’t even start off that way, but that’s where it ended up.

The thing is, my anxiety is not really about my fear of something happening to me, or to my children. My anxiety is really about me not being able to forgive myself for my past. It’s about me not thinking I deserve the blessings I have today, because I am just a mean-spirited ex-junkie who just got lucky. It’s me waiting for the jig to be up, for God to take it all away. My anxiety is me, telling me I am not good enough. That there must be some mistake.

But I have worked really hard to get here. I overcame my addiction, and even though it didn’t seem hard to me, it must have been- how many other times did I try and fail? How many years did I sacrifice to that monster? So, yeah, it didn’t seem hard but maybe that’s just because I have a good perspective about it and I chose to see the beauty in it. And perhaps it looks like I have a cushy job- even to me, sometimes. But I show up day in and day out and I try to do my best. I struggle A LOT. The point I am trying to make is that the same brain telling me I am not good enough is the one telling me I just got lucky. Yesterday I saw the flaw in my thinking. I do deserve my life. I do deserve my kids, and the love, and the happiness. And yes, awful things may come. But do I have to ruin all my happiness while it is good? No. No I do not.

I’m sorry this is so long. I needed to get this off my chest. The thing is, I am not magically cured. I just believe I needed to stay with those feelings until I got the lesson, and now things will, hopefully, begin to improve. In the meantime, I am going to keep asking for help and looking for the message, and really try to let go of fear and enjoy my life. So thanks, God. And thanks, Oprah. LOL. You’re the best.

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Posted in anxiety, Depression, family, health, kids, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, parenting, People, random, women

Anxiety is Boring

Well, it makes me boring, anyway. Trying to figure out something to write about has been damn near impossible…hence, my longer-than-normal absence from my trusty old blog.

I don’t know what to think, you guys. None of my tricks are working. Now, don’t get me wrong- I have moments every single day where I feel just fine. But when you think about that, it doesn’t seem like a very good deal, does it? I have MOMENTS when I feel okay? As opposed to “normally, I feel fine, but sometimes I do get anxious”. Yeah, basically, I am feeling anxious more than I’m feeling okay, and that is not normal for me. I don’t feel normal. I feel pretty awful, honestly.

It got me thinking about a lot of you bloggers that I follow who struggle with mental illness daily and keep on writing. I have such a huge amount of respect for that, now. Because when you are feeling the opposite of okay, when the thing you are struggling with is the very thing you are thinking with…it is HARD. Much the way chronic pain just wears you down, chronic mental anguish is exhausting. And it’s so weird- even when I am feeling so-so, I’m tensed and ready for the next wave of bullshit to knock my feet out from under me.

I was doing better- as a matter of fact, I had just bravely proclaimed to myself that I was DONE with this anxiety. I yelled at it, out loud, in the shower one morning- had a firm conversation with my anxiety that I was tougher and braver and smarter than it was, and that I would not be falling for its lies any longer. I went on and had a brilliant day, and I thought “Of COURSE I can do this! What was I thinking? I just needed to make up my mind!”

And then Cam came home from school that very afternoon, and she went directly to bed and fell asleep, and…kids get sick, right? But my anxiety saw an opening, and it went in full force. To be honest with you, my hands are shaking right now, and that was Thursday that it happened. She had a slight temperature, and she’s been under the weather since then- not eating much, etc. Last night her ear hurt. Her fever is gone. She is getting better, not worse, but my anxious, fucked-up brain cannot be reasoned with. My logical mind knows that this is cold and flu season. That kids are exposed to every kind of virus and bacteria and nastiness you can think of on a daily basis at school. But my anxious mind flies straight to the worst of the worst. It’s cancer. It’s meningitis. It’s…you fill in the blanks with whatever your worst fear is. It’s all so far-fetched, yet I feel it in my sick little soul.

Sigh…what can I do, though? The only thing I can think of to do is to keep on working through it. Keep on going to therapy and figuring out ways to not let my fear rule my life, or, even worse, freak out my children. It’s hard. I check on her too much. I probably took her temperature about seven times on Friday. And it’s so funny to me- in many ways, I am one of the strongest people. I have lived through so much and come out the other side relatively unscathed. I don’t know why this is happening to me right now, and I don’t know how to make it stop.

But I can promise you this- I will keep trying to figure it out. I will keep working to resolve this knot in my gut, and this mess in my head. I don’t know what other option I have. But any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

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.

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!