Archives for category: Anxiety

Crazy busy week last week lead into a vibrant and busy weekend that finished with a long trying drive and a quick and unexpected, thoroughly predictable, bout of stress, anxiety, and a few tears. I totally had a tantrum. Like an exhausted, overstimulated, toddler. My funk didn’t last, and by the end of the evening, last night, I was feeling relaxed and mostly merry, even though I rather carelessly (literally carelessly) left my badge to get into the office behind when I quietly crept out of my Traveling Partner’s residence to avoid waking sleeping party guests, as I prepared for the return trip to my place. I smile thinking about it; best party I’ve been to in a long time. πŸ™‚ I’m not even irked that my morning (and departure) was anything but leisurely – and entirely coffee-free. Well. Not now. lol

Beautiful momentum.

I woke up this morning feeling busy already, the week ahead landed on my consciousness before I got out of bed. Unfortunate. I considered writing. It would have been a choice moment for writing, as a practice. I chose meditation, and housekeeping, instead, and felt decently mild-mannered and appropriately focused when I arrived at work. It didn’t really last… my head is filled buugeng patterns. lol I want to go home and practice more. πŸ˜€ Then, about half way through my morning, a quick blast of stress, and the resurrection of a personal demon. Even that didn’t last long. I got past it sufficiently to wrap up a productive workday in the usual fashion. The day began and ended rather well. The commute home was neither nauseating nor enraging (win!).

I got home still carrying some stress from earlier. Nothing weird or major (for me)(these days); money. Money damage. Money baggage. Money triggers. Money symptoms. I’d have done anything to numb those sensations and emotions, even 3-4 years ago, to ignore them, shut them out, to turn away. I don’t know exactly when my thinking changed on this, but really, it wasn’t worth fighting myself over it. I sat down and planned my 2018 budget, looked for (and found a couple) opportunities to be more efficient, more accurate, and therefore more realistic (and successful?). It felt good to finish that, to have a good plan… to be on my own side. πŸ™‚

The stress that had lingered in the background is gone. So is most of the evening – and I don’t feel at all cheated by that. I may even feel… entertained? Satisfied, at least. That’s often the resulting emotion (for me) when I am skillful on some self-care task, satisfaction. Comfort? A certain settled safe feeling that seems to accompany being able to count on me to take care of myself. πŸ™‚

I chuckle when I realize “plan 2018 budget” was never on my to do list… so… I add it, then I check it off. A nice finish to the day. Tomorrow, I can begin again.

Today wasn’t hard. The morning commute was unusually easy, and there seemed less traffic for no obvious reason. I got to the office and got to work, and it was, in most regards, an utterly ordinary work day. A bit busy.

I managed to be fairly pre-occupied with internal matters, my own agenda, my continued dogged consideration of my health and fitness. I returned to SuperBetter; it has worked so well for me before. It’s not an “issue-specific” tool customized to address matters of weight or fitness or health, generally, but… it is (for me) a fantastic general purpose tool for managing cognitive change – and like it or not, treating my weight issues (as in: I’m fat) and health concerns (as in: I’m not 100% well, and I’m aging) as solely physical matters has not served me well; my brain keeps getting in the way. So. Brain first then, is it? Apparently, it is.

There are a couple “cheats” – “life hacks”, if you will – that I find reliably helpful. One of those is so old school I feel a little hesitant to bring it up – you might laugh. Accountability. Yep. Visibility. The awareness of a goal even existing – but not just any awareness. I mean, mentioning my intention, say, to the very pleasant woman living next door with whom I share only a very limited association, coming and going as we do, would not be likely to increase my own ongoing moment-to-moment awareness of my goals, or make me self-conscious about my choices. That’s what accountability does; it increases my awareness, and makes me more (self)conscious – it pushes choices that might have been made on auto-pilot back into the bright light of conscious will. My conscious will. Friends, though? That works sometimes – depends on the friend. Depends on the trust and the intimacy and the honesty. It depends on how authentically I choose to live – and how authentically my friend chooses to live. For me, respect and vulnerability, a shared journey – those things help, too. “We’re in this together”, on positive terms – even with different goals – really “lightens the load”, emotionally. So, I reached out to a friend. It’s hard to do that, too. It’s hard to deal with the baggage on life’s journey, right up until it becomes apparent that setting it down is also an option. This particular bit of baggage has gotten way to heavy. (lol lol lol lol lol lol omg. I’m sorry, sort of. πŸ™‚ )

It’s evening. It’s not as quiet as one my expect, particularly reading my work for any while. lol South Park episodes are playing on the TV in the living room, but I’m not there. I’m in the studio, at my desk, with you… and I have headphones on, because I meant to listen to music…but I’m not listening to music, just my tinnitus. Sipping coffee, writing, and ignoring the random video on autoplay on another browser tab. Fucking weird creatures, we human primates, aren’t we? When I realize the distracting buzz of noises may have been intended in some way to drown out the emotional intensity of facing the big bad scary issue of losing some weight, no spin, no filters, no safe space, I get annoyed/amused with myself, and turn off all of the noise and listen. Just that. Just… take a moment to be here. Be okay. Be okay with being here. Be okay with being here, still fat. lol All of that. More. There is work to do. The “heavy lifting” isn’t in pounds – it’s all in my head, or in my chemistry, but – probably manageable? Changeable over time with practice? No miracles. No games. I expect to get angry, sad, frustrated, blue – but I’ve felt those emotions before, and they’re part of my experience, too. That’s not so scary, looked at that way. I look my fears in the face and laugh (bravely?) – my fears gently stare me down with the confidence of years of kicking my ass without effort. Still. Change is a thing.

I finish my coffee.

I got home from work feeling fairly committed to writing. No idea what to write about, I tell myself as I cross the threshold after the usual hair-raising commute home in the late autumn darkness. I’ve arrived feeling cross and rather out-of-sorts. The commute? Reason enough, I suppose, but no.

My day started pleasantly. Comfy cute sweater, autumn weather, “good hair day”, pretty nice mood. I am missing my Traveling Partner’s company on his birthday, but when I check in, it sounds like he’s having a pretty good birthday, so I fairly easily let that go. It’s not that, then.

I take a few minutes puttering around the house, ignoring my feelings (maybe they’ll just go away…?) and moving things from here to there in the kitchen, without obvious purpose. I think about making dinner. Choose not to. I fuss a bit more. Consider watching some video, or reading some book. Choose not to. I manage to kill almost an hour that way, just… dithering. Shit.

I pass by my reflection in the patio door, meaning to gaze out at the holiday lights on the houses of not-too-near neighbors. I inadvertently look directly at my own reflection, catching myself in motion as I approach the glass patio door. I lose my smile briefly, my mouth trembles at the edge – a micro expression passes over my face. Distaste? Disgust? Disappointment. I’m fat. I’ll be frank about it. It’s not “just a couple extra pounds” – unless I’m pointing at just the most recent couple pounds, which, I don’t even know where to start. I am feeling a bit discouraged, and a lot frustrated, by how hard this is. Being fat, I mean. I’d like to either be much better at it – meaning, taking really great care of my physical and emotional well-being in the context of good health, without regard to weight, or doing something altogether different than being fat. I’m not there, in either case. I am, in addition to being fat, both unfit and also in health that I struggle to describe as “good” (“fair”? maybe that’s more accurate).

Let’s get this one thing out of the way right off the bat; I’m not saying I don’t have a fuck-ton of ability to make better choices with regard to fitness, health, diet, exercise – all of the things – because I totally do, in spite of pain and other health concerns. I’m just struggling to do all of those things well enough to… to…Β  to do what exactly? Fuck, why am I doing this? Do I even know?

I’ve realized (a couple times recently) that this has been a sticking point for me. Why am I doing this? Well, and … “this“? What/which “this”, precisely, do I mean? Losing the weight? Is it that? Just that?

I’ve got some health issues that make “losing weight” exceedingly difficult. I also understand that the number that is “how many pounds do I weigh” is not the whole story of my health, fitness, longevity, or desirability. It’s a number, and used in series with a bunch of other numbers, similarly gathered, in comparison or in contrast with each other, or plotted on a graph, it has some potential to provide me with a better understanding of something being measured. Weight loss, itself, is no difficult thing, looking at the math involved; more calories burned over time than calories consumed results in weight loss. Done! So easy. Only… it’s not. It’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s hard, and I’m angry with myself, and I’m frustrated and I feel discouraged.

I’m not much in the mood for “being positive”, and I give myself a few minutes to wallow in a shallow sea of foul temper, frustration, sorrow, self-pity, and general aggravation. I can’t avoid understanding this is “doable” – and I can’t afford to overlook that the doing of it is not going particularly successfully at this particular point. I find myself starting to make excuses, and somehow, rather fortunately I think, found myself “making corrections” – returning my thinking to basic practices that have worked well for other grievous wellness-related concerns in the past couple years. New tools, meet old challenges.

I find myself having some really honest moments with myself about how hurt I was that just at that moment of being past a milestone goal (just a couple years ago) and discovering that the reward I had counted on (in the form of a particular person’s affection) just wasn’t available for me. I’d put in all that effort, all that work, the commitment, the discomfort, the constant fucking fighting myself… and… found myself unnoticed, also unrewarded (and unhappy), when I’d been counting on delicious sensuous intimacy, appreciation, closeness – and validation – I found myself basically alone. It was a hard time. That was just about when I’d started working on letting go of attachment in therapy, necessary, … still hard. Necessary work. It’s taken almost all of my attention, and most of my time, for a while now. I still need to practice, too…

But… as painful moments go, I could have dealt with that one better, and more promptly, instead of letting it fester for years. I didn’t really know how. I avoided dealing with it for… yeah, until like four weeks ago, and then just picking at that scab, until it finally started to percolate up into my mood unexpectedly now and then. I’m dealing with it now. Honestly. Because I can. Because my actual life may depend on it. Because it matters. It matters because it’s hard to pretend I don’t wonder if I am “too fat to fuck”, when I’m interested, but a partner isn’t. Seriously. Still a mammal. Real talk.

…I’m still fat. lol If I want that to change, I’ve got to work “harder” (more diligently? with greater care? with more commitment? something… there are probably a lot of verbs about to just fucking land on me like a cartoon piano on a sidewalk…). I’ve got to work smarter, too. I’ve got to be utterly honest with myself, and more self-aware than is likely to feel at all natural – or comfortable. Vulnerable. Honest. Authentic. Is it going to get any easier? I seriously doubt that it will – but for fucks sake, I should at least be ready to go to my grave confident that it wasn’t a lack of will, or a lack of healthy practices. Not now. Not after all the rest I’ve learned, right? (Does that sound like desperation? I think I’m there.) I have tools.

So. <shrugs> Next steps? No idea – and I may not discuss it in much detail. This is a fairly intimate topic, and in some ways more personal even than sex. I can, though, at least begin again, a bunch of times, and I can apply a number of things I have learned over the past couple years – certainly with greater skill than I have been – and, I suppose this will make some sense – where I am standing now, in life, I’m no longer struggling (at least for now) to be certain whether I want to live at all (pretty confident that I do want to live)… which seems well-timed for this sort of endeavor, more so than while waiting to die, yeah?

Have I been here before? No excuses. Just study, effort, will, practice, failing, beginning again, being, becoming, showing myself compassion, and relying on the woman in the mirror to be doing her best. It’ll have to be enough. πŸ™‚

I don’t suppose it gets easier for a really long time, I’m afraid I’ll fail, but, I’ve got (another) starting point – as good as any – and a new (is it?) understanding that why I’m doing this matters a great deal – enough to change my chances of succeeding at being fitter, healthier, more comfortable, stronger… and yeah, not so fat. Maybe. My results, so far, have varied. I guess I’ll begin again… right here. In this now. Because it matters to me.

I woke on time this morning. I got a decent night’s rest, although I woke a couple times for no obvious reason. My coffee is tasty, and my morning routine is on track. I’m not at all certain what to write about this morning, and I don’t know where this one may lead. πŸ™‚

(I often begin my writing with observations about my sleep or my coffee, because it gets me started writing, not because I think such observations are specifically noteworthy or actually relevant.)

Each possible not-quite-an-actual-idea-or-thought that I consider writing hits my consciousness this morning in the most contrary way. I am arguing with myself, and over some pretty picayune details. I consider not writing – I argue with myself about that, too. What the hell? “The sky is blue”, I think to myself, seeking to test a theory, and indeed, my brain scrambles to bring forward all the things I’ve ever heard or read about the sky and why it looks blue. Seriously? Live alone and avoid drama, huh? Nope. Apparently we’re hard-wired for that shit, and will try to make up bullshit to aggravate ourselves, even when we’re alone, should the right mood for it happen along. LOL

So… a day with irritable, cross, contrary me? Fuck. Not my favorite version of me, frankly. I can do better. I sip my coffee, wondering how it is almost gone, so quickly. I think over what is now a pretty robust set of self-care skills and basic practices that support my emotional wellness, and consider what I could be doing differently, right now, to make a change for the better… (it isn’t actually necessary to know why I’m cranky in order to take action to change my mood for the better).

I settle on meditation, and head for my cushion. Some time after that? There will be time for a second coffee, and a new beginning. πŸ™‚

I’m awake. It’s 1:37 am.

I’m not awake for some wonderfully cool reason, like a late night out with friends, or not yet home from a concert, or anything like that. I’d intended to be sleeping, and until some moments ago, I was.

I woke abruptly from a deep sleep, heart pounding hard and beating very fast. I felt short of breath, and fearful. Panicked. The world was quiet, so I could pretty safely assume whatever woke me was internal, rather than external. I didn’t struggle to find a solution to my racing heart and gasping breath; I immediately, gently, eased myself into a very comfortable relaxed position, and began slowing and deepening my breathing, and soothing my consciousness; there was nothing obvious to be so frightened about. I started letting that go, first, with firm reminders to remain in the moment, there in the darkness of a space that, after 4 months, finally feels more or less familiar, most of the time. I turned on a light. I sat up. I continued to support myself with soothing practices. I got up and took an antacid for my very acid stomach and quietly cursed my acid reflux. I got a glass of water and added some Calm to that.

Over the next few minutes, sitting down to write a few words, using even that to help me “sort myself out” in the quiet hours of night, I sip on my glass of water, and feel the chill of the room start to play a part, too, cooling me down.

It’s been a long long time since I let myself make any effort to “figure out” a waking moment like that one. I just don’t do it any more. It’s like digging at a scab, just barely gratifying at all, and definitely not actually helpful, just very compelling. So, I don’t. Because doing so wasn’t useful in a positive way, and it tended only to mire me in a whole assortment of shitty crap loitering in the dark corners of my consciousness waiting for a chance to be weaponized and turned inward. So… I don’t know what woke me. I don’t know why I woke so frightened and overwhelmed. I don’t know what the anxiety was about. I have made knowing such things not a priority of any sort. And… since I’m not “picking at that sore”, the fear and anxiety are already dissipating. With practice, not hours – minutes. It is 1:51 am. I may actually get back to sleep at some point, soon. πŸ™‚

I’m still feeling restless and weird. So, some yoga next. Just postures that promote relaxation and calm. I keep the lights dim. Each small practice picked up along the way has value right now. One by one, I step through the most relevant practices I have learned over time, and I feel myself begin to calm, to become relaxed, to settle down through and through. I’m okay, right now. It’s enough.

I think I’ve mostly come to terms with the likelihood that some portion of my symptoms of PTSD may linger for the remainder of my life time… I sure feel more able to deal with them, generally. Even two years ago, a night like this might have evolved into something more serious, lasting days, destroying my sleep, eroding my judgment, damaging my relationships… this seems better, not perfect. There is no “perfect”. I’m not “cured” – but I am far better at caring for myself in such moments.Β That’s something pretty wonderful.

I finish my water. Run this post through spellcheck. Then, head back to bed. πŸ™‚