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Life Interrupted

7 Aug

“No excuses!” life shouts at me.

“But…you see-”

“NO EXCUSES!” society shouts, cutting me off.

And there is my excuse.

“You keep saying you’re cleaning your house but…” they say as they wave their hand to note the piles of crap everywhere, waiting for the final sorting and putting away phase.

“You keep saying you’re going to lose weight but…” they say as they eye my not-decreasing waistline and the cake in my hand.

“You keep saying you’re a writer but…” they say as they imply that I’ve yet to be published.

“Well…you see-”

They interrupt me. “NO! NO EXCUSES! JUST DO IT!”

And therein lies the problem.

My life is a series of being interrupted. Not only that, but Maura’s latest thing is to start a show, watch five minutes of it, and then switch to another show, watch three minutes of that, switch to another show, watch 27 minutes of that and flip shows five times in five minutes. I already have a list of things to do that’s a mile long and now I have to figure out how to break Maura of her tv addiction. And yet I have curtains that I need to hem that have been sitting there for six weeks but I can’t do those yet because we rearranged Maura’s room and in doing so, she got into all the stored winter clothes, so someone moved them all into the laundry room and started washing the already clean clothes, so now I have to finish that, but I also need to wash my clothes because it’s been so hot here that I haven’t been doing laundry because I’ve been avoiding turning on the dryer. But I also need to get Maura out of the house, but I also need to go grocery shopping, but Maura and grocery shopping don’t always mix. I could have groceries delivered, but that costs extra money and I’m trying to be thrifty. But then we have no food and so I end up ordering pizza, which is not a healthy diet food, and at that point, I just don’t care.

And then, because of all this, I have to get down on myself for having the messy house, the disorganized life, the lack of writing, the lack of weight loss. Then I start feeling I can’t do the “fun” things like writing or sewing because I need to do the cleaning or the laundry, but I really don’t want to those, but I feel like I should, and then I end up not doing either thing and just surfing the internet feeling overwhelmed, or reading and ignoring the mess around me. Which is a step up from laying in bed binge watching shows.

I’m overtired, overwhelmed, and overweight. I am, apparently, also my own worst critic. My new therapist has named her Mean Phoebe, and Mean Phoebe is actually quite mean. She is comprised of all the people who have been over-critical and not accepting enough of me throughout my life. I need to work on that as well.

I keep forgetting to though because people keep interrupting me to shout “NO EXCUSES!” Or to fix the batteries in the remote. Or put Maura’s hair in a pony tail yet again, even though I put it in a pony tail ten minutes ago, and she keeps pulling it out just for me to redo it. On top of normal daily interruptions.

And to be honest – being super busy just isn’t my style. I need down time. Probably because with Maura, I always have to be on.

My life is chaotic in ways others don’t understand. It’s normal chaotic family life topped with the unpredictability of life with Maura. I crave organization these days. If everything is organized, then maybe I can stop having to choose between cleaning and writing. Maybe if everything was organized and hidden away, Maura would stop pulling everything out and depositing it all over the house. If everything is organized, maybe the visual of neatness will bring order to my brain. I walked through Ikea the other day and all those little show rooms, where everything was laid out just right and shelves were full of little boxes of things organized….it was so tantalizingly delicious.

Reality is, I could be all Kon Mari organized and Maura will still create a mess. I will still be interrupted. Laundry would still be backed up. But at least I’d look like I had my shit together, and that’s something, right?

But I have to start. And starting is hard. Especially when Mean Phoebe is muttering about how we’re just a slob, we’ve been a slob our whole life.

And society yells “NO EXCUSES!”

And I flip off both society and Mean Phoebe, and start a list. Not a bullet journal. Not a 40 bags in 40 days challenge. Just a list. A little list. Do my laundry. Do Maura’s laundry. Change the sheets on our bed. Baby steps to the laundry room. Baby steps to the kitchen. Forget meal planning for two weeks, just figure out what we’re eating tonight.

Because some of us have excuses. Some of us have lives interrupted.

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And then I learned that MRI’s freak me out

28 Oct

So, I screwed up my shoulder. It’s been hurting for…oh…almost two weeks now. My doctor sent me for an MRI, and that took a week to get into (to which my friend said “Wow, just a week? That’s fast!”)

Now, during all the pre-MRI questions and reviews, they ask flat out – Are you claustrophobic?

I answered no. Because I’ve never considered myself as such.

I think that if you are claustrophobic or anxious about getting an MRI, they give you stuff to calm you. But I was certain I’d be fine. I joked that I’d probably nap and hoped I wouldn’t snore too loudly.

I was not nervous at all. Actually, I was looking forward to it, even a bit excited. Hey, trying new things! Getting answers for my shoulder! Being left along for like, a whole half hour!

No, being nervous was not on my radar. However, the moment the guy running things hit the button that had me going into the MRI machine, it was as if he also flipped the anxiety switch on to Full Panic Mode.

<spoiler> I got through it.

However, seven seconds into the Tunnel of Terror and I was like “Nope. Can’t do this. Nope. Get me out of here.” The sensible part of my brain took over.

“It’s twenty minutes. He said twenty minutes. Just keep your eyes closed and breathe. He promised music, twenty minutes is like four or five songs. You have to do this.”

Full Panic Mode was all “No. Nope. No. Can’t. Just let me out of here.”

Sensible Brain said “No. If we leave now we’ll just have to go back in. It might be worse. Breathe and keep your eyes closed.”

Full Panic Mode decided to pop the eyelids open, as if seeing what was around me would make it better. Full Panic Mode realized we had made a terrible choice and no, it was not better, that nope, it wasn’t actually bigger on the inside, it was way narrower than I thought.

Sensible Brain didn’t say “Oh for feck’s sake, I told you to keep your eyes closed.” She said “It’s okay, just keep your eyes closed, oh, the music is on…what’s this song? Focus on the song.”

And then it was all WRRRRRRHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRBANGBANGWHRRRRSCREEEPSCREEP for a bit. And Full Panic Mode was all “nope, gotta push the button on the cord that the dude gave me. I’m not going to make it.”

“You will NOT push that button. We can do this.” said Sensible Brain.

“I don’t think we can.” Full Panic Mode said.

“Yes, we can. Because we are not going to start this all over again. Now suck it up. Five songs, just five songs. Ooo…is that Depeche Mode playing?”

“Oh, it is.” Full Panic Mode said. “Okay, I’ll try to concentrate more on the song than the fact that we’re in this brightly lit tube of doom.”

(There was an option to turn off the light and I was like ‘AW HELL NO’. Because what’s worse than a brightly lit tube of doom is probably being in a really dark tube of doom. Of that I am certain.)

Sensible Brain sighed. “It is NOT a tube of doom. We are not trapped in here. There’s an opening on either end. We could easily scootch out of here if need be.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Yes.”

“Should we try it?”

“No! Then we’ll have to start all over again. Look, we’re through the first song.”

Now, at this point, because full panic mode had been triggered, I realized I was actually kind of vibrating. Because when I get really really ridiculously nervous, I tense way the fuck up to the point that my muscles start to quiver.

“Calm down.” Sensible Brain said. “Focus on breathing and the music.”

“Can’t. Stop. Shivering.” Full Panic Mode said. “Also, kind of hard to hear the music over the WRRRRRRHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRBANGBANGWHRRRRSCREEEPSCREEP-ing.”

“Fine. Then keep the shivering to the lower extremities.” Sensible Brain said. Because the legs weren’t being imaged. Just the right shoulder. All I had to do was keep the right shoulder still. And remember to breathe.

“OMG don’t hold your breathe!” Sensible Brain said. “Come on, in with the good, out with the bad.”

Full Panic Mode breathed. Shallowly. While thinking “Gee, it would totally suck if I got so nervous I vomited. OMG, what if I have to vomit????”

“You are soooooooooo not vomiting.” Sensible Brain said. “That just isn’t allowed.”

“I’ve never been so nervous that I threw up.”

“And you’re not starting today.”

“Glad I didn’t eat dinner before I left.”

“Me too.”

WRRRRRRHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRBANGBANGWHRRRRSCREEEPSCREEP…

Then the MRI Guy announced we only had thirteen or fourteen minutes left, and I was all “Hey! That’s not too bad. I can do this.”

Full Panic Mode calmed down a little, but I was still so friggen tense that I was still trying not to have a nervous shiver. Different muscles just kept twitching. “It’s okay as long as the shoulder stays still.” Sensible Brain reminded me. “Hey, The Cure’s now playing. Focus on that.”

And I tried.

Until Full Panic Mode whispered…”You know what would suck? Is if an earthquake hit while you were in here…”

Yes. My brain went there. And then Sensible Brain went “Nope, we’re not going to think about that.”

WRRRRRRHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRBANGBANGWHRRRRSCREEEPSCREEP

“God, wouldn’t it suck if, as MRI Dude pressed the button to get me out of here, if my hair got caught…would my hair just rip out, or would I end up scalped?”

“For Christ’s sake! If your hair could get caught, MRI Dude would have done something about it, given you a cap to wear. But it’s not going to get caught.”

“Okay. Back to vomiting in the tube…that would make a mess…I wonder how many people get so panicked they vomit?”

“Shut it already! Didn’t you hear the man? We’re down to two more pictures. We’re not quitting this close to the end. Now go back to pretending that we’re just laying out in the sun, in a wide open space…”

“But…earthquake…”

“No.”

And that, my friends, is how I got through my MRI. And how I learned that maybe….just maaaaaaaaaaybe…I’m a bit claustrophobic. Or maybe my anxiety can’t handle brightly lit tubes of doom.

My consolation prize – a CD of images of my shoulder. I can totally read them and diagnose myself, right?

 

 

 

 

 

When you have a surplus of feels

14 Jun

I woke up Sunday morning to a dozen breaking news reports on my phone’s lock screen. Before I could check the time, I saw that over 100 people had been shot at an Orlando nightclub, and half of them were dead.

Maura wanted to snuggle with me in bed. She had crawled in, full of giggles, asking for tickles, then curled up and fell asleep on me. I held onto the embodiment of sweetness, love, and innocence while reading about senseless tragedy.

I knew I shouldn’t read the news stories. I was already in a not-fabulous place, and working hard to keep from spiraling, but my insatiable need to know always wins out. Then my brain takes all those details and runs away with it.

Maybe it’s extreme empathy, or a really amazing ability to imagine myself in the scenario, but I will read stories and my brain wonders what it must have been like. I will step into the scene like an actor in a movie. When I watched the first World Trade Center building fall, my first thought was “Oh my God, there were still people in there.” I could imagine the stairwell, what would happen first? Would the ceiling come down on me, or would the stairs give out from under me? Would there be a moment of free falling before impact? That’s just how my brain works.

By Monday morning, more stories about the victims of the Orlando massacre were brought out. As I was reading one about a mother receiving text messages from her son right before he was killed, on the side was a link to another story of a mother, frantically looking for her son – who was also murdered in the nightclub that night. These mothers showed pictures of their beautiful boys smiling, and I wondered, my God, what it must have been like to be waiting to hear news. Knowing the longer you waited, the less likely that news would be good. To hope that your son is critically injured and unconscious in the hospital rather than still in the club, dead. To wait hours, only to be told the worst has happened. To say my heart went out to those mothers, and all the mothers, was an understatement. Their children weren’t much older than my own sons. I tried to find hope in the line stretching around the block of people donating blood to the victims, or the posts of support, but my brain had gone down the other tunnel – where it was just tragedy. Senseless tragedy. Heartbroken mothers. Pictures of smiling faces that will never smile anymore because of one angry person.

It was one person. One person who did this. I can instantly come up with dozens of wonderful people to remind myself that the world has more good people than bad. But that didn’t help me.

I realized long ago that these sort of things affect me. It’s not that I’m making it about me. I swear, I’m not. I just, I don’t know, feel it so much. I don’t know if I can ever describe it properly. But it’s the reason why I tend to stray away from tragic stories. Not because I don’t care, but I’ll care too much, if that makes any sense. I don’t know if it’s linked to my anxiety, or depression, or if it’s just a ramped up sense of empathy.

So in a moment of self-care, I walk away from the tragedy. To give myself breathing room. To give my brain time to wind back down to normal levels. Yesterday, I decided to distract my brain by reading “The Fifth Wave” again, as I got the final book, and like to re-read the series as the new books come out. Yes, I used alien invasion and the wiping out of most of humanity to distract myself from yet another mass shooting. I watched cat videos and a Korean soap opera with my daughter. I stayed away from the internet for a while. I’m going to do more of that today.

But please understand, my silence isn’t that I don’t care. It’s just that I’m caring so much, I get frozen. I have to back away so I can keep breathing, so that I don’t hide under a blanket for a week. I post silly videos and find a reason to laugh because I have to snap out of the funk trying to pull me down.

But I do care. I always care. I promise. I just have to make sure I take care of myself, because I have to take care of others. And it’s hard to take care of others when you’re hiding under blankets.

And for anyone yelling “OMG THIS IS ME!” as you read this, let me know, so I know I’m not the only one who goes through this rollercoaster of emotions at every horrible tragedy. And let me say this – it’s okay to back away from it all for the sake of self-preservation. I believe we can change the world with baby steps. We may not be able to make the petitions, but we can sign them. We may not be able to march on the capital, but we can smile at a stranger or help a friend. We may not be able to change everyone’s minds, but we can teach our children by example. We can have a ripple effect of our own. Even if it’s from a keyboard behind a computer screen.

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