Tag Archives: anxiety

Angst

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For the last week my mind and spirit have been hijacked by the powerful entity of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety.  It invaded my brain, and then quickly took over what seemed to be my soul, leaving me reaching out to anything that I could hold onto.

I’m not shy to talk about my mental illlness, I do so in hopes of helping another, because when all is said and done, I know I’m not alone here.   But I am always leery about sharing too much, because people do treat you differently.   It’s a hard fact.   The talons of mental illness are sometimes ignored, and certainly mistreated, some due to ignorance, and others?  Fear!

The grip this trip was treacherous.  And I didn’t help myself by reaching out to another until last night when others reached out to me.  Oh how potent a secret battle that carries its venom best when we are in isolation from the world.     

My anxiety and fears are very real.  And I haven’t experienced this intensity of anxiety in years.  I will admit tonight, I should have been in a hospital, getting help, but after how many years in therapy, what else is there to say?   I recall a House, MD episode where he walks out of his therapy session and says “You don’t have any answers”.

What amazes me this evening, as I sit here writing this blog, is where my mind was just mere hours ago.  Nothing has changed in my setting, nothing has changed in my reality, except that I did, with the help of many cherished prayers and encouragement from friends, face my fears today.  Tonight I am exhausted, worn like an old penny, and while my anxiety is there, I’m practicing letting it be, letting the anxiety reveal itself, and trying everything I know not to feed it or let it overpower me again.   Feeding it got me into a full fledge panic attack earlier, where I was grasping for breath, sweat pouring off me, and had to sit with my head in my hands for several minutes because I was borderline passing out.  Yes, that awful place I’ve known a few times before.  If you’ve never encountered such, I am both happy and envious of you.

My ditzy little old cat has stayed by my side for days.  Mommy wasn’t healthy, and her steadiness and loyalty clings to my heart.

I really don’t care to share anymore tonight.   As I said earlier, I’m spent, and I’m hoping that with meds I will be gifted with a good nights sleep.  Rest assured I will be on my knees tonight praying that I do not wake up like I have the past couple mornings.   But in case I do, I need a plan.  So I’m working on a little “cheat sheet” note to myself for morning.  And this blog serves as a reminder to my saner, calmer self and conscience.

Earlier I sat down, with John Denver ( my roots) playing in the background, and started painting a small daisy.  Something cheery, something positive before I retire.  Revisiting “Let it Be” was what I needed.  I closed my eyes and let the music take me where I needed to go.  To the many dark places I’ve survived in my life, and that this?  This I’m determined will not have extended stay.  I cannot afford it, physically, mentally, spiritually.

I welcome your prayers, positive energy over the next few weeks as I find my way through this “episode” for lack of a better word.

My greatest wish for myself, and for all, for that matter,  in not wealth, but peace.  I welcome it’s return, and will strive to achieve it and then hold onto it.    Peace.

Peace to you, too.

 

 

 

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Mental slag

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Today has proven to be a challenging day for me.  The first thing I did besides feed the lippy cat that was ready to eat two hours prior, was go out and shovel out my car.  I must say, someone was looking out for me when it drove right out of it’s spot, unlike the last time where I was stuck.  But stubborn brunettes don’t give up!   We had a shitload of snow fall yesterday.

What was challenging for me today was my head, where it goes.   I once heard from a psychiatrist that the more intelligent you are, the more remote places you can find to hide in.   Not saying I’m the smartest person in the world, not even close, but I have at times thought, if I wasn’t so smart, I would be happier.   Sit on that one for a moment!

I cannot share my thoughts here, I cannot share them with anyone.    I’m doing what I know to do, and that is to get moving, get busy, keep trucking.  It took me hours of stuck to get there.  I guess I should celebrate in getting there.

I’m heading to bed early tonight, taking a friend to a much needed doctor’s appointment up North.  I’m hoping the roads and snow removal are in good shape.  I get to drive the cutest car in the world because mine doesn’t have heat.   (Kia little boxy car, I just love it!) Ya just can’t expect an 81 year old to ride that far without heat!

I walked around my house today foreign to myself.   Not exactly foreign, but certainly not where I wanted to be.   I know depression and anxiety intimately.  But where it takes me, those are places that it’s hard to find comfort in.  I remember hearing at a recovery group a couple decades ago “Find comfort in the uncomfortable”.   One of life’s tricks to success, or certainly to get beyond, or overcome.

I did some sketches today on a piece I want to start soon.   But as I walked into my studio this evening, sat down to work on ears of the pet portrait I’m doing, I see many 85%-90% paintings started, but not completed.  That isn’t a sin, but it’s something I have to be vigilant of.  Signs?  Silliness?

Well, have things I have to do before bed.  I’m hoping I sleep.  Last night I did not.  Not well, anyway.

Hoping your having a great day, full of insight and direction!   It’s what I’m seeking at the moment.

 

 

Reviewing processes

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The past few weeks I’ve been reflecting and dissecting what I would like to do with the rest of my life.  What do I like?  What don’t I like?  What are my dreams?  Are they feasible?  What are my needs?   I’ve also been writing up a business plan for myself, which in itself has been a very interesting journey.  I’ve changed it three times.

I’ve also participated for two days (another four to go) in an art challenge to post pics of my art on my facebook page for six days.  This, too, has been an interesting process.   I’m reviewing photos that I have, which aren’t exactly organized like someone dominantly left brained would do, but I’m only 25% there, so I’m giving myself a break!

4-5 years ago my life came to a crashing halt.  I couldn’t get out of bed, I didn’t want to paint, write, and was incapable of making any decisions for myself.   Fortunately my strong mother jumped in and helped, and after hospitalization for two weeks, I was diagnosed with Major Clinical Depression.  This was not the first time, but the fourth.  I must say to you, it’s been hell trying to come back from it.

Why do I mention such a personal thing?  Because I’m an idiot!   🙂   Most people do not confess such, because of the stigma attached to mental illness.  I want others to know who are suffering with such, it’s okay, you’re not a freak, you aren’t crazy, you are sick, and encourage you to get help.  For me it meant some serious psychological drugs, many therapy sessions, a lot of writing, a lot more of praying.  It is still a monkey on my back, but I am learning, everyday to replace the negative talk in my head.  Some days I’m successful with this, some days not.

Back to the art challenge, as I’m surfing through pages of photos of my artwork, which also have pics of other aspects of my life, love, marriage, breast cancer, family, friends, pets, artwork, gardens, etc… I must say, I feel good about things that I have accomplished in my life.  In spite of the crap that came rolling into it, I’m still standing, and there are days, still, too many, that it’s very hard for me to get out of bed and face the day.   But it was nice to see things I’ve done, the magazines my artwork and needlecraft designs were in, interviews with me as a visual artist, and a fiber artist.  I even had artwork on the cover of magazines I think twice.  How quickly these accomplishments fall by the way side when you’re looking at it through the dark eyes of depression.

So, I’m feeling a bit chipper tonight, painted a little bit today.  Plan to spend a few hours tomorrow doing the same.   We are supposedly having an arctic cold blast this weekend.  I’ve stocked up on the necessities, my mom is here visiting for the weekend.  If I don’t kill her, by the time Monday comes around I should be in good shape! 🙂

The message today is… Hang on.   Hang strong.   Celebrate the good days, and do all you can to survive the bad.   It may be worth your while to dive into some pictures yourself.

Sending you peace and love

 

 

 

Resistence

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I remember a couple of years ago I saw a famous self improvement guru talking on resistance.   His basic message was, the more you resist something, the more important it is that you fight the resistance and DO whatever it is that has created this unsettling, displaced feeling.  Well, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching, making some choices, which I am recognizing, for me, it’s harder to have choices than to just trudge along the beaten road you “think” you’re destined to.

I also struggle with commitment, certainly when it comes to relationships, hence why I’ve been single for over a decade.   If I stay away from intimate relationships, I’m safe!  But we all know the truth in that, don’t we?  Love is one of the most beautiful things we are blessed with.  Committing to someone you love, and they you, is pretty special BUT NOT EASY stuff!

So I have been slowly, actively studying my likes, my dislikes, my desires, needs, and am sitting on an opportunity to make major changes in my life.   I believe this.   So as exciting as it can be, it is also frightening to me.   And believe me, when you struggle with anxiety and all that wonderful stuff, it’s VERY REAL to the person going through it.  It can become VERY REAL to those who are close to them, because, well, I call them “demons”.   The demons are real to me.

I have been focusing on that guru’s message, because one thing that I am considering changing is something that in past I HAVE LOVED.   Trying to come out of a severe clinical depression (I wish that were the case for all.  I wish we could just come out of it, and leave it behind, shed it like a snake does skin, but it doesn’t work that way, does it?)  In the hardest times of this I lost a couple friends, and while it hurt, I realize, they haven’t a clue what I live with day in, day out.   The sometimes constant need to correct the thoughts that automatically spew from my brain, it can be exhausting.  But I’m doing it.  And I’m doing as well as I think I can.  Not without some unhealthy coping skills.

Anyway, I want to go back to this resistance I’m feeling about this one thing I’ve had in my life, 1/3 of my life, and have enjoyed, loved.  It would be very easy for me to say “I don’t want to do this anymore”, and chalk the negative feelings I’m having onto that, but I know myself, and I know deep down, it’s not that simple.  I am resisting it because it’s important, albeit, very important to me.

So I’ve been doing the usual things that I know to do, mostly prayer, meditation, seeking help with an answer.  Tonight an unexpected message actually helped me see how much I am truly pushing this away.   If I am being true to myself, and 4-5 years ago I committed to being true to myself, first, then I need to either dissect my reasoning, or even harder, jump in, get my feet wet, and defeat these restricting feelings, fears.

So I decided to write about it, to put it “out there” for myself to look at.  I do this with my artwork too.  I will take a picture and study it on my computer or telephone screen.  This way I am detached from it, and can see where my painting needs honing, correcting.   Whatever works, right?

So, how about you?  Is there something you are resisting?  Something that is important to you but your inner demons have got a grip on your decision making?

 

The familiar driveway….

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As I drove out, looking at the beautiful, old brick buildings with black shutters I thought about my history here.  My grandparents both worked here.  My grandfather as a haircutter and my grandmother in the laundry department.   My grandfather would tell us that crazy people lived there.    He shared how they would have to tie them up, how they were locked in rooms, which was sadly true, but I think he embellished to scare the crap out of us.    He liked doing that.

I have driven in and out this driveway now too many times to count.  Starting in the 80’s for a few years weekly or biweekly, then sporadically over the years.  I’ve been pretty steady the past couple of years going once or twice a week, sometimes three times.  I lived there for 2-3 weeks a couple years ago this month, and back in the late 80’s.

Today I drove out thinking how different I feel now.   I’m becoming a person who has boundaries, who has coping skills, who for the past couple days is very excited about life.   Today I am not consumed with pain, distraught from loss, depressed to a point I could not function.  Today I am vibrant, I am very much alive and I am very grateful for my therapist, psychiatrist, very grateful.   I’m in my 50’s, I want the rest of my life to be peaceful, serene, I want to throw away the wet blanket of depression and be happy.  Today I am.

By now you’ve figured out, it is a mental health hospital.   When my grandparents worked there the ignorance of mental illness was immense.   Patients with mental illnesses are no longer treated like they were then.   It wasn’t just this hospital but all.  Thank god for awareness, for research, for advanced education and treatment available today for those with mental illness(s).    The stigma remains, and ignorance is always present in any aspect of life.

In 1988 I was hospitalized there for my 2nd severe clinical depression.   Back then you could have day passes, where as now it isn’t allowed.  Well, on my day pass I spent the day with my then husband.   Anyway, the depression was still weighing heavy.  Upon discharge I went immediately into outpatient therapy.   Thus started the difficult journey of anti depressants.   The side effects, the month it takes to kick in, what will insurance pay for, what can I live with?   A few weeks after discharge I asked my psychiatrist if the med I was on would alter my menses.  Nope.   The woman who wasn’t able to have children from disease in my teens, surgery after surgery… well, she was surprisingly pregnant.  I went cold turkey from my meds.  Was so sick, a mess, my psychiatrist was upset because you are supposed to ween off such heavy drugs.   I will share with you that my psychiatrist at the time, researched and suggested EST (Electric Shock Treatment).  I was a mess, but I couldn’t do this.  I was pregnant.   Talk about an “awakening”.   “One flew over the cuckoos nest” flashed in and out.  Nope… let’s find another way.

Weeks later I miscarried.  What a whirlwind, and then plummeted lower than I thought possible.    I could go on and on, just don’t care to.   Not even sure why I’m sharing this today, I haven’t thought about this in years.   It’s funny all the thoughts and memories that flash before me in a seconds time.

Let’s move ahead to today.  To driving out the driveway, smiling, accompanying Bob Dylan, happy.

This sweatshirt USED to say "VERMONT"!

This sweatshirt USED to say “VERMONT”!

I drove out happy and a person who has direction, gratitude for where I am right now, and hopeful that the next time (not to be negative) the clinical depression comes to bite me in the ass, I will already be in treatment and have learned coping skills, warning signs, things I can do every day to help myself.    I am very very grateful.

On my drive home I thought about how fortunate I have been to have the care I have and am receiving.   I no longer feel “less than” anyone else because I struggle with depression, anxiety, and ADHD which was diagnosed just this past year.   I don’t feel shame or embarrassment, thus why I share such personal things.   I am not unique, I am of a large population of people who struggle with mental illness.   Today?  Today I feel like a person who is doing her best, given the cards dealt, and today?  Today I am doing well!!!  Today I am ready to rejoin the world, my career, and even thinking about perhaps dating.  Wouldn’t that be something!     I’m aware that the “waiting for the shoe to drop” cynical thoughts are present, but this morning, waking to familiar and frequent dread, I was able to use the skills I’ve learned and turn my day around.   HUGE!  HUGE!  We’re talking HUGE!

I am grateful, I am focused.   I know this isn’t just a fluke, this is the result of hard work, changing my behaviors, thoughts.   I hope I remember, the next time this shit knocks on my door (which could very well be tomorrow) how to help myself, how to bypass the crap, how to merge from this hellacious road into Hope Lane.   Gratitude.   Self respective, worth, and even some confidence!  Who would have thunk?

As I’m getting ready to end this blog “The Circle Of Life” came on.  I smiled.  Yep, “The Circle Of Life!”   As I drove out, looking at the beautiful, old brick buildings with black shutters I thought about my history here………. so so many.

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The power of trauma

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This morning as I rolled over and opened my eyes I was immediately greeted by dread.  The first thing I do before I get out of bed is pray, it is also the last thing I do before I close my eyes to sleep.   What am I dreading?  I had hoped to recover by taking very deep breaths, throwing in some 5 minute meditation time, but it clung to me like saran wrap.   Breathe, breathe, breathe.   Breathe, breathe, breathe.  I so despise this feeling, who wouldn’t?   

There are both positives and negatives from being intuitive, when negative things pop into my mind, when my body coasts in discord I worry, I question, I hyperventilate more.   I remind myself that feelings aren’t facts, that everything I think isn’t true, and my mind, while one of the most incredible gifts, deceives me at times. 

Fortunately I had therapy today.   We chatted about what I had been thinking on this trying day.  I have been seeing this therapist for a year and a half, she has helped me immensely.   I trust her.  Trust is hard for me, and this is the basis on which we conversed today.  She handed me a print out, asked me to read it, could I relate to this?   I sat, reading the circle of actions, of things happen to people who have had trauma.  If it weren’t for TMJ I think my jaw would be sitting on my chest.  Bulleted from the word “Trauma” were the following:  Depression, irritability, loss of interest, decreased concentration, insomnia, emotional overwhelm, loss of a sense of the future (hopelessness), shame and worthlessness, little or no memories, nightmares flashbacks, hyper vigilance mistrust, generalized anxiety & panic attacks, chronic pain & headaches, substance abuse and/or eating disorders, feeling unreal or out of body, self destructive behavior, loss of sense of “Whom I am”.   There, being held by my shaky hands and read by my tired eyes, was a description of me.   Well, all except for the irritability!  KIDDING.   Underneath the following words entered into my being and I felt validated.  “Trauma survivors have symptoms instead of memories”.  Holy shit!

Trauma causes “Disorganized Attachment”.  Is it safe to be attached?   A barrage of feelings came up, I could feel my thoughts drifting away.  Typically when we hit upon something that is tough for me, my mind diverts to something else.  This is trained behavior, this is a survival behavior.  This is how I have lived for many many years.   Trauma is different for everyone, think about how different we all are, the buttons that can be pushed, the pain from things that have injured our psyche.   I need not get into mine, nor do I care to share it, I don’t think it’s but one thing, but several.  I have petrified of intimacy (allowing others close to me), particularly men.  I am also petrified of commitment.   I struggle between the yearning to attach, conflicting with my need to be safe. Paradoxical.  While this isn’t new information for me.  That which is new, hopeful, is that an international, national professor who studies trauma believes THIS CAN BE CHANGED!  Deep sighs, deep breath…. relief, hope, return to self.

 I don’t have to continue through life with this knapsack of crap on my back.   The more I allow my fears to enter my thoughts, the larger it becomes.  Deep breath, deep sigh…yes, it makes sense.  I have struggled with fear of abandonment most of my adult life.  My self destructive behavior abandons others before they, me.  Self taught thoughts, actions on how to push others away when they are getting too close, I’ve become an expert at this.   The bottom line of all of this is that by thinking this way, by feeling this way, by acting this way, I become a prisoner of my own bars.   I am chasing my own tail, round and round I go, until I become so exhausted I crash.  Exhaustion typically brings my defense mechanisms to the lowest level, and it is at this time that I am able to take in all that has transpired in my mind, or in reality.  Notice I separate the two.

I am reminded of a time when I had left the hospital after saying goodbye to my sister.  Apparently I drove in the out because a guy started blasting his horn and flipped me the bird, screamed out his window at me what an asshole I was.  I remember looking at him, in confusion, it wasn’t as if this was a big deal, there were no traffic lights, it wasn’t a highway.  I was entering into the pharmacy to fill my anxiety meds.   If I had felt better I too would probably have flipped him off, or better yet, smiled at him and blown him a kiss.  I vacillate between the two.  Instead I was in a fog, everything was surreal and yet it was untouchable, unreachable.    Because of this incident, I   remind myself, sometimes daily, that we never know what is going on with another person.  We don’t know if they are in fight/flight, or if they are just being assholes!   When someone cuts me off, I let it go.  When someone blows steam at me, I let it go, until they hit at my core.   I will defend myself, and it won’t be pretty.  I can swear like a parrot and I stick to the defense that MY FATHER was in the navy!

I don’t know if I am making any sense, as I am having a hard time returning to myself, aligning my thoughts with my physical being.   It has been a full day of anxiety, of walking the edge and I am depleted. 

The good news is, I can retrain my thoughts!  The good news is, I can retrain my thoughts!  The good news is, I can retrain my thoughts!  Decorated with one other gift of hope…my desire and determination to do so.     It will not be easy, it will not be without tears, fear, but I will do this, I will succeed.  Wait and see! 🙂

 

Lucille Ball or Donna Bawl?

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Though last night was a difficult night, and sleep was not part of my vocabulary, I had a wonderful morning.  A friend called and said “get dressed, I’ll be down in 20 minutes with the dogs, we’re going for a walk”… and so started my morning.  It was really nice.  We walked on a trail that we used to years ago, when our dogs were much younger!  I have to say, I think I’m in better shape now than I was then because I didn’t do a lot of huffing and puffing.

Following that, however, I was sorting through some stuff and found pictures of happier times, and that triggered in me another crying bender that I think lasted 3 hours.    The kind of crying that you cannot catch your breath in between, and when snot takes over!  I do think, however, that crying is good, it can be a cleansing.

I have been collecting paperwork and medical files for the purpose of disability (my doctors at the psych hospital all assumed I was already on it)… Upon reading notes from therapists, that made me even sadder.  My thoughts, my feelings of these notes also made me cry.   I am not depressed everyday of my life, but I have been the larger majority of the past few years.   In therapy I’m learning how to divert my thoughts, my feelings and stick and choose happier things to think about, but hey… sometimes life is hard and your pain cannot be masked (nor do I think it should be)…

I want to thank you all for prayers, and for my friends who have gone above and beyond to help me through this difficult time.   Thank you, my cup runneth over…. but then of course I’m crying because of that too!  I told a friend tonight via fb that I’m not crying for the dead bugs (ladybug imposters) on the ground….  Good grief!

I’ll be heading to bed early tonight.  I was happy to think I could sleep in tomorrow and hide , then I realized, nope…  I have outpatient therapy all day M-F…   oy.

Thank you all once again for your continued prayers and outpouring of concern.  I cannot tell you how much that means to me during this difficult time.     xx