Anxious. Who Me?

12/1/2014

There’s nothing like a really bad anxiety attack to make you explode by surprise. The image I see is a raw egg getting cracked, hard, on top of your head and the runny yolk and raw white egg white oozing down your face. The texture alone is enough to make me gag.

I felt out of control and crazy, slimy and totally unprepared. It made me crash, physically, emotionally and mentally. “That will show you who you really are,” some growling, deep voice, inside me said threateningly. I can vouch for that. I’d swear on a Bible if you want me to. I know I’m anxious but in the midst of the strongest part, I am not aware of how sucked in, like a tornado, I really am.

Well, well, well, welcome back, you insidious monster with life sucking tentacles. You snuck in and took over my mind and body. Because I didn’t have heart palpitations I can’t label you a panic attack although to me, they are very close.

Honestly, I should say I haven’t felt you around for quite some time. A long time and never this severe. But, believe me, I recognized who you were the second you slipped into my body and mind when I was looking someplace else.

Sure, I knew you were there and i did everything in my power to get rid of you. I tried to fight you with all the strength I could muster, batting my arms and legs squarely at your stomach, as hard as I possible could. I tried accepting you too so I sat right down in my messy bed and started taking deep cleansing breaths. Nothing worked.

I tried to do meditative yoga exercises, that in class, always work. I tried music, music can always soothe me and the music that night, made me feel crazier. This was scary.  I felt out of control.

Finally, I took a Xanax, prescription approved, doctor-ordered medicine and waited for that to kick in but it never did. Now, between my fear of flying on a plane the next day and

my medicine not working, I was one big horrible out of control mess.

It’s not as if I was looking from afar at this crazy person either, I knew it was me, I knew what I was scared about which at that point was everything. A plane trip we were taking, a trip my daughter was taking later in the month, the fear of losing control, the fear of feeling crazy is crazy enough for me and that is where I was headed. I felt out of control and that is a very scary feeling. I couldn’t calm down or make myself feel peaceful.

It’s a scary world out there, I try to make sense out of it but I can’t, there are no rational explanations. Bad things happen, often, and I need to better adapt to the new way of life. The world won’t change, obviously, the only thing that can possibly change is me.

Given the last experience, I admit, I don’t have high hopes.

 

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Convo With Myself, A (Changeable) Libra

I’m the first one to admit that I have often overlooked that I have options in life because I have been crippled with nervousness or anxiety. (Well, sometimes I have but not always.) Just recently, out of nowhere, the thought that I DO have a choice popped into my head.

(Apparently, this new thought has happened many times before) And, of course, I have written about this choice again and again.(Ad nauseum.)  I will try over and over until I get it right.(It’s not looking too good.)

It’s the toughest lesson for me to learn.( Really? I hadn’t picked up on that yet?)  I know it in a cerebral way it’s just not reaching my body.( oh please, what utter garbage, it hasn’t reached anything, anytime, anywhere.) Let’s face it, take the damn healthy drug.(Was there ever another option that worked?)

This may not be shocking to many but for me, it was an awakening.( yes, again for the umpteenth time.) Circumstances will change that we will have NO control over, that’s a given. How you look at those changes( I could seriously slap myself)

and how you react are things you can (hopefully) control. (slapping harder.)

After endless years of worrying, obsessively worrying, about the future past or present  it came to me in one clear moment,( I really doubt my sanity sometimes) out of the blue, (again) when I was not even thinking about it, that I can choose my reaction (sometimes, probably while medicated) how I look at my reactions given the same situation.

It’s true, I can choose to make something a tragedy or an opportunity, deal with it,  get hysterical or just let it sit for a while. (an amazing amount of bulls–t right here.)

I think meditation (last time I tried I could only do two minutes before I got antsy) and yoga ( during the class) and being aware of my breath has helped me, I try, (emphasis on TRY)  before I panic, to take a few, long, deep breaths. Inhaling slowly, ( now THAT really would relax me, oh just kidding) settling my brain, forcing it to neutral even if it is only for one minute has helped me (this part is true).

Believe me, I’m not saying it will never happen again,( ha, ha, ha) I may slip back into my old sloppy, slovenly ways sometime ( now) when I am deeply overwhelmed (as in half an hour ago) but at least now I know I have the capacity to make a choice, (once in a while) that it is up to me. I am not a victim, I am in charge of my life. (Yes, I should definitely be in charge, and NOT a victim -nice try) A trait known to many but unknown to the same amount of people, the worriers of the world, the anxious, the timid, the frightened.( I’m here, in the left hand corner with my peeps.) I can change my reactions or my ability to perceive the news( As if…) It’s not always easy, I’m the first one to agree with that but we do have potential to try. (Yes, we do have the potential …)

I take a class once a week called”chair yoga” which I absolutely love. It keeps me centered, it gives my body some exercise and gives me something to look forward to every week. Picture something relaxing to you if you need an image, anything that you think is relaxing or beautiful is perfect. It can be of your newborn baby, cheese cake with luscious strawberries on top, flowers, the ocean, anything you love that is peaceful and that brings you happiness:

English: A slice of Strawberry Cheesecake from...

Trust me, if I can do it, ANYBODY can…and

don’t judge me or anybody else…we are in this together.

An Open Letter To The World Via The New York TImes

Dear World,

Manufacturers, Researchers, FDA, DNA, NPR, and ABC,

I am speaking on behalf of many people who think the same way I do. No, I do not have empirical evidence or research to back my claim but guess what? I don’t need it. Apparently all the studies that have been done in the past by your researches are, to be delicate, for shit.( Sorry, are not substantiated)

One day you tell us to drink milk, lots of milk so that are bones are strong and healthy. I’m sorry I believe I heard something about “drinking too much milk is bad for our bones?” What?  This type of stuff goes on and on and I for one am sick of it.

I already wrote an essay in my blog about anti-anxiety pills for anxious people are going to give us, most probably, Alzheimer’s disease. What a great idea to tell someone who is anxious to begin with, without alternative ideas. I have anxiety issues, I have no problem revealing that and when my psychiatrist told me, albeit rather nervously, about this new study, she gave me a handout of a copy of the study.

Maybe that would have been handled better if this had begun in the beginning of the session and discussed with alternatives. What happened after being told? Major anxiety. After processing this new information, if indeed it is true, I need to think of quality of life and choices. But, that is something we should have talked about BEFORE those five sheets of paper were handed to my sweaty palms.

I find it wrong that open communication is allowed OUT so very cavalierly and THEN retracted months or years later with the opposite findings. Basically, all this media is making us crazy. Would it be so wrong to ask all of you to “shut the blank up?”

Do we need to know every simple thing at every minute of every hour of every day? Some of you want to know, some of us don’t. Yes, I know freedom of speech but what about something in the middle? I don’t want to know everything, every minute in every detail. Plus, the media exploits serious events, I truly can’t handle it. That is why I choose NOT to watch the news at night because there is enough madness, violence, gore and blood in the world that I don’t want to be reminded of it before I TRY to go to sleep. Do you understand?

All I’m asking is for is for you to think and be considerate. Think before you speak? Do complete research before you announce news like its one of the Entertainment Shows on television. At least they are honest, their intent is to entertain.

What you are doing is tormenting people. Do this, no do that. So now, when we get anxious, we have to think twice before we take an anti-anxiety pill because for years it has been the solution to so many of our problems, now we live in fear, choosing quality of life vs. quantity of life. Please, just think about it.

Sincerely yours,

…And You Thought I Was Anxious Before??

Dear Psychiatrists,

Telling anxious patients that their anti anxiety meds are going to probably give them Alzheimers disease in the future is really not the way to go. I mean it, I should know, I am a patient that suffers from anxiety and I really don’t want to hear this, it’s making me even MORE anxious.  Now I can’t use my medication? What’s the point? You can’t take away medication without substitution? Don’t tell us this without coming up with a different plan at the same time.

Don’t tell me there is a link and then say good-bye, see you in two weeks. That is all sorts of wrong. Telling us that anti anxiety meds are going to give us Alzheimer’s disease in the future is like handing over loaded guns and hundreds of dangerous pills to someone threatening suicide.

Apparently, there’s this new article out that people are getting anxious about, you can feel the tremors in the air, a cup of wiggling orange jello in a steel cup.

The psychiatrists, all over, are desperately copying the article that says the anti-anxiety medicines are strongly linked to gettng Alzheimers disease. Do you think that information is something that we need to hear without a …But…Or  we will try…..? We  come to you, worried and afraid and we fear pain, illness, madness, flying on planes or driving and getting lost and…the list continues and is different for everyone.

Of course I told this to my friend who suffers from anxiety and much more and then he got anxious (but he wouldn’t admit it) and he asked

a professor at college and sent me some research that the study is completely inconclusive. Hmmm. That sounds good but should I believe him? Not yet. Only when I hear it from MY doctor will I feel more relaxed.By the way, I think my psychiatrist was anxious about this study as well, I thought of that today. I did not get a sense of calmness from her at all. I am going to ask her some day.

As usual, I’ve decided to cut my prescription in half (my doctors are not fond of me self-prescribing) but hey, in this case I think it’s perfectly reasonable. I didn’t go cold turkey and I added a Benadryl. In good faith I sent all this information in an email to my lovely psychiatrist. She is a goddess.

The other medicine is only use as needed

English: Xanax 0.25, 0.5 and 1 mg scored tablets

and I haven’t needed it for a while. However, I have been practicing mindful meditation and now I will commit to doing it twice a day.

So, before we all panic, let’s think of this as a new beginning. I’m not going to lie I feel the first rumblings in my stomach, that’s where it starts for me. I stop typing, I take three deep, long breaths to calm myself down. I didn’t open a prescription bottle that has little orange pills in it. I am trying to say good-bye to you, Xanax, even though I will probably will miss you but I will feel cleaner and stronger without you. I hope.

*Alzheimers/Dementia is a very serious disease.For information:

24/7 Helpline | Alzheimer’s Association

http://www.alz.orgWe Can Help

Alzheimer’s Association
 

Call us tollfree anytime day or night at 1.800.272.3900.

At The Movies Or In Real Life

I wanted to have an old-fashioned cry. Long and hard, wailing, sobbing, letting all my feelings out but I couldn’t even do that. I put on the movie “Beaches” my past cry-your-heart-out movie that used to have me in tears, my guaranteed tear- jerker and while I was as Babs would say “verklempt” I had no tears.  Nothing, no sobbing, no release, “bupkes.”

Cover of "Beaches (Special Edition)"

Cover of Beaches (Special Edition)

Now, not only was I disappointed but I was cranky as well. What the heck happened to me?

I was more interested in the different styles of cars and clothing than the actual premise of the movie. I loved Bette Midler then and  actually I love her more now. Barbara Hershey kept me fascinated only because I couldn’t remember if she was dead or alive but I did remember that her lips, at one time, had grown larger or had doubled in size.  Allegedly.

I think one main reason that I didn’t cry was unfortunately, life has toughened me up quite a bit.  I’m a lot older now then when I saw this movie and things like that really seemed to be out of the ordinary, way back when. It was shocking and unreal. Sure, you sobbed at the incredible morbidity but when you first saw it, let’s say twenty, thirty years ago? The world was a different place, yes, a kinder, gentler place. I’m sure of it.

Now, if you want to sob, read a newspaper, watch the news, keep yourself informed about what is happening in the real world today. That is depressing. Before 9/11, and after 9/11. That is how I phrase things in my life like “before my dad died” and “after.”

I find the less I read about what’s going on in the world at night the better I am. Am I in denial? Absolutely. I KNOW what’s going on but I just can’t handle all that atrocity all the time, 24/7 so I stay away from everything except the bare minimum.

Hearing news stories today are the very things that nightmares are made of, flashbacks are happening from lifetime events. So, if I’m cranky by not being able to cry, I can surround myself with the news, and not only will I cry, but they would have to medicate me around the clock and put me in a psychiatric hospital where the lonely padded cell, at this second, would feel appealing. AND, NO, I am not making fun of the psychiatric community, believe me. I am part of that community.

I get anxious and take medication to try to calm me down. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Realistically, it’s a cruel world out there and in our defense we try to get stronger and stronger. Why? Because we have no damn other choice. We sink or we swim.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is a war, there are many wars out there. Life is far from fun. Life can be very, very sad. You don’t need to watch a Bette Midler movie to cry, real life is sad enough.

Please watch below:

 

Soothe Me, Sunday

 

Limpid

Having a hard time coping today, my stomach aches. Morning blends to late afternoon, I lie in bed trying to keep calm but swallowing too many times. I need to be exactly where I am today. I don’t care what anyone thinks.

Tomorrow is the dreaded test. Part of me is better the closer it gets but sometimes my arms tingle and get numb. I’m lying low.

Nothing new is happening, that could be part of the problem or maybe the solution, I have no idea.  Whatever is going on, the time is not yet right for change. We need to accept that. How could I move somewhere new, how could I leave my mother ? I can’t even deal with that now. A job is too important. Anywhere. I long to do something different and fun, don’t know if my husband is on board with this or not. Probably not.

Trying to keep my head in neutral, I admit that loose thoughts, like anxiety, race around my head from time to time like the Indianapolis 500/Nascar.

Race Night

Music soothes me.

There is no room for negativity in my life. In our lives. Breathe, Mama, Breathe.

The messages from my father, all those signs, means he is with me. Remember that.

Clutch those messages from above and keep them taped close to your heart where they belong.

Hold On.

Something good or different will turn up at the right time. Keep believing.

Don’t Give Up.

Smiling Buddha = Budai ... Buddha with big bel...

Music soothes me but it has to be at the right level of sound.

I will always be stuck in the past,

Thank you, Joshua Radin, Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young,) The Beatles, The Rolling Stones Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan,  Bruce Springsteen, Fun is up to date for me. Alex and Sierra (Say Something.) Some words I just need to hear.

 

Husband is cooking pork chops with apple butter and raisins, it’s iffy. I’m going to try but know that in my back pocket

a calming American Cheese sandwich on an English Muffin and a big, fat jelly doughnut from our favorite bakery is here for dessert. Man cannot live with stress alone. I can eat the pork chop, tomorrow, with pleasure.

Is it tomorrow yet? Let’s do this.

Slipping Xanax Under My Tongue

English: Xanax 0.25, 0.5 and 1 mg scored tablets

English: Xanax 0.25, 0.5 and 1 mg scored tablets (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a Xanax under my tongue. I’m not proud of it but I’m also not ashamed either. I feel the stirrings of a big anxiety attack about to kick in and I’m trying to head it off at the beginning. I am trying hard to head off having a complete melt down like I had four weeks ago for the same situation so let’s just call this preventive medicine. Preventive psychiatric medicine intervention? That’s a mouthful but I do like the sound of it.

If “my friend,” the always funny and creative blogger, Jennifer Lawson “The Bloggess” can write about Xanax and mental health I sure can too. This isn’t my first posting about anxiety I have plenty of those but in this one I am telling you what I am worried about, out loud in real-time. Maybe that will lessen the anguish, probably it will be just the same. Or maybe I will just worry about worrying. It ‘s anyone’s guess.

There are so many things that are out of my control and they all involve a common theme, as I used to call it “Health and Welfare.” I’m worried about the health of three very important people in my life. Yes, all at the same time. Initially I wrote down who those people are but then I had a funny feeling and I knew that if those people saw this blog they would be mad as heck and I would worry about that too. So, problem solved. These are all my anxieties wrapped up in a tightly knit, wound up ball, the kind you make out of twine, beige, scratchy and unforgiving.

There is an expression in German that my dad used to say and that I have said for years : “nur gesund sein.” Loosely translated, “Just stay healthy, your health is the most important thing.” I really mean it, I’ve never been the type who has needed a wake up call, I’ve been on the edge of that wake up call since I could probably talk. I don’t ever take that for granted but now I’m being tested not with just one thing but many and all at once. I need to rise to the occasion,my fears and worries aside, there is no other choice.

Another thing my dad taught me which frankly is not easy to achieve is staying in Neutral. If we all could do that successfully, we wouldn’t need Xanax or Valium, bags of chocolate or pints of ice cream or whatever your soothing pleasure is. If a cup of tea worked, believe me I’d be sipping it right now. Since I am not sobbing in hysteria, nor am I in ecstatic denial all I can see in my future, tonight, hopefully, is sleep. If I can get that, a good night’s sleep, I will feel that I have accomplished at least a little something.

Those weird protesting people in my stomach are rabble rousing again. They aren’t rioting like they were before, those angry protestors. Now, it’s more like they are marching silently, still carrying signs. But, they are still there, they know it and so do I. I’m truly hoping I can surprise them and wipe them all out before I turn out the lights. Wish me luck. Please.

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Something Was Wrong, It Was Me

High Anxiety

High Anxiety (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It arrived every evening like a suspicious stranger, its presence like black fog slipping under the door. It was deceiving at first, mist, started slowly and then it changed in a split second and attacked me. I felt like I was being stabbed with an ice pick, repeatedly, the chill of cold anxiety running up and down my spine. The goal apparently was to shock me and knock me totally off-balance. It won, I didn’t stand a chance.  I don’t know why it came. I certainly didn’t invite it nor could I prevent it and its malicious presence only showed itself to me after dark.

I don’t know why it happened and I never completely understood it but the displeasure was here, every single night. I tried every trick I knew: deep breathing and meditation, but I did not stand a chance, it felt like I had been swept up by a tornado. Actually, I  lived in the eye of that tornado, I felt helpless, yes, out of control, out of control, out of control…

In past years during this same time period I felt sad, weepy. In the past eleven years I have known grief and a feeling of longing but not anxiety. Major life events happened, I felt loss , my dad was deceased but fear? This year without the regular Thanksgiving plans, control escaped me and anxiety with its octopus legs strapped me in and squeezed me so tight I could not breathe properly. Maybe Thanksgiving, without check lists and red lines crossed off made me feel undone. Would it be five people or nine? Last minute? I used to be so flexible, what happened to me? I missed feeling in charge, in control. I was alone in the world, it put me off-center, dizzy with fright.

I had trouble sleeping and eating and with my chronic pain disorder, Fibromyalgia, I questioned if this could have been a flare-up? Very possibly but I don’t know. The physical pain is the same but the IBS and the anxiety are on over drive.  Anxiety rolls in my stomach like one of those slippery aqua blue water park slides that I hate, wet,  flying down way too fast. I went on one of those once when my children were little and pleaded me to go on one of the rides with them. Trying to be a good mother and show them that fear should not stand in one’s way I relented, seeing their shiny little faces. Big mistake. I laid on my back and flew down the twisting spiral of hell screaming all the way down only to see them at the bottom, laughing. “Why did you lie on your back, Mom, didn’t you know that is the fastest way to go down?” OF COURSE NOT!!!

I felt like I have been on that water slide for at least two weeks except in my head and my body. I’m in my own zone of panic. Nothing worked, nothing helped, my last resort was to try to listen to music which has helped in the past. No luck. Maybe I’m just so excited that tomorrow I will be seeing my children, home for the holiday? Maybe I am feeling out of control not knowing if we will be five or nine people? Or maybe the last four, stressful weeks have finally caught up to me: my husband got laid off, I had to have painful uterine biopsies and on the way to my doctor’s appointment I had a flat tire. I found out my friend and her husband both needed surgery, I took on my friend’s problems too.

Maybe I’m anxious now because I couldn’t allow myself to be anxious before. The food lists are really not important, there will be plenty of food, no matter who comes. My friends will be fine. My husband will eventually find a job and we are not living out on the streets. My tests results came out perfectly. AAA apologized for dropping my call, twice and they paid for the private road side assistance. I’m taking a deep breath, it feels good. All of a sudden, I feel like listening to music and I’m getting a little tired. That’s got to be a good sign. I hope.

Diagnosis: Anxiety

Anxiety Always

Anxiety Always (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know that feeling in your stomach that makes your muscles clench but you don’t have a real stomach ache from eating too much and you don’t have a virus? That’s where anxiety starts for me. I’m literally writing this blog while having an anxiety attack and honestly, it’s not that easy to remain focused. Part of me thinks about throwing up but I’m trying to be calm, trying to breathe until I can’t do this any longer. I know you guys understand. That’s why I love blogging, for the people who read my blog. If you can’t relate to anxiety, I’m sure you can relate to other things I write about, humor, Pop Cop, my love of Food, Chocolate, Pizza (fine, with jam but only if the pizza is too dry) some of the ailments: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and having the energy of a dying tick. Actually, an ailing tick may have more energy than I do. I forgot a few other ailments like Imbalalnce and such but it’s pathetic enough as it is, I won’t bore you with more details. I bore myself as it is.

My husband and I are (and I hate these words) “empty nesters.” We’re also in the “sandwich generation” another over popular phrase that is used ad nauseum. Basically we are a married couple, we just celebrated twenty-five years of marriage and both our adult children are in college. I have my mom who is still alive and my husband has both parents alive and they still play tennis. Amazing.

Like many people my husband just got laid off from his job a few days ago. That’s stress provoking, people. He works doing computer stuff which is what I basically call it but it’s something like Software Product Development Management. I know nothing about it but if you do or know someone who might be able to help can you please have them get in touch with me?  I’ll send it to him and it would really be an act of incredible kindness, no matter where you live. In any case, I can’t change things, I try not to worry about them and in the end, things will turn out the way they are supposed to turn out.

About a week ago I had the mother of all anxiety attacks when my son turned 21, my husband lost his job and my mother, who was a little sad because all her friends were moving, decided that maybe she should consider moving too. It was a long day and a tough weekend.  We all know I’m not very good at change especially three changes in one day but after 24 hours I was much better. Breathe in, breathe out. Maybe that meditation class was worth the money after all.

I’m trying to do the best that I can, even writing this all down has helped me become last anxious. Having my dog Lexi, literally lying on my legs so I can’t move, her face close to me, makes me happy. From a crazy, wild puppy she has become an affectionate, loving girl dog. She knows that I need to lie down a lot and when I am home, she jumps up on the bed and cuddles with me.

The anxiety has lessened. I know there will be moments of panic but from now on, we have to take it step by step. I give thanks for what we still have. I will try to keep reminding myself of that, whatever happens will happen. Worrying about it won’t do me or anyone else any good. There’s a reason for everything and now we wait.

Plinky: What’s Your Biggest Regret?

  • Bungee jumping podczas Juwenaliów Śląskich 17....

    Bungee jumping podczas Juwenaliów Śląskich 17.05.2008r Lotnisko Muchowiec w Katowicach. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    What’s your biggest regret? How would your life have been different if you’d made another decision? See all answers

  • Regrets, I’ve had a few….
  • Looking back is easy, isn’t it? But, I wasn’t the same person 30 years ago as I am now, hadn’t learned enough about myself or the world, didn’t have the confidence or the drive (or the psychotherapy!) My biggest regret is not having the ability to take CHANCES in life. I say ability because I really was not able to take a chance, I was crippled with self-doubt, and fear and I could not get out of my very limited social comfort zone. I had been that way since I was a child. Back then, there were no child therapists because if there were, I would have not lost so many years of my life to being scared and always anxious and afraid.
    It carried over into my adult life too. I lied to people saying “I couldn’t go places” when it was pure, stifling anxiety. It took many years to relearn but even at my old decrepit age, it’s never too late to learn something new.
    And, as Oprah has said all along “when I knew better, I did better.” And, so I did. I’m grateful for the years that I have had the courage and not upset that I didn’t have them longer.

*Bungee jumping: JUST KIDDING