Struggle, Anxiety, Meds

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The last several months the struggle with anxiety has been all too real. I’ve suffered from and dealt with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, and panic attacks for over half of my life at this point. I’ve been on and off medication, mostly on, since I was 23 years old. Despite the fact it helps I also hate medication. I hate the side effects. I hate being tired all of the time. I hate sweating. However, I’ve come to the conclusion, I need to be on medication.

In the past when I’ve gone off of medication I was reckless and stubborn. I went off meds before cold turkey, not once, but twice. I suffered withdrawals. I was miserable. I made my family miserable.

This time had to be different. This time, I felt like I was in a really solid place in life. Good job, house, meditating, had seen a therapist, etc. I felt ready to tackle life without medication. This time I reached out to my doctor to wean off properly and I even got the info at least a month in advance.

I weaned off, slowly and carefully as prescribed and man… I felt great. I wasn’t tired all the time. On my days off I was actually making plans to be social rather than hide in my house and nap and be lazy. I had energy! My sleep was great! The annoying and ridiculous sweating stopped. Life was lovely for maybe a month.

Slowly though, impatience started creeping in. Anger started seeping out the seams. Frustration was being aimed at my dogs and my parents and my aunt. Work has been kind of messed up since June 2017 and just kept getting worse, more overwhelming. By November I had a massive panic attack. Every day I was questioning myself if I was doing the right thing by being off of medication. I was constantly analyzing how I felt and trying to determine if I needed medication again.

By December it was abundantly clear with the never ending tension in my neck and shoulders. I reached out to my doctor and set up an appointment. Thankfully, unlike my last primary care physician, my current one listens to me. We discussed options and came up with a plan. We started me on the lowest dose of the original medication I went on years ago with the plan of increasing if needed after a week or two.

At the end of close to two weeks and there still being significant anxiety and even the intrusive thought of, “I’d rather be dead than deal with this.” I increased to the higher dosage. Slowly the medication started working in my system. Slowly things were getting more manageable.

Sadly though, it only took me so far. My doctor and I discussed the possibly of increasing the dose or changing meds and we ultimately decided to change meds. During the next couple weeks there were some ups and downs with the adjustment. I’ve also been back in therapy as well.  My physical revealed that I am very low on Vitamin D which can be a contributing factor to anxiety and depression.

While I made so much progress I also struggled in that I was beating myself up. It never took me this long to get back on track when going back on meds. I had not been so low in such a long time, if ever. I’ve been hard on myself thinking how much of a burden I’ve been to my friends and family. I’ve been analyzing every thought and feeling. Judging or grading my progress. Any time I felt even a little anxious I went into over drive, trying to figure out why and lamenting that I was still having anxiety. After all, I’m on meds, I’m on prescription strength Vitamin D, I’m in therapy, I cut out caffeine and alcohol.

I expressed this to my therapist who told me, “Stop beating yourself up. Focus on the positives. You’re stressing yourself out more and making it worse.” Well… that was a novel idea. To not focus on the struggle and instead focus on the good? Focus on all the hard fought battles I’d won? It definitely helped to shift things.

At this point, I’m still not entirely where I want to be. Sometimes interacting with others takes more energy than I have but I get through. My mind still goes into over drive here and there. But… I’m getting there. Sometimes, it’s a journey and I’m having to finally slow down and accept it for what it is.

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Progress Made

It’s a funny place I find myself in, sitting comfortably in my mid-thirties, rid of all the angst of my late teens to mid-twenties. I still recall the emotional turmoil I was in, the loneliness, the anger- so much anger! Despite the ability to recall it all, in vivid detail, it also feels like a lifetime ago. The suffering definitely helped to shape who I am, but that person, that version of myself seems foreign to me now.

I remember… staying up all night, watching tv and chatting over AIM with 5 people at once and writing two pieces at a time. I remember all the pent up rage over my (perceived) inability to live a normal life. I remember the feelings of isolation, desperation, and loneliness that overwhelmed me. I remember having my first full blown panic attack one night around 1am, while watching Vanilla Sky, wondering if I should wake my parents to take me to the hospital or let them sleep and maybe find me dead on the couch in the morning. I let them sleep and hoped and prayed I wasn’t having a heart attack and dying like I thought I was, like I felt I was.

I remember… writing dark and twisted poetry about the fury, the sorrow, and romanticizing suicide. I never truly considered it but it felt like such a tempting escape from the misery I was in.

I think back to all the crazy that I attracted to my life during that time. The drama filled people who seemed to find me like I was a magnet and truth be told, I probably was. It seemed like one friend after another was in crisis. My friendship circle consisted of self-harmers, pill poppers, and the like. It was also filled with people who had been dealt some really shitty hands in life but year after year they continued to be the victim rather than become the heroine of their own life. I remember one often repeating, “I don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve all of this.”

I remember… finding solace in the darkness of depression, the depression that anxiety drove me into. Misery does love company and I found my tribe. I remember feeling so liberated being able to share the chaos and storms that were swirling within me. I was no longer alone in my looney tribe of misfits. We were all wounded in our own ways and suffering but we had each other and that made it less lonely.

I remember… the clouds starting to lift in my life. The poetry dried up and I feared I was losing my creativity. I remember that the down moments came less frequently, the mood swings not as severe. I remember feeling at odds with myself because I didn’t recognize myself anymore without turmoil. Sometimes, even now, a little part of me misses it. For the creativity that is. There is something about angst and writing that go hand in hand, at least in my twisted mind.

Yet, I wouldn’t go back to it. I like being in a happy place now. That’s not to say my life is perfect but I am more appreciative now. I understand my anxiety better and have a better handle on it. I’m thankful for my struggles because there are somethings one cannot fully understand without experiencing them, mental health issues being one of them. Yes, I remember my battle and I’m grateful for it but I am so content to be exactly where I am right now. 100_0291_2.jpg

Processing

IMG_1047I’ve been processing a lot lately. I’ve been evaluating myself, my life, my relationships.  I’ve been looking at what brings me stress and what brings me joy. I’ve been focusing on my motivation and gratitude. I’ve made tough choices, I’ve made changes, I’m leaving myself vulnerable in ways I haven’t in a long time. It’s been scary and difficult and painful but I am moving in the right direction.  I couldn’t have done it without my support system, my family, my close friends.

I still have a long ways to go. I’m realizing that this world and all its ugliness is leaving my soul tired. It’s depressing and makes my heart hurt. It makes me want to run away, buy an island (like I have money for that), and never interact with the world at large again. Instead I need to be a force of change. I can’t run, I can’t hide. I can only do what I can to make the world a better place.

I have to let go of what I can’t fix because in truth, I want to fix anything and everything that brings me sorrow. I am accepting my limitations rather than dwelling on what I cannot change. I’m letting go and opening up at the same time. It’s hard, I don’t like to let go, but it’s a process and one I’m committed to.

The Tale of Dishonest Abe aka Another Dating Adventure

Well… I have another dating tale… I recently dipped my toes into the dating pool, as usual, giving only a half-hearted effort because frankly, online dating/dating in general doesn’t seem worth my time and energy. I had a few men contact me from the site and while some were ruled out rather quickly there was one that actually progressed to texting: enter Dishonest Abe.

At first contact Dishonest Abe seemed intelligent and capable of maintaining a reasonable conversational flow. His profile was severely lacking but the messaging aspect seemed decent. The first night we were texting involved all the normal getting to know you questions including my two least favorite questions, “Why are you still single?”   and “Have you dated x race before/do you date outside of your race?” HELLO!!! I’m on a DATING site! I’m talking to you! So clearly I must be ok with dating outside of my race or I wouldn’t respond to your contact.

When Dishonest Abe asked me why I was still single, I gave him the usual answer, “I guess I haven’t met the right man yet,” and then I turned out and asked him why he was still single. He said he’d just been waiting on me… Awwww. *rolls eyes* Since it was such a standard cheesy answer I decided to be sarcastic so I asked him if we were going to jump right into marriage or if he planned on us dating first. He decided we should date first, definitely, and know each other really well before getting married. That was a least a reasonable answer. As the conversation continued I mentioned my younger sister’s upcoming wedding. Dishonest Abe asked me when she was getting married and I told him. He responded with, “That’s cool, you and I are getting married in May 2018.” Strangely enough, commitment- phobe that I am, I found the conversation silly and amusing, so I went along with it.

Dishonest Abe happened to be black and as I mentioned, we had the conversation about one dating outside of their race. With the pivotal questions out of the way, I figured that things would progress as we get to know each other. At this point it was 10:30PM on a Sunday night and Dishonest Abe wanted to meet up. Somehow jumping in my car to meet up with someone I had just started texting didn’t seem like a good plan. I told him I was tired and heading to bed soon.

Throughout the week, we continued texting here and there, joking about our impending nuptials and getting to know one another. We had made plans to go out Saturday evening for our first date. He even told me that he deleted his dating profile which seemed unnecessary since we hadn’t gone on a single date yet. Of course since he put that out there, I had to check, and the only thing he deleted was his pictures from the profile, the profile itself was still there.

Wednesday night, Dishonest Abe and I were texting when he sends me the ominous message, “I have to tell you something,” to which my mind went into overdrive trying to guess what he might have to tell me. I was certainly not prepared for his revelation. “I’m African.” I responded with, “Ok…?” He said, “Well some people don’t like to date outside of their race, so I’m just putting it out there.” I was struck with a sense of déjà vu, hadn’t we already covered this conversation Sunday night? I mentioned to him, “We already discussed this. I have dated black guys before, you’ve dated white girls before.” He responds with, “ I know, just saying. but I wanted u to know that.” We move past that weird conversation that left me scratching my head. I shared the conversation with a couple friends, my mom, and my sister the next day. All of us were laughing over it and we all came to the same two concussions: 1. Either he is talking to multiple women and didn’t remember that he and I already had the race conversation or 2. He was trying to say he was like, straight from Africa (but then, wouldn’t he name the country he was from rather than the entire continent?). Anyway…

Friday was my day off but I knew Dishonest Abe was working so I waited for him to text me. That evening he did contact me, the standard, “Hi how are you,” stuffs but then he makes another confusing proclamation. For one to fully appreciate this conversation I think I need to share it, as it happened:

DA: Hi.. how r u

ME: Good. How are you?

DA: Sick bad

ME: Oh no!!! I’m sorry to hear that

DA: Yes since in the morning


ME: That sucks!

DA: I’m sorry. I could not eat

ME: Huh?

DA: I mean we could not meet today

ME: Well we weren’t meeting today. We were supposed to meet tomorrow…

DA: I know just letting u know

ME: You’re just letting me know that we can’t go out tonight when we never had plans for tonight? It really feels like you’re confusing me at times with someone else…

DA: I know is tomorrow. . I said I’m not feeling good. That way if I’m still sick . tomorrow we may or may not

ME: I see

DA: Yes madame

ME: Yes you said you’re not feeling good but why tell me we can’t meet today? Unless you were meeting someone else today and can’t keep your ladies straight.

DA: I am a one man lady … besides I am too old to play games It doesn’t get u anywhere I’m just telling u out of respect.

At this point, while I was highly entertained I was also over it. Besides, I don’t want to date a ‘one man lady,’ I want to date a one lady man. Saturday came and went without a word from Dishonest Abe but then again, he was ‘sick bad,’ so I wasn’t surprised. Usually at this point I would block a failed dating attempt to prevent further contact but I suspected there may be a little more entertainment value left with this one.

Sure enough, he contacted me Tuesday evening. There was no mention of the date that didn’t happen or the lack of communication from Friday to Tuesday. Being the asshole that I am, I text him, “So I guess Saturday was ‘may not’ huh?” He reiterated that he was ‘sick bad’ and apologized. I told him it was helpful the way he canceled the non-existent Friday plans as a heads up that we wouldn’t go out on Saturday. At that point he text with, ‘how r u my love,’ and as I was know home sick with a stomach bug I didn’t have the energy to play along any more. I told him I wasn’t his anything and wished him luck. Immediate blocking happened right after I hit send.

I think I will stick with my back up plan, which is stay single, adopt about 3 more cats, and drink all the wine while having a great time hanging out with my family and friends. Dating is certainly overrated.online dating.jpeg

Drunken Idiot AKA I’m Still Angry

The other night a good friend and I met up at a bar. Once upon a time this bar used to be an Italian restaurant my grandparents took me to which is probably why I have a fondness for this location. In the ensuing years it has changed hands and names several times over. Its latest incarnation is a ‘bar and grille’ with an Italian sounding name. As it has changed I’ve visited  a couple of times, finding the food tasty and the prices decent which is why I suggested it as a place to meet up with my friend.

We arrived around 9pm on a Friday night, looking forward to the low key atmosphere of a dive bar. Friday was also Tiger’s opening day which is practically a holiday in the Detroit area and a popular excuse for people to get drunk. Allie and I did not participate in any of the drunken baseball-themed shenanigans. We were two gals looking to have a drink, a little food, and a lot of catching up.

When we sat down at a four top table we saw a gentlemen sitting alone out of the corner of our eyes. The bar was rather small and most of its inhabitants were clustered around a large hightop table. There was a couple sitting at the table adjacent to Allie and I, and another couple at the bar, which left the lone dude at the nearby table. We noticed him try to catch our attention but we both ignored him and started chatting. He got up at one point and we were certain he was coming to our table but he passed us by. We breathed a sigh of relief as neither of us were looking to engage outsiders in conversation.

Our relief was short lived as he soon approached our table. It is not unusual for Allie to be hit on, she’s gorgeous and I’ve never known a woman to get hit on as much as she does. I mean, who else has the man in the car ahead of her at a drive thru pay for her co-

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ffee and leave his number? Drunken Idiot (the nicest name I can give him) came over and tried to chat her up, he offered to buy her beer. Initially I think he offered to buy both of our drinks but when Allie shut him down his attention focused on her. She was sarcastic, as is her nature, and told him she could pay for her own $2 beer. He was insistent, as drunken idiots in bars tend to be, and started rambling about buying her drink as he pulls out a wad of cash. The wad seemed to be mainly fives and ones though I didn’t look that close. I was more interested in the fact this moron, hitting on my friend, had a wedding ring on his finger. Still not interested in him buying her a drink, Allie said to him, “Are you sure? I mean that’s two hundred pennies. That is a lot of pennies,” hoping her sarcasm would give him the hint.

Instead, Drunken Idiot put a five down on the table, looked at me, and instructed me to use it to pay for her beer. I agreed, and did what I usually do, slap on my customer service personality,  be nice and agreeable in the hopes that you’ll leave me alone and not shoot me. Am I paranoid? Maybe. However there’s been a lot of senseless gun violence so I trust no one.

He eventually left our table and our waitress/bartender appeared to take the food order. Drunken idiot came back at that point, rambled on to me about how Allie thought he couldn’t afford to buy her drink but he could afford it. He shrugged as he said he had the money to buy her a drink, blah blah blah. When the waitress left he confronted Allie and accused her of being racist. A logical conclusion to draw from her not wanting him to buy her a drink… (Drunken Idiot is black and Allie and I are both white). He held his hands out in front of her, gestured with one hand at the other, as he mumbled something about how she shouldn’t judge. He turned to me and said that she judged him. I tried to assure him that she hadn’t, she is just very sarcastic. He finally left. Again.

Allie and I went back to our conversation. She had some exciting changes happening in her life, we were both catching up on our (generally) abysmal dating lives, and commiserating about how neither of us know what to do with an actual nice guy (not Drunken Idiot). Shortly after our pizza arrived, another guy came up to hit on Allie on behalf of his friend who was “too shy,” to come over. Guy #1 called Guy #2 over. They chat with Allie and apologized for interrupting our meal. Guy #2 declared himself too old for Allie but let us know we were both invited to his 50th birthday. They went back to their table (the hightop full of people) and Allie and I once again hoped to get back to catching up.

Drunken Idiot thought this was the perfect time to re-approach. He gestured at his $5 still sitting on the table and looked at me. I told him we hadn’t cashed out yet but I would use it for its intended purpose. He rambled on about how he raised two daughters who were both teachers and acted like that was a challenge of some sorts to Allie. He slapped another $5 on the table to signify he could afford to drop more money, I guess. At this point in the evening Allie decided that ignoring him would be the best option. He talked to her and she refused to respond. He looked at me and started asking me questions about her which I tried to answer as vaguely as possible. He then put his arm around me and started to tell the both of us that I needed to teach Allie, I was nice, I needed to teach her. He kissed my temple which, combined with the spitting on my face as he spoke, really got on my nerves.

Finally I decided to be a bit more assertive and told Drunken Idiot we were there for girls night and only wanted to catch up. I hoped that he would get the message and finally leave us alone for good. He kept talking. Allie repeated, in a more assertive tone than I, that we were there for girls night, we hadn’t seen each other in months, we wanted to catch up, and we didn’t want to talk to him. (God I love how ballsy she is!). He determined that we were going to continue to talk to him, at which point Allie flat out asked him to leave us alone. I can still hear her saying, “Can you please just leave us alone?” He refused so Allie said, “Fine, then we’re leaving,” and grabbed her things from the table. I collected my things, leapt out of my chair and followed her. The waitress/bartender stopped Allie, who had been in the lead, and immediately asked what Drunken Idiot had said and offered to go talk to him. Allie told her we wanted to cash out and go. The waitress tried to get more info but Allie wouldn’t give anything else and headed to the bathroom. With Allie gone, I told the waitress that Drunken Idiot wouldn’t leave us alone and accused Allie of being racist when she wouldn’t accept his offer to buy her a drink. The waitress turned on her heels and said she was going to go talk to him. I stopped her and asked her not to, asked her to cash us out and let us leave. Guy #1 came over to cash out at the same time and apologized for his buddy. I still don’t know if he was referring to Guy #2 or the Drunken Idiot. The Drunken Idiot had been hanging out with Guy #1’s crowd and dancing with the women at that table.

Allie and I left angry at Drunken Idiot’s insistence of interrupting our night.We were going to try going somewhere else but decided we should just head to my house at that point. We didn’t want to risk meeting another drunk asshat.

Two days later and I’m still angry. I’m angry that Drunken Idiot felt so entitled to our time and attention. I’m angry that I didn’t have the balls like Allie to just shut him down. I’m angry that I allowed him to put his arm around me and that, in his drunken state, he thought it was ok to kiss my temple. I’m angry that I’m afraid to assert myself in situations like that because of possible violent repercussions. I am angry that in todays’ age, we still live in a world where people think they can get in someone else’s space and not leave them alone. Yep,
I’m still angry.

The Cost of Being an Open Book

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Mark Twain

”Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 10.32.17 AM

James E. Faust

A half-truth is a whole lie.”

—Yiddish proverb

“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.”

—Robert Louis Stevenson

I’ve always lived my life out loud, an open book, oversharing at nearly every opportunity. I think because the quotes I’ve listed above are ones I’ve heard most of my life or at least some version of them. I’m also a chatterbox, as anyone who knows me in real life is aware. I’ve embraced the idea of honesty and openness perhaps a little too much.

I think it is important to be truthful and to share one’s story. I believe that by sharing our own struggles we give others courage and lend them strength. However, where does one draw the line between being open and oversharing? I’m trying to figure that one out.  You see, there is a cost to oversharing, of living your life as an open book. When you share every thought, feeling, experience or slight someone has caused you, the people in your life know this, hold on to this, and are slower to forgive than you are.

Personally I am famous for talking myself into and out of things on a regular basis. I flip-flop which means I could never be a politician, or could I? I take the people in my life on my crazy, twisted journeys as I figure out what it is I want. For example, if I am trying to talk myself into a situation, I’ll share only the good points about the situation whether it is a purchase, a trip, a man, etc. Then, when my mind changes, people may be mystified when things seemed to be “so good.” In order to explain I now divulge all the misgivings, doubts, and red flags I had but failed to mention before. Sadly, if I change my mind (again), those I love are now skeptical. Or sometimes I feel I’ve boxed myself in a corner and have nowhere to go because if I choose this path, after sharing all the dark and dirty reasons why I was against it, well…

Granted, the opinions of others don’t stop me too much. They may slow me down a little, and only if the opinion is coming from someone I love and value. Still, I’m working to find a balance. To live a life that is true, authentic, and open but without the oversharing. Wish me luck! This is gonna be one heck of a task!

Peace and Quiet

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 12.30.02 PMWhen I was younger I longed for some busy, hectic, fast-paced life. I wanted to be a social butterfly (does anyone use that phrase anymore?) Unfortunately my mother was very strict and while I was more than welcome to have friends over, I was not allowed to go to friends’ homes very often. As an adult I can appreciate that it must be scary to let your child go to the home of someone else where God only knows how well the other parents supervise their children. However, as a kid, it bummed me out terribly.

As an adult… I often have invites to go out, to do this, to do that. I have a great group of close friends and a lot of people I am friendly with. However, I find myself declining invites more than accepting them. Sometimes I wonder if I had been allowed to be more social when I was younger, would I find myself wanting to be more social now? I really don’t know if that would have had any bearing on the course of my life at all.

All I know is that nowadays, I tend to prefer peace and quiet. I love being at my home, with my mutts, my computer, a good book, tv, a glass of wine, etc. Or I enjoy spending time with my family or my closest friends. I like small get togethers, intimate conversations, silliness, and spending time with people who encourage me to be the best version of myself. I tend to avoid large crowds or bigger get togethers. Lots of people + lots of alcohol tend to = unnecessary drama. I’m so uninterested in drama. I have very little patience for it.

Whether I missed my calling at being the girl who is always out and about town or not… One thing is for sure. I have come to adore peace and quiet.