Posted in Pop Culture, Word Therapy

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Hi

Hi there. Its been a while. I’ve been adjusting to get up at 330 am for work. My anxiety and depression have been bullying me which has given me an excuse to not write. I lost my mojo, motivation, etc.(more on that next week). Here’s a little good for your weekend:

WE.DON’T.DESERVE.DOGS (or Captain America):

I always feel like the fuckin’ coolest when I know a musical guest on SNL:

We are all this baby:

Where I will forever be traumatized imagining Clint Eastwood having a threesome:

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

 

Posted in Not Today Anxiety

Sleepover Mania

Since Curls and Red have birthdays five days apart, this year we did back to back sleepovers the first weekend after school started. Our friends told us we were crazy. They weren’t wrong. But we were crazy armed with our medicine. And that made all the difference.

Before Prozac, just one kid sleeping over would make me anxious. A series of questions would run through my brain. How do I tell a kid the rules in our house without upsetting them? Will they tell their parents and then an angry parent will call and yell at me? When is it okay to tell them to go to bed? Should I just let the kids stay up and resign myself to a night of no sleep? Anxiety doesn’t just attack my social skills. It also tells me that I am uptight because I can’t stop cleaning while the party is going on. Just leave the damn food, plates, and anything else alone because people are having a good time. Don’t make them feel bad for enjoying themselves while you pick up.

Now that I am taking my Prozac, I am equipped to handle them. This past weekend’s sleepovers consisted of 4 kids staying each night, not including Curls and Red. But instead of my subconscious bullying me, I was able to enjoy their personalities (funny, polite, and sweet) and let them do their own thing. I let them know when they needed to wash their hands before meals and dessert, throw away their own trash, and keep food and drinks in the kitchen. I also made it clear that if they needed anything at all, to just let us know. They were there to have fun and we wanted to make sure they were comfortable in our home. I also didn’t stress about what time they went to bed as long as they played quietly past 10 pm so the neighbors wouldn’t call the cops (let them save that ruckus for their twenties and college).

If I started to feel my body hum with nerves, I would throw away used paper plates and napkins. I would wipe down counters, put shoes by the door, pick up stinky socks, and wipe down bathrooms. Cleaning calms my brain and centers me and I need all the tools in my brain arsenal that I can get.

Were back to back sleepovers still tiring and difficult? Hell yes. But hubby and I teamed up, planned well, and tried to have humor and patience. I hope the kids remember the party as a great time and not crabby parents asking at 2 am to keep it down.

If you’re a parent, do you do sleepovers? Do you love or hate them? My BFF does sleepovers pretty much every weekend for my niece and nephews and I would like to nominate her for sainthood.

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

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 Wellness, Word Therapy

Vacay

I love how you can be sitting on the beach in pure sunshine and calm waves when all of the sudden it starts to rain so fast it’s like mist when it hits the sand. Five minutes later the sun is back out. We spent a lot of time on the beach, only going up to our room to eat lunch in our condo and watch the soap opera Another World. The sweet smell of pineapple still makes me crave a fruit boat. Whenever I see St. Elmo Fire is on television I remember walking around the village of our hotel and stopping into the movie theater to watch it (Saxophone playing Rob Lowe is second only to Soda Pop Rob Lowe). I proudly wore my Puka shell necklace my parents bought me from Lahaina and the t-shirt that sported the round cat playing soccer. We ate lots of shaved ice and were greeted by beautiful exotic birds when we visited the Hyatt Regency. It was summer of 1985 and I was 10. My parents had brought us to their favorite vacation destination, the Hawaiian island of Maui. And even though it had its mishaps (lost luggage, broken down rental car, and stomach flu for me), it was still one of my favorite trips as a kid.

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My anxiety does not like vacations. I can’t sleep in hotels. It’s very hard for me to relax. I like my routines at home. When hubby and I went to Europe after college, I didn’t enjoy myself as much as I wanted to. I was overwhelmed, didn’t give a rat’s ass about all the beautiful art I was seeing, and even got sick and missed out on going to Nice, France (I’m such an idiot). When I think back on that trip I do have fond memories (I know I sound like a privileged asshole ) but wish I had appreciated it more.

These days vacations are easier. Medicine clears away all the nonsense and helps me be in the moment. Planning ahead and checklists still help. And knowing that I will be surrounded by family that I adore is the best part.

On Monday my family of four will board a plane for the first time together. We are meeting family in Seattle for the better part of a week with a one day trip to Portland. I like to joke that we are trying to hit all the cities with the hipsters (Austin was our first). We will do touristy things like the Space Needle and nerdy stuff like the Pop Culture Museum. When Curls and I visited New York in March, one of favorite places was the New York Public Library. I now want to visit the library in each of the cities we travel to and Seattle Public Library has astounding architecture. In Portland we will hit up Voodoo Donuts and Salt and Straw to satisfy the sweet tooth and the Japanese Garden to calm the mind.

I know we will return from vacation having a new city we love and can’t wait to revisit (like Austin). My wish for the future is for us to take a RV trip with stops in Zion and Yellowstone and a vacation to Tokyo.

Where do you like to go on vacation? Do you like to travel?

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

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 Word Therapy

Social Media Fail

A couple of weeks ago I posted pictures of a hill that I was trying to conquer on a bike ride. I showed an uphill and a downhill shot. I followed it with a poll of which direction did followers think I took. After about an hour nobody had voted. And with that simple post, my anxiety was triggered, I deleted the post, and my “I don’t give a fuck” attitude took the kids to her sister’s:

As a writer I know in order for my book to succeed it can’t just be good. I have to be marketable. In order to be marketable, people need to know who the hell I am. That means accumulating followers. I recently made my Instagram profile public. Since then I have watched the number of my followers go up and down. I’m not the person who is going to follow you just because you followed me. Before the biking post I was doing stories the required three times/day. But when people start skipping the rest of your stories and don’t even vote in your polls, your feelings get hurt. You want to create entertaining content. You have to keep that “this is who I am, for better or worse” attitude. But sometimes those voices in your head become so loud that it is hard to ignore them and this is what your brain looks like:

Facebook is a whole other monster. I don’t accept a lot of friend requests because that has blown up in my face (knowing that you are a Trump supporter makes me just want to delete your friend request or unfollow you if we are already friends and I don’t have the patience to deal with the drama that comes with deleting you). As for Facebook’s security and their hand in the 2016 election, I honestly am not all up in arms. If you believed the fake stories that were being peddled during election season and that was enough for you to vote for dumbass in chief, WELL:

And let’s be honest. Facebook is not for millenials using social media. It’s for generations like mine who use it to post pictures of their kids for the grandparents, stay in touch with friends and family you don’t see in real life, and post cute animal videos to your spouse’s/best friend’s page.

Twitter is the social media platform I go to when I want to feel overwhelmed and stupid. I can barely come up with a succinct 280 character tweet and people are out there doing threads with 10+ tweets. Here’s my thought process when I try to tweet:

“Nobody cares.”

“Somebody’s going to try and argue/troll you and then you’re going to cry.”

“Oh forget it.”

So basically I am in the middle of a temper tantrum about not being popular on social media. I have calmed down a bit since the bike meltdown but right now it is doing more harm than good. Writing lifts me up and gives me confidence. I know I will eventually go back to posting like I used to. But that whole “nobody likes you” feeling is still strong, even if I know it’s irrational.

How do you feel about social media? Are you a dedicated poster? Or do you just like to browse and like?

Posted in Wellness, Word Therapy

Happy Mindfulness

Today I turn 43. Not a special birthday. A day where I think about all that has happened since the last April 12th and the changes my family and I have been through. So much changed for the better in this last year. We are back at home, I can say with confidence that I am a writer, and I feel the most settled than I ever have.

Mindfulness is definitely the word I would use to describe this year. I’m learning more why I act the way I do and the actions of others around me. I stop and think more, which has made me a better parent and wife. I take life one day at a time with a lot of letting go and deep breaths. It has brought peace to my soul that wasn’t there before.

It is easier to be grateful these days. I appreciate the outdoors when I walk my dogs, go on Sunday bike rides with my family, and sit in my backyard and write. Listening to music helps me to sit still and relax.

I am taking a hold of aging and attempting to be graceful. I got bangs to cover my forehead wrinkles but I don’t think I can rock a beard like Keala Settle to cover up the jowels. I refuse to subscribe to the thinking that I should dress according to my age and wear what I love, jeans and pop culture t-shirts (with a little bit of preppy thrown in). I haven’t found the perfect Mrs. Roper’s muumuu yet but I will track down that unicorn.

My brain tries to sabotage me weekly. It seems the harder I work to overcome my obstacles, the louder the negative feelings become. But I know that these are only temporary and will pass.

I don’t know if my writing has gotten better. I have become more truthful, which is just as important to me. I have found my process. I have worked my way past the voices that tell me everything I write sucks, and just write what it is I need to say. I know I am going to have to read a piece at least five times and edit the hell out of it before I can feel satisfied with it. I feel freer to write and the judgment I imagine that is forthcoming is not as scary.

I write this blog to process what I am going through. I want others to be able to understand what somebody with anxiety is going through. Or maybe they see themselves in a post. The more people I interact with those that have anxiety, the less alone I feel. Social media (particularly Instagram) has helped with that. And sure, I would love to have followers in the thousands. But it is also exhausting to make yourself relevant in this world. Going viral, using the allotted 25 hashtags, and following someone back because they follow you are all tricks of the trade but once you are in the spotlight the question is for how long?

I have accepted that when I have highs they are in the sky and when I have lows they are below the ocean bed (Kind of like this post). Prozac has brought me closer to the middle and given me balance. I also think feeling at home has been a factor. Happiness is achievable and I intend to keep running towards it.

Please celebrate my birthday with me by reading about and/or donating to

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/#sm.0006isoco1aj1es6wm62lmqtzuku9

https://www.aclu.org/

https://everytown.org/

Thank you!

Posted in Word Therapy

This is What Anxiety Looks Like

I pull into the parking lot of the beach. I try not to stare out at the waves crashing to the shore with speed. After I turn off the car I turn around to look at my girl in her car seat. Her dark blonde hair is just now starting to grow into wispy curls around her ears. She is asleep but stirs when she feels my gaze upon her. She takes her fingers out of her mouth and says, “Hi Mama.”

Hi Baby Girl. Ready to go to the beach?”

“Yes!,” she replies.

I keep the radio on while I get out and hurry to her side. I open her door and tell her that I am going to get out our stuff and then I will get her out of the car seat. I open the back of my SUV and drag the beach bag down to the asphalt. I check off the list in my head as I go through the bag: Extra clothes for my daughter, diapers, wipes, snacks, sippy cups, hats, diaper cream, sunscreen, tissues, baby powder, and water. I heave it over my shoulder after I take my daughter out of her seat and lock the car.

We walk through the sand at a snail’s pace until I make the decision to heave my girl on my right hip with the bag on the opposite shoulder and the sun chair strapped to my back. My heart races as we get closer to the water. I can feel my hair getting bigger and uglier as the salt water makes contact.

We finally make it somewhat close to the shore without me enabling the ocean’s ability to get it’s claws into my world and take her away from me in a heartbeat. I lay down the towels after three attempts with minimum sand on them. I keep everything else in the bag until needed. I don’t take my eyes off my little girl. I don’t want her putting her hands in the sand and getting that virus where if you make contact with poop that has been buried by a previous beach goer.  She would touch it and then automatically put her hand in her mouth.

I put her life jacket on along with sunscreen and a hat. I breathe a little easier after hearing the clip of the water preserver and allow her to go a maximum of three feet from me at a time. If she goes beyond that the tourists around us can hear my voice carrying up and down the coast.

When my sister arrives she takes the two of us over to the campground where her friends are staying. The smell of barbecued meat is inviting. Everyone is nice but I can’t sit still. I try to talk myself into relaxing so I don’t come across as insane but I am so afraid my daughter is going to rush right into the ocean’s open arms and not return. After some snacks and a drink, I give her one of the three showers she will receive before the day is up. After the second one a little later I snap at my sister for telling me to calm down. I either imagine or actually see her friends give each other glances, silently judging the “crazy mom.”

After sticking it out until late afternoon, I pack up and the two of us leave. Little one is asleep by the time we get to the car, fresh from her last shower. I do the two finger check under the seat belt strap to make sure she is secure, put her stuffed animal in her lap, and don’t worry when she puts her middle and ring finger in her mouth.

Once we are home and inside, I breathe a sigh of relief.

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Posted in Word Therapy

Am I a Narcissistic Asshole?: A Rhetorical Post

Anxiety disorder: A group of mental disorders characterized by significant feelings of anxiety and fear.

Social anxiety: Chronic mental health condition which social interactions cause irrational anxiety.

Narcissism: A disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self importance.

Since starting Prozac, I recognize that a lot of my past actions have been due to anxiety. Control, trust, and anger issues all came from deep rooted fear. Medication and a whole lot of thinking are helping to correct these problems as understanding why is key. But then because my brain can’t leave well enough alone, I start to question this. Can I really blame my negative behavior on my anxiety? Or like the villain in your favorite book, am I just an asshole and don’t realize it?

Over the years I have had a string of female friendships that ended badly. I’ve tried to figure out what I am doing wrong and why I am unable to maintain these friendships. Don’t get me wrong. I am lucky enough to have a BFF that is also my sister-in-law. I have a college buddy who I consider family. And one of my oldest friends is somebody I don’t see often but know I can count on.

I have written and rewritten this post over the past few years. I feel exposed and weak when I think about putting it out there for all to read. But I want to deal with this head on so I can start to embrace that camaraderie, get this village that everyone talks about, and be more open to friendships that I would normally shy away from.

When I was in sixth grade my core group of friends told me flat out that I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with anymore. In junior high I was a loner who was constantly bullied. In high school I finally made a few “friends” who always made snide comments about me, played practical jokes on me, and were rude to my family when they were at my house. Then I met Jen. She was a junior when I was a sophomore. She was athletic, funny, and didn’t take crap from anyone. She was six feet tall with an Afro of blonde curls (picture the McDonald’s Fry Guy). She took me under her wing and showed me kindness. Two years later our friendship ended because I was either being an asshole or my anxiety had sabotaged the one true friendship I had. Since then I have gone through an assortment of relationships.

So am I ending these friendships because I am afraid of getting hurt? Am I setting standards so high that nobody could possibly live up to them? Or have I just had bad luck with friends? And to complicate things further, I had an epiphany right before my 40th birthday. I finally saw that I wasn’t the awful person I had always made myself out to be. The hard work then became a matter of distinguishing between the voices of anxiety and my gut telling me, “You don’t deserve to be treated like this.” In the beginning I would stand up for myself by being aggressive and blunt. The more accepting I have become of myself, the easier it is to be firm but nice.

So am I a narcissistic asshole? Probably a little bit. Right now I am happy and content with the small group of friends I have. Fear may prevent me from reaching out for now. I have learned that I can be “too much” for most people. But that’s okay.

Posted in Not Today Anxiety

Panic Prevention Program

Do you have anxiety? Panic attacks? Feel like you need to put your head between your legs 15 minutes into your day? There is help. That help is the Panic Prevention Program. Do this as follows and your life will get better, you will walk around smiling at perfect strangers, and focusing on the day ahead of you won’t feel like an insurmountable task.

Morning:

Snooze or don’t snooze your alarm an hour before your kids have to get up (depending on if you fell asleep on the couch during Brian Williams because you were too tired to stay up for Rachel or you binge watched three episodes of your new Netflix obsession and went to bed after 11).

Have an uninterrupted conversation with your significant other which entails asking how you slept, discussing various aches and pains, and expressing outrage over the state of the country.

Let your dogs out before they pee right at the door and feed them before their barking wakes up the kids.

Make your bed so at least one room in the house looks semi clean and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Pour Cheerios in a bowl even though you really want Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch. Put all the ingredients for your smoothie (frozen fruit, spinach, almond milk, almond milk yogurt, tumeric for inflammation, and chia seeds because you read it was good for you but can’t remember why) into your Ninja single serving container. Wait to blend until after you have given the wake up call to your precious angels and hit power when they won’t listen.

This first step of the program gives you time to handle all parents’ weekday favorites: Temper tantrums, sleepiness (see smoothie blending), excuses, and most of all-the FIGHTING.

If this proves successful for you and you are left with time to spare, throw a rager because who am I kidding there will be no time to spare

Mid Morning to Afternoon:

Get a jump start on that traffic if you have to drive to work. Play some music on the radio, Spotify, Pandora, Sirius, or Apple (what a time to be alive!). Try not to bang your head on the steering wheel more than three times to prevent a concussion because Bob, Amanda, Taylor, and Carol don’t know how to effing merge or use a turn signal. Take deep breaths when you start to think about how it takes 45 minutes to go 13 miles in rush hour traffic. Roll down the window for some air when you fast forward to the afternoon when you get to do this again.

Work from home? Go out for a walk before you get down to business. Soak up that weather, admire simple things like the old trees that line the neighborhood streets, and run past the house that looks like Rebecca Romijn’s character from Friends lives there and you want to pull a Monica and ask if you can clean it up “just a little bit”.

Have time for a workout? You better. Endorphins and being physically fit can keep those demon thoughts away. We aren’t getting any younger and taking care of ourselves only extends our life expectancy, even in a country where Trump is president (gotta be ready for that impeachment party, AM I RIGHT?).

Writing is a key part of the panic prevention program. Putting the weight of your thoughts onto paper releases their power and locks the door on the demons. You will be lighter, happier, and an overall nicer person.

Afternoon to dinner:

You tell yourself you can edit a post, do some research, or maybe just sneak in a Duolingo lesson while the kids are doing homework. 95% of the time those good intentions are drop kicked outside the field goal post. But if your work gets done in the morning, that’s okay. You can keep your kids on task (preferably in separate rooms because again, FIGHTING), prepare for dinner, possibly start laundry, and maybe that Spanish lesson will happen.

Evening to Bedtime:

Want some family time before the kids go to bed? Try yoga. It will calm your body and mind to help you sleep better. And even though the kids will giggle and complain at first, you are doing something together that will help each of you in its own way.

Once the kids are asleep (or at least in bed), you can now look forward to watching a show or movie with your partner. Five minutes later you will be passed out on the couch in a position that will be sure to make your neck hurt tomorrow. The anxiety will be there tomorrow but all that matters now is SLEEP.