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…πŸ˜”.

It doesn’t matter where you’re going, it’s who you have beside you.

Almost a week out from our 12 hour flight to Hawaii, my favorite place on earth. I cannot wait. I wish I was in a position to never return to my reality here at home. When I say that I mean my job; day to day as I know it, relationships I have with certain people that drain my energy. Since I was little I always looked forward to going on vacations – any excuse to run away from difficult situations and my anxiety. 

That’s what I usually do. Situations that make me anxious drain my energy and the only way I recharge is when I escape. Otherwise the life gets sucked out of me and I feel like I’m drowning slowly and everyone is just standing around watching me screaming for help but not hearing me. Reaching for a hand but they turn a blind eye. The life drains out of my eyes and no one notices. 

My husband and I went to see Logan this morning at the movies. I try to avoid the movies at all costs because sitting still and being overstimulated for hours gives me more torture than pleasure (thanks GAD) but every so often I make an exception and suffer through it for a movie my husband really wants to see that I do too. For those of you who have seen it, Logan dies saving his daughter Laura. While Logan is taking his last breaths the two share an emotional moment where he pretty much tells her that he cares about her despite not showing her much love and emotion throughout the movie, even after finding out she is his daughter. So why am I telling you this? As the lights came on I realized I was sobbing. Yes, it was sad when Logan died but I think sub consciously I was thinking about my own relationship with my Dad. My Dad has a wall up with me, and visa versa. We don’t show emotion to eachother. We don’t interact like a father and daughter typically do. He doesn’t even really acknowledge me. Seeing Logan finally let his guard down with Laura made me so happy. How would she have felt living the rest of her life if he didn’t let her how he cared about her? Would she have regrets? Would she feel alone? They say actions speak louder than words; and I agree, but sometimes, especially when it isn’t obvious how one feels through action, words are necessary too.

Ok that was deep. Anyway, I have a busy week ahead at work as I prepare to be out of the office for almost 2 weeks. I have no back up so whatever I don’t finish will be waiting for me when I return. And that burden will be weighing on me the entire time I’m gone. Yay. 

Did I mention I can’t wait to get away? Oh and that I’m terrified of flying? That my anxiety is ruining my life? Well I am, it is. But I’ll get through it. Always do somehow some way. 

Oh and 4/9 is our 5 year wedding anniversary. Staying at the place we were married in Hawaii. ❀️

My cat has a growth on her ear and I’m afraid it’s something bad. This cat was there for me when no one else was. Send good thoughts her way that it’s nothing bad please! 😻

Have a great week. πŸ™…πŸ‘™πŸ¬πŸ πŸŒΊπŸŒ΄β˜€οΈπŸŒŠ

Sunday Blues

Sunday nights. Where anxiety takes over. Physically, I feel like crap. Mentally, I’m preparing for a crazy week at work. New management is making my work life difficult at the moment. A blizzard is on its way. 3 weeks until we leave for Hawaii. A normal person would be excited. All I can think about is what may go wrong. I feel like I have a cold, again. Daylight savings time kicked in and we lost an hour today. 

I’m trying really hard to be positive. On a positive note I went shopping at the outlet mall and went to Target at 1pm on a Saturday. You’re probably thinking – so what? For me that’s huge. I’ve avoided going out in public during peak times for years. I also went to Lowes and BJs today during peak time. Whhhaaaaatttt! 

Anyway, essential oils are helping me sleep better. Lavender, peppermint and lemongrass are my go to for the diffuser. If I’m having extra bad insomnia frankincense knocks me out but I feel kind of hung over them next day. 

I’m debating writing a book of poetry. Does anyone even read poetry anymore? I find writing so calming and I love poems. Maybe a novel would be better? πŸ€”

Time to give hubby a haircut. Sorry this post is so random.

Have a great week. πŸ™ƒ

“It’s time.”

“Ok, that’s it. I think it’s time that you see a Therapist…”. When he said the words my chest tightened and my eyes welled up with tears. How did I get to this point?

As my husband said those words to me I was disinfecting his phone as soon as he walked in the door. When I heard him pull into the garage I turned the water on in the kitchen sink so that it was warm when he walked into the house so that he could wash his hands right away before touching anything. I was sanitizing all of the door handles. I was sanitizing the kitchen faucet. I even sanitized the coffee cup that he brought into the house from a local coffee shop.

Truth is, I’ve been thinking the same thing lately. I realized that my OCD was getting worse when I started taking alternative routes to and from the ladies room at work so that I could wash my hands one extra time before getting back to my desk. I sanitize my hands after I touch anything. I had even gone as far as to sanitize the button and zipper on my pants because the thought of touching the stall door in the bathroom at work to lock it and then using the ladies room horrified me.

“You’re going to get sick, there’s no avoiding it.” “Hand sanitizer isn’t effective you know.” “You can’t live your life in fear like this.” Listen. To say things like that to someone who doesn’t have OCD and GAD it may be effective. You may be able to reason with them. There is no reasoning with me. If a study came out tomorrow that indicated that hand sanitizer didn’t kill germs I would still continue to use it.

This has affected my life in more ways that I could imagine. I avoid public places unless I absolutely need to go. I avoid children (not a kid person anyway but besides that they carry a host of germs). I avoid shaking hands if possible. I don’t touch door handles.I fear going out to eat because more than likely the kitchen in a restaurant is not up to my standards of cleanliness. When I look at things I can visualize the living organisms on them. I know this isn’t normal.

I’ve been to therapists before. Talking about my issues makes me really emotional because I feel unworthy, crazy, depressed, like I have no control over my thoughts and actions. Confronting the fact that you have mental health issues is never easy. Therapists have taught me anxiety coping mechanisms. They have also prescribed me drugs that have made my condition worse. I do not want to be medicated at this point and the thought of opening up about it is dreadful.

That night I had a major meltdown. I sobbed so hard I was hyperventilating. I didn’t feel worthy of love – although I know my husband is just trying to help, I understand his frustration. I couldn’t imagine being him in this situation. So I need to figure out what to do about it.

There are so many things going on in my life right now that are making me so anxious. There was a reorganization at work which has resulted in a lack of role clarity for me and a change in senior management which means more changes to come. I have a doctor’s appointment next week that I’m dreading during work hours. I have a coworker that isn’t speaking to me for reasons I do not know. I’m 20 lbs heavier than I would like to be and despite eating healthy and working out my weight isn’t budging. I have to somehow make it through a 12 hour flight (24 hours total) when I’ve become petrified of flying. I have to seal my countertops. I have to have some of the landscaping in front of my house re-done because large bushes and trees have died as a result of last years drought. My cats haven’t been to the vet in years and one of them has been peeing outside of the litter  box and the other has gained a substantial amount of weight and I think he may have diabetes (he gets diet food, I don’t know what else to do). My relationship with my Father is stressful. I fear the direction in which the country I live in is going – our President is a hot mess TV personality and doesn’t have a clue of what he is doing. The floors in my house need to be re-done. My bedroom needs to be painted. I need to sit through a 3 hour hair appointment and not freak out. I have to get blood work done every few months for a thyroid problem I have developed.

A normal person would read that and think it could be a lot worse. I agree. They may be thinking that’s not so bad – I do that all the time. So do I, but it keeps me up at night. It gives me high blood pressure. It gives me migraines. It depletes me of energy. It makes me tremble. It makes me cry. It makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me eat my feelings. Makes me unable to breathe. Makes me absolutely exhausted. 

Just needed to vent. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. 


 

Toodles 2016

2016 was a rough year. An anxious year. I struggled though most of it but managed to get by. I started a new job. I visited Cape Cod and Key West. We remodeled our master bathroom. I paid off my beauty school student loans (tough paying these, especially since I haven’t been doing hair for about 7 years). I survived getting blood work done (major anxious moment – I passed out last time). I lost a Grandma. Donald Trump was elected president (insane in my opinion).  I was sent to NYC for my first offsite work seminar (which was a nightmare). I hosted my parents for a week over the holidays and didn’t have a total breakdown (just partial). I survived several panic attacks over the past 365 days.

I’ve decided that 2017 will be the year of me. I’m going to start taking care of myself. Worrying more about myself. Not being as hard on myself. Making choices for my happiness. Doing things for me. I have GAD, depression and OCD. There is nothing that I can do to change that so why should I beat myself up over it? I’m tired of making excuses for my anxiety. It’s something I live with and struggle with everyday. Although I fight it to be a productive member of society I have limitations. This is not a choice. I do not take medication for it (nothing wrong with taking meds – I did for years). I’m not going to feel guilty for saying “no” if I don’t want to do something. I don’t think this is selfish. My anxious mind spends so much time worrying about others. Worrying about what they will think if I do certain things. If I don’t do certain things. Worrying about things I can’t control. We all have a duty to worry about ourselves because if we don’t, who will? This year I’m going to do my best to let go. If you don’t understand my mental illnesses and think I’m making excuses – educate yourself. 

This year I’m going to Hawaii (aka one of my favorite places on earth) for the 3rd time. I would love to live there but I’ve been unsuccessful in finding a job (why would they hire someone from NY?) so I’ll just have to retire there. I’m hoping my job turns around. The company is stable (unlike the last bank that I worked for) but the culture is horrible and my job duties have changed 3 times in the past 6 months so now I’m not really even doing what I wanted to do/was hired to do. I hope to have the floors in my house re-done (since I ruined them) and I hope to take many long weekend trips! Most of all, I’m going to try and stay as positive as possible despite all of the negativity in this world. Wish me luck!


 

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