There’s A Wonderful Advantage To Getting Older That, I Bet, You Don’t Know

English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

March 2013

I thought I was having a psychotic episode, the mere word itself terrifies me. Random words kept popping into my head like kernels of corn and it made me more nervous than I already was (if that was at all possible.). I took a low dose of  Xanax, a prescribed anti-anxiety medicine and waited, it didn’t help. It had always worked before, why not now?  That freaked me out too. I thought for sure, I was going out of my mind and it terrified me.

My husband was away on a business trip and I was home alone with our dog, Jax, during one of the worst blizzards; they were forecasting winds up to 60 miles per hour, major power outages and two feet of snow. I have been alone plenty of times before and have enjoyed it tremendously, but this time felt like one continuous nightmare, that lasted five days and nights. Jax stayed close to me and if the heat went out I could always cuddle with him, luckily when you have a dog you really don’t feel as alone.

Since I couldn’t calm myself down, I was sure I was having a psychotic episode and my huge fear of being restrained in a mental hospital/jail loomed in front of me. I’m not sure if I could have made myself any more anxious if I tried. I stayed up late, reading and listening to calming music, trying to take deep breaths until I was so tired that I fell asleep.

I had a planned appointment with my therapist a few days later and I couldn’t wait to get there. I told her my anxiety medicine didn’t work. She calmly said; “You should have taken two.” Her answer to my question about it being a psychotic state was ” “you are too old to start having a psychotic episode now.” For once, being older had a huge advantage. The one thing I could be thrilled about getting older. We had an advantage, who knew? That DID make me happy. Rejoice, older men and women!

She said it was just anxiety and “why wouldn’t you be anxious, alone, with a huge storm coming with howling winds that frightened many people?  The power could have gone out and instead of struggling with the ten page detailed instruction manual that I was obsessing about I should have just shoveled on more blankets and waited until the morning. Then, I could beg a neighbor to help me or as my shrink suggested “go to a hotel.”

I owe this woman a great deal of thanks, she is an incredibly smart and wonderful person. I like her and I trust her and if there is something serious we stop our talking and kidding around immediately and she has solid advice. Some people, even now, in the year 2013, still have a stigma about seeing a psychiatrist to  work out a problem. I just don’t get that, if you had trouble with your car, would you hesitate taking it to the mechanic? You just need to make sure, in both cases, that you go to the RIGHT person, the right match. I’ve met many frogs who called themselves therapists, this woman is a gem. A natural gem.

PS How many people are getting anxious just watching this dude?

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What Do Words Really Mean?

As parents we teach our children, from a very young age, to see please, and thank-you. We teach our children to respect their elders, to give up there seats on trains or buses for the elderly or the handicapped or women who are pregnant. We drill, over and over that “there is a word missing……”  We hope that they will eventually do this on their own. It’s what we expect from them but recently I’ve realized it doesn’t always work out the way we think it should. Maybe our expectations are too high? Maybe we are totally wrong. It could go either way.

We even prompt them sometimes and my children are not children anymore, they are 15 and 17. Something you would like to say we ask lightly? Did you forget anything? It’s really nothing more than a step up from “what’s the missing word little Susie?”

My husband and I took our teenagers to Aruba over Christmas holiday. We barely saw our son much less heard from him. He was safely ensconced in his “bachelor pad” pool house of his best friend’s grandmother’s mansion. Our daughter, being stuck with us in our room and without the amusement of fighting with her brother non-stop, tended to be sullen, and critical. When my daughter was 2, it was all about her. She is now 15 and everything still has to revolve around her. She has a lot of compassion for animals, I hope she will learn compassion for people, other than her friends, too.

We try and lead by example, my husband and I are both very polite individuals; both of us having grown up with European parents. We tended to be stricter than any of our friends who have children. Even my niece and my nephew never had curfews and their parents hardly ever knew where they were. This is not acceptable in our house. There are a lot of things we DON’T know and many things we have already have conceded, but we still feel children still need some structure.  Is that too old fashioned or being sensible?

My husband and I are betting if the children will thank us for this vacation. He thinks they will not. I think my son might and then my daughter will murmur her agreement.  So far, we haven’t heard any “Thank you’s” for meals, expenses, the trip…..Do the words replace actions?   I don’t think so. It’s something, but it certainly is not enough, not nearly enough. I know I have to give them slack, a lot of slack because they are teenagers and their worlds do revolve around themselves….

Am I being too harsh?  Is it wrong to expect teenagers to have manners? Am I fooling myself?  Honestly? I really don’t know.  Our son spent the entire time with his friend in Aruba without so much as an e-mail much less a phone-call  to us.  He only came to visit here when he and his friend wanted to use the gym OR when his friend’s father made them visit for a little while on Christmas Day.

This is our first encounter with teenagers at this age and we’re lost. Both my husband and I were not typical teens (whatever that really is). We were highly respectful and gracious and always had good manners. Call us boring but that’s what we were.  In the soon to be near future, my husband and I plan to go away on vacation sans teenagers and enjoy each other all the more.