Monday, June 22, 2020

There must be someway out of here

Anxiety has been an issue for me as far back as I can remember. There's the whole having a tummy ache every time we ate at a restaurant situation. Then taking a standardized test in 3rd grade and almost peeing my pants because I was afraid to ask to go to the bathroom. We were told there could be no disruptions. The list goes on all the way to this very moment.

I was thinking about all of this today while talking to my therapist. A lot of the situations when anxiety kicked in had to do with making an exit. I was looking for physical exits. But, also looking for how I would excuse myself; how to leave.

A couple weeks ago, when I was already in bad shape, there was an event at work. I wasn't going to go, but a friend was going to be in town and would be at the event. COVID issues were certainly on my mind, but that really wasn't the biggest cause of stress. I was anxious about being around a lot of people and most of them being strangers. I had my usual anxiety induced talking too much. I started to think it would be a good time for me to leave. Then, of course, a storm blows in. Major rain and win causing people to come inside. So, the crowd anxiety grew. I was parked in a field and trying to get to my car through the wind and rain didn't seem like a good idea.

There I am, my exit plan foiled. 

I ended up staying much longer than I intended. A little ceremony started and that sealed the deal that I was going to be staying. 

When that ended I tried to make my move. I knew it was about to get bad. And...I get stopped by a couple of coworkers. They wanted to get a group picture since my friend was in town. I was having a hard time getting out of this conversation. I kept feeling like they thought I was being a bitch because I wasn't wanting to stay. I could feel the anxiety welling up and exiting through tears. They know I'm pretty strict about masks and distancing, but that wasn't what this was about. One said that we could do one the next time my friend visited. I was on the edge of full on crying. I wanted her to understand that it wasn't a mask issue or a being too close issue. This really was, strictly about my general anxiety issues. 

I leave the building and there is someone I really needed to say goodbye. She was right there, otherwise I wouldn't have sought her out when I was such a wreck. But, she was there. Then I went to my car and was able to get relief. 

I made my exit, in one of the worst ways possible for me, but I got out.

Things need to get better as my last entry shows. Things need to improve. But, I can't force things to happen. My head doesn't work that way. Until everything is figured out, I'm stuck in this hell in which I'm pulling back, isolating, and avoiding.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

I'm bad, but not in the good "Bad" way

I'd say it's been a month of dealing with the mess of mental illness, probably longer. I've pulled back, retreated, isolated and not for COVID. The world is, in fact, too much and I can't tell you how this ride is going to go. This is going to be a trip in my head as it has been recently.

I'm afraid, like seriously afraid of 45 winning in November. I'm not thrilled at the idea of Biden, but I would say, "President Biden" with ease. I don't think I've actually ever referred to 45 as "President". I'm concerned the Bernie people will do a protest "vote" by not showing up and, therefore, voting in the incumbent. 

I'm surprisingly not as scared about COVID as people think or expect. I'm just frustrated that there are people who aren't taking it seriously. I'm also annoyed that wearing a mask is such an issue. Just wear it. Protect people, loved ones or not.

So, Shawn kind of put a suggested ban on me watching MSNBC. 

That stuff is so minor compared to how really bad things are.

I don't want to leave the house. Not because of COVID. I don't want to go out except when I walk Jarvis. I have to really work on convincing myself to do it. I put everything off. I need Shawn to be with me. I suck it up for work...that's because Shawn and Jarvis coming to work with me didn’t work out well. We thought Jarvis would love to have a yard to play in, but he knew I was in the building and that didn't work for him. Shawn takes me to the bank. He goes grocery shopping with me. The anxiety is so much. We shopped at Costco the other day and I cried in the Fish Oil section because none of the brands had the right potency. And, if I bought enough to make up the difference, the cost would be too much.

I get my shit kind of together to do work, respond to work emails, update our account on a pet search site. Otherwise, I don't communicate much with anyone but Shawn, Jarvis, my mom, and my BFF - Shawn and Jarvis being the most. I just can't right now with so many things.

My bedtimes vary. Super early some days and really late on others. I sleep late and stay in bed a lot.

The anxiety is terrible and the meds aren't working. A change to the meds is being worked on. As many who deal with mental illness know, med changes are tough. They can take a long time to start working. It can be a couple months. I'm not sure I have that in me right now. 

Shawn is amazing. He is super talented and I'm not going to deny that I'm jealous - or envious - whichever sounds less like an asshole. He just has so much going on in his life and that's not including taking care of me.

I used to be proud of myself, I think. Maybe I just used to be less hateful toward myself. I had a real, significant income that helped us out. I mean, I was making double payments on our fertility treatments to get them paid down as quickly as possible. Now, I can't imagine what I could possibly do. 

I cry. I cry about all the things. I can't tell you what it will be about. I mean, I cried in public about Fish Oil. I cry at TV shows and movies. I cry taking a bite of dinner. I cry in bed while using my coloring app on my phone. I cry when I fail at something, like spilling something. I cry at moments of pride about Conner, so that's kind of an okay thing to choke up over. I cry.

Lately, I've been thinking that ECT fucked me up. That it made me worse. My anxiety leads to vomiting and diarrhea (TMI?). I don't remember that before. But, I don't remember a lot of things from that time. 

My avoiding messages and not being active on social media is not you, it's me. It is really me. I can't handle myself right now and so I can't handle things and people outside of myself. I'm sorry if that is hurtful, but truly, I mean it, it's no you, it's me.

I don't know when I'll be back. There is so much more to everything in my head than what I've written here. Too much, really. I need to figure things out.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Class is in session and my white ass is in attendance

I know a lot. I did well in school. What do I know the most? That I don’t know a lot. 

With all that has been happening for countless years to People of Color is, for me, something I only know the tip of the iceberg about. For me to know, for me to understand, the onus is on me to learn. I need to read. I need to watch. I need to listen. 

POC have been teaching me for years. Not holding a class and teaching me as their student in a classroom. They have given me every opportunity to read, watch, and listen and it’s up to me to take note. It’s up to me to join their journey, not as a leader, but as a follower as I continue to learn and then side-by-side, perhaps. Moving always while watching and listening. 

Listening is an important word. I use it instead of hearing. Hearing is passive. I can hear things without having to pay attention. When you listen, you are active; you are parsing the words being said. That is important. I can hear “Black Lives Matter” and it’s just three words, three sounds. When I listen to “Black Lives Matter”, I start to think about what that means. And, when I move from listening to learning, I come to understand what is meant by the phrase. Also, I learn just how many don’t understand. 

I’ve also learned that being “color blind” is not what many POC want to be told. When someone says they are “color blind” or “don’t see color,” it can be an attempt at trying to say we are equal; you are just like me. Well, the way of the world right now shows we are not equal, that’s the problem. And, even if we were living under circumstances showing us to be equal, we are not the same. I want my white, freckled skin to be seen just as I want my black freckled friend’s skin to be seen. The array of colors we have all evolved into should be celebrated, not supposedly unseen. 

Monday, June 1, 2020

Through my struggles, I can breathe. There's the difference.

It's been my experience that people who have a hard day or are struggling for some reason will tell me that they no it is nothing like what a live with regularly. Comparing struggles, I guess I would call it, is something I've touched on before. I try to tell them that my struggles don't minimize theirs, that struggles are relative. I try to really believe that. I have to admit, though, that there are times when I think, "IT'S A FUCKING HANGNAIL!" 

Lately, my struggles have been real. There's been major anxiety with physical manifestations. A lot of tears of both sadness and anger. Then some pretty high moments, for a little while, only to crash. So, I'm struggling and having a hard time listening to some people with theirs.

And then...I'm pretty sure events of the world are putting me in my place and saying, "You think you're struggling, well, hold my beer."

I turn on the TV, I go on social media and I'm overwhelmed. I see:

George Floyd.

Breonna Taylor.

Ahmaud Aubery. 

And so on.

And so on.

And so on.

Hate crimes toward all people of color.

Throughout the history of this country.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

No boundaries are set where anxiety goes

Things have been all over the place, still, since my last post. Lots of crying, some anger. Down and down with little up.

The other day I was so upset with dealing with passwords I bounced between tears and anger. I actually threw my phone. This, no matter what I'm feeling, has never been a thing. I can't think of a time when I've thrown something in anger.

Today, serious emotional hot messiness. I cried about going to the bank. This is something I do every week (going to the bank, not the crying about it). There is a branch that is more practical for me to go to than the one I already use. It is so dumb to cry over, but it was really stressing me out. Shawn was telling me just to keep going where I go. That it isn't so far that going to the other matters so much. It isn't worth the anxiety. He's right, but I want to be a grown-up. I want to not have these feelings of panic and stress over something that any normal person does everyday.

I've also been dealing with anxiety over things much larger than my small bubble of life. In my white, middle-aged woman life, I can go out with very little worries about my safety. It gets to be too much when I see vile treatment toward minorities. I feel like I should watch the videos. That I should see what happened because what happened was too much to be ignored. But, I also know the limits of my emotional and mental tolerance...

I woke up to the Christian Cooper/Amy Cooper video. The WHITE woman was in the wrong. The BLACK man felt the need to record the incident. This woman is a terrible person. She knew the power she has over a black man. The way she made the call and the escalation and exaggeration in that call should make all people angry. As a white woman, I need to look at this woman's behavior so as not to be complacent, to never let it happen in front of me. In this story, Christian Cooper is the very lucky survivor of what was   

There are the other racist actions...much worse results, but the racism is still racism. The names people should know are Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Racism buried them and many more. So many names should be listed here. These are the most recent in the news cycle that I get my news from. I can't imagine a life in which I have to fear the things that killed each of these people. My heart goes out to all of those who have lost people to the overwhelming evil that is racism.

Shawn wrote a great reflection on racism that I wanted to share:

"The word "racist" has done a lot of harm to white people.
No, not because it's hurtful or inaccurate or undeserved. It's harmed us because it lets us off the hook.
Most white people think of "racist" as a binary. Either you are one or you're not. That makes it really easy for us to form a very clear picture of what a racist is -- a Klan member, a Nazi, someone who uses racial slurs, etc. -- and proudly proclaim that we are not that. Who, me? I can't be a racist; I never use the "n" word!
Having absolved ourselves, we dust our hands and feel good about being so woke. There's no need for self reflection, no need for personal growth. We aren't that bad thing, so let's think about something more pleasant.
The problem is, no one is 100% free of racial biases (or gender, sexuality, class, or any other kind of bias). Biases are hammered into us from the day we're born by our friends and family, pop culture, religion, politicians, society itself. We spend our whole lives marinating in a soup of biases, some fairly benign, some decidedly not. So how could we avoid picking some of them up?
It's not enough to simply be "not racist". We have to do more; we have to dig deeper. We have to examine our biases honestly and work to educate ourselves. Because what is bias but applied ignorance? The only way to unlearn a bad lesson is to learn a good one. And there are plenty of good lessons out there, for those who are willing to learn.
Am I a racist? I try not to be, but it's a work in progress."

So, my anxiety knows no boundaries. Personal to worldwide issues, I will always find stressors. I'll have to figure some things out, but as Shawn says, "'s a work in progress."

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Anxiously anxious

The other day I had a phone appointment with my psychiatrist. I was telling her about my anxiety and the physical manifestations I've been having when it's at its worst. She asked when I'm feeling the anxiety. Shawn is in my appointments a lot of the time to give a realistic perspective. So, when she asked this, he said that I feel anxiety daily. Some level of anxiety is my baseline of existence. I told her that when it is higher than normal I have diarrhea. There are nights, maybe once a month, where I have both diarrhea and vomiting.

Here's the stream lately. Not knowing how to do certain technological things. Freaking out and needing Shawn to come help. Work - stress having me go from one extreme to another as far as roles and feeling deemed lesser. Money. We are okay, but not okay enough to be able to do remodeling and landscaping. People not wearing masks to protect others, especially when I'm wearing one to protect them. The president, always. A friendship I don't understand the status of and so I've withdrawn and am sick to my stomach regularly. Not feeling like I can do anything. Stressing over trying to practice mindfulness because my mind is full. So, my attempts to relax my way out of anxiousness have led me to greater anxiousness. I feel like I don't follow the rules of the experience, which misses the point, in a way.

So, what's next? Blood work. Results that will be used to determine what to do about my meds. Will my thyroid be the problem? Will my Lamictal level show that a change in that med is necessary? Will Paxil, in a very low dose, be added to help with the anxiety in addition to the Ativan I already take? Will that small dose of Paxil have the effect that it tends to have for Bi-Polar patients? So many questions. What will the answers be?

Excuse me while I go deal with my anxious stomach.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Just wear it

There are so many things going on right now. Things that are divisive. A different view on the handling of matters related to COVID. I have changed the way I do my job. My therapist and I have appointments over the phone. It seems like forever ago that we had an in office visit and who knows when we'll go back to them. I don't mind these things if they are going to keep Shawn, me and others safe.

Our life has changed in other ways. We were kind of homebodies before all of this, me more so than Shawn. It is kind of funny to me that being someone who stays home a lot was different when it was my choice, but when it had become a government order, I was a little annoyed. With all of this, we go out in public the least amount necessary and when we're out, it is for the shortest time needed to get things done. We wear our masks. Do I find them comfortable? No. But, I wear a mask to protect others from the chance I am infected. I wish those who don't wear them had the same consideration for us.