They say, “time heals everything”, but I’m still waiting…

Exhaustion. Fatigue. The result of prolonged anxiety. I’ve definitely been in a rut since returning from Hawaii. Work has been busy, now that Spring is here my yard is in need of an overhaul and Hallmark holidays are coming up that I dread. One in particular – Father’s Day. 

A reminder of my non-existent relationship with my Father. A reminder of the resentment I hold. A reminder of how much I wish things could be different. Usually for these holidays we spend time with my in-laws since my Mom and Step Dad live out of town. Lately spending time with anyone but my Husband or leaving the house in general is a real drag. Perhaps another sign that I need to make some changes in my life.

Other things on my mind: my cat still has a growth on her head, need to call the vet tomorrow. Feeling guilty for asking to work remote tomorrow despite the fact my boss(s) said it was ok. Stressed about the volume of work that I need to do. Need to finish removing shrubs from my gardens. Need to pick out new shrubs and order mulch. I understand a lot of this is “first world problems” or to some people not really problems at all but when you have generalized anxiety disorder all of these “to-dos” are overwhelming. I also really need to lose weight and stop eating my feelings. 

I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. I like to write – it distracts me from my self and is a good outlet for me creatively. After weeks of thinking about the storyline of my book I had a dream Saturday night that wrote my book for me. I tend to like twisted books and movies and always pictured myself writing a twisted novel or a self help book for others struggling with my mental disorders. Looks like someone else made the decision for me. Now to find time to write…

Hope everyone has a great week! 

Be positive they said, things will get better they said. 

If you live in America and did not vote for Trump to be your president, chances are you wake up everyday with a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety. Add to that Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), depression and OCD and you have yourself quite a mess. People who do not normally feel anxiety are feeling it right now. Although this is only Trump’s first week in office, he’s managed to divide the country even further, provoke fear where unnecessary, provide “alternative facts” to the public and threaten human rights. I can’t imagine living in a country like this for the next 4 years and to even think that way is heartbreaking. I don’t have much hope for the Trump administration. 

On another note the reorganization happened at work. I now have the same boss but a different reporting line, which I think will be better. Hopefully the culture of my department will shift from negative to positive. 

We are going to Hawaii in 9 weeks. Can’t come soon enough. With all the chaos going on I just want to run away from reality. When I’m there I feel free from the burdens and restraints of my life back at home. The scenery is calming. The smell takes me away. I plan on turning off my phone while we are there and not looking at social media. 

They say history repeats itself. That is proving to be true. I’m not really a person of faith so I can only hope that everything will work out. I haven’t posted in a little bit because I feel like a Debbie downer lately. I don’t know how to even end this post on a high note. Blah. 

Be a good human. ✌️❤️

Suspense

I’m paralyzed. Feeling bound and gagged. Blurry vision. Sweating. My heart is pumping fast, I’m gasping for air. “Am I having a heart attack?” My body feels tingly. All of my muscles are constricted. My eyes are wide and overstimulated. It’s taking everything I have to not to cry or scream. I’m being choked by something invisible. I want to surrender but I have no control over my mind or body. I can’t focus on anything in particular but my mind is racing. My body wants me to stay still but my brain wants me to fight. I’m feeling doomed and defeated, spiriling out of control. I would do anything to make it stop.

My breathing begins to slow. My heart beat is calming down. My body feels like it weighs 1000 lbs. My throat hurts.  I can’t form a coherent thought. I can’t keep my eyes open. My muscles begin to slowly un-tense, leaving behind knots that will undoubtedly give me a headache soon. I don’t want to be around anyone. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I just want to be alone.I’m completely exhausted and depleted of energy.

Alone I am, traumatized by what I just experienced. I hate when this happens. “Why me?!” I think to myself. “What caused this?!” – a question I never have an answer to. Most of the time it just happens. Knowing it can happen at anytime, I have altered my lifestyle. I don’t leave the house much. I don’t go anywhere without a plan. I avoid certain people and situations. I get lost in the depressing realization of my reality and get down on myself. I don’t deserve anything I have in life, even the things I work hard for. I’m not worthy of love in any form. I’m cheating my husband of a good life with a “normal” wife. I could go on. I obsess over everything. Even create problems when there are none.

These are feelings that I have almost daily. Sometimes provoked, oftentimes unprovoked. This is life with generalized anxiety disorder, depression and OCD. This life is hard. This life takes a lot of courage. This life takes a lot of strength. This life is exhausting.

 

 

NYC Adventure

It’s been a crazy few weeks. Lots of stress at work. My employer sent me to NYC for a conference. I have family coming into town. My anxiety has been horrible, and now I have a bad cold.

My boss’s boss’s boss told my boss that I’ve been a “trooper” and asked if I would be interested in going to this conference in NYC that was relevant to the project that I have been working on. Since traveling gives me such anxiety and NYC is drivable from where I live, I reluctantly said “yes”, thinking that at least I don’t have to fly. I signed up to go and my husband drove with me to NYC.

We arrived in NYC on a Monday night, the conference was on Tuesday. We walked around the city and had a blast. NYC is so beautiful at this time of year. Last time I had the opportunity to tour NYC I had a panic attack sitting in traffic and told my husband that I couldn’t get out of the car. This time I convinced myself that doing that wasn’t an option. We saw Times Square, the tree at Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station and the holiday display at Saks 5th Avenue. The streets were crowded and at times I left claustrophobic, but I kept going. I was able to push past any anxiety that was trying to take over and distract myself from the pounding in my chest, dizziness in my head and sweat on my back.

Around 9:30pm we got back to our tiny hotel room. We both wore the wrong footwear to put in so many steps but it was worth every blister. The room had 2 beds, both of which had broken box springs and missing sheets. My employer wanted to put us up in a nicer place but this place was closer to the conference and I would’ve rather walked there than taken a cab. No bed bugs – a win!

Then the anxiety sets in that I had been pushing back all day. The car ride was about 6.5 hours. It is really hard for an anxious person to sit still for that long. All the anxiety that I held back as we walked around the city for hours came rushing to me. I was nervous about the conference – I had never been to a conference before so I didn’t know what to expect. When I registered for the conference I was told that it was an exclusive event. That made me a little nervous, but I thought I had to be one of at least one hundred people attending this event, right?

I think I slept about 2 hours that night. Between the anxiety and the road noise I was doomed. I got up and went into the shower and started getting ready. My husband planned on walking around the city while I was in the conference for half of the day so he started to slowly get ready as well. We decided to get breakfast before he walked me to The Harvard Club, which was where the conference was. When we got there, I told him to wish me luck and I headed in.

I checked in with the front desk and they told me that my event was on the second floor. I get into the elevator and hit “2” with my sweaty hand. I get off of the elevator and proceed to the registration desk. I sign in and they give me a name tag and tell me to go down the hall. That was when I walked into the conference room.

There were tables in the shape of a “U”. Each seat had a microphone. As I looked around the room I saw accomplished banking professionals that were way above my pay grade, and my age group. Mostly men. There were only about 40 seats in the room. I found a seat close to the door and began to look at the materials in front of me. I glanced down at the agenda and saw “Introductions”. My heart skipped a beat and I immediately started having an anxiety attack. “Why would they send me here?” “I can’t do this”. In that moment I forgot my name, my job, my career experience. These were all senior leaders who were looking to network and share industry experiences.

I looked down at the materials and decided that I couldn’t do it. I put the materials into my bag, didn’t make eye contact with anyone in the room and walked out to the elevator. Thank God it was open and going down. I got in, closed the door right away and went down. Struggling to breathe, I walked briskly into the NYC street and took a few deep breaths. “I should really go back up there” “This could be career suicide” “What if my company finds out that I didn’t attend after they paid for me to come here?” “What if I accidently gave proprietary company information?” “How do I introduce myself after 40 people who have been in the industry for 30 years and maintain credibility with them?” “Why would they send me to an exclusive event meant for senior leaders?” My brain was flooded with thoughts. I decided not to go back in. I called my husband in tears and told him to meet me back at the hotel. Worried, he said that he would be right there. We went up to the hotel room and I sobbed, realizing that I don’t think I’m cut out for the path my career is taking me. I’m a hard worker but I like to be behind the scenes. My anxiety doesn’t allow me to be extroverted, to be social, to network, to travel to unfamiliar places, to appear confident even when I’m not.

After my meltdown my husband assured me that I would get through this like I get through everything. We checked out of the hotel, got in the car and headed home. The entire car ride home I had panic attacks thinking about what I was going to say if my coworkers or boss asked me how the conference was. I began to study the materials given so that I was prepared to answer questions and realized that it was really just a networking event for senior leaders. I don’t think I missed too much.

The moral of this story is that if you suffer from an anxiety disorder shit is going to happen. I push myself through extremely difficult situations all the time to get through life like a “normal” person. It’s not always going to work out. I’m feeling really guilty about it but I’m human and I have limitations that are beyond my control.

On the bright side, I had a nice night in NYC with my husband. I did get through walking several blocks in huge crowds. Spending time in a crowded room. Lived through being overstimulated by noise and lights. Rode elevators several times. The little things that are so normal for the average person that I struggle with so much. These were big steps for me.

I need to start giving myself a break. I’m a perfectionist. I have to be the best at everything. I have to hide my anxiety at all times. I can’t let anyone see that I struggle. Well this is my reality. It’s easier said than done, but I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Unlike many other things in my life, having generalized anxiety disorder, depression and OCD are things that I can’t control. There are things I can do to better manage it, but I can’t fully control it. Now I just need to focus on getting rid of this cold and facing my next challenge – entertaining my parents at my house for 5 days. Continue reading

Loner

It’s about 5am. I’ve been awake for hours, tossing and turning. Thoughts going wild. One thought in particular. 

My husband’s friend came over last night to help him tile our new master bathroom. After we ate dinner, I decided to go grocery shopping to get it out of the way for the weekend, thinking that it would be slow. Slow grocery store = less anxiety attacks. When I returned I brought in all the groceries them went back out to my car to grab my purse. I was wearing my “yard flip flops” or so I call them (OCD much?) and I usually leave those on my back deck. So purse in hand, I walk up the stairs to the back deck which so happens to next to the master bathroom window and I peak inside to see their progress. My husband sees me with my purse and asked “where are you going?” to which I jokingly replied “ladies night – see ya” to which his friend replied “I didn’t know you had friends!”. 

I know he was joking. I’ve known him for years now and he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. But why is this comment bothering me so much? Why am I tossing and turning all night thinking about what he said and why? Then it dawned on me.

Every time I see him it’s at my house and I’m always home (I am a home body). He’s always helping my husband with a house project he’s working on, usually after work on a week night or during the weekend, when I get all my house “stuff” done. My husband sees him out socially here and there with things he’s involved in. I don’t. I don’t really have people over to my house because entertaining gives me anxiety. Truth is, the older I get the more people I shave off my friends list. I don’t have time for the drama or people who don’t care to understand me. Life is easier for me with a smaller circle. It’s less stressful. So why am I upset about the comment?

I think because once upon a time I had a lot of friends and acquaintances. I had a social life. I was happy. I was also young without the stresses of being an adult. I had time for drama then. I also didn’t have the anxiety I have now. Or the OCD, or the depression. I didn’t wake up everyday looking for strength to get myself through. I didn’t think twice about leaving the house and going somewhere crowded. Didn’t think twice about having that extra drink. The thought of washing my hands after being out in public touching everything when I got home didn’t cross my mind (sounds crazy but when you have OCD, this is serious). 

Truth is that I miss those days more than I can express. I wasn’t a prisoner in my own mind. I didn’t care about what people thought. Now I operate out of fear, a fear that I can’t even justify half of the time. Now I care about how people view me because I view myself as as a person with a disability. An invisible illness that no one seems to understand. That I try to hide so well (and most people say that I do). 

My lifestyle now works for me as I am today. Being a home body and having a small inner circle gives me less anxiety. At home I don’t have to hide. Don’t have to fake a smile. The few friends I have I can relate to in some way and they provide me comfort. I don’t aim to please, I don’t care how popular I am, I don’t compete with anyone. Truth is, I don’t care. The older I get the more content I am with myself and who I am. The more I care about what I have to do to be at peace with myself. 

I digress. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. Not even you 😜. Had to get that off my chest though. Going to try to get a few more minutes of sleep otherwise I have a long, even more anxious day ahead of me….😩

To those who have stuck by me….thank you ❤️

Mental Illness and Violence 

My mind is racing. I’ve been glued to my television for the past 30 minutes watching coverage of the devastating shooting at an Orlando gay club. As I listened to patrons of that club give their accounts of what happened, my heart began to race. I started to break out into a light sweat and I began to get dizzy, at which point I realized that I was holding my breath. For some reason, despite how watching the coverage was making me feel, I couldn’t shut it off.

Hate in any form is horrible. This particular mass shooting and the shooting that occurred at the South Carolina church about a year ago particularly hits closer to home for me and makes me think. My Mother In Law is a lesbian. My Father In Law is a pastor. As happy as I was when my Mother In Law finally came out as her authentic self, I began to fear for her. How will she be treated? Will people continue to be kind to her? Can she really live the way she wants to and not fear what could be in store for her? Luckily, my Father In Law has faith on his side so he is less likely to worry about things like this.

This could happen anywhere, to anyone. Are we ever really safe? I’m starting to think we’re not. As someone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I understand that I tend to focus on what could possibly go wrong in any given situation. But the truth is, even people who do not struggle with this disorder are probably starting to do the same these days. Everyday we are hearing about senseless shootings and unthinkable hate. What does our future hold?

Something I have a really hard time hearing is that these gunman are mentally ill. Could they have had mental issues? Sure. But I think the media using the term “mentally ill” is really setting us back in terms of ending the stigma around mental illness. Not all mentally ill people are looking to shoot up a club or inflict pain and suffering on people. How is someone like me supposed to not feel ashamed of having a mental illness if people tie it to rampages such as this? I’ve been clinically diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression. The truth is, I would hurt myself before I would EVER hurt anyone around me. Stranger or not. (No, I’m not going to hurt myself, I’m just trying to make a point).

So I’m really struggling today. Not to mention I have the Sunday blues (why does the weekend go by so fast?) and my awkward in-laws are enroute to my house for a cook out. (It’s chilly and very windy – yay). Then I think about what I have going on this week at work and what is going on in the world right now it makes me really sad. Sad for the victims, sad for the world, and sad for humanity. I don’t think taking gun privileges away from law abiding citizens is going to help anything. If there is a will there is a way, and people who commit these awful acts will find a way to get their hand on a weapon regardless. They don’t care about what legal or what is right. This country will fall apart if we do not unify and stand up for what is right, regardless of our religious, political or sexual affiliations. Not to get too political, but I really hope the American people really think about who they are voting for in this election. Have you seen the tweet Trump sent out this Morning about the Orlando shooting? Enough said. (PS – I’m also not a Hilary fan, BUT as a woman I am proud to see her shattering ceilings for us)

Hold your loved ones a little tighter tonight, and spread the LOVE. ❤️💛💚💙💜

It’s time to get back up.

I want so bad to write a positive blog post about how I overcame my anxiety and conquered the day. But I can’t, because I didn’t. In fact, I was up all night tossing and turning thinking about how hard today was going to be at work. How hard it was going to be to hide the bad anxiety I was feeling from the rest of the world. How hard it was going to be to focus. How hard it was going to be to sit at my desk all day while this adrenaline flowed through my body. How hard it was going to be to keep it together in front of my coworkers for 9 hours.

Then the morning came and I decided that I wasn’t strong enough to endure all of that today. I just don’t have it in me. This weekend was rough. It took everything that I had on Saturday to go grocery shopping. Sunday we were supposed to go to my Father In-Law’s for dinner but I convinced my husband that inviting him over to our house next weekend for dinner would be better because it’s closer to Father’s Day and he wouldn’t have to cook. Truth is that I just couldn’t handle going over there and I didn’t want him to have to go alone and explain to everyone why I wasn’t there (they don’t know that I struggle with debilitating anxiety) so he would lie and I don’t want him to lie to his family over me. After being so high strung this weekend, this morning I had to listen to my body tell me that I can’t be strong anymore. That I needed to recuperate mentally.

When I texted my boss and told her that I wasn’t feeling well and needed to stay home (I can’t tell her I struggle with GAD, then she will likely think that I’m weak and cannot handle my job, which may or may not be the case thanks to the stigma surrounding mental illnesses), she told me no problem, feel better. I snickered to myself after reading that text. I would do anything to feel better. I think I have tried everything there is to try (within reason) to help the symptoms. Whether I’m home or not, this dreaded anxious feeling does not go away. It’s just easier to manage when I’m in the comfort of my own home opposed to being in the office. I’ve been at this new job not even 2 months, and I’ve already had to use 2 PTO days because of my anxiety. I’m supposed to be getting a lap top so that I can work remotely when needed, which should help as long as my boss continues to be flexible with me. I’m hard working and I have good work ethic, but I need a job that is flexible due to my diability. So now I’m home, disconnected from work and trying to get myself to relax. Feeling guilty about not being at work for the reasons above. Reasons that I simply cannot control no matter how hard I try.

I suppose that I can end this post on a positive note. This morning when I rolled over and told my husband that I didn’t think I could do today his response was “Then don’t, take care of you”. He didn’t make me feel useless or worthless like I was making myself feel. He didn’t judge me. Living with mental illness is really tough, but it is easier when you have a good support system. I don’t know what I would do without my husband and a good friend who also struggles with anxiety that I can talk to without feeling judged. For them, I am grateful. ☀️ 

Here’s to tomorrow…