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Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category

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Is it Karma?

The attached link at the bottom says nearly perfectly what makes sense to me. I believe one of the reasons I feel so stuck is needing to break free from the guilt and feeling of “I deserve this shit” that weighs me down. I created this life and now I have to find a way to make it better, but instead of making it better I keep letting it beat me up because I put so much bad out there in the past a part of me feels it’s justified. And the people in the world around me just reinforce that narrative with their negativity towards me. I’m deemed stupid because I’m overweight. I’m deemed untrustworthy because over a decade ago I broke the law. I’m deemed worthless because, due to previously mentioned law breaking, I don’t have a large income. My entire life I’ve found my desire, my energy, my passion in the connections in my life. Whether it was my daughter, my partner, my job, my friends, my grandma, or even people who only knew me from being out in the gay community. Those pieces of energy each person or opportunity gave to me were life fuel to my chaotic emotions and brain. It gave me direction and drive.

It possibly started before my major screw ups actually. I had a partner that struggled with addiction and mental illness and to my detriment and to the detriment of most of my other connections I allowed her to feed off me until I was left pretty broken emotionally and not real well mentally. That’s when the anxiety started. That’s when I started feeling desperate to find something, anything to tie someone to me, no matter the consequences. I needed to be “refueled.” 15 years later it’s only gotten worse, not better. For a short while I found a stable place to land, but the connection was weak, forced even. Staying would have been a disservice to her, but I left in the worst way possible and added another notch to my chain of negative karma.

And here I am. Stuck. I make lists of things needing to be done and say ok we we will make 2 small changes a day. Unpack a box, take curtains I’ll never use again to goodwill, write a scene, call my best friend and actually hear her voice, write a letter, take a walk, etc.

I step out of my bedroom into my cluttered kitchen, look at my disaster of a livingroom, and immediately feel defeated. It’s bigger than me and I just can’t find it in me to face it alone. My heart rate goes up, my hands tremble and forcing myself to take another step in any direction other that  back to my room brings me to tears. So I go back to my room and take a nap. Again.

I start to write and I think wow this is such a great idea and then the thought passes through me that sending what I write into the world opens me up for verbal beatings and rejection and I’m not scared, I’m petrified. I’m paralyzed to the point that if it feels good enough to make it into a book it will be weeks or months before I pick it up again.

I keep searching for a connection that will make me feel like I have the strength, but theres a disconnect between my self imposed bubble and the one that holds everyone else. Connection has been missing from my life for so long I have slowly lost all the energy I had gotten from being a part of something, a part of so many lives and peer groups, and now I’ve grown afraid to try to reach out because of the constant rejection. It’s so hard to explain to someone who has never been in my head or heart or body; even harder to explain to someone who has never faced real anxiety, depression, or adversity.

I adore my internet followers and friends and I do feed off there happiness and celebrations. I’ve narrowed my connections on my personal pages to people who bring some light into my life. Dropping probably 2/3 of my “friends.” I don’t allow a sense of obligation keep me in touch with negative people.

All this is just starting to click for me sadly, but it gives me a why or a cause. My job now is to turn it around; work to make progress towards positive personal connections and put some good energy out into the world. Find a way to look for beauty and things that make me happy or passionate about life again. Mostly importantly I have to find a way to make small steps in progress without allowing my anxiety send me into flight mode. Nothing is overnight,  but one step at a time. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. Being patient with myself is another place I falter and if I’m not going to have a team around me anymore I’ll have to he my own cheerleader. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Monique P

https://www.one-mind-one-energy.com/law-of-cause-and-effect.html

Winter, Pain, and Depression. Oh My!

As a person who deals with pain and depression on the best of days, the dreary and cold days of winter can be a real challenge. The challenges don’t just affect me. They also take a toll on my relationships, the state of my house, and the quality of my work.

When you’re used to pain on a daily basis it’s very annoying when people who know you ask, “How are you?” If I say, “I’m fine,” they assume I’m pain free and should be happy-go-lucky. In reality, “I’m fine,” means I’m no worse than usual and I am muddling through. If I say “I’m having a bad day,” suddenly I’m being treated like an invalid who can’t do anything for herself or like I’m going to be a drag to be around.

The truth is I consider it a good day if pain doesn’t stop me in my tracks, if I can walk down the steps of my front porch without holding on for dear life, if I can bend over to scoop my cat’s box without holding onto the wall so I don’t fall over. It’s a pretty good day when my fingers aren’t so stiff I can’t type or my knee isn’t in so much pain I can’t bend it without making noise. If I can shave my legs or stand in the kitchen to fix a meal without breaking out in a sweat because of the additional pain, that’s a fabulous day.

I also suffer from extreme anxiety which has worsened as I age. This mostly appears when I’m aware I’m about to face a large crowd of people or it comes out in my sleep as nightmares of the great “what if” that many of us constantly run through in our heads.

Pain, depression, and anxiety are just a part of my life and I don’t dwell on it. I take medication to help dull the affects and I go on about my day. What I don’t do is talk about it unless necessary to protect myself from making it worse. If I need to rest I say so. If I need a break from people I’ll say so. BUT, people who ask every time they see me, “How are you?” make me want to pull my hair out.

The responses in my life range from, “How am I to know you’re in pain if you don’t tell me?” to “All I hear is how you don’t feel well and it’s unhealthy for me to be around you.” So you learn to say “I’m fine.” because that’s what people want to hear and you try not to limp, and you help carry things even if it hurts, and you join the group activities because it’s “healthy,” and you find a way to sleep and hope you don’t cry too much in your sleep or be loud when you deal with it all in your nightmares. Because, for some reason, if I share with someone my pain or sadness or anxiety I’m an unhealthy person in their life and they need to not be around me.

Why do we do this? Why do we punish people for sharing feelings, for showing weakness, for being uncomfortable, or having a genetic health issue?

I’ve been dealing with arthritis and pain in my knees since I was 17 and had my first car accident, followed by injuries twice in college that affected my knees two more times. Add 30 years and you get that my knees are not super happy. YET, I walk 5K’s for charity when I can get to them. I carry in my own groceries and laundry. I never ask for help carrying in two 35 lb buckets of kitty litter. And I make love as often as I can.

I started recognizing the affects of depression in my teens also. It’s emotional and chemical. I didn’t want to be depressed. I did crazy things trying to chase happiness. (I do need to put in here that I never did drugs, but I did drink.) I played the flirty, social girl who was all in no matter what was going on. I went to all the parties. I had too much sex. I had too much alcohol. I hang out with all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons. And then I’d go home and lie in my bed and imagine everyone in my life leaving or dying until I’d cry myself to sleep. Had I lost someone early in life? Nope. No reason for it that I can pinpoint. That was just where my mind drifted to when I’d close my eyes.

Later in life I had some actual bad things to stress about. Bad relationships, a daughter to worry about, a toxic relationship with my mother, the realization that I was losing my hearing, loss of a job I loved when the market crashed, broken bones, increased pains in new places, moving to a new state, and then a fall that left me with a torn hip. I found out I had two torn rotator cuffs, 2 slipped disks in my back, degenerative arthritis, and yes I was going deaf and needed hearing aids. The day I’d found out I’d torn the labrum in my hip during a fall in the snow I fell again and broke 3 bones in my foot. The day I went to get the MRI before surgery to fix one of the rotator cuffs I got a 3rd degree burn that took almost 6 months of doctor visits to close up enough so I could have the surgery.

You can’t make this shit up.

Put all of those things in cold wet weather and “VOILA!” Increased pain, which leads to increased depression, which leads to decreased sleep, which leads to increased pain, which leads to increased anxiety, etc., etc., etc.

I’ve learned to smile and fake it because no one wants to hear all that. I’ve learned that people who aren’t in my skin will never grasp what a day in my life is life. I’ve learned what is getting through a day for me is lazy and unhealthy to others. I rarely drink anymore and I’ve still never done drugs, but if I were to do so and get a jolt of energy to clean and run around the block, no matter the affects it would take on my body, and lose weight because I’d be too high to eat I’d actually get less crap from the people in my life. What kind of bullshit is that?

Because I don’t push my body into more pain I’m “not trying” or I “like feeling bad.” (That second one makes me want to slap someone.) I’ve been told, “It’s easier to feel sorry for yourself than to do something about it.” That’s always a favorite. Because, of course, who wouldn’t want to live in this body and mind. I need to just “be positive” or meditate or walk more.

Am I overweight? Absolutely. Do I want to be smaller so there’s less pressure on my body? Damn right! Do I want to fight tears for 3 days recovering from a walk around the block? Not particularly, but I would if I thought it would make it hurt less the next time. Unfortunately you can’t “walk off” a torn labrum and you can’t exercise away a torn rotator cuff or slipped vertebrae so one at a time I will have the surgeries I need to correct these pains in me and hope to hell I can find that blissful feeling of no more pain than usual after a nice brisk walk again.

Just thinking of the things I want to do, but knowing the pain I would face afterwards causes another burst of depression. The cycle is nonstop.

People who don’t live with pain, or depression, or anxiety will never understand how much we truly want it to be just about being more positive or more active or more whatever else we are told we should do or be. If it were a case of mind over matter no one would choose to live like this. Absolutely no one.

So don’t tell me you can’t be in my life because I’m “unhealthy” to be around, because if you knew what it felt like everyday to get done a fraction of what others do you’d think I was a damn superhero. You’d have mad respect for the fact that I get out of bed, that I want to cook a meal, that I want to walk my dog, that I sometimes take the stairs instead of the elevator, that I participate in any physical or emotional activities, or that I allow your ass to say things to me like I’m “unhealthy.” You SHOULD see me as a survivor, because that’s what I am.

What’s unhealthy is being around people who have no empathy and expect perfection or standards they themselves don’t measure up to.

It’s winter. It’s cold. I’m still making it through one day at a time, but I’m making it through. I’ll be damned if I keep letting anyone who can’t see past their own crap to blame me for their own failings.

Midlife Crisis?

As a person who has battled depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember; sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between depressive episodes and other negative mood traits. Bad just feels bad. Sometimes, however, feeling bad feels like a weight on your chest. You can pretend it’s not there; hide it from those around you, but all you can think about is finding a way to rid yourself of its suffocating effects.

I thought I was just being perimenopausal. I’m that age. Mood swings, hot flashes, yadda yadda yadda. I felt worn out and blamed that on my inability to sleep when my body can’t seem to decide if it’s hot or cold, or most often on fire followed by freezing. My daughter has moved out of the house. My dearest pets are showing their age. All reasons that can explain away my lack of enthusiasm for getting out of bed each day.

Some days I get a spark of “I can take on the world,” usually followed by posts and blogs about the power of positivity and making big changes and being true to myself. (See previous posts.)

In the last few months I’ve discovered I’m more often finding reasons to not participate in the world outside my door. I’m looking at the future with resignation that my best years are behind me. I think of my age and believe I’ve passed the point where I should have my shit together and even attempting to get there now would be a waste of time. I feel the aches and pains of a 47 year old body and it reminds me that it only gets worse from here.

I’ve been considering making efforts to change my occupation, but then I convince myself no one wants a middle aged woman who is trying to start from the bottom.

I list all the “shoulds”:

I SHOULD own a home.

I SHOULD be married.

I SHOULD have a career I enjoy.

I SHOULD be driving a newer car.

I SHOULD have gotten healthier before it was too late.

I SHOULD have traveled more.

I SHOULD feel settled into my life.

I SHOULD be better at being an adult.

I can go nearly a week without leaving my house, without bathing, without changing clothes, without having a single vegetable, without brushing my hair or my teeth, without cleaning a single dish, without spending more than the time it takes to nuke a frozen burrito out of my bed, or without sleeping or staying awake more than a few hours at a time. I can do all this and KNOW I need to do something different, but lack the ability to walk past my bedroom without crawling right back under the blankets.

I lie to people about things I’m accomplishing or things I’ve been doing in all my spare time. I lie to myself and say, “Tomorrow I’ll start [fill in the blank].” I might even believe it when I think it. My gung-ho attitude lasts until my next nap which isn’t far off.

I keep thinking certainly I won’t go another 30 or more years and it not get better than this, then immediately think the best has already came and gone and I wasted it on stupid youthful pursuits and bad decisions.

One moment I think I should just cut ties with my partner, who will leave eventually anyway, and move on to whatever comes next. The next moment I think I’ve dedicated a decade of my life to this person and why would I invest 10 years in someone I love only to wash my hands of her.

There are moments I believe she knows me better than anyone shortly followed by moments where I truly believe she doesn’t even see me.

There are moments of gratitude for the genuine friends I have made in my life and many more moments where I feel completely alone.

There seems to be a change on the horizon, but will it pass by during one of the five naps I take in a day?

Will this pass or am I as stuck as I feel? Is this normal? Is normal actually a thing?

My track record of poor choices isn’t exactly inspirational when it comes to convincing myself to pull myself up by the bootstraps and make things happen. So, for now, I’m going to stay under the blankets with my books and my furbabies and hope this is a phase and, like the cold weather outside, will pass without my intervention.

I just don’t have it in me to do more than survive it right now. I’m choosing to believe surviving it is enough for today.

 

 

Zen or Defeat

There’s an expression I’ve hated for a long time; “It is what it is.” It always felt like someone saying, “Just accept what is happening in your life and deal with the fact that you can’t change it.”

By nature I’m a fighter; or at least I used to be. I believed life is what you make of it, we’re the creators of our own destinies, if you want something bad enough you make it happen, and all those other trite sayings people such as Les Brown and Tony Robbins and the like spent decades putting into our heads. “Envision it and it will happen!” Hook, line, and sinker….I bought in.

Maybe I’m selfish? Maybe I’ve become jaded? Maybe I’ve accepted that those in power stay in power and those that aren’t in power get what they are given and make the best of it? Maybe I’ve just given up? Maybe, just maybe, I realized it truly IS what it is, and you can spend your energy pushing against the brick wall or you can enjoy the little bits of happiness you find creeping in through the cracks.

It’s funny how my other half has come to this conclusion of “it is what it is” and giving up the fight to change things has helped her find a little bit of Zen in her world that is usually full of worry and stress when, for me, giving into that notion feels like defeat. Realizing it is what it is, for me, means setting down my gloves and just bracing myself for the blow that comes next at my head.

Weirdly I use my feeling of defeat to find some happiness. I look harder for it. It used to be easy to find. Cuddles from my furbabies, a four-leaf clover in my path, a wild daisy growing among the weeds, a flock of birds rising across a pink and orange sky at dusk, a thoughtful gesture from a friend, a text message that my honey is thinking of me; these things used to be fuel to my “go grab life by the balls and make it your bitch!” attitude; now they are reasons to get up and keep going through a life that is nothing I had hoped it would be.

For awhile I just kind of folded in. I dragged one day to another and hoped it would go by quickly. In realizing that I likely have decades of this life left ahead of me I had to shake myself up a little, remind myself that there are things to look forward to even if they aren’t the big things I’d hoped for.

I love my partner and while, on one hand, I am so glad to see her find some reasons to smile finally and something to motivate her towards a more fulfilling life, on the other hand, it hurts that her vision of what that means doesn’t include me. I’m apparently that thing that she can not accept as “Is what it is.” Her Zen, her place of acceptance, feels like another defeat for me. (Even though rationally I know it has NOTHING to do with me.)

I am a whole imperfect package with lots of good intentions. I am what I am. It’s interesting to me that I was proud to say that until the last 12 years of my life. It used to be, “I am ME!” Now it’s more of a whisper, “This is just who I am.” I no longer want to fight for the right to be myself, but just be myself a little more quietly so I don’t have to defend it.

I want to feel Zen in acceptance of it is what it is. I say it more now. I’ve noticed that for a few years. Sometimes I catch myself backtracking after I say it, then I think, “What’s the point? It’s true.”

My goal for this year is to just be me more of the time. I need to be “I am ME!” again eventually and stopping whispering and hoping no one notices that I’m different or think outside of the proverbial box. I want to stop feeling defeated by what is. I want to teach myself to stand out again. I want to live for more than 3 furbabies that realistically will be gone within this decade. I want to punch my g/f and make her realize that her life is better shared with someone who pushes her out of her comfort zone, but A. I’m not abusive and B. That’s not the reality she subscribes to. I do hope her Zen starts rubbing off on me however.

My decades of brain-washing that taught me to “MAKE IT HAPPEN” led to a lot of disappointment when it didn’t happen. Now, this decade, I’m retraining myself. I’m going to find a way to live with less expectation and more anticipation. Let’s see what happens next and with some luck, whatever it is, I can say “It is what it is” without feeling like I lost the big game. *Fingers crossed*

Here I come 2020s!

 

 

Holding Back

Knowing yourself deeply is both a blessing and a curse.

I allow myself to read as much as I can and because of this I live much of life between pages, but this is the only indulgence I can allow.

If I were to allow myself to drink or do drugs, I’d be an addict. If I were to allow myself to take down the walls of my sadistic side, I’d scare myself and my partner. If I allowed myself to indulge my emotions, I’d laugh like a wild person and I’d cry until I dried up. If I loved to the fullest extent of my heart it would smother the ones I adore. If I spoke without sensor my thoughts would shock both liberal and conservative, judgemental and accepting.

I often feel like I’m an addict without an addiction, but only because I don’t relax. I keep a tight control wherever I’m able.

There’s a strong urge and desire to overindulge in life; to bite into existence until I draw blood. It overflows in a way I can’t explain and in moments I think the dam may burst I jump into a book; into a different existence, until I’m in control again. I do this for myself and for others.

I have always overwhelmed people. I’ve been labeled as “too much” and “too (insert adjective)” most of my life.

Truly; they have no idea.

What you see is a pond. What you don’t see is the width and depth of an ocean.

Be glad I hold back the tidal wave. Be glad I don’t relax and “just be.” The tsunami of me would leave you shocked, blinded, beaten, and breathless.

Titles Are Hard

Every time I sit down to write anything, whether it be a blog entry or a poem or a story, the first thing I try to think of is the title. I type a word or two, erase it, type another, erase that, stare at the screen for several minutes, and then start the process again.

I hate titles.

Now that we’ve covered that small(ish) issue; here’s what I wanted to write about…..

THANKSGIVING

Someone eventually asks “What are you thankful for?” at some point during the day nearly every year. This year I decided to preemptively answer the question. It’s harder to answer than you might think if you don’t count the standard “Family and Friends” answers, but last night I spent my nightly hours of staring into the darkness with my mind racing while I should be sleeping working on this list.

  1. I’m thankful for unconditional love. Let me be a bit more specific; I honestly don’t think humans are fully capable of truly unconditional love. However, those 4-legged members of our families; the cats we accidentally lock in a closet for an entire day and the dogs we make pee outside when it’s so cold we won’t go outside ourselves without nine layers of clothes that still greet us like we are the best thing about their entire day/life/world. I have 4 of them. They calm my anxiety, they cuddle me at bedtime, they kiss away my tears, they keep me company when I’m not good company, they don’t complain about the documentaries I watch, they don’t talk to me when I read….well that’s not entirely true because my Siamese cat, Ziggy, talks to me pretty much all the time, but he doesn’t seem to mind that I mumble, “I know” or “Is that right?” while really not paying attention to what he’s saying. Do you know any humans that do all of these things? I surely don’t. I’m so thankful for my furbabies and how much love they bring to my daily existence. (BTW, Today is also the 9th birthday of my youngest chihuahua, Jasmine Rose. Happy Birthday, Punkin!)
  2. I’m thankful for medical science. Without it I couldn’t stand my own company, leave my house, get out of bed most days, sleep at all most nights, breathe around my beloved furbabies, hear out of my non-working ears, see out of my non-working eyes, or deal with half a dozen other things that don’t work properly on my genetically disadvantaged self.
  3. I’m thankful for authors; more precisely authors who continue to astound me with words that open new worlds, plots that make me think about things I never pondered, and while taking me out of my reality remind me I’m never truly alone as long as I have a book. Thank you, Authors, for continuing to share your gift with the world.

Happy Thanksgiving, My Friends. Be thankful today. If you can’t think of anything to be thankful for just remember we now have Google and that’s certainly something!

Monique P.

 

 

To Write Love On Her Arms

I just finished a movie called To Write Love on Her Arms and I have to tell you it touched me more than almost any movie I can remember.

Let me start by saying I do not struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. I am not bi-polar. I am not a cutter. I am not suicidal.

I am also not religious and for me this was not a story about any god or religion.

What I am is a person who battles depression and anxiety. I am a person who has struggled in life, at times, to find a reason for waking up another day. I am a person who has felt lost within herself. I am a person who believes in hope. I am a person who KNOWS beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I NEED other people in my life for me to be okay. No matter what anyone believes about themselves, we all do.

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To Write Love On Her Arms is the true story of a young lady named Renee Yohe. It all started with a blog post by her friend Jamie who, after meeting her and helping her detox, found her story to be encouraging. He wasn’t encouraged because she had already triumphed, but because she was damaged yet still not broken. She was beyond help in the eyes of most of the world but surrounded by a small group of people who loved her enough to help her put her life back together; even if they had to keep gluing the shards of her hope over and over again.

Sometimes that’s all you need in life; that person or those persons who stick. The ones who see your scars, visible or not, self-inflicted or not, and don’t flinch. The ones who love you when you feel unlovable. The ones who hope for you when you feel hopeless. The ones who see you plain as day when you feel completely lost. Everyone needs those people. EVERYONE.

There have been days when the war being waged in me felt like it could rip me to shreds. I can only thank my own fear of being controlled, by persons or substances, that I didn’t use drugs and alcohol to escape to some place away from myself.

Renee’s story reminded me just how much I depend on my people. My best friend, my internet friends, and my chosen family are all intricate stitches in the fabric of my being. When my edges are frayed I just turn to any one of them and their kindness and love and acceptance weaves the hope back in until I’m whole again. For me; that love and that hope are my religion, my higher power. I turn to these things like a flower turns it’s face to the sun.

Renee-Yohe

Some might look upon this young woman’s face and wonder how could a young life be so bad or so difficult that addiction and pain feel better than merely existing. But I get it. Sometimes just waking up to exist another day is the monster beneath the bed, the unknown thing you fear the most. Perhaps it’s true that “it’s never as bad as you imagine it will be,” but then again maybe that’s the lie we tell ourselves to get out of the bed and step foot in front of the beast waiting to devour us. Until it’s your bed, your feet, your monster, you don’t know for sure.

For many of us the thing that gets us past the monster, the fear, is the person or persons waiting outside the door for us. Our children, our spouses, our families, and our true friends give us the courage to hope that our exposed limb won’t be snatched. Not today at least. Trying to find that courage when there’s no one waiting on the other side of your fear, whose mere existence in your life is the reward for getting there, is damn near impossible.

https://twloha.com was founded by Jamie after the overwhelming response to Renee’s story showed him just how many people were in desperate need of someone in their corner. Because honestly the only thing worse than hating yourself, hurting yourself, being afraid, and suffering from mental illness of any kind is doing it all alone. There’s enough people on this big ball we all live on that no one should have to do it all alone.

My hope is that even just one of you will read or watch Renee’s story, now that I’ve told you about it, and you will think of someone who needs to know they aren’t alone in life, and you will SHOW them you are there for them; you will find time in your busy life to help someone hold their pieces together.

And if you are a person who needs to connect to someone who sees you through your own fog; who needs someone to hand you the hope and love you can’t quite grasp on your own; who needs someone to hold the pieces in place as you glue them back together for maybe the hundredth time; who needs a reason to face the monsters that lurk around the corners and behind your eyes…I beg of you…reach out.

I promise you that someone doesn’t have to have walked in your shoes to be exactly who you need. They only need to be let inside your walls. No one can be your person if you don’t allow them to be. Surround yourself with people who want to be there for you and then let them.

Have hope. Be brave. As Renee said, “The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope.”

See the blog post that started the To Write Love On Her Arms movement here: https://twloha.com/learn/story/

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