Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Up Sh** creek without a paddle

Wow. This is not good. I just realized I hadn't posted in 11 days! Somehow the time flies when you're not paying attention. I really need to keep up with this blog.

Like I said before, it's a little harder for this one, since it covers a topic that isn't pleasant to think about. However, part of getting better is facing the bad stuff. So without further ado here we go..

Basically this past week or so really hasn't been too bad. I don't know if that is because I'm truly getting better, or because my husband babies me and I feel comfortable in my current situation.

Be that as it may, I don't have a whole lot of anxiety to report on. I do notice however that I'm entertaining my fantasy of moving to the city again more frequently.

This is unfortunate because all of my life I have wanted to live in the mountains with a creek in my backyard. This is what I have now, and in a sense I have my dream house. Unfortunately this past year, I haven't been able to enjoy it, like I should be, thanks to my irrational fears.

At this point I'm feeling like I would be almost anxiety free if I could just live near civilization. This is a bit of an exaggeration as we do live a mile from town, but by town I mean literally half a street of shops. While this is civilization of some sort, it's not exactly bustling, and everything closes down very early leaving the street with an eery sort of ghost town appearance.

Seeing as a large majority of my anxiety happens at night, this is exceptionally fearsome as I don't feel that I could get help if I freaked out. Now we do have neighbors, but being in the mountains neighbors can be somewhat scary, and trust me mine are. So much so, that I would never dream of asking them for assistance should the need ever arise. Not even for a cup of sugar.

Some of you may be thinking by now, what exactly are you so afraid of that will happen to you and cause you to go running into town seeking help? And the answer is simple. I don't know. Stupid huh? It's those crazy what if's at work again. I hate them.

The problem is when I think how long it takes me to get to the valley (true civilization), I start feeling isolated and get scared.

Then I think what an idiot I am, because one, I willingly sought to live in these mountains and used to love it, and two, there are something like 3000 people living out here, and they all seem to do perfectly well, so why can't I?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Eureka! I think I'm on to something....

I have to admit that after yesterday's episode I was a little anxious about how today would turn out. Would I or wouldn't I have another attack?

I spent the day, working on the computer and for the most part didn't have any major issues. I did have moments when I felt I couldn't breath well, but I know that's the anxiety talking and it managed to pass without incident. Even though I managed to ward off an incoming attack, I was still tense and stressed all day. Part of the breathing issues, stem from that, because I'm not completely relaxed and when I go to take a deep breath it gets stuck on the inhale. Not that I can't breathe, but I can feel it isn't complete because I'm all tense. It isn't a nice relaxing, contented breath.

That brings me to this afternoon. My husband and I needed to get out of the house bad. We sometimes get stuck here, working on our computer from the comfort of the couch, and then before we know the day has passed, it's dark outside, and we are hungry for dinner.

So today after watching my husband pace the house and then the yard like a caged tiger, I suggested we go for a little hike up the road. We live near a boy scout camp which makes for a very nice hiking area less than a 1/4 mile from the house.

As we started our trek, I felt the anxiety start to build slightly. By the time we made it to the camp, I was somewhat anxious. I have to admit that I'm just a little nervous hiking now. This is partly because of getting lost on the backpacking trip. Even though we are on a trail this time, and not even a mile from our house, it still scares me a little. Very strange.

Anyway, the other reason I get scared is, and I'm sure I'm not the first to notice this, but exercise brings on some of the same symptoms as an anxiety attack. Pounding heart, trouble breathing, etc. This was a problem today, as I was already having issues breathing, so when we started hiking it became more pronounced.

This is somewhat disturbing to me, as hiking used to be one of my favorite activities. I still enjoy it, but I can't help feeling nervous when the natural symptoms of physical exertion begin.

Be that as it may, I survived to tell the tale without too much fear, and I haven't even gotten to the good part yet. No, the good part is on the way back, I decided to run. Granted it was a short distance and it was all downhill, but still I did it. This may not sound terribly amazing to some people, but for me it was. Why? Because I don't run. Period. My body isn't made for running. Never has never will be I suspect, what with all the flab and blubber bouncing around it's quite a struggle. Not to mention that I always end up wheezing like an asthmatic cat about 30 seconds into the jog. But today was different. And I ran quite a distance. I did stop though, when the road started to go uphill, because hey, I'm not a magician. I can't make my body endure that kind of physical stress.

And I'm proud to say we made it back home in one piece.

And the amazing thing? After I stopped panting for air, I realized that my body felt relaxed and I could breathe deeply. In fact I hadn't felt this relaxed in weeks. I'm definitely going to try to keep this up, because if this helps anxiety I'm all for it. Besides we need to get out of the house more, and of course exercise is good for you. Although I've always been an advocate of exercising my mouth by eating rather than running, but hey, maybe it's something I can get into. I'll try again tomorrow.

There is only one slight, tiny really, little hitch.... I can't walk now.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Will it ever end?

I just had a major anxiety attack. As usual it came out of the blue. This particular one hit me hard. While I was somewhat able to calm down relatively quickly, by trying to busy myself with other things, instead of being proud of that accomplishment, I'm upset. Yes It's good that I was able to control it better than I used to, however the attack (and it was a bad one) just reinforces my fears again. It reminds me just how bad the physical symptoms really are. When you go for a few weeks without a major incident, it's easy to forget how awful the the side effects can be.

It's one thing to sail along the day in mild fear, having mini issues along the way, but when the big one hits, all the old scaries come rushing back full force. Instead of feeling like I was getting better and might be able to handle situations that would have previously left me shaking with utter fear, I feel freaked out again.

This is especially bad, since I wasn't doing anything scary at the moment it happened. It's not like I was going somewhere scary or trying to drive or even that I was alone anywhere. No. I was in my "comfort zone" a.k.a. home, minding my own business and eating a burrito.

Because this happened here in my safe little bubble, I now feel helpless again. Like nowhere is really safe. Somehow, home became my "safe place", and it felt like I could be here and cocoon myself from all the really bad anxieties. That's not to say I've never been anxious or scared while home, it's just that I thought since I felt safe here, then there really wasn't a reason for panic to come and assault me, since really, what was there to be afraid of? My couch? My t.v.?

Obviously, I can't avoid my house. I live here. But what the heck do I do now? If I'm scared at home, where does this leave me? How do I feel safe again?

We can't sell the house and start new, because the market is bad now, and to live where I feel safest (my hometown), is not an option either, since it's too expensive. Besides that's running away from my fear not facing it. I'm already running from so many things, because of said fears, that pretty soon I won't be able to go anywhere. Including my house. Then I'll really be in a pickle.

Even as I write this, I'm still scared. I have not completely calmed down, and feel that I could easily get back to the top of the anxiety Richter scale. Although writing this blog does help.

The hardest part for me when having these attacks is the feeling of not being able to breath properly. Once this happens it feels as if things could quickly go from bad to horrible.

If anyone has ever read any literature on anxiety/panic attacks, you will see that everyone of them tells you to just ride out the feelings and try to calm down, your body can't stay in this state for long and you will be ok. HA! That so doesn't work well when you are in the moment of panic. My body and mind do not cooperate during an attack. Well actually they are cooperating in a way, they are both panicking. But If I try "positive" talk, my mind just ignores me. Thanks a lot.

Just think, it was only yesterday when I really thought I was accomplishing my battle against anxiety. Even my husband said I was getting better, and seemed able to do stuff easier now. It's somewhat true. The last few weeks have been pretty okay. No major attacks. I was really starting to feel, that I could try to overcome some fears. Such as driving over the mountain to work by myself. (Currently my husband drives me to work. This is partly because of my fear and partly because my car is out of commission right now. And the fact that I don't know how to drive his car since it's a stick). Probably should learn though.

It's times like this when I want to poo poo conventional therapy and get a quick but permanent fix, the problem is there isn't one, and the closest thing to that would be to take medication, which I'm not about to do, but that's another fear for another topic....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

High Anxiety

Anxiety and I have been living together for long time now. Over the years I have adapted to this inconvience, and have learned to live with strange phobias and mild fears. We know each other in a way that one would know their best friend. However, we have yet to come to friendly terms. This is unfortunate.

I long for the day when I can look anxiety in the eye and not be afraid of it's outlandish and often unpredictable behavior. A day where I could maybe, possibly even find humor in the situations that it brings me.

For now though, I live in constant fear.

Like I told my husband last night, the fears I have are as illogical and outragous as if I had a phobia of watching I Love Lucy on t.v. Sounds incrediebly silly doesn't it? Well it is. My fear of driving over the mountain and being alone are totally unfounded. After all I've managed to do this very thing hundrends of times without any incident. And yet, it scares me to death.

Having this fear has been very crippling. Gone are the days, where I would jump at the chance to have a few hours or hopefully a full day to myself at home. Something that didn't come often, since my husband works from home. No longer do I like to do the things that used to excite me because of this fear.

Since I don't want to ruin my marriage and my mentality over an unrealistic anxiety, I started thinking what in the world happened to make me the way I am right now? As my husband pointed out last night, I need to have confindence that my body has the ability to survive.

This gave me pause. You know what? He's right. Why don't I have that ability right now? I used to have it. How could I have been so careless as to loose this precious ability as one would loose their keys? Then I remembered something that happened last July that triggered the first anxious flutterings in my brain.

A backpacking trip. Sounds benign enough. However, it was quite an adventure, not to mention a test of physical and mental endurance.

Long story short, I got sick the first day and was feeling pretty bad. Since I was having, shall we say, digestive issues in a place ill equipped for such an problem, I thought it best to go home a day early. Not to mention, and this is my anxiety talking, I was afraid that If I needed medical attention, I couldn't seek it since I was literally in the middle of nowhere.

Being a very hot day, we waited til late afternoon before we made our treck back to the car. The hike back should have taken us about 4 hours, so we didn't pack any food, and only had one water bottle each. People, this is very very dumb. I cannot stress that enough.

If you can see where this is going, you are smarter than we were. Yes we got lost. Not only could we not find the trail back to the car, we took it upon ourselves to scale a mountain we had no business being on, in an attempt to find a shortcut to a trail that may or may not be at the top.

My fears of not making it to the car in time, became a reality as night came, and we were only three quarters the way up the mountain. Faced in the situation of a real fear coming true, I was surprisingly calm (what else could I do?). We put up our tent in the only "flat" area we could find, and waited for daybreak.

Like I said we had no food, and having not eaten during the day I was quite hungry. However, the stomach would have to wait as no sooner then we tried to fall asleep, something very loud and very big sounding made it's way right to our tent. Bears weren't really a problem in the area, so my only guess was a moutain lion. Not a friendly thought. Luckily my husband managed to scare it off (my hero!). The next morning shaking with hunger, dehydration, and fear (I was anyway), we made our way to the top and thank god, found the trail, made it to the car, and went for breakfast.

Moral of the story? Don't ever, ever go hiking or backpacking without enough food and water (DUH). Also, and this is the ironic part when it comes to my anxiety, I realized that when put to the test, your body has the amazing ability to charge on and power through when times are hard.

Like my husband said I need the confidence to know my body will make it despite my fears.
I faced this exact thing on the mountain. Why is it then, that I'm so fearful of the what if's? Especailly since I faced those what if's in the wilderness and you know what?

I survived!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

While you were sleeping..

So, you thought it might be funny, to strike while I was sleeping huh? Well I have a problem with this. You see, one of the only times I truly relax is when I'm asleep. You get all the joy of stressing me out during the waking the hours and that should be enough. I think I deserve this time to unwind don't you?

Bedtime is my time. You heard me! And I want to be left alone.

Despite what you think, I do not enjoy having semi anxiety attacks in my dreams, nor do I find it humorous when I wake up with an unexplained anxious feeling that lasts throughout the morning, sometimes stretching into the afternoon. I would prefer, if you would refrain from this obnoxious behavior until it is actually warranted. Like if someone was attacking me, or a burglar came into the house, a driving snafu that might lead to a car accident etc., those are appropriate times for me to feel anxious and in some cases panic. Sitting at home watching t.v., reading, sleeping or any other such forms of relaxation are NOT the appropriate time. Until something of real importance comes along I'll thank you to leave me the hell alone!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'd like you to meet my anxiety

Seeing as how I deal with this issue ever day, you would think that I would post just as often. Obviously this hasn't been the case. I think part of the reason is, when I'm feeling good, I don't want to deal with anxiety let alone think about it, therefore I don't take the time to blog about it. Instead I choose to update my other blogs which topics are much more fun than this. But, I started this here blog for a reason and that was to journal my experiences with this ugly disorder and face my fears. So without further ado, let me introduce you to wacky world of anxiety. Some of you however, may already be familiar with his work, and don't require a formal introduction... But I digress...

It all started long ago, when I was just a little youth. Nine years old to be exact. Right when my parents divorced. During that time, I started developing strange fears and would become very anxious. I went to therapy for a few years, got better and nine years later, BAM! I was hit again. This time with anxiety/panic attacks. A very horrifying experience. And the first one happened on a plane. Of course. Anyway after visiting a few emergency rooms, I finally realized that it really was anxiety and poof! It all went away. Flash forward 14 years later to last October, while driving to school, and yes, it happened again. But now? I can't get it to go away. And even worse? I just got married and it's affecting my poor husband.

I should probably explain also, that we live in the mountains, not only am I feeling isolated, in order to go to work or school, I need to drive 45 minutes through wilderness. Where the cell phones don't always work. Where there aren't any establishments to stop at and get help if you freak out. You get my point? Since the first attack happened while driving, naturally I have stopped driving myself places. I am also afraid to be alone, and afraid to travel far from my comfort zone. All this is new to me. And very scary. Not to mention a royal pain the caboose.

This all may seem silly even crazy to a person who doesn't suffer from this aliment, and in reality, it is. Silly. You see people who suffer from anxiety disorders know that the problem is in their head. It's just an issue of mind over matter. And logically we know that we aren't really in any danger. However, when the mind starts working it's bad vibes, the body unfortunately has a bad habit of following along, manifesting all kinds of scary physical symptoms. When that happens it's very very hard to turn your mind off and think clearly. Not to mention relax.

The thing to do, is not let the anxiety get the best of you, and stop it before the physical symptoms really get going. Not as easy as it sounds. But it can be done. Thousands maybe even millions of people find a way to conquer their anxiety, and I know I can too. After all, I've done it before. I just don't know why it's so hard to do it again...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Go away I don't want to hear it

Somewhere in my subconscious:

"Hello Michele"?


"I have a delivery for you".

"Go away. I didn't order anything".

"Well I have a package that I'm supposed to deliver to you personally".

"What is it"?

"Looks like it's some mild to moderate with a slight chance of severe anxiety".

"Well I don't want it. Take it back".

"I'm sorry that is not an option. An order has been placed and I need to make sure it is properly delivered".

"I told you I didn't order it".

"Well according to our records, it was indeed purchased, and requested to be sent to you".
You must take it. Whether or not you choose to use it, is up to you.

"Fine. Leave it in the usual spot".
Back to reality:

I wish I could place a secret camera in my subconscious, just to see what it's up to. It's obviously having covert conversations with myself, when I'm not paying attention. How else do you explain a sudden attack of anxiety out of the blue? I mean, I have no reason to be scared, anxious, panicky, etc. I'm just going about my daily business, doing things I've done a hundred times before and then BAM! I'm hit. Like a bullet from a sniper that you never saw coming. Why? What did I do? Do I somehow deserve to be made miserable and punished? As far as I can tell, I haven't done anything terribly wrong. So why the attack?

See this is why I need to find a way to keep track of my subconscious, because it's obviously up to no good. And I need to put my foot down and stop this bad behavior. It's been running around free and loose for a long time, thus proving over the years that it can't be trusted. It knows it has the better of me right now, because I can't seem to crack it's secret code to get past security and find out just how it's operating.

Well you may be sneaky now, but I'm going to find out how you work, and I'll put a stop to this one and for all.....