Posted in Calming the Voices, Not Today Anxiety, Wellness, Word Therapy

Today

Last week marked the one year anniversary since I started taking Prozac. I have changed so much in that time. My brain before Prozac was the house that lay dormant with sheets covering all of the furniture. Prozac has gone around and turned on all the lights, removed the sheets, and aired it out by opening the windows. The more sunshine that comes in, the more I feel myself. I feel as if the parts of me that needed fixing are starting to mend. I have more patience, I am more open, and I am not beating myself up on a daily basis. When anxiety starts to build up I am more often than not able to reign it in.

It’s exhausting being defensive and thinking that when a friend, family member, or even a stranger acts negatively towards you that you automatically think you did something wrong. But I did just that for 42+ years (and honestly don’t know how I’m not taking a nap right now). Having that disappear gives me the opportunity to be empathetic. I’m taking my time back and using it for more positive things. Prozac and mindfulness have done that for me.

Social media is still and probably always will be a struggle. There are days where I want to share my life, good and bad. I want to engage with others, other days I just want to hide from it all so I can’t be judged (which is mostly coming from inside my own head).

I want to be an author first and always. I have focused on getting through my anxiety by writing. When I get overwhelmed with mindfulness, putting thoughts down on paper has helped. But I also have felt selfish and self centered by writing about this. Who am I to play the victim and be sad about life? But ultimately I have realized I needed to go through this to come out on the other side. I sometimes still feel alone in my feelings. Prozac has taught my brain that is not the case but my heart still feels different. I am not pushing for a change of heart as I know that wall will become even stronger the more my brain tries to huff and puff it down. It will change in time and that will have to be enough.

The Should and Shouldn’t Have families are starting to wear out their welcome as I am putting on my pajamas to give them the hint. Just in the last few weeks I have started asking, “Well, why can’t I do that?” or “Why do I have to do that?” It sounds so corny and cheesy but I am starting to like myself. It’s a foreign feeling for someone who is constantly thinking of new ways to improve herself. I definitely should have sought help sooner but strangely I don’t have any regrets. I am just so happy that I finally feel “normal.”

I have learned that my emotions will change day to day. One day I will feel on top of the world, ready to accomplish anything. Others I will be frustrated with life and feel like I will never achieve anything. I know I am not alone in this and that in itself is huge. Now I can focus on finding the strength to keep going. I know I can write a book that will be successful. It’s holding onto that thought day in and day out, that is my goal.

I don’t know if I will change anybody’s mind about mental health, but getting the help I needed has been life changing for me. Thank you for reading.

Posted in Calming the Voices, Word Therapy

Action Hero Mad

I am in a partial building where I am blow drying my hair. I am talking to Pete Davidson and Tracey Morgan at one point. I told Pete I was concerned about his Ariana engagement but that I wished him well. I am yelling at my kids to get ready as we are already late for school. We are ready to leave and then all of a sudden we are at the school. Some guys who have tactical gear on come into the room because they are looking for somebody. They take that person into custody and then the shooting starts. I watch teenagers sitting down cross legged get shot and killed, their mouths open in shock. I grab my children’s hands and am able to call my husband to tell him we are okay as gunfire is all around us. Then I wake up.

I would definitely say my anxiety has had its hands on the wheel lately. I want to focus on the good but also scream till I am hoarse about the injustices going on in the world (this has been a constant for me since November 2016):

There are so many terrible things in the news that it is practically impossible to have enough energy for all the outrage. I know my California senators are doing what they need to. I voted in the primaries. I have donated to help with the children being separated from their parents at the border. I want to crawl under my bed and never come out when I see the President salute a North Korean general. And I have so much anger and frustration built up that if somebody tries to defend any of this shit I’m ready to go full action hero settling a score on their ass.

My anxiety likes to tell me that there is so much to do, it is too overwhelming, and I should just sit and be angry, sad, and hopeless. My anxiety loves a good pity party. So I sit and write. I make a to do list to make me feel more in control of my emotions. This to do list will make me feel like I am helping. And I sure as hell am not going to stop talking about it on social media (in fact I am probably going to get worse). This to do list is not just applicable to me. You can do it also. Won’t you please join me??

TO DO LIST

I am sorry if you come to my blog (again, thank you so much for reading) for fun SoCal stuff. Just when I think what is going on is too much, it gets worse. I hope that you are all doing well and taking it one step at a time.

Posted in Calming the Voices, Word Therapy

Anxiety, Panic, and Pessimism: Take A Seat

Back at home.  A house, while smaller, has character and a tranquil backyard (my kids are so tired of hearing about the character of Fullerton houses but I am in serious architectural hog heaven).  There are so many places we want to visit in the OC that I have to keep reminding myself that those places aren’t going anywhere and neither are we.  And for the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m not stressed about bills.  That is when the voices start to close in and try to sabotage my brain.

I have had a good life.  I grew up in a nice home, have loving parents, and was never really told no.  In adulthood I met the love of my life and we have two great kids.  But I also grew up feeling less than, was bullied relentlessly, and never felt pretty.  My husband and I have survived hard times but they have left their mark.  They put me in the lowest place I have ever been.  Those times made me stronger, weaker, and made me appreciate what I have.  But it also introduced me to my greatest fear: a feeling I never want to revisit.

These days I am the manager of our household, making sure everybody is taken care of and is getting what they need from their life.  That ranges from making sure hubby is getting the time to study calculus after work, to the kids having an after school activity to work out their energy, to Oscar getting his daily walks to stretch his old legs.  I exercise, write, clean, and read.  I of course always want more time to write but how can I complain?  I know how lucky I am.

Then I start to hear, “This can’t last.  Happiness doesn’t stay.  The happier you get, the harder you will have to fall.  Before Prozac those thoughts would make me believe I was alone in this feeling.  I now know that isn’t true.  But Prozac hasn’t chased away the “happiness is fleeting” thoughts.

I’ve never considered trying to calm or manage those destructive thoughts before.  Being rational wasn’t an option and all I did was let the panic take over.  I know I can only control so much and the rest is life telling me who is in charge.  Deep breaths, being responsible, and continuing to work hard is my new way of combating the negativity.  And try not to be so hard on myself because I have recently learned a lesson: Being nice to myself is not only good for me, it is also good for the ones I love.  Such a hard lesson to learn and continue to believe.  I feel like I have to train my brain like writing it on a chalkboard over and over again.

Posted in Calming the Voices, Word Therapy

Sometimes Joey McIntyre is Who it Takes

Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Ethnic cleansing. The White House. Is there anything in the news today that doesn’t stress us out? When the Oklahoma City bombing occurred I remember bawling while watching the television coverage and my boyfriend asking me, “Why do you care so much? You don’t know them”-he exited not long after. With anxiety and depression I have learned to identify when I’m feeling bad as a result of them. The next step has been learning to get through it and how. I have had to develop a certain set of skills for this.

Taken GIF

From ’07 to ’12 we moved a total of seven times. I had moving down pat. I didn’t get rid of moving boxes. I became obsessed with purging stuff so we could have less stuff to move. I even had a moving checklist on my hard drive. With our next move coming upon us, I can feel the pressure looming over me. I am in full coping mode: taking deep breaths, taking it one day at a time, and making ALL THE LISTS. To do lists broken down by day and week, address change notification list, what to purge, donate, and sell list, and my favorite-but-gives-my-husband-heart-palpitations list: What to buy for the new house.

As a child I used reading to deal with being bullied. When I would have a bad day I would daydream about a NKOTB member (preferably Joey) taking me to the Oscars where I would win for best actress and look perfect on the red carpet with my perfectly straight hair and fabulous formal gown. As an adult I still use reading to cope while my hubby takes me on dates that no red carpet or fabulous gown could measure up to. I would prefer to lose myself in a Stephen King novel than watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders be rude to the press during her daily bullshit briefings. If I want to be relaxed and focused, I meditate. Running stimulates my mind and helps me be creative. And all music makes me happy.

We all need coping skills, depressed or not. I am proud to say that my daughter will go to her room to color or read while listening to music if she gets annoyed with her brother or overwhelmed. This is in contrast from last year when she used to yell at anybody within shouting distance. Wesley chews his fingernails (he is a work in progress). Setting her and her brother up for success at a young age on how to deal with life’s obstacles is a gift I hope I can give them.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. If you are sad or feel alone, you aren’t. Here is the link to NAMI for you or anybody that you know is struggling:

https://www.nami.org/

I would like to leave you with a performance of “You Will Be Found” by the cast of Dear Evan Hansen. The show deals with teen suicide and the song makes me feel less alone every time I hear it.

Posted in Calming the Voices

The Arizona Effect

With anxiety and depression, stability is something I crave. A routine, bills paid on time/in advance, and a job that provides. I don’t need to be a millionaire or have expensive things. But in the past eight years, life has made sure that stability has alluded us. Some of it has been due to our choices and the rest is just life giving us a kick in the ass to build character.

Four months after my youngest was born, my family was living in one room in my sister’s house. The job situation was dire. A month after that we were renting two rooms in a friend’s house in Arizona. For the next 10 months we endured jobs coming and going. Money was tight to the point where I lost weight because I wasn’t eating to save money; all while nursing an infant (not one of my brighter moments). We finally made the decision to move back to California and tackle the job market, figuring we had nothing to lose by being where we felt we belonged. Luckily, hubby got a temp job that turned into a permanent one.

Fast forward four years and hubby’s job is making him sick and growth in the company is nonexistent. With my support he decides to fulfill his dream of owning a business. He quits his job and throws himself head first into the pool cleaning world.

It is now late 2017. We have sold the business after running it together successfully. We had our ups and downs with the business and learned so much. But with the election results in November, we gained a new perspective. The small community that we have been raising our kids in started to feel different. We witnessed ugliness that we didn’t see before or maybe we unconsciously ignored it. Friendships that we thought we could count on were lost in this new world. While we were down in the streets of Los Angeles protesting, people around us were saying we needed to accept this political environment and to “get over it.”

As a result, our life goals have changed. We have new wants and dreams. So rather than stay somewhere because we “should” and feel isolated, we are rolling the dice again. Hubby is ready to go back to an office environment. He wants to go back to his hometown where family will be.

This is the exact opposite of stable. New job, new town, new home, and new school (for the kids). Do we stay somewhere just because we have been there for a long period of time and it’s what our kids know? Is that what sacrifice is? Or do we show them that we are willing to take chances if it means the possibility of happiness and success?

The unknown and uncertainty of it grips me with terror. I imagine a new job not working out and us becoming homeless (this usually occurs at 4 am in the morning). Rationale reminds me in the light of day that we will be fine no matter what but my brain won’t allow to me let go of the worst case scenario.

So that’s where I’m at. We are throwing our whole life up in the air by taking this chance at happiness. We could fail miserably and have before. But I think as much as I want steadiness, taking a chance feels right.

Posted in Calming the Voices

Prozac is my Stacy London

Today is day 38 of me taking Prozac. I have tried over the counter antidepressants, Xanax, and Buspirone before I was finally prescribed Prozac for my anxiety and depression. And just like that it was like Stacy London from What Not To Wear came in and showed me how to live my best life.

For those who don’t know, What Not to Wear was a reality show in the early 2000s where Stacy London and cohost Clinton Kelly would help out a person who was nominated by their friends/family to have an overhaul of their wardrobe. I always thought that was kind of mean for friends and family to do that but the nominated person was always thrilled by the end of the episode so what do I know?

The first thing they would do is to clean out their closet, getting rid of outdated clothes and/or styles that don’t flatter them. With Prozac, it has cleared the cobwebs from my brain. If something is bothering me but doesn’t have a major effect on my life (i.e., the little things), away they go. If a negative thought doesn’t serve a purpose (and what negativity does?), it is shown the door.

Next stop is to give their subject a budget and guidelines on buying a new wardrobe. These clothes ultimately should make this person feel good about themselves and help them accomplish a life goal. Prozac has become the cheerleader voice in my head. If I think that I suck at writing (which happens on a daily basis), Prozac replaces that with, “No you don’t. You just need to work hard, stay focused, and not be so hard on yourself.” If I think to myself, “I will just write tomorrow”, Prozac tells me, “You need to do it today because you can.” If I beat myself up over my parenting, Prozac tells me I am doing the best I can.

At the end of the episode Stacy and Clinton give the person a makeover and show her how to to make the most of her new wardrobe. Prozac has set me on a path where I believe I can be happy even when there are challenges. On the horizon there is the possibility of major life changes: a new job and moving to a new town. I know it will be hard and stressful. But now I have a voice in my head telling me I can handle it. And I can’t ask for more than that.