Plinky Prompt: What Stresses You Out The Most

    • So Stressful!
    • “You Worry Too Much” DUH.
      stress I stress myself out by worrying. Worrying about my kids, my husband, my dog, my mother, my sister, my friends, victims I don’t know and I worry about myself. I worry about sickness, death, and the flavor of the week on the news i.e. terrible shootings. Worrying about worrying. I “pre-worry” when I have absolutely NO CONTROL over any outcome. In psychiatric terms it is called “anticipatory anxiety.” What good does that do me? IT DOESN’T DO A DARN THING. Yes, I know this but sometimes it’s hard to switch the channel. I am too sensitive in both a good way and a bad. I am incredibly sensitive to others, compassionate and intuitive at the same time I take on other people’s issues to heart and feel for others. A lot. I have tried to change a million times with no luck. I have heard “You are too sensitive” so many times I could scream (especially when it is said by totally insensitive people) I KNOW THAT, I DID NOT CHOOSE TO BE THIS WAY. So, give me a break. I do deep breathing, I’ve tried all the tricks but this is who I am. PLEASE, TRY TO BE understanding, know I worry because I love and I care. Maybe I care too much but don’t you think that’s better than not caring at all? If I could be a cold-hearted, non-worrying-bitch I’d have a much easier life. Sorry, no can do. I worry. I care. And that’s okay.
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Worrying, Lamb Souvlaki And Pollyanna

Pollyanna (1960 film)

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I’ve had way too many changes in my life in a short period of time and I feel unsettled. Anxiety attacks have crept up on me like the sting of bees approaching quickly, out of nowhere.  I feel anxious, on and off, and I am not too proud to admit it. A lot of people have feelings of anxiety, that’s why there’s medication and breathing, writing and music, and today, cleaning and keeping busy. Usually there are friends to talk to but my dear friend is in England having a great vacation and others don’t really make the effort or are just too busy with their own lives. My worry and I are together, we’re holding hands.

My mom has been sick and I am worried about her; her anxiety is fueling mine. My mother who was always seemed so strong and energetic seems  more vulnerable now, she’s had a horrible year and she’s scared, we both are. I’m “meeting worry half -way” as my old friend, ex-nun, lesbian and former boss used to say. That’s not doing anyone any good. I am scared for my mom and for me,  I think she is too.  My sister is usually the Pollyanna type in the family so I just wrote her and asked how she felt, maybe she can comfort me. I know she is not a worrier, and even though she is extremely positive about these sorts of medical situations I’m not sure it will rub off on me though I hope it does.

I have a wonderful husband, two great kids, a lovable, sweet dog; I have a home to live in and food on the table. So, why am I so unhappy? Better yet, why am I feeling so anxious lately?  I know I am worried about my mom but things have also been changing quickly.  My son graduated High School and is at his second home in Connecticut being a Counselor at his old sleep away camp. I’m told he’s very happy, we haven’t heard from him. I wonder if it will be the same way when he starts college in September but I am not ready to go there mentally yet.

When did fun flee from my life, like people racing out of the water at the mere hint of a shark sighting? What is happening? Last night was different and I was thrilled.  My husband and I went to an old, small, family -owned Greek restaurant, I ate Avgolemono soup (Greek chicken, rice and lemon soup) and pita bread, he ate lamb souvlaki, big, fat, french fries and a salad. Afterwards, we saw the new Woody Allen movie and ran into friends. Throughout the movie I did not worry, I was entertained and charmed by Midnight In Paris. Welcome back, Woody Allen.

Xanax is a prescription medicine that just takes the edge off of being worried, it doesn’t fix things, it smooths the sharp edges like green and blue sea glass. My feet ache, I think I have a broken bone in my left foot, it is hard to walk up stairs, it is hard to walk, it is hard to breathe. There is no way I can hobble around in the city, as planned, I will postpone it until after the X-ray next week and the results of my mother’s tests. More importantly,  I will  “talk” to my deceased father, sending messages and prayers into the dark sky like shiny, silver helium balloons. I hope you are right Pollyanna, I really, truly do.

Please, Mama

c. 1901

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Don’t give up the fight, Mama. It’s okay to feel anxious but please don’t give up; don’t fall into the rapid hole of deterioration like a black funnel cloud gaining speed. What can I do to keep you from slipping? I will hold your soft downy hands with all of my strength so you don’t go anywhere and you have no choice but to stand up like a strong, red oak tree. I will not let you down; I promise. Have a little faith, accept the bad things that have happened and move past it.

Dad gave up but he had no interest in living anymore because he was so depressed. Do you remember? The light in his blue-gray eyes had been extinguished two years before. He was not the same dad that brought us up, the joking, warm, TWA company guy that took us to eat in the airline terminal. He was not the same husband that protected you and took care of you and adored you and your less than stellar cooking attempts.  You “cooked” mashed potatoes out of dehydrated flakes that you poured into a pot and heated with tepid water or with milk. Dad made his own concoctions for dessert: red, strawberry, glistening, jello mixed with canned fruit cocktail and yogurt. To top it off he added applesauce and rainbow sprinkles. He said you were his favorite cook bar none. No restaurant compared to your cooking; that was real love.

He became an old man who had difficulty walking, he shuffled and it was heart-breaking to watch. I was fearful anytime he walked up or down my three front steps that he would fall over. He refused to use a cane, or a walker, his vanity meant more than everything else. At least he had his dignity to the very end. I was lucky to see him when he was still fighting. I was there when the Doctor asked him if he would be “amenable to training so he could use a walker.” He looked up at her and said “NO, Doctor, I am not amenable to that at all!” I remember he wore his white down jacket with the bright red lining inside. I wore that puffy jacket for months after he died. I wear the chain he always wore for luck. I lost daddy years before he died, we all did.

I pray that you will bounce back, mom, and that the pain of the last six months will dissipate forever. You have fallen twice in a short period of time, you broke your wrist and your vertebrae and now we just want to keep your bones strong by taking the drug, “Reclast.” The “drug whose name shall not be mentioned” that gives you nightmares and anxiety attacks and too much fear. You had a vicious bout with a grueling flu that kept you in bed and dehydrated with high temperatures that confused your own doctor. She made you go to the Emergency Room, I met you there. You got through that, now, you have to work through the past to the present and the future. Think about your favorite occupation in the summer time, swimming in your condo’s pool with its chlorinated clear, blue water and the temperature of a warm bath. You will be surrounded by friends, and fans. You will hold court in the shade while people gather around you like the Queen that you know you are.

We all get older but I don’t want to get older without you by my side. You are the first person I call when I have any type of news. You are the one that tells me that beneath my emotional mush, “I am very strong inside, like steel” and sometimes I need to be reminded. Mama, be abrasive or demanding and unreasonable. Really, its fine. You can remind me that I should exercise more and get mad at your grandchildren for not calling often enough.

I am not ready, I never will be ready to give you up. I want to play “tickle fingers” on your hands like we used to do when I was a small child. I want to see the flirtatious woman I know, engaging with everyone you meet because people are drawn to you like moths to light.  Don’t forget our famous song by Helen Reddy: “You and Me Against The World.” I will sing it for you if you want but mostly I want to sing it with you.

Love,

Your Daughter

My 5 Worst Vices

White chocolate is marketed by confectioners a...

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Some would call these vices, but not me. They’re habits…..idiosyncracies…..creative qualities……and fine taste.

 

Chocolate
I don’t discriminate, milk, dark (even fake white chocolate), candy bars, truffles, and any chocolate covered fruit. When fruit is covered with chocolate it makes it healthy and a necessary food group. This also includes chocolate milk and hot chocolate, again, dairy = strong bones, thus a health food.

 

Ms. Messy
I am a clean person but a messy one. Stacks of letters, old birthday cards, photographs, college note-books. It’s hard for me to throw stuff away. I am NOT a hoarder, I prefer to call myself sentimental.

 

Pizza With Jelly
Yes, my kids are disgusted but sometimes pizza is dry. So, for the last 35 years I solve that by adding grape jelly (my first choice) to my pizza. In an emergency, I would substitute strawberry jam. Orange marmalade is not an option, nor is cherry (That is disgusting and going over the line!)

 

Book Collector
I buy more books than I can read in a life time. When I am reading (which is most of the time) I need at least 2 (OK, I’m lying, 10-20) books to choose from so that when I finish a particularly good book, I won’t be depressed. I need choices, is that so wrong?

 

Anxiety
Yeah, sometimes I worry a bit too much. I worry about things that I have NO control over. Pointless, you say? I totally agree. That doesn’t help me in the least. What if…..What if? I know, I tell myself to shut up all the time. Useless. I know. I blame my mother, it’s all genetics.

 

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When Stress Takes My Hand And Leads Me To The Refrigerator

 

day 75

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I could say that eating unabashedly after dinner is not my fault. I could say that my hormones take over and I just go blindly to the kitchen without thought or reason. That’s partially true. It’s 10:00pm, “do you know where your children are?” asks  Channel 5 (or what I refer to as the “murder channel.”) Yes, I know where my children are but do they know where I am? Probably. They hear my not-so-lightly-padded- feet in the kitchen, the sound of the refrigerator opening and closing, cabinets flung open and the sound of crackling from aluminum packages. When there is something stressful going on in my life I get extraordinarly hungry. No, not at meal times. Not for breakfast or lunch or dinner. I’m doing a days worth of snacking after dinner and while I know its wrong, I still do it. What leads me to the refrigerator at night, is pure and simple, stress. When I am anxious, I eat. I eat, therefore I am. Food comforts me and even thought it’s not a popular thing to say or an easy one to admit, it’s true.

While I grab and choose food there’s usually something that prompts me: a commercial on television, a friend’s description of her lunch or I just need sweet than salty, sweet than salty and  yes, sweet AND salty. Sigh. It’s a vicious circle and I can’t blame anyone except myself or my evil twin as I like to call her. An example of my choices: pretzels dipped in Boursin cheese, Yoo-Hoo, my beverage of choice, vanilla cake, Oreo cookies, Munster cheese spread with strawberry jam, left over pizza with salt, Yodels, rice with ketchup, chips with salsa and guacamole, 100 calorie packs (because they don’t count!), chocolate covered cherries and baked Lays potato chips (because I am watching my weight) GRIN.

Full disclosure: I have been known (infrequently) to have a sample of all of the above when I am not stressed (or don’t know I am stressed) and just hungry. I know it’s bad when I don’t think about what I want to eat, I just grab and stuff. If you ask me if I feel guilty about it, I would have to say, in all honesty, no. While I am eating I don’t think about it, the day after is another story. I am able to forgive myself quickly and at least try to eat healthy food the next  day. Luckily, this bingeing doesn’t last more than a few hours at a time. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t do drugs, my vice, when stressed or just hungry is simple: food. I am a foodie and my idea of a lovely evening is going out with my husband or friends to a delicious meal. It’s gluttony, it’s enjoyment and it’s food. I take full responsibility for my actions, stressful or starving, I’m ready to order.

Fibro Frights And Fatal Fantasies

 

anxiety

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I messed up and didn’t realize that the PFAM’s ( Patients For A Moment) blog carnival deadline was by midnight tonight. The subject was fear. I’m wondering if deep inside I just didn’t feel up to writing, competing, finishing or if I was dissassocating myself from the project. I was going to talk about the web of anxiety and how it feels when it starts to swell in my stomach. It always starts in my stomach beginning with a slight twinge, quickly advancing to panic and anxiety. My arms and legs feel tingly and somehow not connected to my body, I am alternately hot and cold or both together.

The first time that queasy sensation started was the summer before my freshmen year at college.  I was eating dinner with my family in a fancy Italian restaurant in Queens, NY.  I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t speak, it was the first time I had ever felt anxious and I remember calling it “cold dread.” How could I explain this new, horrible feeling when I had never experienced it before? How do you name something you do not know?

Those fearful sensations in my body became like a close cousin to me. We lived as if we were conjoined; I could not separate reality from frightful fantasies. It was something that I have learned to live with and deal with.  I started with a tiny germ of truth and blew it up out of proportion. There was no stopping my obsessive worrying, nothing helped: warm milk, hot baths, reading a book, distraction.  I remember a time when I was sitting in the trolley in Boston and thought what I had whispered to my friend was overheard by someone else and I became overwhelmed and frightened. What if? What if? It became a wakeful nightmare for me.  I did a lot of catastrophizing back then and even now, once in a while, it still tries to creep into my brain. I need to forcefully push it away, as if an intruder was about to enter and I had to slam the door hard, with brute force.  Sometimes that is enough, sometimes it isn’t.

My cousin’s stomach ache could be pancreatic cancer,  my sister’s low throaty voice could mean she was manic, my narrow-angled glaucoma could make me blind in a second.  I worked with a hot-headed, explosive employee that I thought, for sure, would bring a gun to a grievance meeting and shoot us all. I remember strategically seating myself closest to the door, just in case. I lived in a world of tragedy, of horrendous outcomes, death, madness, cancer, stroke, coma, terrorist attacks, murder, mayhem and more. “Health and welfare” is what I worry about as I tried to succinctly wrap it up like an adorned Christmas present, perfect silver wrapping with a tight red bow.

The truth of the matter is that now we DO live in a fearful world and something COULD happen.  Fear perpetuates fear and even while  I am writing this down I feel the first fingers of anxiety like a gray mouse with darting eyes. I take deep cleansing breathes. I ask myself questions: “what are the odds of that happening?” The media doesn’t help: “Don’t go to public places when you are traveling in Europe” What? Of course we would go to public  places if we were in Europe. Is too much information just too much?  I refuse to watch the news on TV before I go to sleep.  The only thing we can do is try to push the worry aside and live as normally as we can; even if it takes enormous strength and effort. Carpe Diem as they said at Boston College where I worked: Seize The Day, as best as you can.