Archives for posts with tag: anxiety

The first time I heard “YOLO”, I remember being rather struck by it in a positive way, which was before I was fully aware how often it is attached to a level of foolhardiness or stupidity so vast as to be quite noteworthy, and… on purpose. Wild. Kinda scary. Definitely not at all what I might mean were I to observe that “you only live once“. Not at all. I’d be saying “live your life – truly live it, awake, and aware, and willful, you may not get another shot at this, so do your best”.

I try, every day, to take my own best advice. Sometimes I even succeed.

I am enjoying a relaxed quiet evening, but it isn’t “everything”. I plan the weekend, making sure my needs over time are considered ahead of the needs of the moment (which often aren’t truly needs at all, but instead some distraction or alluring momentary fancy). I smile when I realize how excited I am to have two days in a row to sleep in, and no driving. I feel that twist, and become a pang of regret and loneliness; I won’t see my Traveling Partner this weekend. I do need some real down time, though, a chance to rest, and a chance to take care of this space I live in, and some time to finish moving into my studio, so that days I am inspired to paint are as effortless as days I am inspired to write. These are things I need. 🙂

My mind wanders to that dark corner labeled “all the shit you forgot to take care of”, and instead of a panic attack, I find myself just sort of mentally “tidying up”, letting myself consider a large number of very assorted sorts of loose-end-y kinds of things I am prone to forgetting, just generally. I moved in July. Did I account for 100% of everything? Did I pack something, forget about it, and continue to overlook it because I don’t recall it even exists? So many distracting weekends away. How does a person rediscover what they have entirely forgotten, when that is a needful thing? That’s only sort of rhetorical; I do manage it, but I couldn’t explain in a million years quite how, and it’s very hit or miss. So… I guess I only sort of manage it. LOL Nice that such things don’t set off a storm of anxiety these days. The fear made it terribly difficult to catch things up, fix them, or complete them, or address whatever had or might go wrong with any skill. Now it generally just feels like another thing that needs doing, and once done, I’m done with it completely. I check off a few things, an address or two to update, things like that.

Strange night. I’m in a lot of pain, and the headache is just… extra. I’m managing a good mood in spite of that.  I’m still smiling from a few minutes of chat with my Traveling Partner. It’s a nice evening. It’s… a nice life. I frown, remembering how my every day moments “now” had been so thoroughly tainted by past events… when did that change? Will it stay like this? I feel the weight of my frown become stress in my shoulders and pause, breathe deeply, and sit more erect as I exhale. I’m okay right now. Right now isn’t something that needs troubleshooting. Right now I’m okay, and that’s enough. 🙂

Tomorrow I’ll begin again. 🙂

Weird day at work. I’m ready to move on from that.

What’s this really about? (It’s probably a metaphor)

I had a moment of aggravating conversation at one point during my day, with a relative stranger, and on a rather delicate topic – my weight. Yikes. How does a person approach someone they don’t know well at all, and with a rather mundane mixture of erroneous assumptions and internal narrative, come up with a good rationalization to open the door on the topic of weight and weight management with an irritable middle-aged fat chick on the bus?? Inquiring minds want to know, because frankly, I know me – and I would not attempt it. I must have grown some over the years. I politely listened to the litany of “have you tried”s, followed by what may very well be Amazon’s Top Ten Self-Help Books to Read in 2018, finished off with a hearty portion of “I had a friend who…”

<sigh>

  1. Mind your own business
  2. You don’t know me
  3. Damn, I’m so done with that conversation

I think what made it most distasteful (beyond the fact that I did not solicit an opinion on the subject, nor seek conversation with the individual), was the way off assumptions – beginning with the underlying assumption that all of the health concerns of someone who carries more weight than is aesthetically pleasing to another human being are therefore to do with the weight. Keep your fucking aesthetics to yourself, please. lol I’ve got my own – and trust me, I’m already hard enough on myself without additional bullshit and baggage offered up for free by a stranger who probably needs some therapy, themselves. Seriously. Damn. Move along.

There’s already a surplus of constant nagging and criticism in the world, generally. It’s not necessary, or in most cases at all helpful, to add to that steaming pile. Let it go. Don’t think a fat chick is attractive? Well, the next step is not a conversation starter like “you know, you’d be cute if…” or “I don’t mind older gals, but…” (yes, people say this shit actually out loud). If you don’t think a fat chick is attractive… walk the fuck on. It’s that simple. You don’t find someone hot? They aren’t obligated to meet that need for you, you have options in life, and suggesting they change for you needn’t be among those. You have no claim on their time or appearance, and it isn’t even a little bit appropriate to “make suggestions” for “doing something about it”. Just stop.

It got me thinking, though, on my way home, and specifically got me thinking about The Things That Work versus The Things That Do Not Work – and how subjective that is, and also how easily led we really are as creatures. Think about it; if you are content, comfortable, and healthy and someone markets thin-ness to you sufficiently repetitively with enough catchy slogans, you may quickly find yourself wondering “how to get rid of these extra pounds” (that you don’t have in the first place) in order to meet some ideal of beauty (that no one actually measures up to) or risk being a failure… in life… in work… in the bedroom. Yikes. Heavy. (lol, Yeah, I went there.) Self-help fads of all kinds are constantly pushed on us – but first, we’re made to feel inadequate and discontent, to soften us up and make us hungry to spend our money on that shiny new life being dangled out there… just out of reach. Some of that shit works… for someone. Some of it works for “many” people. Very little of it works for “most” people. I assure you, chances are, none of it works for everyone. It just doesn’t. Buuuuuut… find the thing that works for you, whatever that is, and stick with that… change happens. Just don’t get distracted by the slow rate of change, or the lack of real impact that change may (at least initially) have… because… oops! Back to square one as you (we, I, whatever) hop right back on the treadmill, cycling through self-help tips, tricks, and techniques that helped at least one other person at least once, but possibly not you, ever… Well that doesn’t sound at all productive. :-\ (I hate wasting my precious limited lifetime; I have already wasted so much.)

I end up there, too – well, I have. “Try. Fail. Begin again. Try something else. Fail. Begin again.” Over and over – forgetting that the most effective and efficient approach is to remember what works – then “Try. Fail. Begin that working thing precisely all over again and do that. Try. Fail. Begin again with that very thing that was just working until I failed myself, and do that.” This is a path to growth and change. It looks very like a darker stranger path, though, one that leads to a whole lot of endless bottomless nowhere, which is annoying because “Try. Fail. Do exactly what has never ever worked, and do it harder” over and over looks rather similar, but does not lead to change, or growth, only frustration and eventual madness. Knock that shit off. Also avoid the pitfalls of “Try. Fail. Flail wildly through all the try-able things without committing to anything or giving anything a chance to work. Begin again – but don’t give any one thing a second chance, and if something starts to work – sabotage that shit immediately” – personal experience suggests this is also not a winning strategy. lol Yep. Done those, too. Very human. My results, as a result, have varied – a lot.

I guess sorting through all the shit to try is a place to begin again. Sift out what hasn’t worked in a frank and honest way. Reflect on what has worked – and why it worked, if that is knowable. Repeat what works best – for you. Your results may vary. You are having your own experience. How is a writer (however self-help-ish-ly they write) hundreds of miles and many years removed from your experience actually going to know with any certainty what will work for you? I mean… better than you? Well…  maybe. Some stuff. Okay. I get you on that – me too. I do like data. I’ve worked hard to be as self-aware as I am, and still have a lot of work to do in that area. Adulting is fucking hard. But, once you’ve tried something, and are able to acknowledge based on experience whether it works for you or not… why repeat what doesn’t work? Seems very impractical. Although…

Some stuff just need practice. For some practices, the incremental changes over time are not recognizably easy to see. Fuck – that all just got a lot more complicated, didn’t it? Do you know yourself? Can you recognize what does work, in order to rule out what does not? Based on what data? Whose opinion? Who are you – and where do you want to get in life??

It begins so simply, so often; in practice, selected changes, desired, sought changes can be difficult. It’s the “in practice” portion of the experience that I find is the challenge… What am I practicing? Is it actually what works for me? Who decided that? If it wasn’t me – why would I trust that opinion over my own experience of myself? …And am I actually practicing?

Today, the needle moved on the scale (in the desired direction, I mean). Fucking finally. Tomorrow? Of course. I begin again. 🙂

I woke three times, all three times feeling well-rested, the first two also entirely able and willing to return to sleep – so I did. 😀 It is Saturday, and I have succeeded in doing the one thing I did plan to do today; I got the rest I needed. 🙂

Good self-care is critical to my wellness. (Yours, too, probably.) I used to suck at it completely, always over-compromising what it takes to be well and feel good by grabbing onto other experiences and choices, for…well… reasons. Reasons that seemed to make sense in the moment, but more often than not were excuses and rationalizations for “doing whatever I want” – or, actually, whatever someone else wanted. The cycle of exhaustion, meltdowns, and poor outcomes was so predictable that for many years I simply called the entire mess “hormones” and put that shit on my calendar without any particularly successful effort to mitigate or improve any of it (because… “hormones”… well… that shit can’t be fixed, though, right? Right??) (Actually, no. It turns out that conflating hormones, mental illness, a lack of emotional intelligence, poor self-care, and plain old-fashioned inconsiderate shitty behavior, assumption making, and personal bullshit leaves quite a lot of room for improvement… so… maybe rethinking your inconsiderate bullshit, at a minimum, is a good place to start? 😉 Just saying.)

I am watching, from a distance, as two relationships in my social network struggle with a partner’s mental illness. Both have been deeply committed loving relationships of decades of mutual affection, support, and shared family life. Both are struggling with the challenge of making love work, while also supporting a mentally ill person’s personal challenge with finding wellness, and juggling all the other elements of family life: work, kids, bills, grocery shopping, and even the assumptions of strangers and the well-meaning “help” and support of friends, sometimes less than ideally helpful, no doubt. (Been there.) It’s fucking hard to be mentally ill. It’s fucking hard to love someone who is mentally ill. The coping skills and rationalizations that allowed these relationships to succeed and perhaps even appear functional before mental illness finally prevented that from being a thing at all are reliably breaking down now that these mentally ill friends are seeking (and getting) treatment that may actually result in wellness. Their partners may not be much help at this point, and in fact, their hurts, anger, resentment, and emotional wellness concerns are reliably welling up and becoming problems that need to be managed. It’s when a mentally ill loved one begins the journey to wellness that everyone else’s rampant crazy bullshit comes to the forefront – along with the rationalizations, excuse-making, justifications, chronically incorrect and untested assumptions, and refusal to respect new boundaries and changes of behavior. It’s ugly and it’s hard. There are literally no “good guys”, and as soon as “the crazy one” begins to practice things that are more sane, the crazy on the other side of the relationship becomes apparent – often accompanied by utter refusal to acknowledge it, be accountable for it, accept it, or change it.

When people who are mentally ill seek treatment, find it, and begin their journey toward wellness, the first set back is often because within their once supportive network of friends and family (“I’m here for you!”) are people who are suddenly not so willing to “be there” if “there” turns out to include being aware of their own bullshit, and their continued commitment to a status quo that it turns out has favored them, and met certain needs that must now be met differently – in, oh, hey, some new healthy way. It’s hard. It’s hardest, frankly, on the mentally ill partner now responsible not only for staying focused on treatment, but now this mentally unwell person struggling with their situation is suddenly also forced to have to provide support to the adult in the room who turns out to be less than ideally adult (and sometimes fully unwilling to even be aware of that).

It’s a see-saw, people. When we love someone with a mental health challenge, over time, we make room for some weird and possibly damaging bullshit that changes who we are, ourselves, a little at a time. When someone we love who is mentally ill seeks help, and begins to make real changes, on purpose, with the intent of becoming well – our own crazy is going to well up and fight back, and our failure to be observant and aware, and also take the very best care of ourselves, for real, is likely to be the first step on the path to seeing that relationship simply end. It will end in screaming tantrums, outrage, defensiveness, accusations, and generally – a lot of needless yelling. The cause I most commonly see as obvious and avoidable is that instead of partnerships fighting mental illness together, partners become adversaries and basically forget all about the actual issue being someone who is sick, and not able to be at their best, who needs help, support, consideration, and compassion.

Reminder: getting a diagnosis does not suddenly make someone who is mentally ill magically able to not struggle with mental illness. They can’t just point to a page in their handy “So you’re depressed?” handbook or their “The basics of living with PTSD” guide and go down a list of steps to “make it all better” for some other person. Fuck you. That’s sort of one of the limitations of being unwell; there is a fairly commonly implied inability to do all the things.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying it’s fucking hard. I’m saying a great many relationships that end over mental illness don’t end because a partner is mentally ill – they end when that person seeks wellness and messes with the stable status quo that has allowed the “well” person certain… sanity privileges, that they must now give up in favor of dealing with their own unaddressed bullshit. No one in a relationship recovers from mental illness alone; everyone must deal with their bullshit. Everyone has bullshit.

When I hit that wall in my own relationship(s) I was fortunate. I chose to move into my own living space, and make a significant lifestyle change for a variety of reasons that overlapped in a useful way. I live alone. Sure, there’s bullshit, and I definitely trip over it frequently – and it’s all mine. My bullshit. My issues. My limitations. It’s also my home, my rules, my way; the failures are mine, and so are the successes. I was able to let go of my attachment to “being heard” by my partner(s), and able to comfortably take time to be heard by the woman in the mirror – because I could recognize, in the silence of solitary space, that this was in fact where the issue rested, for me. I was able to begin to sort out my bullshit from the bullshit in my relationships that wasn’t mine, and let go of trying to fix other people, or a relationship dynamic that was unavoidably damaged by my issues, and work on practicing healthier practices that support my own mental wellness… and having gained a measure of wellness, emotional resilience, and stability, then I could begin to tackle the complex challenges of “making things right” with emotionally hurt partner(s). Please note: I am not recommending my choices to anyone else. I am this person here, and my needs are what they are; I thrive living alone. You are likely someone else altogether, with different needs, and other choices may be preferable for you, personally. I’m just saying – achieving wellness may very well destroy existing relationships, and not through any failure of the mentally ill person, and in no way directly caused by their illness, but totally because they attempted to get well – and wellness did not meet the needs of that relationship. It’s totally a thing.

Prepare for change. Seeking mental health changes things. It’s a thing people know about.

Are you a “bad person” if you can’t stay in a relationship with someone who is mentally ill? I mean, you wouldn’t leave if they broke their leg, right? It’s a complicated question. Just as complicated as “Am I a bad person if I can’t stay in my relationship because my partner won’t respect new boundaries and changes in behavior as I improve my mental health?”

Helpful friends don’t feel any more comfortable than anyone else in the context of watching lovers struggle with mental health concerns. Everyone has their “good advice” to offer. People take sides without ever seeing the entirety of the dynamic. Also hard.

Every bit of all the hard stuff is 100% hardest on the person who is mentally ill, who is trying their damnedest to find emotional wellness – they are the one who is sick, people. I’m just saying. Seriously? Find some fucking perspective. Be there for a friend. Listen more than you talk, and refrain from making assumptions. Be encouraging. Be considerate. Be compassionate. If a relationship is struggling with mental illness, everyone is hurting, everyone is injured, everyone is struggling – and no one is the good guy; we’ve all got our own bullshit to deal with.

Two different relationships, two different sets of circumstances. I find myself fairly certain one relationship has already failed, and wondering if the other might manage to survive this; it’s in how they treat each other. In both cases, I see the mentally ill person doing what they must do to become well.

I notice that I have finished my second coffee, and my playlist just ended. It is a lush rainy Saturday, and I’ve got some important self-care to take care of; it’s been a long week, and I find that my own emotional wellness is very much tied to skilled self-care. 🙂 It’s time to get started on the practices that keep me well. Doing so, and staying committed to them, has changed my world, and also my relationships. I swallow one last bite of oatmeal, grateful my relationship with my Traveling Partner has endured my changes. Love matters most.

My busy week has been nothing like “routine”. I’m still smiling. I did not see my Traveling Partner last night, as we’d planned, the hour of evening was later than we’d figured when my hair appointment ended, I’d started the day quite tired already, and my partner considerately suggested I get the rest I needed and embrace the late Thursday night ahead without additional fatigue. Good idea. I agreed. I’m still smiling. I’m alert. Rested. In no particular pain in spite of the rainy morning. I am ready for a late night! Bring it!

It’s been a busy week, sure. It has, however, been more ups than downs. More successes than failures. More challenges overcome, than challenges that thwarted me. More wins than losses. More beautiful moments than aggravating ones. I suspect that this is the truth of life, generally, much of the time, for most of us – if we can find the sweet spot in our perspective from which to view our experience.

This morning I sip my coffee and practice a favorite practice – I take the things I need to practice it with me everywhere I go: memory, experiences, presence, and a kindly disposition toward my very human self. I start simply enough, by remembering something, maybe looking through my recent photographs, or contemplating a moment, conversation, or experience – one that felt really good. That’s the important bit; start with something that feels amazing, before working towards transforming the perspective on a less comfortable moment. Because that’s totally possible too, and does not require compromising my values, telling myself pretty lies, ignoring painful truths, or constructing a fake narrative, it just takes some understanding, some compassion – and some practice. (I learned to transform some painful, awkward, or uncomfortable recollections into recollections with positive value more or less by accident, through the practice of “taking in the good“, and I don’t have “steps” to offer to make that a reliable thing; it requires practice, no avoiding that.)

Did the phrase “working towards” cause you to lose interest? Yeah… You’re probably going to have to get over that. Just saying. There are verbs involved. The effort must, in fact, and unavoidably, be your own. 😉

A beautiful way to say thank you (to me) (because I like flowers) (in vases) (and being appreciated). Flowers from colleagues. My work space smells like a garden. 😀

The complicated week has been dimpled with beautiful moments. A promotion. An appreciative gift of flowers. Smiles from colleagues in moments of shared success and celebration. A festive dinner out with my Traveling Partner and a dear friend. A delightful outcome on new hair color. It’s not even over yet – and there’s still more to appreciate, to pause for, to savor, to relish, to sit with in gentle contemplation over a great cup of coffee, too early in the morning. 🙂

So look, my life isn’t “perfect” (and that’s not a thing, so let that go now!) – my arthritis pain has been kicking my ass all this rainy chilly week, and I’ve had an on again/off again headache that has chased me for days. My schedule is a so far off routine at this point it is wreckage, calendar in useless tatters, which is deeply uncomfortable for me. My sleep, until last night, has been of exceedingly poor quality, offering little rest. A wee fish in my aquarium died. The first time my Traveling Partner ever saw my new place, my bed wasn’t made – which bugs me. The powerful “Me, Too.” meme unfolded on Facebook and Twitter, which although powerful and extraordinary, was also painful, uncomfortable, and saddening. Life is not about perfection. We are human. So human. Pain is a thing. Sickness is a thing. Emotional anguish is a thing. Running late is a thing. Being ditched is a thing. Disappointment is a thing. Setting ourselves up for failure is a thing. Learned helplessness is a thing. This is a “choose your own adventure” sort of experience – and you have choices. But…

It isn’t “easy”. It does take practice. It is utterly necessary to “do something” about “that” – whatever it is. 🙂 One thing at a time, and it’s okay to take it slow, to fumble, to get it wrong, and to have to begin again…

…like…

…a bunch of times.

This is your experience. The craftsmanship involved in making it a “good one” (defined by you) is yours.

This morning I’m fortunate to be sitting in the sweet spot. It’s been a busy week. I’m still smiling. That’s enough. 🙂

What a week. Glad it’s behind me. Relieved to feel satisfied, pleased, and accomplished, instead of terrified, anxious and regretful. It could have gone differently. I am content with the outcome.

Stress is a weird thing, though, right? I mean… once I’m stressed about A, then it’s far more likely that unrelated experiences B, C, or D may also feel more stressful, or seem to be cause for concern. I crashed out last night feeling terribly blue, struggling in a sticky web of anxiety-lies and insecurities being launched at me from within, by an anxious, stressed, fatigued brain. I wept. For the world? It seemed so at moments. Other moments, I just felt “cracked open” and unable to hold anything back however small, however simple – even some lovely tender moments felt like pure heartbreak, and I cried, merely because there was too much emotion to hold back any longer. My executive function limitations hit me in my emotional life pretty hard. This week that was more obvious than most weeks in recent months. It’s been a peculiarly emotionally stable year.

I went to bed worried, even, about my relationship with my Traveling Partner. No reason for it, really. At least, nothing I could easily identify. I woke this morning without that insecurity or doubt, feeling rested, anxiety gone; I’m excited about the road trip ahead of me. 3 day weekend with my lover? Yes, please! Sign me up. 🙂 

Fuck, I am so glad my “default setting” is no longer despair. I feel fortunate to have survived the first 50 years of my lifetime. Emotions come and go. Like weather. “Who we are” is less volatile, less mutable, and sometimes feels rather… permanent. It isn’t. It’s more like climate; tends to be what it is, but still changeable over time. We become what we practice. No kidding. It’s a slow thing to change the climate – but it can be done. Choose wisely. 🙂

Are you unhappy? Make changes. There’s no map on this journey… it’s rather like setting off on a road trip to see someone you love, unclear of specifically where they are, but with a direction in mind… generally. lol This may help. 🙂 It’s a favorite of mine for reinforcing healthy basics; do the opposite of everything it suggests. lol (Here’s a follow-up on that…)

Maybe something simple this morning? One thing that could be easily improved by one little change in your decision-making, habits, or actions? Start small – committing to a marathon, while breathless from walking across the street may be a bit unmanageable. It’s so easy to become discouraged. I’ve been there…

After years of frustration, despair, and inactivity, I decided to go to the Farmer’s Market, one year. My feet hurt all the time, stupefying medication and unmanaged pain had pretty much nailed me to my couch between work shifts. Doing so would mean a two block walk uphill (barely) from the light rail station. I look back astonished (because I regularly go to the Farmer’s Market quite easily and comfortably, now, and often walk miles, not just blocks) – it seemed hard then. It required effort. Commitment. Patience with myself.

I don’t look at it the same way now, at all. My perspective has changed with my experience over time. Incremental change over time; it wasn’t easy the first time, the second or third times, the fourth time… but eventually, it sure didn’t seem hard, and then… at some point… almost unnoticed, it became quite the natural thing to easily and comfortably do. (For my less physically able readers out there, I’m using an example familiar to me, only, and part of my personal experience, no intention of falling short of being inclusive, but I see where my example could be. I regret any aggravation, or sense of being left out of my consideration that this may cause. Start small, is all I’m saying. 🙂 )

It’s a good reminder for me, too. There is further to go. There is more to do. I still struggle with my weight, health, and fitness. There are changes to make. There is future progress out there on the horizon to be experienced. Incremental change over time takes both time – and verbs. A lot of fucking verbs.

Oh hey, look at the time! It’s definitely time to begin again. This journey won’t make itself. 😉