Archives for category: Anxiety

Notice how I did not say “here’s the thing, though”…? Yeah, I can’t be sure, generally, if some noteworthy notable notion, or thought, or moment is the totality of such things, which would warrant the use of a firm and defining “the”… but… still… here I sit, with words, moments, notions, things, and thoughts… some of which may be worth sharing.Β  πŸ˜€

I feel pretty good about finding that comfortable. It took a while to get here. I used to crave certainty, firmness, and a clear dichotomy to feel comfortable with my place in the world. It was not only limiting, it was bullshit. lol I’m glad I’m generally free of it.

There were verbs involved. This is a journey. I have made – and continue to make – choices. Some choices are less obvious than others. Some are less effort than others. Some are less profound than others, as changes go. Some are more of all of that, and then some.

Choose.

Don’t sit there being miserable, filled with frustrated rage, stalled, wounded, or oppressed. Choose something different… and yeah, maybe even if that means walking away from everything you have chosen before, to choose differently, with greater wisdom, with more self-reflection, with greater awareness, and more commitment to the person you most want to be.

I did not say any of this is easy… but…

…Maybe you need to hear this…? You did not “ruin everything”. You are not “a complete fuck up”. You are not “the reason all of this went wrong”. You are neither master of the universe nor the single cause of all the world’s ills. You just aren’t. You aren’t that significant, actually. Neither are you unimportant. You matter. You just aren’t to blame for every fucking thing. Ever. Let that shit go? If nothing else changes, today, in this moment, you can choose to letΒ  that shit go…

…and begin again. ❀

I am sipping my coffee in a state of contentment and feeling generally okay after an entire day of rest, following the recreational weekend. It’s worth it to take time to get adequately rested. So often, I enjoy a great time, let that occasion undermine my self-care, and move on to a new work week, and interacting with people, without “getting caught up”, and really caring for myself. It’s a poor choice to take that approach.

How much Monday misery is fully and wholly a byproduct of enthusiastic weekend endeavors? Probably quite a lot of it, and I suspect that Monday’s reputation for being a shitty day of the week is caused more by hangovers of various sorts, than by any actual day-of-week-related flaw. (Don’t even start with me about how you “don’t get hangovers”; the science suggests otherwise, and if you don’t like the word, don’t use the word, but for fuck’s sake don’t bullshit yourself about needed after-care!)

I’m sitting here grateful to be more aware of such things than I was when I was in my 20s – my quality of life could have been so much better, and there could have been so much less fucking drama! “Self-care” was not in my vocabulary.

I smile, and sip my coffee. Yeah… I don’t even try to go off the coffee. I recognize the irony. I don’t avert my eyes from the lessons I learn about addiction, generally, and good self-care, just because this particular intoxicant is legal. The legality of any given intoxicant has not one thing to do with whether it is effective, or what effects it actually has, or whether there is a hangover. Words are not experiences. Experiences exist independent of the words we use to describe them.

Take care of yourselves out there in the world, Party People! It’s Monday. Tomorrow is “terrible Tuesday”, too, and intoxicants vary widely in both effect, and duration of effect. If you’re working, you may not be at your best. That annoying argument? Probably a byproduct of your chemistry – you’re usually so much more reasonable, and measured in your responses. That flare up of bad temper? Yeah, excessive is a good word for that – it’s worth reminding yourself that you’re probably prone to being a bit over-reactive right now. You could do better. Are you drinking enough water? Have you had nutritionally dense healthy calories? Have you gotten the rest you need? You don’t need to dissolve into a private emo nightmare of drama and woe – you can practice good self-care, and heighten your self-awareness. Being more considerate of yourself (and, let’s be frank, of others) may ease some of the (literal) headaches of a (hungover) Monday… I’m just saying; you have choices. πŸ˜‰ Your results may vary, but you can choose how to deal with that, too. πŸ™‚

…Adulting takes so much practice. Have you “already completely fucked this day up”? Just begin again. ❀

This is about my relationship with money. For some of us, talk about money, personal finances generally, or how we deal with money is more intimate than any discussion of sex. So. Here’s your trigger warning; this is me going on about money. You can stop right here, and not take another step, not read another word. I respect that. Take care of yourself. πŸ™‚ Enjoy your Friday.

Sometimes basic self-care is really really basic.

Is how I handle money a matter of basic self-care? I suspect maybe it is… We’ve all been in that place, a bit tense with it, looking at a plan or a budget, looking at the resources available, measuring and cutting things to fit… feeling the relief in that moment when it is clear that there are resources, and also a plan, and that the one fits the other… with just enough left to be sure there is enough, at all (or those far more stressful times, when there just isn’t). It’s so easy to ride that wave of relief to a shore of imagined certainty and security. No one really wants to focus on one important detail that is a bit of a buzz kill; that plan has to be executed. There are verbs involved. Choices. Effort.

Hint: it isn’t the effort that is the tricky bit, generally, it’s the choices.

This morning I am looking at my budget. It’s a payday morning. I’ve got my coffee. It’s what I do. I don’t go anywhere or spend anything (nothing. at. all.) until I’ve reviewed the budget, the pay, the resources overall, my calendar (which handily includes all the recurring bills on the dates they hit my bank account, as well as things I want to do)(calendars are super cool right now, I hear, πŸ˜‰ )… and I walk myself through the upcoming days and debts, making doubly sure that I can pay my bills, meet my obligations, and handle my commitments – before I spend a dime on anything that wasn’t already planned. I’d love to say this is as easy as it sounds. It isn’t. There’s quite a bit of work and practice involved.

I maintain this particular practice because “the money thing” is hard for me. Which part? Mostly matching the plan (budget) to the reality (choices, actions, deviations from the plan). I forget things kind of a lot. This is a particularly noteworthy risk because symptomatically, I also have some executive function impairments that hit me right in the impulse control. These things do not play well together in the finances. I enjoy living well*, and have modest resources – a lack of impulse control is a major impediment to good quality of life given limited resources. So. Each payday I sit down and review it all again. It’s a good time to reality-check my expectations. I sometimes find myself reconsidering future plans from this perspective, as I count off the bills against the budget, and note that perhaps I am over-extending myself (time or money).

This used to be one of the scariest things I “had to do” each payday. I tried to do it without having to be present, or think about it at all. Now it is routine, comfortable, and fairly encouraging to be able to see that I’m okay, or that some brief tough time in life is improving, or the less-than-ideal timing of some large expenditure is no longer a concern. I feel more “safe” with my life; I have clearer picture of what I can get done with my resources. I’m not averting my eyes. It doesn’t work that way, anyway.

Important observation; my choices these days are very different than they once were. If I don’t have the funds, I don’t do the things. Bills come first. “Fun stuff” and adventures are all down the list somewhere later, after quality of life needs are met. It’s not easy, and I’m not lecturing; when we don’t have enough resources in life, we make the choices that we think save us. We “do what we have to do” – as we understand it. (Often leading to poorer outcomes because we don’t necessarily choose wisely.) We don’t really have an easy time of holding collateral damage in our thoughts while we make the choices that cause it. We just don’t easily consider the “down stream effects” of our choices very well (thus the whole notion of effects that happen down stream of where we stand; because we have a fucking history of polluting our waterways that become someone else’s drinking water!), because considering those outcomes forces us to be willful and consciously deliberate about causing it. I don’t have any solutions, I’m just noting that, generally, we’ve got this limitation as creatures. I had to make profound changes in my thinking and behavior to more appropriately manage my finances, meet my obligations, and live an acceptably good quality of life. It’s sometimes still really hard to make the necessary choices. I’m not super human. I’m definitely not wealthy. I’m just practicing, and learning. It’s still hard. I still need practice. πŸ™‚ That gets easier – and so worth it.

This is going to be one of those more difficult times, when the choices I make definitely affect my real-time experience and quality of life; I’m right on the edge of bouncing back from recently over-extending myself somewhat, right to the edge of my available resources. This is challenging; every choice in this pay period matters a great deal, and rather a bit more than any choices made in pay periods when I’m definitely in the black, with adequate resources to just go, and be, and do. Right now, each choice really matters and there can be no fucking about playfully or wastefully. I… am not good at this. πŸ™‚ That’s why my bills are on autopay, (some are also paid a month in advance) and I keep a decent balance in my accounts, and don’t let things fall behind; I’m not as skilled at managing things check-to-check, and the ups and downs fuck with my emotional balance, which causes me stress, which fatigues me and messes with my sleep, which impairs my executive function further over time, which reduces my ability to make good choices, which causes me stress, which… Yeah. It’s a cycle. Breaking that cycle was a huge turning point for me. (Big props to my Traveling Partner for all the emotional support and coaching on managing my finances!) Treading too closely to getting back on that treadmill is fraught with risk, and very uncomfortable. Also kind of scary. Stress. The stress of it colors other things, and I have been feeling my anxiety trying to pull me back to a bad place.

It’s still ‘about’ contentment and sufficiency.

…Then, this morning, I sat down, quite routinely, with the budget, with the banking, and started going down the list, reviewing the calendar… and my stress dissipated. Limited resources are nothing new. The resources are always limited. Always. The time we have available to us is always limited. 100% of definitely always limited; we are mortal creatures. This life is not about a grind. It’s about an experience. A journey. I have limited resources, limited time, and still have so many things in life to enjoy, to attempt, to savor, to experience for the first time or again… planning is not about restrictions on any of that; planning lets me cram more life into that limited lifetime, and do so sufficiently skillfully to avoid exceeding my resources. It’s lets me “pace myself” so that self-care is handled as routine and high priority, too. It lets me identify and set priorities. The plan just has to connect to the lived reality – and that takes choices.

So many choices. I like saying “yes!” to life! Nonetheless, sometimes there’s got to be a “no” involved, now and then; those resources remain finite, limited, and don’t “stretch to fit” in any real sense. This is going to be a pay period more about saying “no” than about saying “yes”, and living the planning very closely. That’s just real. This morning? I’m not even upset or stressed by that. The “plan B” options look every bit as sufficient, practical, and enjoyable as plan A. There’s just no room for “yes!” levels of spontaneity in this one. That has to be okay, too. πŸ™‚ That’s how it works.

I finish my coffee. It’s still quite early. Time to get started on the planned weekend ahead. There are some verbs involved; the choices are already made. πŸ™‚ I only need to begin.

Each day dawns, entirely new, filled with potential and choices.

* Just a note about what I mean by “living well”; I mean living a quality of life that is sustainably comfortable, adequate, sufficient for my own needs, characterized generally by contentment, which allows me to pay my bills and also do things I enjoy without over-extending myself, or putting my future good quality of life at risk. I do not mean spending money lavishly on branded luxury goods, flashy brag-worthy baubles, or throwing cash around like candy corn at Halloween, or being a hard-balling big-spender. (With my resources, that’s not affordable, or sustainable, and with my temperament, it’s not desirable.)

 

The world is going to do what the world is going to do. We are mortal creatures, and short-lived ones at that, relative to the vastness of time itself. Humanity may not survive its own poor choices. Seems fair, really; we’ve given a great many other species very little voice in their demise. We are killers. Rapists. Thieves. Liars. Spoiled-rotten bad-tempered children, with little real awareness of the experience of others – at our worst. Our best is something very different from all of that, but we’ve really got to work at it, each of us, quite individually, and generally without any significant encouragement.

This, right now, may be one of those times when we’ll need to work hard to be the human beings we most want to be, and we’re going to have to do it in the face of some brutally clueless, demeaning, fairly horrible bullshit. I’m talking about the Kavanaugh hearings and vote (which I guess will happen today) for his position on the Supreme Court. You just fucking know they are going to vote to confirm him, in spite of all we’ve heard, because they literally do not care about rape, at all (chances are, there are quite a few rapists in office), and do not care about women, and this is something they have stated quite frankly, and voted reliably to prove, time and again. So… yeah. Swallow that one, folks. It’s real, and it’s bitter.

I don’t know what it means for our nation, or for the world, but I know one thing it means for Brett Kavanaugh, if he is confirmed; he’ll spend that lifetime appointment secure in the knowledge that although his privilege as a white male one him his seat, also, like it or not, every woman on the Supreme Court knows precisely who he really is. Every colleague on that court, of any gender or political leaning, knows what his biases are, and that he is a liar, and not to be trusted. I hope it’s tense for him, every fucking day. I hope those women hold his gaze every single day with real contempt in their eyes. (He may not be sharp enough to notice, though, honestly – did you hear the testimony? Fucking hell. Dim bulb there.)Β Hell, his wife has had a hearty helping of seeing him through the eyes of an outraged nation, and maybe heard some things she did not previously know. I bet there were some uncomfortable car rides home at the end of the day over the past couple weeks.

So, yeah. I would love to be optimistic, and see his nomination turned down. There are other, better, choices for the Supreme Court. It’s not going to be that world we wake up in tomorrow, though; he’ll most likely be confirmed. It’s a strong “legacy boy’s club” there in Washington D.C., but – and this is worth a moment of contemplation – this shit went public in a very loud way, and in many of our own homes, already, right now, the tone is changing with regard to the way women are treated, the way survivors of sexual violence are treated, the way we view rape culture, and yeah – even the way we do or don’t tolerate (and how much, and how well) that crusty partisan legacy boy’s club living out its last days with the Elders of Whitemanistan, there in D.C. This isn’t going to go away. πŸ™‚ Well, until the last of these rich white men in office finally dies off. (Maybe the next batch will be better? You own this. Vote.)

The challenge on our end is real; how to be the best version of the person we most want to be, really, with all this maddening bullshit going on around us? That’s a puzzle all its own. This morning, it is what I am thinking about.

Who do I want most to be, myself? How do I present that in the world? How do I maintain a comfortably authentic experience of self, while also pushing myself for real growth? What matters most? What is just a distraction? Can I change just one thing, today, on this path… and get there sooner, or more skillfully?

There’s a glimmer of real hope always held in the question “what can I change?” It presupposes change is a thing I can do. (Which I can.) I sip my coffee, and meditate on change. It’s a new day. New opportunities. Familiar challenges. I have multiple choices and a choose my own adventure game right in front of me, every day. (You do, too.) What will I choose today? Where will my path take me?

I sip my coffee. Check the time. Begin again.

I woke a bit early. Not early enough to go back to sleep. I got up.

I dithered a bit with my morning routine. One thing at a time. Got through it. Great. Fine. Necessary. Completed.

I sat down, eventually, with my coffee. It’s been awhile. Mostly just… sitting quietly. Scrolling. Done with that, too. Bored? No. Ennui? Not that either.

Anxiety.

Just garden variety anxiety on a Wednesday morning, without specific context or cause. It is the nature of an anxiety disorder, of any sort, really, to deliver some anxiety, however “well-managed”, now and then. Must be my morning for it.

β€œAnxiety” 10β€³ x 14β€³ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

It’s been with me awhile. “All my life” does not feel like an exaggeration. I take it much less seriously these days, seeing it for the fraud it actually is, and managing its presence more skillfully than I once could. Still… annoying to deal with, every time… and dealing with it is non-negotiable. Deal with it, or fall apart. Deal with it, or break down. Deal with it, or lose my shit completely in some very inconvenient or problematic way. Deal with it – or deal with the consequences of failing to do so. Fuck anxiety.

I don’t need to troubleshoot my anxiety. It’s got a familiar face; work, life, money, “the world”…Β  I’m real with myself about it. There’s more anxiety about more things than is entirely reasonable (it’s a scary fucking world right now, frankly, being a little anxious seems pretty damned reasonable). I take a deep breath and let myself relax each time I notice it surging forward, bubbling up from my consciousness to become part of my immediate awareness; it helps. It helps, too, not to deceive myself or play soothing mind-games to try to wish it away. I examine what seems to be driving my anxiety. I consider those things with care. Real? Exaggerated? Imagined? Sometimes anxiety is pretty legit, and functions to hold my focus on some concerning detail, until I take an appropriate action. Sometimes anxiety is just… wasted emotion. A reaction without a cause worth acting on. Disordered thinking. Sometimes, of all the irritating things, it is not anxiety at all – sometimes I have conflated the physical experience of excitement with the physical experience of anxiety, and don’t yet realize I’m just excited about something, and could enjoy that moment of anticipation much more, if I stop defining it as anxiety.

I breathe. Relax. Let it go. I let it all go. This thing over here? I let that go. That thing over there? Yep. That, too, I let it go. Another breath. Another concern. Another moment to let shit go. It’s a practice, and it requires practicing, and that means verbs, and that means choices, and that means… working at it.

Still.

So, yeah. Mindfulness is enormously helpful with managing my anxiety. It’s not a “cure”. It’s a tool, and a way of experiencing life, that can be very helpful. I feel much better when I maintain a rigorous meditation practice than when I don’t. I feel much better when I am able to maintain exceptional sleep hygiene, than when I don’t. I feel much better when I am open, authentic, vulnerable, and real with myself – and others – than when I am not. I feel much better when I get out of the house, get plenty of healthy exercise, and a good measure of both social and solo time. It’s not some one practice that eases my anxiety; it’s practicing the ones that work best for me in a consistent way.

Sometimes I fail.

Sometimes I succeed.

I just keep practicing.

It’s one of the challenges of achieving mental and emotional wellness; the work is on my end. I have to do the verbs. I’m going to be the one practicing the practices to improve my own experience. It’s my journey, built on my choices. Incremental change over time is fucking slow as hell, and can be incredibly discouraging; I still have PTSD, a TBI, a broken back, and a very human experience. All the improvement in my experience of self and life I could ever imagine will not change those things. No cure. Just practice, growth, and incremental change over time. πŸ™‚

Sure. I’m anxious this morning. I have an anxiety disorder. I also, unrelated but metaphorically relevant, have a thyroid that failed years ago. I take medication for it, and go on with living my life. Anxiety isn’t really a lot different; I’ve got some fail sauce and messed up wiring in my emotional experience; I practice meditation, breathing, and other assorted practices for that, and go on with living my life. If my thyroid medication doesn’t work ideally well, I go back to my physician, and we make changes. If my anxiety flares up, I go back to my practices (and, in some cases, also back to my therapist), and make changes. “Easy”. (It isn’t, but it is generally adequate.)

I breathe. Relax. Run my writing through a spellcheck (which will reliably miss at least one error, regardless). Hit publish…

…And begin the day. It’s a whole new one, all my own. Fuck anxiety.