Generation gaps are painful.

My Grandma is awesome. She’s been there for me my entire life, never forgets a birthday and we have a special bond. She lives in Florida now and I’m in New York so unfortunately we don’t see each other often. My Grandpa was a hard working family man who passed away about 5 years ago so my Grandma lives alone in their retirement community. I grew up idolizing my Grandparent’s marriage and relationship. My Grandpa suffered from debilitating anxiety, went through a rough time around 50 years old and retired early. He spent his entire life busting his ass at work so that his wife could stay home and raise their 3 children comfortably. He worked so hard that when his anxiety was too much to bare at 50 years old he retired early and my Grandma continues to live off of his earnings today (she’s 82 years old).

My husband and I just returned from Florida where we stayed with my Grandma for a week. I’m glad that I got to see my Grandma. We’ve always been close and every time after I see her now I think that it could be the last time. However, despite the fact that I know she’s a good person she said some things this past week that just hasn’t sat well with my husband or I. The only explanation I have for it is our generational gap. Let me explain.

This little old lady is nice to your face no matter who you are. It’s what she says behind closed doors that you would find appalling.

What I heard this week was racist. Hateful. Ungrateful. Without empathy. Towards all types of ethnicities. Sexual orientation. Gender.

People who know me know that I’m passionate about gender equality. That I judge people buy their actions and not what they look like. That I have a whole lot of empathy for those who are underprivileged. I’m not like this because of the way I was raised because I was raised by people who do not necessarily have these same values. I think I’m like this because of my generation. I’m a millennial who has grown up in an equality movement. My Grandma grew up when segregation was still a thing and you lived your life according to the Bible. You stayed at home and raised babies and made dinner instead of having a job or having a career.

Here are a few of the things that went horribly wrong this past week:

1. Grandma commented on every female’s appearance. “She’s hideous”, “she’s fat”. How about we judge people based on what’s on the inside, no?

2. Grandma insulted a gay couple that lives next door to her. She thinks they are bad people because they are gay. “I wonder what they do over there all day? Probably pile on top of each other – gross!”, “He likes men and that’s wrong”, “I bet they’re drug addicts and he picks up men at the gay bar”. My mother in law is gay. My poor husband listened to these insults all week and maintained composure until the end. A saint.

3. My Grandma blatantly does not like minorities. She says derogatory terms like “colored person”, tells me she doesn’t like Mexicans and says that if any of the women in my family ended up with a minority we would have been disowned. How awful is this thought process? My cousin married a Mexican woman and she’s lovely. She probably doesn’t know a minority personally. Ignorant.

4. My Grandma and I were watching the news one morning when she said “there are too many women reporting the news. This is a mans job. I like to get my news from a man behind the desk.” WHAT?! All of these things are horrendous. This one impacted me personally as a female who has a career and works hard to break that glass ceiling.

5. My Grandma never talked down on my Grandpa for having a mental illness until he passed away. Now she’s saying he was awful to deal with and she had to be his therapist for years and she’s happy he’s no longer with us. My Grandpa had awful anxiety. He treated my Grandma like a queen. Always. She had the best life because of him and he was always there for her when she needed him. When he needed her she was there, but resents him for it. Heart breaking.

6. My Grandma’s cousin married a man who lived a double life. He had 2 wives and had families with both. When her cousin found out she was horrified but stayed with him despite knowing he was involved in and supporting another family. Grandma said she had to stay and men just do what they want. My Mother was subjected to domestic violence by my Father. Despite that, my Grandma told her to stay with him. My Dad was beating the shit out of her daughter and she told her to stay with him. What??

7. I struggle with anxiety as well. My Grandma told my husband that he needs to beware of what is to come with me (thinking that I’ll follow in my Grandpa’s footsteps), telling him that I’m not confident. That I’m “mental”. Will be an “invalid”. My husband is my biggest fan and naturally came to my defense. That resulted in a heated exchange after which my Grandma told me that she thinks he’s “negative” and a “know it all”. That is not the case at all. No one knows how hard I fight.

People change with age. Experiences. Time. Truth is, that woman I grew up idolizing has always been this way. She’s just old now and doesn’t care about who she hurts or how she makes others feel.

I love my Grandma. But I’m disappointed in her lack of empathy and ignorance. I know there is nothing that you can do to make a 82 year old woman change her thought process. My husband tried.

What is interesting is that my Mom’s thought processes are between my Grandma’s and my own. I can only hope that the next generation continues to move in the right direction.

Love is love. We all bleed red. None of us are superior. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. Equal work equal pay.

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Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.

I have so many thoughts today. What I’m about to write will be really random (and just a few of them). I just feel like I need to get some stuff off my chest. After all, this is pretty much my online diary.

Thought #1: For most of my life I’ve felt alone. Alone in the sense that I don’t share or agree with the same beliefs, ideals and actions of most of those closest to me. One thing that I think we can all agree on is the fact that we’re all really passionate. This often results in conflict, distance or the “elephant in the room” effect where being together is just awkward. We are all pretty different; the only thing uniting us is blood and/or marriage. I think we can agree that we all care about and love each other to some extent. But that love isn’t enough to unite us. Instead we remain divided and some choose to take sides. This makes me really sad. It also triggers some self reflection. Here’s what I know:

  • I am selfless. There have been so many situations in my life where I’ve been able to set aside hurt feelings and differences for the greater good of something or someone else. Even if it results in further heartache for me. There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for the people I love, whether they realize it or not.
  • I’ve always been the bigger person. Sometimes this is exhausting. Apologizing even when you know you’re right. Reaching out to end an awkward silence. Struggling to stay silent on a controversial topic with a loved one because you value the relationship more than trying to convince them that they’re wrong. Supporting someone’s beliefs even if they differ from your own.
  • I always come from a good place. Sometimes I don’t tell you what you want to hear, but what I think you need to hear because I care about you and I think you may be headed down a wrong path. Typically my delivery gets me in trouble (I tend to be kind of blunt). I never say or do anything with the intent of hurting anyone’s feelings. I only say to others what I would hope they would say to me if necessary. I value honesty and facts.
  • I have a lot of empathy. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t let the same people hurt me over and over because I wouldn’t feel bad for them. However, we are all responsible for ourselves and our actions. Empathy is not always reciprocated (in my case, rarely). There comes a time when you have to come to terms with the way people are and protect yourself; despite understanding why they may be the way they are. We are all the way we are due to circumstance but we all can choose to be the people we want to be. I’m living proof of that.

Thought #2: My (new) boss of 8 months just tendered his resignation. Although he’s been my boss, I’ve been doing his job for the past year and a half at a pay grade 2 levels lower than him. He quit because he couldn’t handle the stress and demands of the job. Even though I was doing his job prior to him starting at my company, I wasn’t considered for the position due to “lack of experience” also known as age. Despite the fact that during my performance reviews I’ve always exceeded expectations (which I should be, seeing as how I’m a grade 11 doing a grade 13 job). The man they hired to do the job had 30 years of experience opposed to my 10, and he failed to meet one deliverable in 8 months. I’ve met all deliverables. So here is the dilemma: once they realized they hired a dud to do the job, they began to think that maybe I should’ve been given the opportunity. Now that he’s given his resignation, rumor has it I’ll be offered the job.

But not at a grade 13, a grade 12. Not 8 months ago, but now. Not before they hired a retirement aged man to do the job instead of 30 year old female me. This isn’t a job I love doing. It’s a job that allows me the ability to travel and live my life a certain way. So if I do get “promoted” to a 12, I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing. But I’m extremely jaded. I’ll never forget what this company did to me. And I’ll continue to look for a new job.

Thought #3: I am stronger than my fears. For those of you that don’t know, I have generalized anxiety disorder. There are certain triggers that give me anxiety but I also generally have anxiety all the time for reasons I can’t explain. In terms of triggers, leaving the house and air planes give me a lot of anxiety. Despite that, I travel via air plane at least once a year and leave the house for days if not weeks at a time. I have a fear of public speaking and confrontation, and despite that I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and possibly take on more of that if I happen to get promoted as anticipated (because although I’m doing more than my current boss now, if I get promoted they’ll expect even more out of me). I do my best to not let my mental illness define me. Those of you who struggle know how hard that is. For those of you who don’t, try to have some empathy and just imagine.

Thought #4: I just got back from 5 days of vacation in the Bahamas. It was great to get away. Unfortunately, due to the anxiety described in thought #3 above, I stress ate while we were there and gained back 6 of the 8 lbs I lost before we left! It took me 2 months of eating healthy and hours of working out to lose 8 lbs and in 5 days and 4 nights I managed to gain 6 lbs back. Damn it!!!!!

Thought #5: The Walking Dead returns tonight and since I just returned from vacation and tomorrow is Monday, I need something to look forward to. Anything that distracts me from reality is great.

And those are some of my current thoughts. Overall my soul feels heavy today. But it’s 50 degrees out and the sun is trying to shine through the clouds. It’s up to me to try and make it a great day. ☀️

Perspective

This time of year is always pretty depressing for me. I currently don’t have a relationship with my Father or my Mother. My seasonal depression starts to kick in and I start stressing about those 10-15 lbs that I would like to lose by Spring. I start questioning my job and whether or not I’m really happy or content.

2 days ago I got into my first car accident. I got caught up at work and left an hour and a half later than I should have. I was side swiped at 60 mph on the thruway by a car full of men who didn’t speak English. After they hit me they tried to flee but traffic was backed up and when they realized there was nowhere that they could go they finally pulled over.

We were blocking the left lane of a 3 way highway during a high traffic time. I immediately went into panic mode and began to have a horrible anxiety attack. 3 of the men got out of the car and started circling my vehicle. The other tried to communicate with me but he knew no English and I didn’t know any Chinese. Once we stopped I called the police. The Officer was so good with me considering I was hyperventilating and convulsing uncontrollably. My glove box popped open when I was hit, it was dark and I couldn’t find my registration or insurance card. When I finally did find the documents I was shaking so bad I dropped them several times. The Officer was so patient and kind to me. After talking with us both (or attempting to talk with them) he indicated that it was clear by the damage that the accident was the other driver’s fault. He wrote them a ticket, gave me the accident report and we all were able to drive away at that point.

Perspective. This accident could have been A LOT worse. I may not have parents that I can call when things in my life go array, but I have a loving supportive husband that I got to come home to who comforted me as I continued to convulse for 3 more hours after the accident. Who called the insurance company and is working with them to get my car fixed. Who is there for me through thick and thin.

Do I still need to lose those 10-15 lbs? Yes. Do I love my job? No, but it pays my bills and allows my husband and I to go on vacations. Am I truly happy? Well, yes. Although I struggle with anxiety and depression, I’m alive today and my life could be so much worse.

Sometimes when we are feeling low we get a wake up call and change our perspective. Sometimes when we have a mental illness we lose sight of that perspective quicker than others. But we continue to fight the good fight and look for the positive. We continue to keep our heads up. Life is a roller coaster and I’m along for the ride.

30

Welp, it happened. I turned 30. 

I feel like I did on the last day that I was 29. Nothing has changed. Besides my outlook on life, which changes every year.

The older I get the less I care about what others think of me. The less I feel bad about ridding toxic people from my life. The more I want to see the world. The more comfortable I get in my skin. The less I hesitate to speak my truth. The more I stand up for what I believe in. 

One thing that I know for sure is that life is short. These past 30 years went by really quick. We need to make them count. ❤️

Siiiggghhhh….

“Wash your hands”, “did you touch that?”, “here use this hand sanitizer”. What is life like when you’re married and you have generalized anxiety disorder and OCD? Horrible.

My husband gets frustrated. I get it, I do too. I would too if I was living with someone paranoid; directing me to wash my hands after touching certain door handles (although they’ve already been sanitized), touching my wallet or my phone (also already sanitized). 

I was a child that grew up outside playing in the mud. Showering was done but not because I necessarily wanted to. Touching everything. Eating everything. Not thinking about germs. I’ve always struggled with generalized anxiety disorder but not OCD. Until about 4 years ago. Every time I left the house and came back or touched the door handles going into the house I’d have to wash my hands. I’d always wash my hands before cooking which was normal for me but back then I could do it and then touch the tv remote, my phone etc. As time progressed I started over analyzing the things I touched after I washed my hands and determining that those needed to be sanitized. Now I find myself sanitizing my car at the end of every week after getting gas. Door handles in the house that are used when we go in and out. Faucets. Phones. Coffee cups that come in from the outside. Remote controls. The garage door opener/closer. Even the recliner handles.

How did it get to this point? I used to never even think about this stuff. What is wrong with me? I have a theory. 

I think sanitizing is an outlet for my anxiety. What I mean by that is I used to get debilitating panic attacks for years. I still get them now and then but as my OCD routines have gotten worse my panic attacks have gotten better. The generalized anxiety is always there but the full blown take me to the ER panic attacks have subsided. Is this a possible? I have no idea – but the coincidence is odd. 

The OCD makes it challenging to live. Leaving the house is a chore knowing that I have to come home and do my routine every time I do. Spending the night at other places besides my home (hotel rooms, relative’s houses, etc.) is horrifying. Airplanes make me want to gag. I love traveling, but this makes it so much harder. I stock up on hand sanitizer and use it constantly while flying. I’m probably a few flights away from bringing wipes and sanitizing the area that we sit in (I already bring them for hotel rooms we stay in).

My husband has become very understanding and supportive of me having GAD over the years; mostly thanks to therapy. But he has a hard time with the OCD. I can’t say I blame him. I’m not sure I could be married to someone like this if I was on the other side. “Just stop doing it – what’s so hard about that?!” Dude – you have no idea. Funny thing is he acts like I like living this way. I feel like I’m trapped in a mind telling me to do things that I cannot control. Telling me we’re going to get violently ill if I don’t sanitize. Giving me horrible anxiety until I go through my routines. Not the life I want to live either. 

So where do we go from here? The OCD gets progressively worse as time goes on. Would I trade it for the panic attacks I used to get? If I don’t sanitize it will give me panic attacks. What’s worse? 

If you don’t suffer with any of these mental illnesses I can only imagine what you’re thinking: this chick is crazy. But hear me out. I have a college degree. A full time job that pays well. I own a home. I have pets. A husband. I pay taxes. I’m fortunate to be able to contribute to society in some way. If you look at me on the outside you may never know how bad I’m struggling inside. Most people that find out I struggle with this look at me wide eyed; saying they could never tell. I walk amongst everyone else with a smile although inside I feel like I’m being gutted. I’ve learned to live with this and it hasn’t been easy. You never know what someone is going through. 

As for my husband, I feel so much guilt. We’ve been married 5 years; together 12. My mental illness has progressed steadily over those 12 years, mostly since we’ve been married. Is it fair for us to be together? For him to have to put up with my antics. This isn’t what he signed up for – or is it? If it were him how would I react? There are so many things going through my mind right now. He’s started to give me a hard time about it and is borderline becoming unsupportive. “In 10 years you won’t be able to work or leave the house at this rate”. Maybe he’s right. My heart breaks every time I’m forced to think about the reality of the situation. This sucks. Anyone else going through this and if so, how do you cope?

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! 

Self reflection.

Well, Hawaii was amazing as usual. Lots of hikes, volcano views, waterfalls, beaches and awesome weather. Celebrated 5 years of marriage to my husband and ate way too much. I also had some realizations. 

1. Vacations are necessary. Always. For someone who struggles with mental health issues, getting a break from the daily grind and going somewhere where I don’t have to worry about doing anything is the only thing that eases my mind a little. I find that I do less worrying and more reflecting and I think that’s important. 

2. Dreams are good to have but they need to be realistic. Since the first time I went to Hawaii in 2012 I’ve wanted to live there. I’ve applied for jobs there and we have gone back for vacations but the reality is that it’s an expensive place to live and I can’t move there without a job. That said, a realistic goal may be to retire there and continue to go on vacations there every few years. I just need to come to terms with that.

3. You are not a bad person if you let go of people that hurt your soul. This one is complicated. Let’s just say that I have a Father that doesn’t really want me in his life but pretends to others like he does thus making me look like the bad guy despite the fact that he never talks to me. I’ve tried for years to get his approval, his love, shit even his acknowledgement to no avail. I’ve spent a lot of time and tears dwelling on this relationship. One night while in Hawaii I found myself laying awake in bed, listening to the waves and reminiscing on the past and the present state of things with my Father. That was when I decided it was time to just let go. Breaks my heart but it is what it is and I’m walking away knowing that I gave an honest effort. 

4. Finding your passion and making it your job is a must. I’m dreading returning to my job as a compliance officer at a regional bank. I’m not passionate about being a compliance officer working in banking. I don’t look forward to going to work everyday; in fact, I dread it. I have so many anxious sleepless nights and moments of frustration during the work day that it consumes me. But what am I passionate about? Nothing that will allow me to make similar money and continue to live the lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to. Good news is I make an honest living doing something I’m not ashamed of. Bad news is I have no sense of fullfilment. I hope one day it comes to me.

5. My body and mind has changed a lot in the past 5 years, and that is ok. We were married in Hawaii in 2012 and went back to he same resort we were married at for our anniversary. In 2012 my new hubby and I went out to dinner at a nice waterfront restaurant and the waiter took a picture of us. I thought it would be fun to take an identical picture at this restaurant 5 years later, until I saw the picture afterwards and compared them. What did I see? Well my husband is still very handsome. The scenery is still beautiful. But when I looked at myself I felt sad. In the 2012 picture I was thinner, had way less anxiety, looked more attractive and overall my happiness was visible in my face. 2017 me was heavier in the face, had bags under her eyes, looked exhausted, and although the happiness was still visible in my face at that time I lost my spark. After reflecting some more, I’ve been through a lot in the past 5 years. Too much to share in this posting. 2012 me was in her early 20s, still getting a grip on adulthood and making immature decisions (like running away to Hawaii and eloping with my boyfriend of 7 years when we had no money). 2017 me is established, responsible, and more mature. And I have the emotional scares to prove it. My mental state is different. I don’t look bad in the 2017 photo. It’s just who I am now. And In another 5 years I will look even more different. I need to be ok with that. 

6. Facing your fears is necessary, even when your anxiety tells you there is no way you can do something. Listen. I have GAD, OCD and depression. I live in a constant state of fear. Fear of flying, fear of driving, even fear of being at work. But in order to live I need to face those fears every single day. I’ve been to Hawaii 3 times now. I live in NY. It’s anywhere from a 12-14 hour flight not including layovers. For someone who hates flying, being in the air that long and having to take 3 flights to get somewhere is the worst. I drive myself absolutely crazy the entire month leading up to a trip where I have to fly. But no matter how much I hate it I push myself because if I didn’t I wouldn’t have the memories. The experiences. I wouldn’t be living. Honestly most of the time I surprise myself when I fly. Yes, I have panic attacks pretty much constantly but at the end I’m amazed by how strong I can be when I’m really determined. And for that, I am proud of myself.

Now I just need to adjust to being in the eastern time zone again and get the sleep I need to be productive on my first day back in the office on Monday. If only I could keep this anxiety at bay…😔.