Anxiety

Ok, I’m stepping out. I’m going to start trying to post unprompted things in addition to my year of discovery stuff. I’m traveling next week and I want to talk about that here. I might even share the blog with my book of face contacts. We’ll see. It’s a big step sharing my thoughts, but as I said in an earlier post, I tend to overshare and under-share in cycles. I’m still in the under-share place right now but I’m thinking wanting to tell people about my trip will push me to overshare again.

So let’s talk about anxiety. The topic came up with my oldest daughter last night. In this conversation I realized and said out loud that anxiety started at a really early age for me. I should probably unpack this with my therapist. Instead, I think I’ll talk about it here.

I remember very little before about my 11th birthday. The memories I do have feel like out of body experiences. I can’t really tell what I actually remember and what was a story someone told me. For example, I don’t think I actually remember swim lessons when I was 3, but the story was told over and over. Apparently, my mother took me several days and every day I’d get sick to the point of vomiting when I got there. She finally gave up. My entire life I have had these type of experiences. When I’m extremely uncomfortable or nervous, I get a response from my gut. This can last a few hours or a few days.

I do remember my first real panic attack. The girls were babies, both still in diapers. My one time alone was walking to the mailbox, if they both napped at the same time. This was actually pretty uncommon. My oldest didn’t need naps, ever. My youngest fought sleep all times of day and night. I was tired, no doubt. They went to sleep this day though. I walked to the mailbox and found an unexpected bill. Somewhere between the mailbox and my house I started to melt down. I remember sliding into the floor of my kitchen and not being able to breathe or function. Ultimately I called a friend that talked me through it. It scared me to death. Looking back, it seems so silly. Intellectually, it always does. That doesn’t make it any less terrifying and uncontrollable in the moment.

My parents did not believe in drugs for mental health. They didn’t believe in counseling or therapy either. I’m not sure they even believed in “mental health” period. Pretty much their response to anything like that was “suck it up” or pray about it, but mostly the first one. It’s not their fault. I’m pretty sure it is their generation, their own background and the stigma of mental health issues that we’re really only just now starting to deal with as a society. While a lot of emotion was expressed in my childhood, it was controlled and limited, if that makes sense. We talked about love a lot but never acknowledge anxiety or anger or a lot of other things. It’s fair to say I didn’t learn good coping mechanisms.

The fact that I survived my 20’s and 30’s, including a cancer battle, without some kind of intervention is a an absolute miracle. My desire to “look” okay probably pulled me through a lot. I think in general people think I have it all together. I put on a great show.

I melted down at 37. I don’t think I want to talk about why. It doesn’t matter. There was a breaking point. I asked a friend about counseling and got a recommendation. I tried out 2 or 3 before landing with someone that worked. It helped. A lot.

I melted down again at 39. Again, I know why, but don’t want to talk about it. It was then that I said to my GP that I thought I was losing it and she suggested medication. I’ve been on that same medication and dose for 10 years. I don’t know what would happen if I stopped taking it and I have no intention of finding out. About once a year the GP asks how I’m doing and if I need to increase or if I think I could decrease. I don’t.

So life, therapy, medication, self awareness have decreased the anxiety that for many years was truly crippling. I cope now. I can’t remember when I’ve had a break/meltdown/attack. This is good. Oh, I still worry. I have sleep issues and stomach issues on the regular, but I’m so much better than I was.

I wish we could get past the stigma of mental health issues. We wouldn’t make fun or ignore a physical issue… although maybe we do sometimes. We are definitely less likely to though. I think literally everyone could benefit from therapy and whole lot of people could benefit from a prescription.

Struggling

I’m doing it again. That thing, where I commit to write and then I fall off the wagon. I’m trying. The last week has chewed me up and spit me out. Between just generally not feeling well, more shootings, one in my town with racial overtones (that some people refuse to acknowledge) and then some personal struggles I’m having around motherhood and womanhood and childhood (is that a thing) and life. That was a heck of a sentence. You’re welcome.

I just don’t get it. Why is it so hard for privileged people to admit that racism exists. I had a full on debate with someone I know and love about this. He (a white male) cannot see it at all. Well of course he can’t. He’s never experienced it. People used the argument that the guy in Atlanta “said” it wasn’t a hate crime. Well of course he said that. Then why don’t you recognize that people of color systematically don’t even get a chance to speak, much less tell us what really happened? It rocks me to my core. to. my. core.

It’s Women’s History Month in the year 2021, and I still feel like we’re fighting to convince everyone (women included) that there’s a problem. There IS a problem. There ARE all kinds of problems. Why aren’t we working to solve them together instead of denying they exist?

What’s this all about?!

The most beautiful voice in the world

Okay already. I started. I made a website and I blogged. I created a twitter and I tweeted. Now what’s this all about?

First, I want to learn to and love to write again. I started journals at a pretty young age and have continued that habit off and on. I had a pretty long running anonymous blog and loved that interaction. It was well read and pretty popular off and on.

And then… I started a doctoral program. Note the word “started.” I actually spent about seven years in that program. I was admitted to candidacy, successfully completed all my courses (ABD), and went through dozens of drafts of my dissertation. Bottom line: I thought my research was interesting and good and my writing was marginal. My major professor disagreed. She thought my research was boring and didn’t care about it and thought my writing sucked. After seven years, I bailed. I took a Specialist degree and walked away. It is quite literally the only thing I’ve ever started that I didn’t finish. It is also what I will always consider my greatest failure. Yeah, yeah. I know.

Now, with a year of reflection on that I’ve decided my major professor and I were both wrong. I firmly believe now that my research was valuable, important and worthy and my writing didn’t suck. I’m not bitter. I’m better. I still struggle. I lost confidence. I lost my voice briefly. I’m ready to pick myself back up though. I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to believe in myself again.

Beyond all that, I find myself wanting a place where I can express myself a bit more openly than my personal book of face account and with more characters than a tweet, even though I did make a tweet. Calm down. I know. This isn’t social media. I won’t confuse the two.

So what are we doing here? It’s still developing. Here’s some things I think I’ll explore here:

  • Some personal work, like the year of writing things you’ll see here
  • Feminist ranting
  • Whining about how much I miss/love/don’t understand my grown up children
  • Cries for help with my aging parents
  • Maybe some book reviews
  • Who knows what else

Roadblocks

  • What is standing in your way right now?
  • What would happen if you overcame the obstacle? More importantly, what would happen if you didn’t (think broadly: emotionally, physically, financially, etc.)?
  • Can you reframe the most pressing current obstacle as simply a to-do list? In other words, in order to overcome this, what do you need to learn? What tasks do you need to perform? Who do you need to convince?
  • Have you ever used an “obstacle” as an excuse not to get started? Did you regret it?
  • Are obstacles really just fears holding you back?
  • What is the longest-running obstacle in your life?
  • What steps have you used to make progress toward overcoming it? How far have you come with it? What do you wish would happen? How would that be possible?
  • What is the biggest obstacle you faced in your past? Did you overcome it? If so, how? If not, why?
barrier

I’ve been stirring over this for a couple of days. I find myself needing to define what I’m trying to get to, before I define what I’m trying to get through. I’m not sure what that is right now, which is part of the challenge for me. In many ways, I’m happy and satisfied, and I’m not sure I should even be asking for more. There is though – something more. There always is.

My very nature is to keep pushing through to “the next thing.” I need to unpack that. Does there always need to be “the next thing”? Is growing and progressing “the next thing”? It makes me think of that Hamilton song, “Satisfied.” (There’s a lot of quotes here.) So what is the next thing? Is it more education, a different position, something all together different? I don’t know.

Having said all that, now I wonder if the obstacle is actually not making a decision about the future. When I started thinking about this, I initially said the obstacle is likely fear, anxiety and maybe resources. Now, I think maybe those are side effects or even excuses for the real obstacle – indecisiveness.

I’m going to think on this some more and maybe come back with more thoughts.

By the way, I’m getting these prompts from a course at https://www.dailyom.com/