Sunday, December 11, 2016

Cold, dreary, dull.

Some days, I feel like I've taken a gagillion steps back. I guess I feel liek that today because of the weather. Lots going on. This sadness is something that I know too well, so when I start feeling it, I begin to panic inside.

I'm trying to put on the toolbelt, figure out what will work to help me feel better. I'm just not sure what the heck that is, or really if anything can help.

I swear, it's the time of year. Anniversaries. End-of-the-year "where am I" inventory. Plus, I am allergic to cold and hubs and I are headed to a Patriots game this weekend--normally, I am practically peeing in my pants. But I fear feeling trapped in the cold. That's odd, eh? I don't want to be cold. Cold makes me feel so depressed. I wonder WHY.

Well, think, Kristen. It makes me feel out of control and trapped--hello, the basis of all anxiety. So I guess in some DSM-5 way, it makes sense.

I also think maybe it's something to do with associating negative things with cold. Not just my hives. Deaths. Winter. I dunno. Does anyone feel good when you see everything gray and dying outside? Then this Christmas thing...trying to make me happy. Because really, I love Christmas and I celebrate the true meaning. But it's just SO HARD at the same time.

I am not doing cards this year, I thought that may cut out some stress. But at the same time, I feel disconnected from the people I love without that card...should I do them?

I don't know why it hits me so hard. I'm just trying to remember that it will pass. That I am okay. That things will look up.

Warm holiday hugs to all--especially if any of this rant resonates with you.

Monday, November 14, 2016

So far.

I'm at my dermatologist's other office....it's in the same building that I could hardly walk into 14 years ago.

Sometimes progress takes time. Just keep going forward.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Fall for fall.

Been going through a bout of seasonal affective disorder...the clocks just changed last night but I've been feeling it. The weather is cooler and for some reason I just want to curl up and do nothing but feel bad when I do that. I've got myself in one of my damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don't modes. 

Yesterday though, I got on the road to visit a friends and the fall colors were lovely. Yes, it was cool but it was beautiful. I had to remind myself that when things aren't so great, there is still beauty there. I have to remember to practice gratitude more.

Plus, having a cute Jeep is great for that. And with country music and open road, it was kind of nice. It's fun to like driving again (for the most part) after dreading it for soo many years. More good stuff there, too. Just gotta remind myself of it:)

How are you handling the shift in seasons? Does it get to you?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Soaring.

Dropped mom off at Newark Airport today. I went in, forced myself to. I am well enough to cope, but it wasn't easy. Some panic came over me. And yes, horrible thoughts about terrorists that went into that building. How it affects me...still.

I wasn't able to go far--a good thing because if I'd lost sight of an exist, I'd be more frantic--but got her to the security gate. Hard to say goodbye to her on top of all my anxiety but she's off on a trip with her best friend to see her brother. Happy for her.

I left and cried because of it all. And because of where I am as a result. Better, but still wounded.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Set yourself up for success.

I felt like stress was going to eat me alive the other day. I had to drive about an hour away for a meeting with a new client, and all my "old" anxiety feelings came up. It's hard to distinguish old from new. I think it's important, though.

The old fear was happening to me in real time, so it felt new, but the feelings were based on old fears. (My favorite (not): Being trapped.)

I had to go into a corporate building with a ton of security...and ride an elevator. I hate elevators as is, but the last thing you want a prospective client to see if you panicking in an elevator. I didn't. I talked and made conversation in a lighthearted way. I guess tha'ts a coping mechanism. Who cares...whatever works.

I also managed to sit through a meeting and I'm not sure how. It wasn't easy. But I was in a better place than I used to be.

When I was sick, it's not that I could have done these things and just pushed through (well, I could have and probably had negative results.) I had to wait until I did some healing. Set myself up for success, if you will.

Really, I had to give myself permission to not do things that were out of my league for a while. Maybe sitting in the foyer of this monster buildingwould have been possible when I was acutely sick, but not the whole going in an elevator to the second floor and sitting through a meeting. That's okay, though. I guess that's what I am trying to say.

It was hard to purposefully not strive to do hard things...I thought that by doing them I'd get better. You don't really overcome those hard things/fears unless you set yourself up for success. 

Take baby steps. Even if every voice in your head tells you you're weak for not being able to just jump into that hard thing.

Have you done this and succeeded?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Tomorrow.

The sun is out. Why am I inside if the sun is out? It's been cloudy/raining for about a week here at the Jersey Shore. I was just working a bit and headed out to take a walk so I can chase the sun.

Things have been kind of rough here. You know when you're going through a hard time and you're at the stage where you know you're coming out of it, you have faith you will, it's just like...when? And every time you think you're out it's like, no? Yeah, that's been me. For two months. With work.

Work has been really slow and I guess for some people who cares, but self-employment is so different. Thank God (seriously, thank you, God) that my finances didn't suffer, but I definitely went into the mindset of when I was younger and broke and conserving every dime. (And then splurging on Starbucks as an indulgence. Hey, I get a free drink every now and then with my rewards!)

Anyway, it just brought me back to this old mindset place. And while I wasn't like, totally depressed, (awesome to see how much I've grown since the days when I would be devastated by something) I was very down. It's not easy to just do nothing or work on other projects when you're not working and perfectly capable of it.

Today the sun came out, and I had a call about a new gig and things are coming in. Slowly, surely. The sun has come out in many ways. But sometimes, it's just nice to actually see it, too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday.

This week, it seemed like everyone was talking about 9/11. Why not? It was such a dark day for our nation, and those who paid the ultimate price deserve to be remembered.

Instead of giving you a "here's where I was story," I'm sharing the following news. It's about the far-reaching effects of 9/11. I wish I realized this after that horrible Tuesday. I endured so much self-inflicted pain--and panic, of course--because I couldn't cope with that event at the time. (I was working in news, which made it 110% worse.)

Now, I realize how much that event traumatized me. I was lucky enough to work with my therapist to help me process most of it.

In case you're interested...

9/11 caused mental illness far beyond US borders

This is the conclusion of a recent population-wide study from Denmark, which demonstrates a "significant and immediate" spike in the diagnoses of trauma and stressor related disorders (e.g. adjustment disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder) in Denmark in the weeks and months after the traumatic events of September 11, 2001, even though the Nordic country was not directly impacted by the attacks.
The study, which was financed by the Carlsberg Foundation, was carried out by political scientists and medical researchers from Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen and Stanford University. It has just been published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
In the article, the authors argue that their finding "sadly confirms that one of the alleged purposes of (certain types of) terrorism - to generate mass-scale attention and intimidation - is in fact achieved".
Specifically, the Danish study documents a 16 percent increase in trauma and stressor related disorders recorded by psychiatric services in the week right after the September 11 attacks. Remarkably, the effect persisted for an extended period after the initial shock, and half a year after the 9/11 attacks, the incidence of trauma and stressor related disorders remained elevated about 5 percent above the normal level. It did not return to normal until about a year after the attacks.
In the article, the authors also speculate about the role of mass media in generating the observed effect: "The extra-national character of the post-9/11 deterioration of mental health observed in this study also highlights the pronounced importance of mass media in transmitting stress-inducing information to populations in countries far removed from the target of the attack."
Based on this observation, the authors argue that the effect of more recent and future terrorist attacks could be even stronger given the highly visual and real-time nature of today's internet-based mass media.
###

Friday, September 2, 2016

Candid writing...about writing.

It's not hard to get frustrated as a writer. In fact, many times a day I become upset. Still, I love what I do.

Most of the upset comes with the journalism aspect--to be specific, the rejection aspect of writing. It's not that the writing or idea for an article isn't good in many cases, which is so frustrating. It's all about who you know.

I've worked with some awesome editors but I've also, honestly, encountered some flakes. And I'll probably take heat for saying it but let's be real. Promising a contract and then not following up, or just not responding...it's exhausting.

My latest frustration comes from a copywriting client who won't hire me because I haven't passed a child through my vagina. Yep. They won't hire me because I haven't had a kid. I've never had that happen (usually clients love my child-free lifestyle--no interruptions!)

For each article I publish, there's a process to get there. That article's probably been rejected at least a handful of times.

Then there are other writers. Don't get me started. Most are awesome, but again, every once in a while you encounter the "holier than thou" one.

I guess this is a venting post. I mean, I'm all about being professional but I like to be honest. Keep things real. The reality is that writing is not always this glamorous lifestyle, especially if you are not part of the New York City publishing machine.

So today I'm frustrated. Not anxious. Just tired of playing the game of getting work. So it's time to rest and recharge. And attack it again tomorrow. Eh, maybe the day after.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Just Breathe.

It's a weird time of year. The "end" of summer and back to school. What happens if you live at the Shore and have an entire month ahead of great summer weather and no kids to put back to school? Shoulder season, baby.

Just returned from a beautiful week in the Outer Banks. It was really nice, especially because I remembered how much anxiety I had traveling there six years ago. I was just recovering from a breakdown. It was the first time I traveled far from  home in a long time. Having done it (and not wanting to leave the OBX the first time) I was definitely excited about this trip. I did have some anxiety--I was battling a cold and got a new one the day we left--but it wasn't anxiety about being far from home. I did really good about being away from home. Of course I missed my cats like crazy, but it wasn't like I used to be in the past where I felt like I had to rush home out of fear.

So that was great, and now I'm home. Work has been slow, which is hard to deal with but I'm just gonna do what I have because more will come in at any given moment. I'm also going to continue my break. I definitely need a break from work. Our trip was a vacation but it wasn't as much of a break if you know what I mean.

Things are slow and everyone is focused on back to school and cramming everything into the next week. I'm not. I'm on the other side of it. Just being.

Not a bad place to be.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Stillness.

Check out @calm's Tweet: https://twitter.com/calm/status/758478847423676416?s=09

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Too busy.

Ever get so wrapped in something new that your whole life turns into some alternate universe where you can't quite get your feet on the ground to ground yourself, so to say?

That's what happened to me when I took a full-time job. So that's why I haven't been blogging as much. Still trying to duck on to Periscope from time to time.

I've always worked full-time but my new job in news is intense and doesn't leave me much time to do anything else. By the end of the day, I'm exhausted and trying to scramble to clean the house, exercise, read, or fit in some quiet time.

Gotta find that balance. And as new things come up in our lives, I'm realizing it's a lesson we have to learn over and other. How to integrate that new thing into our lives...it's an ever-changing struggle.

So, I'm trying to work out the kinks. Making two minutes to come here and write this message is part of it!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Are we making the stigma worse?

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, and here's why.

I took a full-time job, guys. Not that I didn't put in 40 hours before but it was much less chaotic and deadline driven.

My new job is great, I am reporting on health. It's just very demanding. Leaves little time to be inspired or see a cool anxiety study and then jump on here to rant about it.

I did, however, start Periscoping! I'm at @healanxiety there if you want to follow me. It's been awesome to talk about my own experiences and talk to others about theirs.

There was a recent study about more people being aware that mental health is a real issue--that people can't help anxiety, depression, borderline, schitzophrenia, all of the disorders we grapple with. They said that there's less of a stigma. It was interesting, but what got me about it was that it didn't talk about the people suffering with those diseases as much.

I think a lot of people suffering with mental health are still perpetuating the stigma.

Many seem afraid of medication, for one. I understand not wanting to jump on Periscope or the web and be like, "I think I am going nuts, I have panic attacks when I do X, Y and Z!" but I can't tell you how many people I have come across--namely on Periscope, and not in my scope so much as others--where people are freaking out about taking meds. Why?

This perpetuates the stigma that these are not real problems. They have real solutions. And while meds aren't for everyone, they can help a person make a full recovery. I am living proof. I'd rather be healed and having had to take a pill to help me do it than to live in perpetual illness and refuse to take a pill or bash others who have.

This is not to offend anyone, please don't take it that way. Just something that's been on my mind.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Get in my scope.

I've taken to Periscope, people!

That said, I won't want it to replace my blogging here. Here's where I get my thoughts down.

And I've had so many thoughts about being able to use my anxiety for good...that's really my goal. Make all that turmoil somehow worth it. It's worth it anytime I can connect with someone and let them know they're not alone, or inspire them to have a better day.

What a gratifying feeling it is!

And I realize that many people in the throngs of anxiety aren't at maybe the happiest place. That's okay. Be where you are. It's your journey. Just make sure you reach out and seek healing along the way...that's kind of all you can do. Just don't get stuck in it.

And if part of that reaching out is watching me on Periscope ramble away, then I'm happy to do it:)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Two faces of anxiety.

Has anyone seen the article about this woman shooting her before-and-after panic attack photo?

I think it's brilliant and she's so strong for putting herself out there. I also love the juxtaposition of how we normally appear and what panic really looks like.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Anxiety books.

What books have helped you learn about and cope with anxiety? Saw this post on "12 Less Obvious Books That Can Help You Deal With Anxiety." So interesting!

Monday, March 7, 2016

In it.

Hard couple of days here. Nothing really wrong, but things have just been mentally tough. Tough to stay grounded, find my center and stay peaceful. But I'll get there.

It's just humbled me. Reminded me that anxiety isn't who I am, but it is a part of me that will always be there I want to break old patterns and embrace it instead of fighting. So I'm kind of just going with some icky feelings right now, feeling them and trying to make sense of them. But trying to also sit with my anxiety/depression and just let it be. It won't destroy me. Also, I am trying to take good care of myself and making sure to inject some good stuff. (Not a good time to watch the "Downton Abbey" finale, so I'll catch it on-demand at a later date.)

I want to call my therapist so badly--haven't seen her in a few years. I know she's only one call away if I need her, and there's nothing wrong with seeking help.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

15 Things You Need To Know About People Who Have Concealed Anxiety

A Facebook friend posted this article, and I haven't stopped thinking about it.

15 Things You Need To Know About People Who Have Concealed Anxiety

That was me. All 15. And this author hit the nail on the head, articulating so many things that I've been trying to in my book. The thing is, it's really hard writing about that old stuff you can't articulate. It's not just saying, "I had a hard time traveling." When I was agoraphobic--and I was--I didn't know that I was, really. I just felt my world imploding around me. And I was so Type A at the time, that I was able to--for the most part--hide it.

And now that I have done some healing--and believe you me, I'm grateful for it because I realize some people never make their way "out"--it's hitting me all over again. Reading about those old feelings.

Sometimes things come up in my life that kind of stir up those old fears, old mindsets. I fear of relapsing. I fear of living with agoraphobia, and I fear living in a concealed anxiety cocoon. There is no healing in concealed anxiety, and you don't even know that because you can hardly think about managing your anxiety because you're holding on to it so fiercely so no one can see.

My days of concealed anxiety are largely behind me, mostly because I am more apt to be open and reach out for help now. Yet I feel the need to explore it again. Not just because I'm writing a memoir (named after this blog) but I guess it's part of my continued healing.

I couldn't see how sick I was until I got better. Now I see how diseased my mind was, and I don't know why I can't help but stare. Feeling grateful I'm no longer there, but feeling so fixated that I can't walk away. Kind of like when you pass a car crash on the road and you don't want to slow down and look, but you do.

Why am I looking? Why am I revisiting? What's there for me to see?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Il Volo.

I got to see Il Volo in concert for the third time last weekend. It was perfection--they always are.

I credit this group as one of the things that helped me find more beauty in my life. My therapist always used to say to find the good in life and to "inject" it...so whenever I needed a shot of good, I put on Il Volo. In truth, I don't speak or understand Italian or Spanish but I love their music (some is in English, too). They are so inspiring. It is so beautiful...and for so long I didn't think my life would have anything beautiful in it.

So I bought tickets for mom, sis and I to go to Atlantic City. And I was happy because I never used to be able to sit with them in the car. We stopped for dinner before the show and I was so happy because that used to be equally as hard. When I was really sick, I wouldn't drive with anyone else, didn't go out much, etc. I had every excuse in the book not to go because no one was safe.

Oddly enough, I did have some anxiety that night. In the restaurant. I used to go there a lot because it was minutes from where I went to college. I love the place--why was I anxious? I was thinking about it when I was sitting there...and the panicky thoughts came over me. I used to order in from that place when I was anxious in college. Restaurants and eating out with mom and Danielle use to be a trigger, and then unthought of when I was acutely sick. But there I was, okay. Able to soothe myself, even when negative thoughts did slip in.
From there, we went to the Borgata for the show. Now, one of my worst panic attacks was in another casino (the Mohegan Sun) and I guess that kind of came back to me. Casinos are like mazes. There are no easily marked exits--in fact, my husband insists they build them like that so you can't get out. Not the place for a girl who has panic attacks when she feels trapped. 

You know what I did, though? I told my mom. When we were seated waiting for Il Volo to come on, instead of fixating, I began to speak. I never used to speak about my anxiety with my mother. I told her about that panicky experience and how I was feeling a little trapped. It was safe.

I won't say that there are certain "safe people" in life, but some you obviously just feel comfortable with. You know what I have learned though? You can never tell if someone is "safe" or close to it unless you speak. When I was sick, I was ashamed of my anxiety and I hid it from everyone. I could have done so many things but was afraid of having a panic attack and not being able to escape or have a safe person.

Therapy taught me to become my own safe person. That's why I am not so scared to talk about my odd phobias. If someone doesn't get it, that's their problem. I don't talk to everyone about my innermost stuff, but I try to be open about it. I've been able to connect with people so much more deeply when I share. I guess I'm healthy enough to share--I can say, "Oh, I used to have panic attacks over that (or still do)" almost non-chalantly. Not because panic attacks aren't a big deal--they are. But because there's a better place when you do The Healing and become strong. 

My anxiety isn't gone, but I can talk about it, tuck it away and enjoy the show. And that's just what I did.

Next time I go, I'm going to try to meet them. I need to say "Grazie!"

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Writing.

Why is it that whenever I have time to write, I'm just not in the mood?

I want to work on the book but its so complex, such an inner upheaval. Ahh memoir.

My manuscript is many words, but not written in the way I want it to come off. It needs to be deconstructed and rebuilt from the ground up. Makes me want to sleep.

But I feel it's my calling in life, so much that I sometimes have fearful thoughts that if I die tomorrow, or today, my anxiety struggles will have been for nothing. Seriously, that's how I think sometimes!

You should see me on a weekday scrambling to complete my copywriting projects when all I wanna do is sit undisturbed and write for hours. I'm beginning to think thats nothing but a fantasy.

So is the idea that a cottage would help. I'm  not even sure Starbucks can gelp me today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Neurofeedback--An Anxiety Solution?

Anxiety sufferers have probably tried just about everything to conquer their panic and fears.

What about neurofeedback, would you try that?

I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal, which explained a bit about the process. You basically go into an MRI machine and then are told to think about different scenarios. I imagine your brain lights up differently when you're thinking about your worst phobia compared to your favorite memory as a child. Yes, Rainbow Bright time for my fellow 80s kids.

From there, I'm not sure what they do that "fixes" the negative aspect. The article says they try to disengage those seemingly negative thoughts that most depressed people feel--after all, when you're depressed you tend to attract to negative things. The science is fascinating, though.

There are other hurdles though--for most people, this is probably quite expensive. And if you're like I used to be, with a crippling phobia of doctors and medical spaces, I imagine getting into the room itself would be a huge struggle.

Still, it's cool to think that this exists. What do you think?!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fears left unconquered--and why I can't stand the "fearless" notion.

Fearless.

It used to be my goal, my ultimate must-be. I wanted to get rid of my panic and anxiety, and get rid of my fears and move on with my life. I mean, when you're a nervous wreck, doesn't that sound like the obvious objective?

Now I see that word for what it is--unattainable. And I'm not trying to be snarky or pessimistic. But every time I see this "be fearless" mantra floating around (boutique shirts, online memes, etc.) I cringe a little.

And here's why.

Fear is good. It's the manifestation of those fears--panic, namely--that can be a negative drain on us. As a person who has dealt with panic disorder for about 20 years now, I've learned to stop fighting fear and embrace it. That was the only way to quell my anxiety and get my life back.

Our fears signal to us areas of our lives we have to work on. In my case, it helped me overcome a variety of fears from being alone to having blood drawn. Once I worked through those fears, dissected them and made uber-baby steps to conquer them, the fear subsided.

I'm not fearless, but I can overcome fear. And by overcome I mean work through--because I don't think you "get rid" of a fear like a flea infestation. I think you work through it until it doesn't cripple you as much. And if you work enough, the fear becomes something that doesn't scare you as much, if at all.

Part of overcoming it is saying "Okay, this is scary and that's okay. And it's okay if others don't realize why this terrifies me. They don't know what I've been through. And here's how I can work through it--this is the tailored, just-for-me way to get past these fears."

Guess what? I'm still afraid of things. I still have fears left unconquered. I'm okay with that. In fact, I'm learning to be okay if I never conquer them. As long as I am working through those root issues, I'm improving myself.

Do you try to be fearless--or have you scratched that idea from your head. What's your method of working through your fears? Do you need to work through each and every one, or do you find it okay to have some fears left unconquered?