Wednesday, February 29, 2012

God Bless Mary....Now And Zen

I had the strangest experience when I got home from work tonight. I was alone in the kitchen and felt stuffy, so I opened the window. The nicest breeze began to blow in; just like the one I felt that day in the parking lot at work a couple of years ago when I felt like my mom was sending me a hug.

It was very quiet--unusually quiet for my busy household. I took a moment to let the breeze roll over me; to smell the fresh cool air. My wind chimes were blowing in the wind, making the most wonderful, soothing melody. I closed my eyes and remembered the sunny, perfect autumn day I bought those chimes, years ago. I was at a little country store outside town with my husband and my parents, and when I heard them I fell in love with them.

That's when the strange part came. Suddenly, I had this incredible sense of peace come over me. Almost a zen feeling. Just peace, quiet, and well...peace. I just felt like somehow, some way, everything was going to be okay. It was such a strange feeling, that for a moment I actually wondered if I had died and was having some sort of out of body experience. How could one go from such utter chaos in the brain, to such peace so quickly? Prayer, I think. Not only have people been sending me strength through their prayers, but I have been praying, asking God to show me peace. Asking Him to give me a sign. I believe I got that sign, and I also believe I got the peace. At least for tonight.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thinking of You

Today I am thinking of my friend and neighbor Marty-Marr. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of his father's death, and today would have been his father's birthday. I know it's an emotional time for him and he's just on my mind.

Monday, February 27, 2012

After The Storm

In retrospect it's really not that surprising that I had a meltdown this weekend. Historically, it seems like this time of year is notorious for triggering stress and anxiety in me. In fact it was just about this same time a year ago when I flipped out at the gynecologist's office and she sent me to see a psychiatrist to get on the proper medications. That's also when I started seeing Kate. Winter is almost over, Spring is around the corner. I hate Spring.

Yesterday I likened the anxiety attack to a storm. Today I felt like I was walking around the neighborhood looking at the damage. Limbs down, shingles off, papers and other debris scattered about. My chest is hurting like I've had an overdose of caffeine. I feel tired and depressed.

In all this, I can't stop thinking of the journal entry I wrote a few days ago about anxiety being loves greatest killer. I truly felt yesterday that I was grabbing hold of anyone who came near me, and pulling them down with me. I don't blame anyone who would avoid me, or not want to be around me at a time like that. I don't even want to be around myself. I'm wearing myself out.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Anatomy of An Anxiety Attack

All the ingredients for the perfect storm were there. It was my PMS weekend, I'd had a very stressful week at work, and I had made a stupid mistake, which caused my confidence to take a serious hit. I had way too much on my plate for the weekend. No down time, lots of obligations.

The storm started to roll in yesterday at around 4:00 p.m. I felt it coming; that old familiar feeling. My mind started to race like the unstable, shifting wind. Irrational thoughts started to form like dark black storm clouds on the horizon, rolling in closer and closer. All I could do was baton down the hatches, because by then, I knew the storm was going to hit hard, ready or not.

Throughout the evening, it was mostly in my head. Ridiculous, irrational thoughts that would not leave me alone. I fought them as long as I could, then decided to go to bed in hopes of escaping them. It didn't work. I tossed and turned. I couldn't calm my mind enough to go to sleep. When I finally did sleep, nightmares filled my dreams. Rest would not come, but morning finally did.

It was my Saturday to work, and by the time I got to my desk I knew the storm was right on me. I'll try my best to describe what happened from there, but if you've never experienced something like this, it will simply sound ridiculous. My left eye began to twitch. My shoulders tightened to the point they began to burn. My chest started to hurt. My breathing became labored. Panic and fear came over me as it might if I were being dangled by one foot off the Empire State Building. My hands got cold...really cold...freezing cold. I was still working, still communicating with people, still holding it together on the outside. Other than the fact that I was still and quiet, if you'd looked at me, it probably appeared that everything was fine. Only it wasn't.

I dug through my bag to find some Xanax. In about 20 minutes time, that began to give some relief to my physical symptoms. But my mind wasn't getting a reprieve. Throughout the entire day I felt as though I was trapped in a room, screaming for someone, anyone to help me. Inside, I was sobbing, begging, desperate. No matter how loud or how long I screamed, no one came. It's though I was in a sound proof booth. People were walking all around me but they couldn't see me or hear my desperate wailing. Even if they had, I'm not sure they could have helped me. My captor had such a tight grip on me, there was no way to pry him off me. I was totally and completely alone.

By the time I headed for home, the anxiety had manifested itself into anger. Anger and frustration swelled up inside me like a volcano. I snapped at my son in a way that I had to apologize for. I wanted to hurt someone or something. I wanted to yell at someone.

I had a dinner date with a friend of mine and I wanted so much to cancel and go to bed, but I didn't. I made myself go. After I ate, and had some laughs, I felt a little better. She had no clue what had occurred inside my head in the past 24 hours.

Tonight I soaked in a very hot bath. I dozed off a couple of times, and dreamed about writing this entry, which made me think I could find some relief in the one thing that never lets me down; my writing. I feel like I can sleep tonight. I feel exhausted. My eyes are blurry and my legs are aching. My mind is still busy, but I don't feel hysterical. The worst of the storm has passed. All that's left now are rumblings of thunder in the distance. I welcome any sleep I may be able to enjoy tonight. Please Lord, let tomorrow be better.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Still My Hero

One of the narrow minded people I know was on Facebook the other day spouting off something about Michelle Obama needs to be working on something "important" instead of worrying so much about what everyone is eating.

Today a delivery man I know came into work and struck up a conversation. This guy is every bit as large as the big guys on Biggest Loser. He never wears a coat, even in the dead of winter. He proudly tells me "I'm a fat guy, I'm hot all the time." So today he was telling me about the wild evening he had last night trying to please everyone in the family for dinner. He ended up getting "the baby" (age 3) three tacos from Taco Bell. We've all heard the statistic. This generation of American children are the first in history, not expected to have a longer life span than their parents. This is a perfect example of why that is.

Michelle Obama, you just keep on fighting the good fight. I wish I had bad ass arms like yours.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dear New Girl:

Dear New Girl:

Someone told me about you last night. They told me you are very much in love with someone who has some serious, serious problems. You are so young. You have your whole life ahead of you. You said you were going to travel to Europe. You said you were going to do mission work. You have a promising future ahead of you. You're on your way to finishing college. But a troubled young man is getting a hold of your mind. You're losing your focus. You're beginning to think his problems are something you can fix--his actions, something you can control. Oh New can't do either one. You'll never fix him. You'll never be able to stop him from self destructing. You've seen this in someone else in your life. Someone very close to you. You know people can't be stopped unless they do it for themselves. You've seen how they take everyone who loves them right down with them.

If I had one wish today; one prayer, it would be that you would do the bravest and hardest thing you've ever done in your life and walk away. I know you love him, but love yourself more. You have your whole life ahead of you. Live it. Live your life, not his.

New Girl, you are not welcome here. Be free.

Final Thoughts

I will not profess to have been a die hard Whitney Houston fan. That would not be the truth. I have never belonged to any fan clubs, nor do I have any tattoos bearing her likeness or any of her song lyrics. In fact, I do not even own any of her albums. So why am I writing a two part blog entry about her death? Because the range of emotions I have felt in the three days since then are interesting to me, and I want to think about why that is.

As mentioned in the previous post, Shock, Not-So-Shocked, and Sadness would be the three initial thoughts I'd have, but soon, I would experience three more: Empathy, Frustration, and Intense Anger.

Empathy came from watching interviews with Whitney when she talked about panic attacks and anxiety; something she battled for many years. When I heard her talk about suffering with those feelings, I felt a sincere connection to her. Not as a pop diva, but as a woman...a woman the same age as me, who knows what that "finger in the socket" feeling is like. When I watched her talk about that, I expected the two of us could have had a good conversation about it.

As I listened to her talk about her battles with drugs and alcohol, I started feeling Frustration. The part of me that wants to rescue kicked in. The "fixer" took over. I watched her talk with Diane Sawyer just ten years ago, when there still seemed to be some glimmer of hope that she might be able to rehabilitate and shake the addiction that was clearly taking control of her life. Obviously, she was never able to do that. This brings me to Intense Anger.

Last night while browsing Facebook (love it / hate it) I came across a post by someone I don't associate with much. She had gone on a rant, talking about how Whitney Houston had "stolen" the song "I Will Always Love You" from Dolly Parton, then going on to say she wasn't the least bit sad she was dead. She said she didn't feel a bit sorry for her; no more than she would "any other worthless crack head in prison". I won't even address the comment about the song because it's so ignorant, but the comments about the addiction made me feel very angry. I resisted the urge to comment on the post, but a friend of mine who has a son that struggles with drugs and alcohol spoke up. I doubt anyone read her comment but me. I had to wonder if this girl would have felt a little more compassion, had Whitney Houston died of heart disease or diabetes. People seem to understand those are diseases. And if those diseases are left untreated, and if you don't exercise, eat right, and take your medication, they will kill you. But most people don't view drug and alcohol addiction as a disease. A disease that if left untreated, will also kill you. People simply want to view it as a weakness in character, not a disease.

So that's pretty much how Whitney Houston's death sparked a big range of emotions and thoughts in me the past three days. Like her or not, fan or not, you have to respect the talent she possessed. I am sad that voice is now gone, but glad her music will live on for generations to come.

Monday, February 13, 2012

First Thoughts

When I first heard the news about Whitney Houston passing away, I felt shocked. Immediately followed by not-so-shocked when I thought about the struggles she had with drugs and alcohol the past several years. My next emotion, sadness, came a short while later as I listened to hit after hit after hit on the radio. I thought about her daughter, and I thought about the beautiful voice that was now silenced forever.

I will write another post about Whitney Houston's death. Addiction, panic attacks, massive can I not? In the two days since her death, I've had a lot of other thoughts and feelings, but I need a little time to organize them. I'm not ready yet.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

These Dreams

I've always loved to analyze dreams. My dreams, other people's dreams--it doesn't matter. Last night I dreamed I got into a roller coaster car and pulled the safety bar down across my lap. I got it so tight I felt like it would squeeze my liver right out of my body. I could barely breathe. It was painful and I was uncomfortable.

There are some big events coming up for me. Things that typically trigger a lot of drama. I guess I was strapping myself in for the impending roller coaster ride. I'm really glad I got the bar so tight.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Quotes I Like

"Anxiety is love's greatest killer. It makes one feel as you might when a drowning man holds onto you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic."
-Anais Nin

This was the quote on my daily calendar today (thank you Mystical). I liked it so much I ripped out the page and laminated it. I stuck it in my purse to discuss with Kate on Friday. After that, I'm going to hang it up in my office. Why do I love this quote so much? Let me count the ways!!

If you've read my blog or know me at all, you know I struggle with anxiety...big time. It makes me do a lot of crazy things. It makes me freak out in stores. It makes me talk when I should be quiet. It makes me feel like I can't breathe. But mostly, it means my mind never stops racing, and thus I over think pretty much EVERYTHING.

On a regular basis, Kate tells me "Please don't over think this". It's always been very hard for me to enjoy relationships because I put everything under a microscope. A conversation occurs...even a pleasant one. I look at it, I smell it, I taste it. I roll it around in my hand. I listen to it over and over and over again. I dissect it. I twist it around, I run it past my friends, I write about it. Then, after all this scientific analysis, I conclude what every comment must have "really" meant. For me, this is torturous. Living with anxiety IS like drowning. Drowning in your own racing thoughts and irrational fears. For the person I'm involved with, I'm sure it is like I'm trying to pull them right on down with me.

The other night Madison made a comment that she knows she over thinks things. A mutual friend of ours said "You really need to stop doing that". We both just laughed. Ahh, if it were only that easy. We don't know why we do it. We suspect it has something to do with our insatiable need to constantly be in control. Also, our history of being hurt, and our overwhelming desire to prevent that from ever happening again. A defense mechanism.

Turning that mechanism off is not easy. It takes work and focus. I have some exercises that are supposed to distract me when I find myself obsessing on a thought or person, or when I know I'm over thinking something. I'm not having huge success with it. I only know I don't want to be the person who drags everyone I love under the water with me. I really don't.