Archives for posts with tag: anxiety

Damn. Rollercoaster ride of a few days. Crazy. Some lovely on-again-off-again rainy days, which I find generally quite pleasant. Less pleasant is the ebb and flow my anxiety. I had a lovely relaxed weekend with my Traveling Partner – it seems ridiculously far away, now. I’m not certain either of us actually recall it.

My last surviving grandparent died over the weekend. It hit me harder than I expected. I keep making that observation, in various conversations. I’m not sure why I feel I need to explain or excuse my feelings. Grief and grieving are very personal processes. My partner is loving and considerate of my grief. He’s good like that.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

My partner is less loving and considerate of my anxiety; it tends to provoke his, which then causes mine to worsen (seeing him anxious), which, of course, aggravates his (seeing my anxiety increasing) and around we go. He does his best – and his best is pretty good. I’ve been – often right here – “working on” my anxiety for years now. Study. Practice. Consult. More practice. Repeat. It’s hardest on us when we’re both having an experience that is characterized by feelings of anxiety. “Background anxiety” is particularly insidious. I too often feel that I’m managing things skillfully, feeling good…but miss some detail that could predictably be a thing that might trigger his anxiety… and we’re off. My fairly chronic picking at my cuticles, for example, although it is a sort of a “tic”, and hard to shut down or “break the habit”, it functions as a trigger for his anxiety (likely by sending subtle “anxiety signals” to him that suggest I am anxious, myself) – I’ve fought this “habit” for years. It’s nowhere near as terrible as it once was (I can not now imagine what observing that horror show must have been like for onlookers), but I still bite my nails sometimes and pick at jagged cuticles something awful, and often without being aware of it. Yeesh. I could do better. It’s hard, and there are verbs involved, and it is a major bummer to see so little obvious progress over time. I keep at it.

Anxiety and grief. My week, this week. That’s already a lot to take, but on top of that – I woke yesterday from a late afternoon post-crying-over-death nap with a serious case of vertigo. Did I sleep on my neck wrong? Do a poor selection of dumb bell exercises? Was it because I was working with the 3D printer on my hands and knees, instead of sitting comfortably and being aware of my posture? Is it viral? Was it doing all the show-and-tell stuff my physician asked for during yesterday’s video appointment? I rose from bed with care, severely dizzy, and fighting the anxiety that comes with the vertigo (hard not to panic, it’s very scary). It soon made me physically ill, and I gotta say, I did not enjoy the experience of cleaning up puke while also still fighting the spinning of the room. I did impress myself, though (less by the quantity and distance I achieved, more the unexpected success with the clean up.) I went back to bed – not much else I could do (literally). I just didn’t have the balance to be doing things. I woke a couple times during the night, still spinning. Managed to make it to the bathroom without an incident. This morning? Not quite as bad, and I worked, more or less as is typical.

Well.. I worked, and I juggled the anxiety. Mine and his. I don’t really know what caused his – maybe mine. For sure a portion of mine is caused by his. It’s a pretty problematic feedback loop that seems solved only by literal distance from each other, at least lately. His tense request is that I do a better job of managing my anxiety. I can’t even argue with that; it’s a reasonable request. “Already on it!” is what I’d like to reply, but don’t want to sound flippant, or dismissive, or in any way take away from his message – which is that he is struggling to feel comfortable and manage his own anxiety, when he is with me. Especially hard when he wants to be with me so very much. I want that too.

My arthritis pain competes with my anxiety for my attention, and with the vertigo continuing to flirt with my awareness from the periphery. Adulting is hard. I sigh and email my therapist to request an appointment time. There are steps to take. There are things I can practice – or practice more. There are things within my power, right now, to do better/differently to care for myself with greater skill. It’s not about “easy” – there are no promises that it will be, and I don’t expect it to be. More failure than success? Comes with the issues being tackled here. Incremental change over time is slow. Anxiety fights back. S’ok. It’s a process. Failure doesn’t truly characterize the journey unless I stop moving forward entirely. πŸ™‚ One step at a time, walking this hard mile. I’m having my own experience – and I feel fortunate that I am also sharing the journey with someone who truly cares about my wellness, and to see me thrive as an individual. More practice? Sign me up. It’s really that simple. I don’t have time for blame-laying, I just want to heal and be well. I’m willing to work pretty hard for that, and willing to do so in the face of literal years of failure and frustration, just to manage some small improvements. I’ve had to be. Is it “worth it”? That’s not really a question I can answer for anyone else.

It’s time to begin again. Again.

A panic attack woke me around 2:00 am. I woke drenched in cold sweat, mouth dry, breathless, chest tight – and brain focused on something somewhat stupid that managed to fall out of my mouth during the work week (that was likely entirely overlooked, and there was no “fall out” or follow-up). It wasn’t a big deal. Simple slip of the tongue. Poorly chosen verbiage, corrected in the moment. My brain, though? Would not let that shit go when it woke me.

I got up for a few minutes. Had a class of water. Took a few minutes for meditation. Went back to bed.

“Anxiety” 2011

No luck. My brain was locked on to that one small error, out of a busy week with no doubt many others that were similarly inconsequential. I distracted myself with math puzzles – that ended up pulling me back to work thoughts again, fairly quickly. I tried imagining a walk in the forest, in great detail. I still ended up back on the work thoughts and this one error, fighting the impulse to make a bigger deal out of it, trying to avoid conflating it with “everything else that went wrong” this week, resisting the temptation to fit it into “a pattern”.

More meditation. My head was kind of stuffy. It occurred to me that if I were having trouble breathing during the night, that could easily have woken me in a panic, a physical feeling of “anxiety”, and a mind filled with whatever bits and pieces were still lingering in my consciousness as my brain did the housekeeping as I slept. I take allergy medication. Try sleep again.

Eventually I slept. I woke a bit groggy, but otherwise it’s been a lovely morning, and I feel fine. I feel settled and calm. It’s a pleasant Friday morning, at the end of a busy week.

A colleague sent me a message during the wee hours of the night, and I see it when I get logged in – she apologizes for a moment of confusion, something “dumb” she said. I don’t even recall the moment. I chuckle over my coffee; it’s a very human thing to struggle with self-doubt, insecurity, anxiety, concern, regret… all the things. We may each be having our own experience – but these experiences are pretty commonplace human experiences. Mix and match – we have more in common with each other than we are truly different.

I sip my coffee. Prepare to begin again.

I still struggle with deal with live with (cope with?) anxiety. My anxiety woke me this morning. Unpleasant way to wake up too early, although, I will say that anxiety and being groggy don’t co-exist – so I definitely woke up fully, all the way awake. lol The newly added acoustic treatment in the house (in my studio, in the echoing hallway, in the living room where we listen to music) has the added bonus of allowing my Traveling Partner to sleep through my wakefulness, so… win? It at least amounts to an improvement.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

I sip my coffee feeling my anxiety begin to recede. What sparked it? I’m not sure, and it’s not always necessary to do a detailed “root cause analysis” – doing so often seems to prolong or increase the anxiety itself, rather than diminish it. It just doesn’t do to give anxiety too much “attention”. Anxiety is an attention whore. Anxiety is liar. Fuck anxiety. LOL I breathe, exhale, relax – and feel the physical details of my morning anxiety continue to dissipate. At this point, I suspect my waking anxiety was nothing more than a physical experience of attempting to sleep through the warning signs of mild gastro-intestinal discomfort. I similarly experience heightened anxiety if I wake feeling nauseous, unaware – at least initially – that I am potentially going to vomit. Anxiety reliably wakes me – and my brain certainly knows this.

Aside from my anxiety upon waking, it’s been a lovely morning. I woke, took care of biological needs, took time to meditate, dressed and went for my morning walk. I returned home from a lovely walk filled with birdsong, blooming roses, and rose-tinted clouds as the sun rose, had a shower, and made an excellent cup of coffee – with enough awareness still left over to notice that I probably would do well to get more coffee beans today (instead of tomorrow). I find myself wondering what would be nice for dinner, tonight? I think about the tomatoes I planted last week, and the irrigation my Traveling Partner provided them – he knows that the greatest risk to any garden of mine is that I will run out of energy on hot days, and fail to water them reliably. Problem solved.

Lately we’ve been working on a variety of household projects intended to improve our quality of life by addressing some personal needs – like noise sensitivity (so, acoustic treatments for that), and light/dark/shadow quirks and personal preferences for qualities of light that can influence emotional states (so, installing modern programmable, controllable lighting with features that reliably create suitably comfortable environments for the human primates living within). It’s pretty mind-blowing to have these options, instead of feeling limited to some dismal, single, bare, rather depressing yellow-y, overhead bulb in a dusty or broken fixture (honestly, it’s been a long damned time since I had that to deal with, but the memory lingers on in my emotions and sense of comfort). My partner gets something out of doing the projects – we both benefit from the results. I enjoy the almost magical fairytale experience of stepping out of my office on a break to discover some new wonder of quiet, or lighting.

…Today I’m trying out a style of wall switch, as I work…

…Work. Right. Another work day. I’m not fussing or discontented. I like this job. I enjoy working with this group of colleagues. I know it’s a good fit for me; it’s not easy. It’s a stretch for every skill, every day, though, and that’s cognitively fatiguing, leaving me pretty drained at the end of each week. It also finds me a bit more skilled and a bit more developed, at the start of each new week. So… another win? There’s certainly a bit of juggling involved in finding something like “work/life balance” right now… there are days that I suspect, left on my own, I’d just continue working long into the evening (so unlike me) because the work matters, and I find it engaging enough to be almost entertaining at some points. This is new for me. I explore it gently, finding ways to make use of this heightened emotional investment in doing well, without undermining my actual wellness.

The world continues to turn. Sometimes my stomach along with it; I am appalled, every day, at new reports of human cruelty, violence, and hate. I want to cry “where did this come from?!” – but I’m aware it’s been with us all along. It’s in our primate make-up. We are not truly domesticated. We are not as civilized as we would like to be seen to be. I take a breathe and exhale, reminding myself that I can do better, individually, at least – and take steps to be my best self, and to be the change I want to see in the world. If nothing else, I can at least do that. We’ve each got to begin somewhere.

Has it “all gone terribly wrong” for you? Been there. I suppose sooner or later I may be there again. I can only suggest that you begin again. Yes, and again after that if need be. Stop. Take stock. Breathe. And begin again. And again. And again. Incremental change over time will add up. Choosing, in some small way, to be and do better than the last time – it’ll add up. Like adding acoustic treatment to a noisy house – one room at a time. Or changing out old incandescent lighting for modern LEDs – one bulb at a time. Room after room. Change after change. Choice after choice. It adds up. It doesn’t always feel like progress when progress is slow… but seriously? We get to our goals in steps. One step at a time, one choice at a time, one new beginning at a time. πŸ™‚

It’s time to begin again. Today, I may not change the world, but maybe I can change the person I am, and become more the person I most want to be? One moment at a time.

It’s been a few days of dealing with an “interesting” increase in my anxiety, recently. Like… a distracting, persistent, defiant amount of anxiety, of varying intensity… the sort of thing that surges back seemingly stronger than previously known (it isn’t, really), and difficult to manage. It’s been disrupting my sleep, and pulling my attention away from things that (truly) matter much more. Frustrating.

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

I woke early, pre-occupied with work, because that’s just the sort of thing Anxiety enjoys nibbling on before the day even begins. Any detail over which I’m less than entirely confident and comfortable with becomes fuel to her fire. Fuck Anxiety; she’s a liar. Anxiety forces me to view the world through a lens of fear, doubt, stress, and insecurity, and prevents me from embracing other qualities of my experience. I haven’t had to do such fierce battle with my anxiety in a long while. It’s fueled by the competing experiences of home-ownership and difficult (unpleasant) work-place relationships. The sense of obligation that comes of owning a home causes me to feel I “have to” endure more that is unreasonable, to set fewer clear boundaries, to be more reluctant to “draw a line in the sand” with higher ranking colleagues… all of which are uncomfortable, less than ideal, and probably also seriously bullshit. lol Anxiety, remember, is a liar.

I woke early, and spent my first minutes on meditation. It helps a lot. Coffee came later, because over the years I’ve learned too well that Anxiety likes a good cup of coffee every bit as much as I do, and not in a helpful way. lol Meditation first. Coffee later.

I looked over my work calendar, and quickly identified the source of my stress – it was really just one meeting on my calendar (that I own), and only due to a change of format being requested, for which I have had too little time to prepare. So… that’s not even “about” me. I reschedule the meeting to give myself (and another affected colleague) more time to make the requested changes. No harm done. Hell, it’s even a short week (after a Monday holiday) and so far it’s going very smoothly. Hard to argue with those results. πŸ™‚

I feel my tension ease, my Anxiety receding into the background, returning to being “anxiety” with a lower-case A. Nice. A good start to the work week… I mean… good enough. Amply adequate, for sure. πŸ˜€

The weekend that is now over was a lovely one. I sip my coffee, free of the crushing weight of the anxiety that had been nagging me earlier, and think about the lovely miles of trail walking, the scent of fresh baked cookies that filled the kitchen all weekend, and my Traveling Partner’s smiles. A good weekend.

Sometimes the obstacles along the way are small enough to just step over them. πŸ™‚

So, a new week, new beginnings – and new challenges. πŸ™‚ Sometimes the “new” challenges just happen to be old familiar ones – I just get to practice handling them, all over again. lol Didn’t think I needed to take that lesson one more time, but there it is – and we become what we practice. πŸ˜€

It’s time to begin again.

One step at a time, eventually measured in miles. One day at a time, eventually measured in years. One moment at a time eventually becomes a life well-lived, on a beautiful journey. ❀

The sunlight is beginning to fade – early evening, approaching sunset, and still another couple hours (guessing) of day light before dusk settles. This is a favorite time of day, for me. I love the light, in the evenings. I enjoy the way the peach and gold and amber tones give a moment a certain luster it might otherwise lack.

…The election is approaching… Yeah, I know, me too; no real desire to talk about, struggle to avoid the inevitable next news story, talking head, or conversation in which the election is the topic of conversation. I mean, for fucks’ sake, vote. Please take at least that quite seriously. There’s no point in attempting to sway your individual viewpoint; we’ve all “shown up” and we’ve all attempted to make our point very clear over the past four years, with little success most of the time, and we’re all exhausted, frustrated, and saddened by the friendships ended by the divisiveness of the current administration. It’s been ugly. Let’s just get this shit over with, and just maybe begin life anew, sometime in November, rebuilding relationships, reaching across divides, maybe even “unburning” some bridges? I mean… we could. We so easily could begin again. πŸ˜‰

Where will your path take you?

It can be so tempting to hang the entire future on a moment. Election or otherwise, there is so much more potential to an entire future than one moment. Just saying.

I’ve stopped reading news articles that lead with a headline of some doomsday scenario that is 100% pure imagination and potential, with nothing actually supporting the likelihood. I mean… I could tumble into a nearby creek after being struck by lightening while being bitten by a snake… but it seems unlikely. If I plan my day around that potential, or imagine a future that is dependent on the outcomes that could only result from that happenstance, I haven’t done anything particularly useful for my emotional wellness, my outlook on life, or even managed to be adequately prepared for what may actually be in my probable possible futures. lol I’m taking this thought farther than a “don’t catastrophize” reminder…

…It wasn’t so long ago that I was reading the news so compulsively, and so often, that my “state of mind” was adversely affected. I was anxious to the point of madness – and mostly over shit that had neither truth to it, nor noteworthy probability of actually occurring. I’ve stopped doing that, figuring that “falling behind on current events” by hours or days is a small price to pay for enjoying my life, and maintaining my sanity. πŸ™‚ It’s already difficult enough to know how to be effective in the world… trying to do that on the basis of a bunch of alarming made up shit makes it just that much less likely that I’ll do anything besides become spun out and exhausted with frustration and outrage. (Perhaps that is truly the point of that style of “news” reporting? Render us captivated… but ineffective…?)

Reminder: COVID-19 – the pandemic? Remember that? Yeah. That’s not “made up shit”. That’s real. Just saying. Your choices matter. Protect each other. Practice social distancing. Wear a mask. Stay home when you’re sick and work on getting well. The pandemic is not a wholesale attack on our fucking civil liberties, and yes, it can “get to you” too. The lockdowns are a drag, I know. People are bored and eager to get out again. It’s hard. I get it. Fine. Do you. The death toll is climbing. Your choices affect other people – people who matter to you, not just far away strangers. (If you don’t believe that, I won’t convince you, now, I just don’t want to be that person who didn’t point it out when it came up in conversation. I guess I’m literally “just saying…”)

Weird time. The pandemic has been part of this entire year… I take a moment to consider that. I let myself begin again, new moment, new thoughts.

It’s quiet here in my studio. I hear the sound of a saw in my Traveling Partner’s wood shop in the garage. Sounds of home. I smile. Contentment may not be “the same as” happiness… still, I like it very much… and at this point, the line between feeling “happy” and feeling “contented” is rather blurry. I’m okay with that. I can so easily practice contentment, through sufficiency, observation, presence, acceptance, and non-attachment. Contentment builds over time. Practice by practice, moment by moment. Chasing happiness was neither satisfying, nor, as it turns out, was it particularly achievable. πŸ™‚ I’m pretty okay where I stand in my life, today. It’s enough. πŸ˜€

What does it take to be “happy”? Sometimes autumn pears are enough… sometimes it takes a bit more work (and patience, and practice).

I think over the day. The week. The summer. The move. This peculiar year. Life in the time of pandemic…

…Then I begin again.