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 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 Addiction, Blogging, Goals, health, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

Changes

change

As I have written, time and time and time again, I am the ultimate creature of habit…the one caveat is that I have the wandering soul of a gypsy, and these two things do not mesh well at all. I long to jump on a plane and fly across the continent, then, when I do, I spend the first few nights homesick and wishing for my own bed. This happens every time. Unless, of course, my kids are with me, in which case- well, home is wherever they are, in my estimation. So, the solution for that is pretty obvious- take the kids with me, right? Right. Problem solved.

I’m sure there was an element of that in my drug addiction. You know, they say that amphetamines are not physically addictive…although I can tell you for sure that my body protested every time I quit, it wasn’t the slow hell that a heroin addict suffers through for months on end. More an annoyance than anything. But there is a lifestyle that goes along with addiction- a whole world that exists right under the nose of the “normy”, with its own rules and unspoken laws. That was the world I unwittingly stumbled into so long ago, and where I far overstayed. As much as it was a relief to give all that up, it was hard. I didn’t know how to fit in in the regular world, I didn’t know how to behave anymore. But the idea of going back was so abhorrent, it became easier for me to keep making the right choice. But that change was hard. I left a home, of sorts, and I know I could never go back now…for a while though, it was up in the air.

One of my resolutions this year was to not only stay away from cigarettes, but to give up my precious vape as well. I recognized it for what it was, finally- just another crutch, basically the same as smoking. I would alternate between the two- smoking for a while, then going back to the vape. My vape broke, I’d buy another- 70 or 100 dollars, at least five or six times. The juice you need to fill it runs about 30 bucks a bottle, and I’d go through at least one, if not two a week. So, financially, not quite the win that I thought quitting smoking would be. I switched to no nicotine juice and went back on the patch, and…you see where this is going? Right, nowhere. Still doing the same thing, pretending it’s different.

Yesterday, I just gave up. I put my patch on and thought “I am not going to vape today. I just want to see how it feels.” Guess what? It felt pretty odd. I didn’t get that hand-to-mouth thing that I am so stuck on, and it seemed like every five seconds I had that feeling like I was missing something. That… beginning to reach for something before I realized it wasn’t there. So, I found an old fast food straw that was shoved in my desk drawer and I cut it into three equal pieces. Now, I just compulsively chew it, or, when I’m really wanting to inhale something, I take a nice big hit of oxygen, right through the straw. I probably look like an idiot. But it’s working fine. I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now. I have been a smoker of some sort for most of my life, and I want to see what it’s like to be tethered to nothing. To need nothing I didn’t come with to get through the day. And yes, I’m still wearing my patch, for now. I’m not a sadist.

But this morning, I woke up knowing I needed to change up my routine a little, to make it safer for me. Mornings are the prime nicotine imbibing time- stores are low, you know. And even though my vape had no nicotine anymore, I still hit that thing hard in the morning. So, I got up this morning, started my coffee, and jumped straight into the shower. I didn’t fool around. I got out, put on my patch, and then had my coffee. Also, I smartly got rid of all temptation-this is quitters rule number one! Gave all my vaping stuff away, so there was nothing to mess with even if I wanted to. But still, I know me- I’m perfectly capable of throwing in the towel while half asleep and running to 7-11 to buy a pack of smokes. But I don’t want to. I want this. I want freedom.

I can promise you this- I have quit all kinds of things in my life that were addictive, from drugs to relationships to bad behaviors. Nothing has ever been harder than giving up smoking. I will stay on the patch for as long as I need to, but I can’t wait to be free of that, too. I just don’t want to kill anyone trying to move too fast- I’m not kidding, nicotine withdrawals are no joke. And I’m kind of evil to begin with, so it’s not that far of a jump for me.

Anyway, there was more to this story, but we’re already at almost 900 words, so…look for “Changes, part II” tomorrow. And have a wonderful day!

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

Light after Darkness

light through darkness

I want to share something with you: Although I would never, ever, ever wish a panic attack of any caliber on anyone, I am sitting here this morning grateful for the meltdown I had last week. I honestly think it needed to happen. Yes, it was scary, and over the top, and it kind of felt like I filled a few short hours with a years worth of fear, BUT…walking around with all those bottled up emotions, trying to be strong and good all the time- it’s exhausting.

I learned some important things, like: even though I might feel like I am alone in the world, there really are people that I can count on in a crisis. People who love me exactly as I am, even at my worst.

Thanks to my heightened anxiety and panic for those few days, when I came back down to earth and my normal worries started kicking back in, they paled in comparison to the shit-show I had just survived. So, I have been less worried about mundane, normal things than usual. This is nothing short of a miracle. Worry is a waste of time, period.

I figured out that I need to be ME. The full expression of myself, not watered down, not held back to be more palatable for someone else. I need to be comfortable in my own life, and if I am not committed to this, certainly no one else will make it so. This is MY life. I must care for it and tend to it and make it beautiful for me, which means being who I am and defending the boundaries I decide on. I must be an active participant. Funny side effect of this is that when you start to be true to yourself, you start to uphold those boundaries, not only do you respect yourself more, but other people respect you more as well. And then it becomes even easier to be happy, and be yourself. It all goes together.

From the heights of panic to the depths of despair, my mini-nervous breakdown left me with a lot of information to process. It also left me with a clean slate, in a place where there has been much peace and gratitude. I’ve returned to my daily meditation practice, I pause many times throughout the day to appreciate the calm, or the contentment, or the quiet within me. It’s been easier for me to be kind, to reach out to others. My picking up on the vibes of others is at an all time high.

I’m no fool- I know that life is not going to magically be wonderful forever now. Ups and downs are just part of the ride, and some of us have more of them than others. I know there will be other moments when I am crying in the bathtub, scared to death of my own mind. But there will also be other moments when I am so in love with life, and so grateful for that same exact mind…and that makes it all a lot more bearable. Knowing that, when it is very dark, the light is on its way. I will try to remember that.

Posted in anxiety, Depression, friendship, health, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, People, relationships

Looking for the Lesson

So, I have to go in for my next rabies shot this morning. Even though I’m like 99.8% sure at this point that neither the cat nor I have rabies, I figure I still might as well finish what I started. Who knows when a furious raccoon might charge me as I’m walking to my car at 5 a.m., right? And when/if that happens, I’ll have a super power- the rabies vaccine, POW! Bite away, you frothy mouthed trash demon. Can’t kill me! Well, unless you sever an artery or something with your fetid claws.

As you can probably tell, I’m feeling a little less terrified and a little more back in reality than I was. Do I feel sheepish at all? Eh, maybe a tad. But listen- I am nothing if not a hypochondriac, and if I hadn’t gone ahead and handled this, I’m sure I would’ve only prolonged my misery and panic. Anyway, even though the odds of that cat having rabies were pretty low, what I may not have mentioned was that she WAS in some sort of altercation with another animal the week prior, and we do have a dearth of raccoons and skunks that frequent our yard. Those animals are notorious for carrying rabies, and the cat wasn’t vaccinated, and ALSO, there have been rabid animals in our county withing the past year. So…still, a bit (like a big bit) of an overreaction, but for me, too much knowledge, paired with a big imagination and a healthy dose of anxiety equals a real bad scene.

Thursday morning was the day of my rapid unraveling. It is now Sunday, and I am not yet 100% myself. I continue to wake up jittery and nervous, I’m avoiding my normal routine of coffee, coffee and more coffee ( I just stick with 1-2 cups, rather than endless), and everyday tasks such as changing my clothes and accomplishing anything much have been a bit beyond my reach. I did change from my pajamas into regular clothes yesterday, but they were the same clothes I wore the day before that, so…not really an accomplishment. It’s not like I was out rolling in mud or anything, but still. I finally began to feel almost regular by about noon yesterday, yet in terms of energy and drive I am still flagging. I’m sure such a rapid increase in adrenaline in ones body, along with whatever else might be happening, causes a big crash. I’m just speculating, but it seems logical.

I’ve been looking for the lesson in all of this- that’s just something I’ve always done, since I was a very young woman. I try to figure out what I am supposed to be learning from the thing that I am going through. Right now, I am taking from this that the effects of stress on me, mentally, will eventually come boiling to the surface. It is up to me to put my foot down and protect myself. That stupid and trite saying about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first absolutely applies here- I was trying to help other people when I have been seriously in need of some care, myself. My body, my brain, my spirit- they all got together Thursday and declared a state of emergency. I had no choice but to listen anymore. So, even if the thing I did to care for myself seems strange & over the top, it was a rational reaction to the crazy feeling inside of me. I honored myself by listening, even though I was embarrassed and scared.

Another thing I am learning from this is stop looking for help in people who refuse to be available to you. When you reach out to someone and they are not able to hear you, stop reaching out to that person. The toll it will take on your already vulnerable self is devastating. I have been incredibly sad about the rejection I felt from not one but two different people I have tried to reach out to, lately, and I know that added to the mini-breakdown I’ve had. But you know what? I found exactly what I needed, and BECAUSE I was so desperate at that moment, I did something unusual for me, and I kept reaching out. I called my friend Donna, and she came immediately to take my daughter so I could go to the hospital, EVEN THOUGH she thought I was out of my mind (not wrong) she humored me because she could see that I was hurting. She then brought my daughter to me at the hospital so they could examine her for bites or scratches, and after that, took the cat to the SPCA.  My boss, who is amazing and so supportive, sat with me on the phone at least four times and listened to me cry and told me it was okay to feel how I felt, and it was okay to not work, just to try to get better. My Ex, who I have a difficult relationship with at times, is currently sleeping on my couch so that I feel safe, and so I can have hugs, and also, so he can help with our daughter. I have incredibly good friends who go above and beyond for me. I don’t have billions of them, but I have a few really good ones.

Yesterday, I dropped off a few little gifts for people that weren’t expecting them. My neighbor who’s had a really rough few years, my boss who ought to have expected it…that went a long way in cheering me up. I really fell apart, you guys. I’m putting myself back together. I don’t think I will be exactly the same person when all the puzzle pieces are back in place. I don’t think I am supposed to be. I think maybe that’s part of the reason we fall apart to begin with- so that we can come back a little differently, and maybe a little better, than we were. Maybe that’s the lesson.

Posted in anxiety, funny, health, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, People

My Most Expensive Panic Attack Ever

It’s not a big secret that I’m an anxious person- it doesn’t take more than a cursory glance through my many, many posts to see that I’m high strung, and overthink the fuck out of almost every conceivable situation. Although I do love to be funny and witty and make people laugh, I am pretty sure this is yet another defense mechanism to trick people into liking me…not complaining about it, just saying- I’ve overthought even my best attributes. Anyway, be all of that as it may, I tend to be a super high functioning nut job. For the most part, my anxiety is pretty manageable and doesn’t keep me from doing what I need to do.

I mean, until it does. Listen, I am still not 100% clear on where I tipped the scales exactly, yesterday, but…holy shit you guys. Whew. I’m almost hesitant to talk about what happened because it is truly one of my biggest, most over-the-top episodes to date, and, well…I’m just going to say it. I woke up yesterday already feeling panicky and weird, and I’m not sure why. Although looking back now, I can tell you that there has been a lot of unusual stress and drama in my life this past month, and I do tend to wait until things are better to fall apart, so maybe that was the culprit? Anyway, I woke up panicky. I had some coffee (bad idea number one). I scrolled through Facebook (bad idea number 2). I listened to my daughters cat yowling non-stop for the fourth day in a row (she’s in heat). I took a bath. While I was in the bath, the cat came in and started yowling and being weird as hell, and I looked at my right arm, covered in fresh gouges from where she’d attacked me recently…and out of nowhere, I decided she must be rabid. I know, I KNOW how crazy this sounds, but in that moment, as panic took over my body, I was CONVINCED that that fucking cat was rabid and that I was infected.

My body went cold, my stomach dropped, and I started shaking all over. There was always a small voice in my head that said “Dude, come on, the cat is not rabid- she’s in heat.” but it was so small, and my panic was so BIG, I couldn’t listen. I was having a full fledged panic attack. If you have had one, you know- there is no reasoning with a combination of feelings like that. I tried. I tried my really fucking hardest.

Long story short, I found myself, two hours later, in the ER getting the first in a series of rabies vaccines. Let me tell you something: I was under the impression that I would be getting two shots- the rabies immune globulin, and then the vaccine. Guess what? I ended up getting TWELVE shots. 10 in a ring around my wrist, where all the bites and scratches are, and one in each shoulder. The ones around my wrist really hurt. But oddly enough, the pain snapped me back to reality a little, made the panic lessen. This will end up costing upwards of 3 grand, by the way.

Unfortunately, this did not take the fear away completely. For the rest of the day and into the evening, I still half believed I was going to die of rabies. Even after my therapist explained to me that the vaccine kept people from contracting the virus even after being bitten by animals that were confirmed to have had it. You would think that this would have completely put my mind at ease, but my mind had forgotten how to work that way by that point.

I’m going to be real honest here and tell you that, even today, I am not really okay yet. Better, yes. Weepy and weird, also yes. I am sharing this story in hopes that, whatever might be going on with you, it probably isn’t as off the Richter fucking nuts as a grown ass woman subjecting herself to 12 rabies shots because her in-heat cat scared her so badly. No matter how bad your day is going, I would almost bet you are doing better than that. And if you aren’t, you message me, and we can talk about what bullshit it is to have a mind that won’t cooperate reasonably at times.

Because it’s scary…it’s terrifying, really. But you know what? It isn’t like that every day. And if today isn’t good, it still might get better. And tomorrow just might be perfect. Hope you liked this story. Go make sure your pets are vaccinated. Trust me, it’s just better to stay on top of that shit.

PS: Milo, my daughters cat, got her shots yesterday, too. And today she is getting fixed. Freaking cat.