Anxiety is…

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I think that anxiety is the single most stupid thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. If you haven’t read any of my other posts, then let me tell you… I think that anxiety is the single most stupid thing I have ever had to deal with in my life!!!!

However, anxiety is not defined as “stupid”; it’s actually defined as:

anx·i·e·ty / aNGˈzīəde noun

  1. a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Similar: worry, concern, apprehension, apprehensiveness, consternation

This is your typical “I’m a little anxious to get the test results.” “I’m worried about how I’m going to be able to pay this bill.” “I have a huge presentation at work and I’m nervous!” type of anxiety. Almost every human, ever, has experienced this type of anxiety at some point in their life. This what most people tend to think when I say that I have anxiety. Perhaps, that fault lies with me and I need to be more specific. I say that, to say this:

There are also various Anxiety Disorders. There are a total of about six different ones; I have three of them. According to the Mayo Clinic anxiety disorders are (especially note the parts in italics):

“Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).

These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger and can last a long time. You may avoid places or situations to prevent these feelings. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood.

Examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias and separation anxiety disorder. You can have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment.

I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was four years old. Anxiety?! At FOUR years old?!? Yep. I bet you’re wondering “What the heck is a FOUR. YEAR. OLD. anxious about?” Well, generally speaking, a four year old would have nothing to be anxious about. Some four year olds, though, have had a rough go of it from the start; traumatic births, health problems, surgeries, etc. Some four year olds have already had more than one divorce in their parents’ lives, and some times, both of those marriages were abusive anyway. By the time I was four and WELL before I had a clue what the word “anxiety” means, it had started affecting me by manifesting itself in the form of physical symptoms. I had severe digestive/tummy issues and my hair had started to fall out by the handful.

The time that I reached middle school (and started puberty) is when a couple of the men in my life chose to do what they did to me. (I am choosing to leave out the names and some of the details…for now, as I am truly still finding my healing.) The two people were both sexually abusing me, on a regular basis, with neither of them knowing about the other. One was a little heavier on the mind games/mental aspect of abuse than the other; in fact as I grew older, learned more, and looked back on those events, I was being “groomed” for much worse by one and the “worst” was already happening with the other. The thing that did the most damage, though, was being told that I was not acceptable how I was and that I needed to be “stripped down to nothing and built back the way that he wanted me.” What he meant by that was, “I want to control you so you will do whatever I say and I want to scare you, so you will never tell anyone.” Ya’ll this is just my life up until middle school, and this is just the MOST MAJOR stuff that happened, (not everything) and suddenly the question of “Why do I have anxiety?” has an answer.

I have struggled my entire life with feeling like the real, true me, was not good enough. I often feel as though my whole life, thus far, has been me acting; trying to act in a way/ways that would make me “acceptable” and truly loved. Now that I am in my mid-30’s, I feel as though I am starting to grow into what, and who, God created me to be. I am discovering who I really am and not just what someone else wanted to create, what I really love, what I really can’t stand, the types of friends I want to have in my life and the kind of friend I want to be in return. Having reached the point where “just managing” the symptoms of anxiety, but mostly pretending that everything is “fine” is just not working any more; other strategies have had to be put in place. Brian and I decided that I would try the medication route again and I’ve decided that I’m not going to let anyone else’s opinion about how I care for my own well-being, contribute to my anxiety. I just am one of those people that needs medication to keep me on a level playing field. Therapy has been absolutely invaluable; as it is teaching me strategies to fight the anxiety and not just lay down and let it take my life. I have to “do the work” and find my healing or its going to kill me.

It has been thirty two years since I first showed symptoms of anxiety. It has been twenty four years since the abuse I endured stopped and the people involved faced their consequences. Still, even now, as an adult, I still frequently deal with my body exhibiting physical symptoms, whether or not I am experiencing any mental or emotional symptoms at that time. Almost daily I experience nausea, rapid heart rate, difficulty catching my breath, upset stomach, sweating, muscle cramps/spasms, tingling, difficulty sleeping/staying asleep. Now, most days I don’t experience ALL of those things, but I do experience most of them to some degree or another.

I hope that this has given you a little bit of insight into anxiety, and especially the difference between the anxiety/anxiousness that most people feel and the severe anxiety disorders that so many suffer from. Thanks to the support system that has rallied around me, from my husband and kids to my doctors, my therapist and my Camp Gladiator workout family, I am doing better now than I have in many, many years. It is possible. Hang in there.

I would now like to leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the social interwebs…

What have your experiences been with anxiety? Do you struggle with it or do you know someone who does? Let’s talk in the comments. Be sure to “like” and “subscribe” to get my posts sent right to your inbox!

I have many days in my life that I wonder “How in the world does he handle all of the things that MY anxiety causes him to have to deal with? Like, I don’t even think I would be able to handle being married to me!” I mean, come on ya’ll, I’ve only got about three different anxiety disorders! It shouldn’t be THAT hard to handle, right?!

You guys, there are so many ways that my anxiety affects Brian, as my husband. He is AMAZING at dealing with both of us, me and the anxiety. I know he thinks he doesn’t know what he’s doing or that he just plain stinks at it, but I tell him almost daily that I literally do not think I could do this without him. I think that if I was married to anyone else this would have killed me already. That’s the truth.

Brian is a fairly out-going guy. He loves meeting new people. He can talk to any one. So, he is, of course the complete and total opposite of this “I have social anxiety, can I please not meet any one that I have to actually converse with today” girl right here! For him that means few social gatherings; especially if it’s people I haven’t met before. It means having to leave a gathering early. It means me ONLY wanting to be near HIM. This part of the anxiety also keeps him from being able to surprise me. (In my favor, it also means that he can’t play practical jokes on me or startle me). It means that he can’t put me in a situation where I can’t get in touch with him if I need him. (I do TRULY mean IF I NEED him. Emphasis on IF and NEED; think “emergency.”)

Brian has never been the “finance” guy in our marriage. Now, he has always worked and made the money, but he didn’t care about the numbers part and the details, so it became my job to do. My severe anxiety means that he has to double check me when I pay bills or balance the checkbook. It means that He has had to deal with me straight up forgetting to pay bills and things being shut off. It means that he has dealt with me running up close to $15,000 in credit card debt…twice.

Way back when I was a child, my “hobby” was to clean my room, or organize my toys, or yell at my sister because “her side” of the room was a disaster area. When I married Brian, when I was twenty years old, I was what some people would call a “neat freak.” Our first little apartment stayed CLEAN, and organized, and well taken care of. I’m not really sure why my anxiety manifested itself as “neat freak” in my younger years and as “it’s clean ‘enough'” in my older years, but that is exactly what has happened. I say all of that, to say this; Brian deals with me going from one extreme to the other on household chores. I am either cleaning the baseboards with a toothbrush and organizing closets by color, or the trash hasn’t been taken out in days, the sink is full, and I can’t remember the last time I changed clothes. The “in between” on these two extremes is when I do at least manage to remind the kids to do their chores.

One of the hardest, most frustrating, most annoying, irritating things that we have had to deal with is the issues of anxiety that I have in the area of intimacy/sex. I had multiple sexual traumas in my childhood. It has come to my attention over the past several years, as the anxiety has reached an all time high, that that trauma is still affecting me today, in a very real way. Brian has not ever, and I do mean EVER, done anything to me, said anything to me, or treated me in a way that even remotely resembled the things the other men did when I was young. He has always been very gentle and tender with me, has never done anything that was not consensual, has always taken care of me before himself. If you know him, you know how much this man adores me. He still, after 16 years of marriage and over twenty years since the trauma, deals with things like me not being able to turn off the lights, me not being able to be touched in certain areas or certain ways, something small and insignificant causing my body to SHUT DOWN. Or, me having a panic attack in the middle of… and having to stop completely. Brian is so good to me. He is so careful and does his best to not hurt me or cause me any unnecessary anxiety…that it causes HIM anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle. We take frequent “spins.” My therapist has us going on weekly dates; just us. Just to reconnect. Just to hang out and be friends. We don’t spend much money; we go walk at the park or go to one of our workouts and grab a bite to eat. It’s helping. I’m optimistic.

When this anxiety crap is getting the best of me, Brian frequently tells me “I’m sorry, Baby. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I wish I could fix it or take it away.” While we know that our spouse can’t really fix it or take it away, Brian and I have learned some ways that a spouse can help/ease anxiety. One of the biggest, I can tell you from personal experience, is SUPPORT! If your spouse truly has anxiety…IT. IS. NOT. ALL. IN. THEIR. HEAD. They need encouragement to take care of themselves (in all areas). Brian has stood by my side as I went to the doctor and asked her for help. He was with me with I picked up and started taking the meds. He encouraged me to call the therapist and make an appointment. He cheered me on as I started working out and taking care of my physical body. He found the money to make sure that I could do all of those things. Of course, the most important thing (to me; anyways) is that he has carried me in prayer.

If patience could earn you a ticket to heaven, this man would have had his LONG ago! I mean patience like JOB, ya’ll! I’ve already talked about a lot of the ways he is patient with me. I, honestly, don’t even know how he does it. It shows in every area of our lives; our home/home management, our finances, our own ‘personal stuff.’ Anxiety affects so much of my life that he has learned to be patient with me in more ways and in more areas than I think most people ever realize.

Another way that Brian has come to help me when I am anxious is that HE learns my triggers and warning signs. The triggers that we have identified so far are sex, social situations, too many people (crowded Wal-Mart sent me to the hospital), being startled, any of my kids saying that they don’t feel well/have an ache/have a headache/etc. (especially if it is too often) There really isn’t enough room in the “cloud” or enough time in a day to list them all. Sometimes, there are no triggers. It just happens. Those times usually come with some warnings; shortness of breath/tightness in chest, fast heartbeat, sweating, sudden upset stomach, tingling, muscle spasms/tightness.

Friends, this stuff is not easy, it is not for the faint of heart. It is worth it, but it’s not easy. Brian doesn’t experience anxiety like I do, so it’s not something that he truly understands on a personal level. Ask him about what an addict experiences; he KNOWS addiction. Ask him about what a dad, whose kid’s mother is NOT wanting to let him be in his kid’s life, experiences; he KNOWS losing a relationship with a child. Ask him about that same dad’s experiences when he DOES earn having his child back; he KNOWS about restored relationships. There are many things that he has experienced, that he does understand, anxiety just isn’t one of them.

If I haven’t mentioned it already, it is my firm belief that anxiety is the stupidest thing I have ever had to deal with. It is not logical and, in my case, it is NOT just thoughts in my head. It would be exponentially easier to deal with if it was! I can control my thoughts; I could kick anxiety’s ass if it was all in my head.

The panic attack/depressive episode that happened in June was the first time that Brian got a glimpse of what this anxiety can really do to me. The detailed story about that was previously posted and you can find it here. He saw me fighting it. He saw me trying to “push through.” He heard me telling myself “You are fine. There is nothing to panic about. Brian is here. You are FINE.” Then he saw what it did to my body any way. I don’t want it to sound like he has not always been supportive, or encouraged me to do WHATEVER. IT. TAKES. to be healthy and okay–he has. That day, though. That day he saw what I’m really up against and it changed him and how he handles/helps me fight this crap. Anxiety certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. It is a day by day, week by week, month by month, battle that is fought hard for, and won.

Brian, when I can’t breathe, you are the reminder in my head to slow down and breathe deeply to catch my breath. When my heart is racing 95+ beats a minute and won’t slow down, you ground me and bring me back to resting. When I can’t stop the nervous ticks/shaking, you are my solid place. When I can’t sleep, because the anxiety has followed me into my dreams, you hold me and comfort me until the sleepiness and peaceful dreams return. When I want to quit, you are the reason I don’t. Thank you for being my husband. Thank you for helping me fight this fight. Thank you for loving me so completely and so unconditionally. YOU, Sir, are my heart!

Forever In His Grip,

LB

She’s in therapy?!?

This is my third blog post, so if you’ve made it to this one, Thank You! I hope you have enjoyed being here thus far.

Let’s talk about irony, shall we?! I am one of the most introverted, anxious, people pleasers I have ever met. A few months ago I said to myself “Self, we should start a blog.” Self, of course, said “UMMM…Let’s not!! People will read it (or will they?!?!). people will ridicule, people will FIND something negative to say,” and on, and on, and on it went. (I can’t be the only one who has inner conversations with “self,” right? Lol! ) It was at that point that I created a little snippet of a blog on Blogger, through Google. I wrote several blogs, but I never published them. I still wasn’t ready to put myself out there.

Fast forward a couple of months and I had the worst anxiety attack experience of. my. life. Brian and I were going to the grocery store to grab 5 things that we needed for dinner. Literally, 5 things. If I wanted to think hard, I could probably tell you what they were. I was already having some of what I call “middle level” symptoms of anxiety; feeling short of breath and tingling in my hands/forearms. But we only needed FIVE things, so I decided to “push through.” I kept telling myself “You are fine. You have zero reasons to feel anxious right now. You are fine.”

Here is the thing about anxiety, though: IT IS NOT LOGICAL

Even though I didn’t feel threatened in anyway, I wasn’t scared, I had my husband with me, and I KNEW that I was ok, my body did not seem to care. The shortness of breath got so bad that by the time I reached the front door, I had to get a handicapped cart because I could not catch my breath. But, again, we only needed 5 things and I was FRUSTRATED beyond belief with anxiety and it’s nonsense. I got on the cart and off we went to get our 5 things.

By the time we got to the first item on the list, the tingling in my hands and arms had spread to my chest and face. By the time we got to the third item, the muscles in my hands clinched up and I could barely control the cart. We got the last two items and got to the checkout. Every muscle in my body was clinched; including my jaw muscles (I could not open my mouth, no matter how hard I tried). I could no longer control the cart at all. My hands were clinched so tight that I could not open them, even enough to grasp the control. Brian did the checkout and he controlled the cart to get us out to the truck. Everything was clinched (Think labor contraction, long and HARD, all over your body, and IT. WILL. NOT. LET. GO.). The way my face looked, with my tight jaw, yet drooping face, Brian thought I might be having a stroke. (Maybe some day I can get him to tell his side of this experience??)

When we arrived at the truck, there happened to be an ambulance blocking us from getting out of our parking spot. Brian picked me up and put me in the truck and then went to get the EMTs. They checked all my vitals. Ya’ll, my blood pressure was perfect. My O2 level was perfect. My heart-rate was perfect. Yet, every muscle was STILL clinched and wouldn’t let go. The EMTs called another ambulance to come get me. I was taken to TMC, checked over by the doctor and nurses, given a strong anti-anxiety medication intravenously, and observed for a time. Once the anxiety attack had passed, and everything else came back perfect, Brian brought me home.

I spent the next week in the bed. Unable to function. Exhausted. Sore. At my wits end. On the verge of suicidal, not knowing what to do next, but knowing that SOMETHING had to be done. I knew that I just couldn’t live like that. I followed up with my family doctor, after the emergency room visit, who sent me to a psychiatrist. I made the appointment with them immediately. This doctor referred me to a therapist, who I actually didn’t make an appoinment with right away. It was close to three weeks later that I went to see her for the first time. Turns out, this lady probably saved my life…No, she really saved my life.

Therapy is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I highly recommend it. Literally. Every. One. should go to therapy because Every. One. has LIFE on them and LIFE is hard sometimes. Let’s lean on each other instead of stepping on each other, shall we?

Forever In His Grip

LB

Like a Boss

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

What does that mean, anyway?! “Like a Boss”?? This phrase started being pretty widely used a few years ago. Everyone was doing everything “like a boss.” There are memes for days that have the phrase, accompanied by pictures of everything from reading books while doing a handstand to sleeping at work; all being done “like a boss.” To everyone else, it probably means something to the effect of “like a pro.” Maybe?! I don’t know.

I can only assume, that like most things, it means something different to different people. In my little corner of the world, the family I married into has Boss as their surname. This particular family of Bosses have not always taken the “easy way” in life. We have made poor choices in life, we have struggled with all kinds of “bang ups and hang ups,” we have let ourselves and each other down. BUT, we have always pushed through and came out on the other side better than when we started. We have always been able to count on each other and we are all striving to do things differently; better, for the young ones we are now raising. Bosses don’t quit, sometimes to a fault.

I have officially decided that my “Like a Boss” means that I will not let anxiety (or the other host of issues I deal with) control my life. It is a part of my life, maybe forever, but it will not control me or keep me from living my life to the fullest. My “Like a Boss” means that I will invest my time, effort, energy, resources, in the people and the causes that are nearest and dearest to my heart. I will do my best to live this life in a way that empowers my children to grow into THEIR calling, their future, their own life.

So, I guess that means that “Living This Life Like a Boss” means never quitting, recognizing how far you’ve come, overcoming your “bang ups and hang ups,” doing better for the next generation, and not letting LIFE make you quit.

Forever In His Grip,

LB

Welcome!

Hello Everyone!

Thank you for stopping by my blog! My hope and desire for this blog is that each of you find something that you can relate to in such a way that it makes LIFE just a bit more bearable, because LIFE is hard sometimes and at least you know someone who has been “there” too; wherever “there” is.

I’ve started this blog as a series of “late night musings” about my life with several health/mental health issues. I have been writing “journal style” since I was a teenager. My very first therapist recommended it as a way to “process my trauma.” She gave me a suggestion that went something like this; “Just sit and start writing. Write every. single. thing that enters your head. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t all have to be about the same topic, etc. It doesn’t even matter if the first thing you write is ‘I think this is stupid, I have no idea what to write about.’ Just start writing.” She was right, you know. Somehow, writing seems to help unscramble all of the feelings/emotions/thoughts/etc. that come with LIFE, and make them a little more bearable. Sometimes, just sometimes, I will write something that is almost divinely inspired, that I don’t even remember writing. When I look back on those things I don’t even know I wrote, I find healing in my own words.

I am a 30-something woman who has been happily married to the love of my life for just short of 16 years. We have three children, the oldest of which is 22 years old. We also have a 15 year old and a 12 year old. Our family has two precious doggies and they are entirely too spoiled. I am a teacher by trade and training, but quit three years ago to become a home-school mom.

Forever In His Grip,

LB