Archives for category: Anxiety

It’s an interesting morning, so far. Calm. Content. “Quiet” (for some values of quiet; Kendrick Lamar reminding me to be “Humble” on headphones here). I feel very much… myself.  Gently, authentically, comfortably this one particular human being that I am. Nice. I should probably just stop right here and get on with that – it’s a feeling worth savoring. 🙂

You know I haven’t “always” been “here”, right? You can also extrapolate from the first paragraph that I am not “always” “here”, generally, right? (Otherwise, this moment is not noteworthy in any way, merely a state of being.) I begin the journey somewhere very different. 🙂 I say “begin” rather than “began” because I have grown to accept the idea that I am fairly persistently and regularly beginning again – even to stand still. To move forward, to grow, to get from a beginning to a planned end point that includes willful forward progress requires quite a bit more than simple practices and beginning again; it requires practice, beginnings, endings, letting go, reaching out, opening up, acceptance, change, choices… and so many iterations of self along the way that ancient anxiety regularly reaches out to attempt to stall me with fearful whispers that I may “lose myself” or perhaps my way, or maybe love itself will be lost as a consequence of change. It’s an illusion; the journey is always in progress, and I am always taking steps in some direction – even standing still requires effort.

I still have bad days. I still face challenges. I still cry. I still have nightmares. I still hurt sometimes. I still face fears. I still have doubts. I still feel the sting of insecurity. I still deal with loneliness. Still. That’s actually an important word here. I’m here. Still. That’s no small thing. By itself, the fact that I live is a measure of progress. 🙂 For a long while I didn’t really ‘get’ that there was something beyond ‘living’… I had to embrace just being alive before I could see over that wall at a more distant horizon – thriving. The journey continues.

Storms pass.

This morning feels different. Feels good. I’m feeling comfortably poised between emotion and reason, equally aware of internal, and external. Open to love. This is a good place to exist in this moment. I feel content, and open to changed perspective and new ideas. Is this thriving? Is it time for this journey to step beyond the familiar to new territory? I wonder…

What does a beginning look like?

…And I begin again. 🙂

Yesterday quickly descended into further emotional distance, and definite anhedonia. I found myself asking “the” question, too: “Am I depressed?” It had crept over me fairly slowly, then finished with a slam – the house I was going to go see, out in the countryside, went pending right about when I got in to the office. I was bummed.

There are sunny mornings.

This particular source of frustration comes up pretty regularly, and house-hunting is becoming a big downer, mostly because frustration is my kryptonite, and also because the process itself brings me into regular contact with an industry built on corruption, with little in the way of healthy pro-consumer regulation. (Seriously, I’d be pretty appalled to walk into, say, Ross and pick out a pair of jeans, carry those to the register, and have some other customer take them out of my hand, step in front of me in line, and firmly tell the cashier “I’m willing to pay more than you are charging for these, so they’re mine.” That’s hard to deal with over and over again.) I just want to go home. No, I mean, seriously, for me the entire process of house-hunting is 100% only intended to let me “go home” – to a home that is mine, that I can count on, that I can make my own and improve or change, and make more secure and comfy and safe. Having to throw regular exposure to frustration into my day-to-day experience by choice (particularly over something so heartfelt) is … yeah. Hard. Icky. Discouraging.

There are mornings that seem strangely gray.

I reached out to my Traveling Partner and let him know my weekend was upended and as a result quite unplanned. I was mostly venting, and not reaching out to change his plans. He understood – and we miss each other regardless of our plans. He suggested coming to hang out, if that sounded good to me. I was still struggling with anhedonia; nothing sounded good at all.  He helpfully prompted me to consider my experience through another perspective; my physical health. Recognizing my pain management challenges, my poor quality sleep, and the basic frustration of  house-hunting and how that affects my mood, generally, put me in a better place for the day, and I even found my to making new plans that really suited where my heart is, combining some hang out time with scouting other areas for livability, that might be good choices for future house-hunting.

Each moment, however similar seeming in some detail or another is entirely its own experience.

I committed to sleeping in today, and I did – I woke at 6:30 am feeling fairly rested. A leisurely shower felt delightful. My coffee is hot, and I feel fairly chill and merry this morning. Sleep is a very big deal.

Yesterday’s sunshine has given way to today’s steady drizzle. Fuck I hate driving in the rain. LOL Still… lovely day to enjoy a drive in the countryside, in no hurry to get to the end of the day.

A different morning, a different place, another moment to begin again.

…I guess I’ll begin again. There are verbs involved. 🙂

Last night I dealt with my anxiety, and comfortably resolved that. Win! Progress. Practice. It wasn’t any sort of trophy-winning event, and my “victory lap” will be just this handful of words, a later reminder for another day, perhaps, that it does pass, and it can be eased. It wasn’t over anything consequential, but it was very real, very visceral, the sort of mind-binding gut-punch of stress and fearfulness that anxiety is so famed for. Meditation still works. It still wasn’t “easy” – and I’m honestly not even sure I would call it meditation, considering the challenge I had calming my monkey-mind even long enough to take a few breaths…but…I went easy on myself in the moment, emotionally, understanding that the anxiety itself promotes a certain restlessness. I patiently returned my consciousness to the moment, to my breath, to a timeless mental space in which anxiety cannot thrive. No tv. No music. Just practice. It was, after a time, highly effective. There were indeed verbs involved, and even moment by moment my results varied. There’s no fighting it, though; we become what we practice, and continued practicing of calm… I became calm.

I slept poorly last night, although I did sleep more or less sort of through the night (my sleep tracker notes periods of wakefulness, and very little deep sleep, but I have no clear recollection of waking so often). I woke with the alarm, head stuffy, eyes watery… back aching. It’ll be a good day for physical therapy. I hurt. I manage my pain in a similar way as with anxiety; practices that tend to offer relief, practiced routinely, and given still more attention when I hurt more than usual. In this case, appropriate medication, yoga, yes meditation for this too, and a little later, dancing (to sort of force those stiff joints into a state that accommodates movement). I also spend more time considering things that don’t hurt than things that do, and once my symptoms are properly treated, I move on to distraction; shifting my attention to something else quite engaging, and letting the awareness of my pain recede into the background.

It’s a pretty ordinary work morning. Nothing fancy. Nothing noteworthy, really. Ordinary stuff right here. If I let myself get all worked up over a moment of anxiety, or a painful morning, I have the power to amplify both. If I take care of the woman in the mirror in the best way I know how, I have a shot at easing both. So many choices, so many verbs, so many results vary; it’s a very human experience.

It’s time to begin again.

I only just noticed I was already “at the office” and working, rather than fully here in this place, in this moment. I left the office with an important piece of work completed, but with room to take it further, to correlate more details, to consider more variables, to increase the complexity… and was so deeply involved in it that my day ran well past the usual time, quite by mistake. I spent last evening continuing to think about work, barely aware that I was, but I certainly wasn’t fully in that moment, either. Eventually, I went to bed. This morning I woke from dreams of working, and filled my head with further thoughts of work. An hour after waking, I notice. Coffee cup is empty, no recollection of drinking it, half-finished email to myself (addressed for my work email address) with some notes for further work waiting to be sent. I take a deep breath and step back from the work, and make a second cup of coffee.

This mindfulness thing takes practice. 🙂

Another couple deep breaths, a few minutes spent pulling my consciousness from the sticky mud of this enticing work assignment. A second cup of coffee. Time spent becoming awake and aware and present here, now. I notice, too, that I’m still in my jammies and fuzzy spa socks… how have I not showered and dressed for work?? I am startled by the realization, and spill hot coffee on my keyboard and in my lap. Some fun time with swear words, and then it’s off to the shower to properly get ready for work…

This self-care thing, this adulthood thing… yep; they take practice, too. lol

Once the morning routine is back on track, I sit down to write, and catch up on things-not-work-related. The weeks seem to race by since I took on the new job… 7 months in, I guess it doesn’t count as new so much any more. lol I smile, and sip my coffee. I chuckle to myself – how fast was that shower? What’s left of my coffee is still warm.

I sit quietly sipping my coffee, and thinking about life, generally, and feeling rather content with things as they are. The house hunting is just dreadful and although I am taking a patient approach, I am entirely made of human and have some moments when I feel very discouraged. Yesterday was an example of how that can so easily develop; I noticed a listing that had sat without much interest for quite a while. Okay, why? I noticed it is listed as a HUD home, which generally means it is a fixer that my VA loan won’t be suitable for, and I don’t even go so see those… this one, though, was in fair shape, and my inexpert eye just couldn’t see a reason it wouldn’t qualify for a VA loan, so I asked to see it. It was definitely (and comfortably) in my price range, good location, and met all my minimum needs… we arranged for me to see it after work. Within an hour of firming up plans to go see it, it went pending. LOL This has happened a couple times, in a way that seems to defy likelihood. It’s every bit as irksome as making an offer on a house at several thousand dollars over list price, just hoping to have that offer considered at all, and find out later it sold to another buyer who could afford to pay not only thousands over list, but offering tens of thousands over the appraised value, which is tens of thousands of dollars over list price. I try to avoid being angered by that, but also struggle to understand why that buyer wasn’t looking at nicer homes they could afford at a higher price point? I find myself beginning to fuse with that other emotional experience, even though, here, now, everything is calm and quiet. I take a deep breath and let that go.

Being present in this moment, takes practice. 🙂

I smile over my coffee and think about going to lunch with my Traveling Partner and a friend, yesterday. It was a lovely break from the day-to-day routine, and I definitely needed a break from that work project. I laughed at the end of the day when I noticed my departure from work was delayed from my usual time by almost exactly the length of my lunch out. I felt a moment of satisfaction, as that seemed to me to be exactly as it should be. 🙂 Pleasant recollections definitely feel better than fussing and feeling discontent and aggravated by the frustrations of house hunting. Then, I notice the time. The work week is not yet over, and here it is, time to go, already.

Today is a good day to be present. Today is a good day to be and to do. Today is a good day to begin again. All of that takes practice. There are verbs involved. 🙂

I heard some of the news stories about the wind and power outages, as the day went on. I didn’t think much about it besides feeling sympathetic for the people going through it, and hoping that it would be quickly resolved.

On my way home, signs that this was not an abstract circumstance happening elsewhere in the world.

I arrived home feeling merry on a Friday evening, thinking about dinner, a hot shower, maybe some Rick and Morty…  I arrived home to darkness. Everything dark. Even the aquarium. The stillness and quiet were… quite still, and very quiet; even the hums and buzzes of the appliances were silenced. I did the obvious thing; I flipped a switch. No change. I did what makes sense as a next step (for a human primate)… I flipped another switch. Then checked the fuse box. Finally, used my device to determine that, yes, I was participating in a power outage, no estimated time for a resolution (later cheerily updated to sometime the following morning, around 11:30 am).

The apartment was quite chilly. The aquarium much less so; the small battery back up my Traveling Partner got for me after a brief interruption in power last year did what it could. I got my tender heart ready to deal with the heartache of losing my fish by morning, as best I could. I lit candles in cute votive holders (I have a literal drawer full of tea light candles that just wait for such occasions as this). I recharged my device using a power brick that I take on camping trips. I ordered firewood; a fire in fireplace would definitely take the chill off. I had a quick bite of dinner while I waited for firewood to arrive. I wore my coat – and an extra sweater.

This whole time, the biggest active stressor was the ancient Verizon FiOS box in a back closet beeping at me every couple of minutes to alert me there is no power. Well, damn it, I know that; it isn’t my doing! My Traveling Partner, seeing an irritated Facebook post on the subject of beeping and power outages sends me a message suggesting there is probably a reset button or something of that kind that will silence the alarm. That seems… too obvious. How did I not see that when I looked the first time? Why didn’t any of the online forums mention that? I grab my flashlight, a foot stool, and go looking for a button, which I do find – and tiny lettering clearly indicates this wee blue button is to “silence alarm”. I push it. Silence, as agreed. Nice.

Making the best of circumstances, beautifully.

As power outages go, and aside from the concern about my fish likely being mortal (which I was frankly very much aware of), and my fridge now being plentifully filled with things no longer safe to consume (which although aggravating doesn’t have to be “a thing” of noteworthy importance right now), it was simply an evening of candlelight, without television, without streaming media, and by itself that didn’t have to be unpleasant at all. I invited friends over, we chilled together, talked, laughed, and made the best of things while the apartment slowly warmed up again. It was, actually, quite a lovely evening, spent with good friends.

Meditation by fire light.

After things wound down, and I began to consider sleep, I sat by the fire awhile on my meditation cushion, enjoying the stillness, the utter calm and quiet. I set aside worries about the fish surviving or not surviving; the outcome was not yet decided. Schrödinger’s fish.  I set aside aggravation over having to toss out groceries wastefully; the outcome had not yet occurred and did not require action. I set aside concern that the apartment would feel too cold for comfortable sleep; the notion was actually foolish, since I go camping in colder conditions now and then, and sleep just fine, or… as well as I generally do. I sat by the fire, enjoying the stillness instead. Sitting quietly became meditation. Meditation became a gentle moment while time passed in spite of my lack of involvement in the passage of time.

Just as I began to reconnect with a more obvious awareness of the actual time, and considered going to bed, the power came on. I noted the lateness of the hour, let my Traveling Partner know the power had come on, and that I was well, and checked on things around the apartment to ensure that everything was working as expected, before going to bed. The apartment still felt chilly, in rooms away from the fireplace. I wrapped myself in blankets and drifted to sleep listening to the sounds of the apartment fully powered once again, knowing that in the morning I would need to begin again.

Today is a good day to recall a pleasant evening. It’s a good day to check on the fish and see which ones didn’t make it, and take care of general tank health. It’s a good day to dispose of freezer goods that thawed the day before, while the power was out. It’s a good day to carefully check everything in the fridge and similarly dispose of anything that could be a health risk if not continuously fully refrigerated. It’s a good day for a sunrise, for a pleasant walk, and for doing laundry. It’s a good day to support the woman in the mirror with more than promises; she’s worked hard this week, and some quality time for/with her will feel really good. It’s a good day to begin again. I have that power. 🙂