Category Archives: My Favorites

MY Truth about Anxiety

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“But, I don’t want to be ‘that’ girl.”

“Amanda, anxiety is a medical condition – you have nothing to be ashamed of.”

This was a conversation I’ve had over and over with my doctor.

When did it start?  Approximately 2008 … I had ‘spells’ I couldn’t explain.  Couldn’t lay down – couldn’t breathe – felt out of body, but so very aware of every sensation, as negative as they were.  I was scared, I wanted to sleep – I wanted it over!  But couldn’t and had to wait it out.

To be fair – I was soon diagnosed with Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia, (Basically, I have an electrical misfire when it comes to my heart – so that makes a very real, and very scary condition hard to distinguish from an anxiety attack)  but also with COPD after a random chest X-ray after a rapid heart beat sent me to the ER.  They caught my lungs on that shot and shared that with my doctor.

My doctor shared that with me and I cried and cried.

I was that kid that every time I caught a cold, I’d end up with bronchitis.  That, or walking pneumonia.

My lungs were enlarged.

OK.  So, we deal with that.

I was put on Digoxin and Metoprolol.

That seemed to help for a while – but then I started having what I call ‘spells’.

Not just heart palpitations due to my heart condition – but debilitating full on attacks at random times.

Anxiety/panic attacks don’t come for me when I’m stressing out – they come when I least expect them and yes, I know the difference between ‘them’ and a heart episode.

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I tried breathing patterns, I tried cooling my pulse points under running water – usually, just finding someone to sit with who wouldn’t ask me how I was would work.   The spells would pass.

My doctor added Alprazalam to my regime.

THAT helped.  Until it didn’t.

I would wake up in the middle of the night, certain I was having a heart attack.  Chest pain, back pain, rapid heartbeat, out of body sensation, clammy palms, jaw pain, left arm pain – total and complete feeling of helplessness and impending doom.

It got to the point I couldn’t ‘walk it off’ (literally, and that’s something they say you should try.). I was too dizzy.  I also couldn’t be horizontal, it made it worse.  With blurred vision and terrified, I’d hit my knees and lean over either my couch or bed (if I was at home) and this agnostic prayed.  And prayed HARD!

Usually these spells happen when they really shouldn’t.  Watching a movie – sleeping – or just working and feeling happy.

Bonkers timing.

No stress I was aware of.

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Fast forward again.

For eight years I’ve been taking 2 Metoprolol, 1 Digoxin and two 1/2’s of Alprazalam per day.

I’ve learned to ‘deal’ with the bad times.

Past month, I’ve been getting goosebumps only on one area of my body.  My left thigh.  That concerned me.  (Mostly because my house is in the 80’s and no, I hadn’t been watching a horror movie at the time.)

Also, my anxiety has upped, big time.

Yes, mostly it’s random.  But, I do have triggers.  Raised voices,  my dog barking,  a car too close behind me …

Then, a new symptom.  I can feel completely fine at work or at home, but trying to run an errand?  I suddenly feel complete and utter intestinal distress.   An urgency that shouldn’t be there.  Because my tummy was fine when I left.

I also can only be in ‘public’ for a short amount of time.  I’ve left a cart at a grocery store quite a few times – unable to find my footing and having to abandon it.

Crowds?  Oh goodness no.  I can’t do crowds.

Add to that driving.  Now, this is something note worthy because, NOW, I’m putting OTHERS in danger.  I accidentally tried to change lanes one day and someone was in my blind spot – they honked.  Since then, I’m terrified to change lanes.  I also feel a LOT of pressure when I’m doing the speed limit and someone is behind me wanting to go faster.

Worst experience was trying to take my fiancé at the time to Vegas – the closer we got to ‘big’ traffic, the more symptoms.  I literally couldn’t feel my hands, couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t see – I had absolutely NO control over my body or what it was doing!!  The first exit we found with a phone, we called a taxi for him to finish the trip for an absurd amount of cash.

Today – I shared all of this with my doctor.

Today – I received an additional prescription for buspirone (BuSpar) for generalized anxiety, OCD and panic.

It doesn’t work for everyone.  I’m REALLY hoping I’m a good candidate!   Mostly because it’s non-narcotic.  I want OFF of Alprazalam.

I see my doctor again in a month and if it DOES work for me, I can be weaned off of Alprazalam – and I’m SO grateful!

Bottom line – Anxiety and panic attacks are no joke.

My son has spent hours with me telling me “You’re not in danger”  and telling me to focus on things that ground me when I can’t even move.

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Anxiety is crafty and unpredictable and terrifying.

But – If you’re going through this for the first time?  You WILL be ok!

It feels like you’re going to die.  It does.  I don’t think people who don’t have it understand that.

I also don’t think people understand how legitimate the experience is.

Things to NOT tell a person going through it (from my experience, not a medical book.)

“You know it’s all in your head, you’re fine!”

“Just breathe.”  (Although, there ARE some great breathing techniques that DO help.)

“You’re making this happen.”

No.

No.

No!

If you wake up with a pounding heart and can’t feel your phalanges and can’t believe how helpless you feel – YOU try telling yourself to ‘just breathe’ – lol.

And, if you can’t relate.  I’m SO glad.  I AM SO GLAD.  Because it’s fucking awful.

I’ll give you an example that maybe you CAN relate to.

Ever have to be at work and you have an excruciating  toothache or earache that renders you unable to sleep?   Yeah.

It’s sort of like that.  ALL you want to do is have relief and relax, but your body DOES NOT cooperate!!!!!!!

You have NO control.

So – I’ll try this new medicine and let you know, let’s see how my  experience goes.  I already made the mistake of ‘googling’ and reading user reviews.

No wonder I’m a bundle of nerves. LOL!

BUT! But.

Because, I’m tired.  And I’m tired of going through this … I’m willing to try anything.  I’ll be a Guinea Pig.

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The quandary of Facebook

Ok.  I’ll admit it.  I’m ‘one of them.’

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I’m the diary chick.

SO not a ‘status’ chick.  “I am currently writing a blog.” <POST> nah.

But, in my defense, I’m also VERY selective with my ‘friends.’  And I quote that because I see people with hundreds upon HUNDREDS of friends and I just don’t get it?

Facebook is not LinkedIn … Facebook, I thought, was a personal web page of sorts that you communicated from to your favorite friends and family?

I have under 100 ‘friends.’

I share too much.

I have also found myself deleting posts after posts because I feel inadequate or unable to be ‘real’ even with my selected friends.

Why?

Insecurities obviously … But, also, because THEIR lives SEEM so freaking amazing.  I feel I fall short when I am honest.

And if you’re going with the above cartoon, then WHY is a photo of food not acceptable????

Tangent.

If we’re keeping it to ‘status’ only, then, what I’m eating is perfectly appropriate.  Right?

I enjoy such features as IM.  Instant messaging friends from all over the planet – for FREE!

No phone bill.

No stamps. (Although, I DO miss hand written letters.)

Off Tangent.

I have decided Facebook users fall into the following categories:

*The fantasy poster* – You ONLY hear good from them and their lives sound like they have a unicorn in their backyard and rainbows and confetti in their front yard – and you will NEVER live up to their marriage/relationship/mothering/fathering skills.

(Problem I have with these friends is that I actually judge myself – compare myself TO them.)

*The sometimes poster*  – They really only remember Facebook when they’re NOT living their lives – because they’re real, and maybe they’ll share something fun with you.  But, who know’s what’s going on in between.

*The work poster* – They’re busy, but want to advocate their occupation.  You’ll get glimpses of their lives IF they decide it merits sharing and the post is innocuous – but mostly, it’s about work.

*The semi-honest poster* – Shares when they’re sad or happy – when their kids/partner/selves are sick or tired – but will stop at anything embarrassing.

*The Stalker* – They’re your friend, and occasionally will ‘like’ a post, but mostly just hangs back and reads everyone’s statuses and won’t share a damn thing.

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* The over sharer (me) – will purge EVERYTHING without thought and regret it later.  Usually will delete.

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Thing is – I’m a writer!!!! I AM!  I was published by 10.  Have never stopped wanting to share.  And this is why my friend list is short.  And this is why I keep diminishing it – because I don’t WANT to stop being honest.  I don’t WANT to have to edit myself.

MY Facebook IS my personal page.  And anyone invited should seriously consider it an honor (tongue in cheek) because I just don’t trust many people.

I’ll be purging all over the place AND deleting – because that IS what I do.

God forbid I actually get a book published – would be pretty hard to delete. 😉

Um, and by the way … Check THIS out.  After hitting review:

 

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What I was even going to originally write about on Sunday was Stefan Kiesbye.

But then I felt bad – like I’d cornered him. (My issues, no reality there.)

He is my favorite author.

AND, a friend on Facebook.

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Yes, I had even deleted my innocuous Valentines post to my friends and family.

Funny thing is – I got a message from Rainer on Valentine’s Day – and I remembered asking him to get Stefan’s autograph for me at a book fair in Europe.

ANYWAY! If you haven’t read these – you really should …

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The Staked Plains – (when I got an ARC I FLIPPED out!)

And – my favorite ….
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Bottom line I guess … I want to be real.  I don’t want to delete a moment.  I want to share EVERYTHING with you.  Was watching a movie today (can’t remember which – I got Netflixbewitched) and one of the quotes went something like … I can’t remember.  But it was important.  And hey, mid-forties, cut me a break.  Maybe THAT’S why I share everything?  Because a year from now, Facebook is going to remind me I have a memory.

Shrugging ‘hope’ and holding onto positive

I had it all planned out.

My post was to be about ‘hope’.  About how that’s how I’m feeling, hopeful.

Then I thought … Much as I used to use ‘anxious’ incorrectly (as a positive, i.e.: “I’m anxious about the party!” Thinking it meant a nervous excitement) I should probably look up ‘Hope.’

This is how I used to feel about it.

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Then I read this:

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I like the intransitive verb, but when I got to ‘expectation’ I faltered in my wanting to use ‘hope’ to define my current feeling.  I ‘expect’ nothing.  Nothing.

I also don’t wish to ‘obtain’ unless it’s good traits or good deeds.  I DO cherish things – but not desires.  I know the difference between ‘wanting’ and ‘needing’.  I mean, we could dictionary the hell out of this word, but the bottom line, ‘hope’ lost it’s luster with me.  So I was done there.

I sat, I pondered, I considered and then I looked up and took this photo instead.  It’s a painting I did a few years ago and I love it so much.  No, it’s not gallery worthy, lol, but it made me so … Happy!!!

And so, when I noticed the bird cage that hangs in my bedroom reflecting in the frame – I was then ecstatic!

By now, if you’re a follower, you know my affections for inanimate objects run a tad on the OCD side – so the cage door is ALWAYS left open.

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I asked myself, how does this painting make you feel?

And I came up with … ‘Positive.’  Not in the ‘sure’ kind of way.  Let’s go back to Merriam Webster shall we?  (Yeah, we’re goin’ there.)

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Yes!  I want to feel ‘good’ I want to feel ‘useful’  I want to see good qualities in everyone.  And I usually do.  So, despite people who have called me pessimistic, nah, I’m not.   I’m a realist.  Who was almost homeless, who was almost dead – who has been through things I haven’t shared with the closest to me.

But today – I feel POSITIVE!

And I’m going to grab that, and keep that, and hold it tight.

Like a photo I never got to take, but know I saw.

THAT is how I see happy, and positive.

I can’t prove it to you, yet.  But, in 2016 my words will convince you I have.

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A Eulogy worth living

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I hit an emotional bottom last night.

Just too much going on in the world.

Too much going on in my heart and head.

Too much going on in my immediate circle – people passing, friends and family being ill or broken with this and that. Plus my own recent health scare.

Miss ‘I can live alone’ also has to come to terms with the fact that, approaching 50, and having lost the one person I could imagine sitting in a rocking chair next to, that I may very well BE living alone in my ‘golden years.’

I’m scared.

They’ve recently built an ‘assisted living’ home across the street from where I work.   Next door to us is the administration building. I see people bringing their elderly relatives to discuss housing – knowing once they’re there, that’s it.

They gingerly enter and I want to wrap them all up in cotton wool.  The sadness on their faces – it is my undoing.  But, it’s a great facility.  They’ll be cared for and nourished mentally, emotionally and physically.

There’s to be no assisted living for me.

Let’s face it, I can’t even afford to procure health care right now for the issues I DO have. God forbid something catastrophic happen.

I’m scared of being alone.

I’m scared that I have no nest egg.

I’m scared to die – and, I’m scared I haven’t been ‘good enough.’

Last night I reached out – because my thoughts became very dark.

I needed to hear that I made a difference in some lives. That I was loved.

I needed it like I need oxygen.

Luckily, I’m very picky on my Facebook and so when I do reach out – or if I am a total idiot, I’m accommodated/forgiven depending on what I’ve posted.

I have wonderful friends.

I need to make a point of telling them more often!

I don’t want to eulogize loved ones when they’re gone.  I think people deserve to hear how special they are and what a difference they make in my life while they’re still able to hear it.

Anyway, I needed to hear my eulogy.

Because last night, I wasn’t feeling loved.

I wasn’t feeling ‘good’.

I wasn’t feeling important.

I was feeling completely broken, beaten and hopeless.

I was feeling lost and abandoned.

I was feeling used and discarded.

I was feeling like I wanted to be – done.

Just … done.

to yearn for one’s home

Please know, these were just feelings … I treasure my life. But the feelings were so intense they scared me.

And so – this is why I reached out.

My post said this:

“You know how we have an impact on someone’s life and don’t even know it? I need to know it tonight. Not ‘fishing’ straight up asking, have I, and in what way, had any sort of impact in your life? I need this. I don’t need complete kudos – I just want to know – if I was in anyway ‘good’. Just trust that I’m asking for a good reason – and please don’t ask why. X”

My friends came through for me.

I was given ‘virtual’ love that I so desperately needed.

I was validated.

I was lifted.

And I was not questioned.

I was eulogized and … it made me feel alive.

I saw glimpses of myself that I forgot existed.

I remembered moments shared with far away friends that had faded from memory.

I felt warmth and love.

I felt and still feel, SUCH gratitude for the amazing people who took the time to give me their time when I truly needed it.

I am a blessed woman.

Still hurting … but not feeling so alone.

I am so glad I put my pride aside and spoke up.

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Musings from the Laundromat: Daisy Chains and Broken Engagements edition

I gingerly opened the packet she’d thoughtfully brought back for me from England.  Inside, a circle adorned with daisies.

“Do you like it?”

“I love it.”  And I did.  Do.

My glance shifted down as I stroked one of the flowers.

“Try it on!”  She was smiling – and for good reason.  She had brought me something special.  I was cringing inside.

I placed the ring atop my head and braced myself.  The daisy chain I was to wear when I wed ironically perched as I looked for words.

“Mom …”

I looked over to my love – asking for help with no words.

“We’re not getting married.” He said for me.  Sparing me the bitter taste of that sentence.

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When I arrived this morning at the laundromat, it was still closed.  Then the laundry lady spotted me and opened up the doors.

“How are you?” She asked.

“Good.  You?”

I grabbed my baskets and met her inside.

There has got to be a polite response for ‘How are you?’ when you don’t want to say ‘Good’ or sound too maudlin saying anything other than that.

‘Fine’ is a cop out.

But I am OK.

Is ‘OK’ sufficient?

I stuffed my machines and now sit listening to rain beating down on the laundromat roof.

Sounds like every washing machine is on and angry – beating the clothes in a deluge of water.

Pouring.

And apropos as I wipe a tear from my cheek.

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“Why?”  My mom asked?  With genuine love in her eyes.

I was terrified she’d be angry.

That I would have let her down one more time.

The girl incapable of lasting relationships.

“We care enough to want the best for each other.”  Was all I could get out.  And we sat in silence for a while.  A horror movie flickering in all of our peripheral line of sight.  No one really watching it.

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The thing about fantasies, you have a certain image or memory in your head and over time – it becomes truth.

My truth was that a young man was in love with me approximately 25 years ago, and in my stupidity, didn’t see it.  He was one of my dearest friends.  We spent many hours together experiencing life.  He was there for me in my darkest hours.

When I lost touch with him – I missed him terribly.

The years went on and I somehow convinced myself I was ‘the one who got away’, and wouldn’t he be surprised if I could find him and profess my stupidity and tell him I’d always loved him!

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“Do you see this happening?”

We both knew the answer.

It was a kind and loving conversation about ending a relationship.  We sat out on the porch and spoke our truths into the early hours of Saturday morning.

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The spell was broken when I heard for the second time, “Because I don’t love you as much as you love me.”  It had not come from my mouth.

Oh how I adore his honesty – as much as it stung.  I love authenticity.

And oh how I had flattered myself all those years!  Selfish and egotistical.

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He does love me.

He does.

And I him.

But are we meant to be married?

When he first visited it was a grand reunion!

We’d both been alone for years.  We were attracted to each other.  We had a past.  We had so much in common it was ridiculous.  We rushed to build upon those things.  Already caring for one another.  We had a foundation of what was and that is nothing but sand.  Never build upon sand.

I’m reminded of the Johnny Cash song Jackson.  “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout …”

We did everything in a fever.  Fell in love … made quick plans to be together.  I wanted to give him the world.  I wanted to give him opportunities he’d never had with his art.  I wanted to give him a home.

And he’d been needing one.  Traditions – a family.  To be loved and needed and to feel like a man.

I needed to give.

I needed to love.

And I do love him.  We are comfortable together.  He is my best friend.

But what we want to give and what we’re capable of giving in reality are two very different things.

Here is a man who thrived in the hum and wonderful chaos of Chicago and found himself in a quiet one road town.

Here is a man needing surgeries – and I, without insurance – can’t give him that.

I found myself falling short – financially and emotionally.

So much I couldn’t be or do.

And then came the resentment.  I resented myself for failing – then I resented him.

I was swallowing words that landed hard in my belly.  And when those words made me ache I spat them out cruelly.

He didn’t deserve that.

I pulled away.

Disappointed in myself.

For so many reasons.

I had learned long ago how to be alone without being lonely, and this sudden addition took some getting used to – I’m not going to lie.

Yet, I sat with him outside yesterday and couldn’t imagine the chair across from me empty.

I lay curled into his arm last night, not being able to imagine feeling the weight of him beside me.

I feel like a shell.  An empty shell right this moment.

Knowing we’ve made the right decision and already mourning what could have been and the loss of what is.

I have new wants today.

I want the man I love to be happy.

I want the man I love to find his ever after.

I want the man I love to remember me years from now, and smile.

I want this for myself too – but I want it for him more.

I spent too many years indulging myself in false memories – and now it is the truth that has given me selflessness.

And I will always love him.

Now to find the strength I know I possess to gracefully let go.