Posted in anxiety, family, friendship, fun, happiness, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, People, random

Unexpectedly Good

So, I’m going to have to make this quick- I just looked at my watch and realized with horror that it’s already after 6! This time change has me all screwed up, as usual. Anyway, I had an unexpectedly good weekend- a big deal, considering how hard things have been for me lately, at least internally. I wrote a few other blog posts this weekend that I did not end up publishing. Maybe someday I will, but I’ve made the unusual decision to keep certain things in my life private. I know that is out of character for me, but I think it’s a good idea. See? I CAN change.

Friday night, I drove to a neighboring town to pick up my eldest daughter. She had a photo shoot the next morning that I was supposed to go to with her. We drove home, and the two of us spent the evening watching a documentary about the Black Dahlia murder (She’s a true crime junkie like her mama) and eating steak with cauliflower and broccoli that we picked from the backyard garden. We had some good talks and it was just pleasant- one of those really great times that you hope for but can never predict.

Saturday morning, she realized she’d forgotten her clothes for the shoot and we didn’t have time to go get them, so ultimately, the shoot was cancelled. I did not allow myself to get all worked up about this, as it was not my problem, even though I had many, many opinions about how it might have been handled differently. Instead of going on a modeling shoot, we rearranged my bedroom together, cleaning along the way. Unfortunately, I don’t love the way it feels sleeping with my bed in this new direction, so I might have to move it again, but this is a big deal. I NEVER move my furniture around.

Saturday night, I met up with a friend of mine and her huge family for her birthday dinner at Benihana. I was nervous about hanging out with a bunch of people I didn’t know… I don’t know why. I forgot who I am, I guess. I had a ball. Every time I go out, just about, I have the time of my life. I made it home by ten, was asleep by 10:30. It was awesome.

Yesterday, the rain stopped for long enough that we could do our beach walk in Carmel with the dogs (I say dogs because I talked my daughter into leaving her Chihuahua with me for a while so I could take her to the vet and get her teeth looked at). It had been over two weeks since I’d been to the beach, and that is far too long! I need my outside time.

After that, we came home, I did some housework, and then I made dinner for us and my friend Cinamon and her daughter. I made a yummy veggie stew and also homemade macaroni and cheese for the kids. She brought bread and parm so we could have garlic bread, and we spent the evening talking and watching “oddly satisfying” videos on YouTube with the kids.

It wasn’t the most interesting or adventurous weekend, but it was just what my little anxiety riddled heart needed. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel like things are on the upswing. I really, really hope so.

Hope you had a fun weekend, too. I need to get ready for my day!

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Posted in adventure, anxiety, health, inner peace, Life, meditation, Mental Health, mental illness, Musings, People, random

40 Minutes a Pin Cushion

pin cushion

I have thought a lot about trying acupuncture, but it’s always been one of those fleeting thoughts where I don’t remember later to follow through. Well, last week, I was sitting here working and feeling pretty fed up with the worry and anxiety nipping at me incessantly. I googled “Does acupuncture work for anxiety?” And spent a few minutes reading several different articles. The basic consensus seemed to be, especially in the very scientific articles- “Yes, it seems to work. We can’t really figure out why, but it does.” Which I found both amusing and encouraging. I figured I really had nothing to lose by giving it a shot (oh my God, no pun intended) and I turned to googling local acupuncturists with good reviews.

I settled on one that not only had good reviews but a cool name- Rikke Blessing. I mean, how could you go wrong with a name like Blessing?! I called, left a message explaining my situation, noting that I’d read through her reviews and saw that most of hers were related to helping people with fertility. I emphasized that I was most DEFINITELY NOT interested in getting pregnant, but could she do anything about my anxiety? Please?

She called back right away, and explained that acupuncture was very good for anxiety, and that she could for sure help me. I was very excited. The things I’d read online were extremely promising, and as you well know, I’ve been pretty desperate to get on with my life. So we made an appointment, and yesterday, I showed up, not really knowing what to expect other than some needles getting jabbed into me here and there.

We talked for a while first, and I asked questions about why she believed acupuncture worked. To my surprise, she didn’t mention much about blocked energy-maybe that would freak some people out? Not me, but there was no way she could know that. Instead she talked about nerves and dopamine and neural pathways and hormonal imbalance and perimenopause. She also asked to look at my tongue. I wasn’t prepared for that. Hahaha. Oh, and she recommended that I consider giving up coffee. I told her I’d think about it. I’m thinking about it right now, as I sip my coffee. I mean…coffee is the only thing I have left. I might cut back. But giving it up completely for 21 days? That seems so…incredibly horrible.

Finally, it was time. I hopped on the table, minus my shoes and socks (note: if you decide to try acupuncture, maybe shave your legs and trim your toenails. If this sort of private failing makes you uncomfortable. I’m way overdue for a pedicure, and had a days worth of stubble on my legs.). She swiped me here and there with alcohol, then, just like that, the needles went in. Now, I am not someone with any sort of fear of needles, so I was never worried about this part. But even if you are, I can promise you that these needles are so tiny and flexible, you literally feel nothing. The only one I felt was the one on my forehead- the third eye, she called it. Apart from that, I honestly couldn’t even tell that I was being stuck.

The only part of the whole experience that I struggled with was the length of time I had to lay still. Now that I know I will be there for a good forty minutes, I will be prepared. There was beautiful music playing (Liquid Mind, if you want to look it up) and a little ocean wave sound machine off to my left, and if I’d been on my stomach, I might have dozed off. But, me being me, about 20 minutes in, I started to wish my phone was nearby, just so I could make sure that no one needed me for anything. Like, what if there were an emergency? My ringer was off. Would I be able to hear it buzzing with all this music on? So then I decided to check my watch to see what time it was, except that when I did, I knocked the dixie cups that were covering the needles in my stomach off, which meant I couldn’t put the blanket back over me…sigh. I think I probably need more than one session. I got the cups back on the needles, re-covered myself, and decided that, just for this one time, maybe the world would keep turning without my attention. I closed my eyes, and tried to relax.

Now here comes the weird part- I felt the difference immediately upon leaving the office. I was as calm last night as I would have been after a massage. It was absolutely comparable to that feeling, or the feeling you get after a good workout, once you calm back down. Or even a really good session of meditation. I felt very, very able to keep myself from becoming irritated, which is a huge part of what anxiety looks like coming out of me- very quick to snap, very quick to lose patience. I helped Camryn with her homework last night without once losing my cool- and if you could see the one man drama show that comes out of her during homework, you would understand why this is impressive. Four pages of homework, and I never once raised my voice. I did have to take away all devices for the evening, but I did it calmly and without malice. It was just- “sorry, no devices tonight. We’ll try again tomorrow”. Honestly, I’ve never been so proud of myself after homework, and that is saying a lot. Oh, and I slept like the dead last night, too. I didn’t wake up once in the night.

I am 100% looking forward to going back. I don’t have any idea whether it is working because it really works, or if I only think it works because I want it to so badly- but at the end of the day, does it even matter? As long as I feel better, and I really, really do…who cares? I’ll be a pin cushion any day of the week if it helps me. Only next time, I think I’ll just make sure my phone is within reach. Just in case of an emergency. 🙂

Posted in anxiety, escape, happiness, health, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, Musings, People, random

Powering Up

bed

Yesterday started off like most days do for me- up at an insanely early hour, I sat down here at my computer and waited for my coffee to finish brewing while I read some blogs, and indulged in my latest utter waste of time- slot machine games on my phone. I don’t know what in the world it is about fake slot machines that are so much fun, but they really are. I mean, it’s the ultimate time suck, right? No skill required, no real money is won, but…whatever the attraction is, it’s really caught me this past week.

Anyway, I sat here, drinking my coffee, winning fake money, then wrote for a little while on my novel. The sun had started to come up, and…two coffees in, I decided to head back to bed for a while. Cam had stayed an extra night at her dad’s. The house was a mess, there were things to do, but…I just felt like laying down. So I did. I got back in bed, and I slept for an hour or so. Around 7:30, I sent a text to my ex saying I would pick Cam up for our Sunday beach walk at nine. He replied “It’s raining, you know.” Um, no, I didn’t know. I hadn’t opened my blinds or looked outside yet. Hmm. “Do you just want to bring her home, then, when you guys are up?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied, “I’ll be there in about an hour.” I unlocked the front door so that they could get in, and I went back to sleep.

Somewhere in there I watched a few shows on Hulu, then slept some more. Devon, true to his nature, was very, very late. For once in my life I wasn’t bothered- I was busy slipping in and out of dreams. By noon, I knew exactly what kind of day this was going to be- and ultra-lazy-not-getting-out-of-bed-day. Every once in a while, I have a day like this. Usually, I fight it. I make myself sit up, and I procrastinate and make mental plans that my body cannot seem to execute, and it’s generally not a lot of fun. Yesterday, I just kind of rolled with it. I ate some very bad things- as a matter of fact, I broke my “No Fast Food” rule yesterday, indulging in McDonald’s for the first time this year. Man, was that disappointing. Yuck. After going without for so long, it didn’t taste like a treat at all- it tasted like…well, honestly, it tasted like garbage. Which is basically what it is, so I don’t know why I was surprised.

I did not shower yesterday. I did not change my clothes. I did not look in a mirror, or pick up one item off the floor and put it back where it goes. I didn’t do laundry or dishes or one productive thing. And you know what? I. Don’t. Care.

Last Wednesday night, I went to the movies with Cam and a couple of other people (one adult, one child.) Thursday, I visited with my friend Donna. Friday night, I had therapy and my writer’s group meeting directly afterwards. Saturday, I had a date with a guy I’d never met in real life before, right after a memorial service for another friend of mine who left this world far too early. That might be an average week for some people, but for me…for ME, that is a LOT of activity. Pair all of that with the gnawing anxiety I’ve been dealing with, and it’s no wonder I needed a day of pure laziness.

That’s another thing worth mentioning. I didn’t have a single moment of anxiety yesterday. Not so much as one. And when the anxiety leaves, there is some exhaustion. All that adrenaline leaves the building, and a girl gets tired. I’m not just making that up, either. I’ve done my homework.

So, yes- it’s Monday morning, and I’m starting my week with a messy house and hair that is currently in one big knot over my right ear. I need a shower, we are out of dog food, and I’m hoping I can scrape together at least one clean outfit for Cam to wear to school today.

But you know what? I feel ready to face this week. I feel rested and more calm than I have in a while. I feel like I probably could have at least stretched yesterday- my back kind of hurts, but…eh, so what? I wasn’t being lazy. I was powering up. And I feel pretty good this morning. Which is nice.

Happy Monday!

 

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

A Curated Life

A few more eye opening things have happened this week, and I thought I would share them with you now,before they get too far off in the past and I don’t feel like talking about them anymore.

thoughts

One thing, that just occurred to me this morning,is what prompted me to title this the way that I did. You know, it’s funny…in the technological age that we live in, we…or I guess I should say “I”, since I have no idea how you live your life, suffer with an absolute overload of information just dumping into my brain. I get up in the morning, and the very first thing I do is grab my phone off the charger and check my Facebook- before I so much get a cup of coffee in my body. I am checking my likes and my news feed before I even fully wake up. And yes, this doesn’t seem weird to me, but…I really thought about it this morning, and in the midst of my struggles with this beast of anxiety, I don’t think it serves me well.

I really considered it this morning, this habit I have of allowing any and all information into my mind indiscriminately. Things that make me smile and laugh, yes. But SO MANY things that make me sad, angry, disgusted, worried, annoyed. It doesn’t balance out. The same with my news consumption. The other day I listened to the entire days testimony of Micheal Cohen. The whole seven hours. I periodically jumped on Facebook to make a comment about it. Later, I spent time arguing with people who wanted to debate over it. The next day, I read all the news reporting about the testimony I had already heard. And you know, great, it’s good to know what is happening in the world, it’s important. But…not at the cost of your mental health. In the midst of typing out a particularly snappy comeback, my daughter tried to ask me a question, and I bit her head off. Misplaced anger. Tension. Frustration that I was still having the same fucking arguments with the few staunch Trump supporters I manage to be on speaking terms with. So how is this serving me? How does me using my precious time to argue with people who will NEVER agree with me, how does this help? How does snapping at my child because I’m mad serve my family, my goal of being better?

Short answer? It doesn’t. It doesn’t help me, it doesn’t change the world, it doesn’t help my family and it certainly does nothing but aggravate my already inflamed, anxious mind. So this has to change. I’m not going to pretend like I won’t hit up Facebook anymore- that’s not realistic. But the moment I saw what it was REALLY doing to me, I couldn’t help but lose interest in a big way. I’m tired, you guys. I am TIRED of feeling the way I’ve been feeling. I’m going to stop poking a stick at the angry dog of my head, and let it rest.

The other thing that hit me is this- I have been painfully aware of my crazy thoughts this week. So. Aware. Well guess what? I guess that means all my mindfulness practice is finally paying off, doesn’t it? Here I’ve been wondering what is wrong with me, why am I so on top of everything going on between my ears…well congratulations, Court. You just leveled up. I’ve been praying and waiting and hoping for a spiritual awakening, thinking it would be peaceful and lovely and blissed out. Nope. Now the real work begins, it looks like.

Which leads me to this final thing- if you look at my life this week, it LOOKS good. I have been productive and kind (except for that one little snapping incident I mentioned- I am only human) and tending to all the things I need to tend to. But there has been a discrepancy between how it looks and how I feel. I am not entirely comfortable in my skin, I am still having more worry and unhappy thoughts than I would like. But I am choosing to move through those feelings and worries anyway. I am seeing them, acknowledging them, and gently telling myself “You’re okay.”, or “That isn’t true, though.”, or “we can think about that later.”. I am not where I want to be, but ruminating on that is not helpful, whereas hugging my dog for five minutes on the floor might be. Snuggling with my daughter might be. Playing with my kitten might be.

Basically, I am living in acceptance right now. Here is what I have to work with, how can I work with it?Because I know I will not feel this way forever. Inevitably, I will get through whatever this is- I am getting through it right now, even- and life will start to feel really good again. It might even be today. But in the meantime, I am not just going to lay down and let it take over. I will still get up, still shower, still go to work, still laugh and joke and get dinner on the table. And I will choose what gets into my mind more carefully, because it matters. I cannot control what happens out there, but I do have some control over what happens HERE. Right here, right where I am, in this moment. Which is really all that matters.

Happy Friday!

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.

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.