#$)&*^

There are a lot of words but none I should be typing right now…..

I was suppose to be at the hospital tonight with a friend. She has been in for 6 days already after major surgery and she was suppose to go home tomorrow. I was suppose to be there. I was staying away because I felt like crap and God Forbid I have “something” I didn’t want to get her sick on top of trying to recover from this monster surgery. And I am one of her few people. This is her second major monster surgery. This is the second time that when she needed “her person” (ME!) I wasn’t there.

I have felt like snail scum under a pile of dog poop in a garbage heap before….and this is worse. She asked me. She trusted me. And I failed twice. She was scared and didn’t want to be alone. That’s all. If anyone at all in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD should get that – IT’S ME. And I screwed up. Regardless of whether she blames, forgives, etc etc etc I can’t. I can’t forgive myself for not getting the hell out of my own shit for 5 minutes!

Because this truly isn’t about me! It’s about someone I love, who loved and trusted me and now has a permanent wound on their soul that might never have been if I had just been there at that moment to hold her hand, look into her eyes, and say “You are not alone!”

As a life long Anxietyoholic I know how incredibly important those people in that exact moment are….sigh. I’m sorry my friend, so very very sorry for the wound to your soul.

Resolution or Resolute?

Happy New Years fellow Anxietyoholic’s! Here’s to 2022 and YOU!

New Year’s eve brings refection whether you like it or not. Starting at about 3 pm every show on TV is a “Look Back” at the past year. Reflection can be good thing unless you are me. My Anxiety is married to Overthinking so that’s fun, for about a minute. Then it turns into a one woman show. This is your ridiculous life….

For most of my life the New Year was traumatic, depressing, totally overwhelming for me. So I decided to try to focus on what the rest of the world did – Resolutions. It seemed to be more hopeful about what was to come. This was good! I’d make a list, then promptly lose it. OK, I’d make a new list and a plan. Each year it was questionable how lone that would last. Then once again on New Year’s Eve Overthinking would arrive for the party with Anxiety and start with, “So how long did the Resolution’s last this year?” A-hole

But it’s 2022 – I will turn 50 years old this year. I’ve become wiser. First and Foremost Anxiety and Overthinking are not invited to the Party. Second, I look back at the year with my family playing the diner game -Pit and Peak. With all of us adding in events there are always some great memories I would have forgotten without their help. Third, we EAT! I make a big Greek meal and traditional Vasilopita. Lastly, I skim last years journal and start the new one with a list of Blessings I am grateful for and wishes I look forward to.

I feel like I have come a long way from Resolutions to Resolute. The motto I have never taken off our bulletin board since I found it when the kids were young – Courage is a muscle, Use it! I am stronger and braver than I have ever been. I know now without a doubt, vulnerability is not my weakness, it is my Super Power. Anxiety and all it’s relatives may be my family, but I know each one of them intimately. And I have all the tools I need to deal with them.

My wish for all Anxietyoholic’s in the New Year – that you define yourself not by who you think you should be, but by the beautiful soul that you are. Embrace your Super Power. Challenge yourself and use ALL your muscles. Here’s to 2022 – and YOU!

Holiday stress

Talk about ironic – I sat down to write this while the James Bond channel plays in the background. I’m laughing at the irony of talking about stress while watching THE MOST stressful movies of all times.

But apropos, Do your holiday’s feel like this to you?!

“So Bond, you did not acquire the Xbox series X. You will pay dearly for that mistake.”

Navigating the Holidays is like watching Bond make his way into the villain’s secret lair only to get caught but the henchman and brought directly to the villain to hear all about his nefarious plan while being tied up and left to die. But then Bond uses the latest super spy tool from Q to get out of the predicament only to find out the girl is in peril as well. So he goes back into the deathtrap with moments to spare and saves the girl.

Exactly, right! The family Christmas gathering is knowingly walking into the villain’s lair. Heck, we even bring presents for all and a covered dish to share. Halfway through the party as your in-law sidles up to sit next to you and start talking about everyone else including your spouse it hits you – The Nefarious Plan! Desperately you look for an escape. Diaper change? Wife is calling? Oil Change? Explosive diarrhea. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

After managing to escape your in-law you make the mistake of thinking you are home free. Then your spouse finds you and the strained look on their face means one of two things – 1. Someone is holding a gun to their back or 2. They did not escape The Sibling Rivalry. IT’S GO TIME! You grab the bag and sweep the room for the children all without being detected. Just as you are about to back out of the driveway the youngest child screams “MONKEY!” You want to scream back “NO we barely escaped with our lives!” But the look on the child’s face…Damn. No man left behind.

Summoning all the secret agent suave you can, you saunter back through the party with one airpod in.

“Do you have eyes on Monkey?”

“Not yet avoiding Drunk Uncle at 5 o’clock. Any idea where I should look?”

“Darling do you know where you left Monkey? MONKEY MONKEY MONNNNNNKEY! Negative informant is unclear of location.”

“Yes I had some of your delicious pretzel jello – the kids -they are here somewhere. I am headed to the bathroom. Excuse me. Headed to the Christmas tree first to look under there.”

“Affirmative. Darling if you want Daddy to bring Monkey you have to tell Mommy where he is? MONNNNNNKEY! The kids were playing dart tag just before we left.”

“Nothing on the first floor. I am headed to the basement.”

“NO! Do not go to the basement you don’t have back-up! You’ll never make it out alive.”

“I may lose you. If I am not out in 5 minutes just go. I love you.”

20 minutes later, another helping of pretzel jello glob and 5 more Buckeyes and you make it out to the car with Monkey.

Mission Accomplished. Good Work Bond. Until next year.

Christmas Song Parody

THE LITTLE BUMMER BOY

COVID they told me!

Ra bum bum bum bum

Contacts to trace, you see?

Ra bum bum bum bum

Say Hello to Quarantine

Ra bum bum bum bum

Disinfect and clean, clean, clean

Ra bum bum bum bum

Bum bum bum bum

Bum bum bum bummmmmmm

So to mask or not

Ra bum bum bum bum

I wish a vac I got

Ra bum bum bum bum

Bum bum bum bum

Bum bum bum bummmmmmm

I am a poor boy too

Ra bum bum bum bum

Just like that other dude

Ra bum bum bum bum

So I’ll get hydroxychloroquine

Ra bum bum bum bum

And be OK like him

Ra bum bum bum bum

Bum bum bum bum

Bum bum bum bummmmmmm

It’s all fake news he said

Ra bum bum bum bum

800 thousand dead

Ra bum bum bum bum

I was as brave as he

Ra bum bum bum bum

Look where that’s gotten me

Ra bum bum bum bum

Bum bum bum bum

Bum bum bum bummmmmmm

Ra bum bum bum bum

Bum bum bum bum

Bum bum bum bummmmmmm

see more at song parodies at:

IDK

I can’t even think of a title. I’m not even sure what I am going to write as I start this…..but when all fails! Make a list. And Christmas and New Year’s are all about lists, A? Here are some lists of the NON-To Do type. Enjoy.

Books –

It may seem odd to recommend books about anxiety from anxiety sufferers – no wait. You are reading an anxiety blog, about anxiety, from an anxiety sufferer so……Fredrik Backman I am recommending that particular book Anxious People – than you’ll want to read all of his other books as well. Other titles I loved – Where Did You Go Bernadette, Turtles all the way Down, Fish in a Tree.

Podcasts –

We Can Do Hard Things is a specific episode regarding her personal experience with anxiety and panic attacks and what it feels like. The others are just a few of my favorites, and to add to that list (because I love podcasts) Armchair Expert, LeVar Burton Reads, A Slight Change of Plans, The Happiness Lab.

Shows/Movies –

I am not a big TV person. We got Disney+ when COVID hit and we still enjoy a lot of the options there together. Apple hasn’t had as much to offer all of us but could just be us. Honestly I only turn on something while I’m working out and during the start of COVID found myself working out and extra 30 minutes just to watch more Goldbergs. (But that is my era and the Mom is hysterically funny!)

Please feel free to add to all of these lists!! I love suggestions. I can’t wait to read the comments now…so add something. Or else. Just kidding. Merry Christmas

Exsistential syndrome

Do Anxiety and Existentialism go hand in hand? I think I was probably 30 years old before I figured out what an existential crisis was and when I did it was a real “Aha!” moment. OMG – that is what I had been having since I was 5 years old!!! Knowing what it was didn’t make it any easier, nor did it make it stop happening.

I feel like the existential crisis is just another stop on the anxiety train. While traveling on the Anxiety Train through the anxiety and depression mountains the train stops along the way at stations like Abandonment Alley, Existential Exit, or OCD Lane. There is no real schedule for this train unfortunately, no idea when you are leaving the station, or making your next stop.

As the train dips down that’s when it makes the required stop in Existentialville. Looking up and being surrounded on all sides by mountains, it’s hard not to question every thought, decision, and choice in your life. Toddler brain takes over and you find yourself asking Why? Why? Why am I on this train again? Why can’t I just get off at the next stop? Why does this keep happening? Why am I here – Why are you here – Why are any of us here?

I just wish getting out of Existentialville was as easy as hopping on the next train out. Heck – being and Anxietyoholic I wonder if I have ever left Existentialville?! It does feel like I have spent my life here sometimes. Always questioning every word, thought, and decision against whether or not I am worthy. It’s exhausting. I am exhausted. Does everyone have to work this hard for happiness? Or just me?

Why is happiness not a stop on the train…..I’ve been here before. (The holidays are bound to find me in Existentialville every year) It’s imperative that I find my way home soon and I know the steps, but they are SO hard right now. It feels utterly impossible! The world is more divided, the country, people in general. How do I get out of this stinking town when it’s become so damn popular?

The Pandemic has made Existentialville a popular place – and rightfully so! The world should be asking themselves, What am I doing? What if it all ends tomorrow – What does it all mean? How will I be remembered? Unfortunately, if you do not know what Existentialism means the answers to some of these thoughts swirling around WILL BE MESSED UP!

After all the lives lost how does anyone still question the virus?! Not wear a mask?! or for goodness sake not get vaccinated?!! There are still some Holocaust survivors living we are not that far away from it and yet we are light years away from a generation that made sacrifices for the greater good. We have a generation that can’t let someone merge into traffic. WTF?!

I am an Empath and I am not asking that everyone be an Empath too. But could you have ANY empathy? More than 5 million people have died. Lives have been wrecked, whole countries have been wrecked. How do you watch any of this and not feel the humanity? A connection?

And so I sit in Existentialville, stuck, wondering how to have any faith left in my fellow human beings. Turkey’s leader is still on a rampage for world domination, refugees are still freezing at the Polish border, migrants walk for months to flee gang violence in South American countries to be turned away at America’s border, and many countries still battle the Coronavirus due to lack of vaccines while in America people are getting booster shots and still others Refuse it altogether because Liberals may win.

I wish my grandmother was here…like I said I have been having existential crises since I was little. I would cry and cry and my grandmother would say to me, “Honey, there is nothing we are going through now that we haven’t already been through. It is a circle, life, and we go around and around. There will always be ups and downs.” I pray to God she is right.

Where did you go Bernadette?

This is my homage to a great book, OK film. And it’s more fun than just – Where did you go? (plus the main character struggles with agoraphobia)

Where are you Anxietyoholic? The short answer – nowhere. The long answer…with great anxiety comes the great depression. That is where I am at. The Fall was pretty stressful, Winter is turning out to be a shit show, and as the days get shorter I feel like a huge heavy blanket is being pulled over my head. This is not unusual (perhaps seasonal disorder thing) but there have been a few times when it is more – this is one of those times.

Getting out of bed is a chore. Finding the energy to cook dinner, do the dishes or clean the house is non-existent. Necessary! As I am still a wife, mother, daughter, employee, etc. Doing anything for pleasure, NFW. I know that I need to push through, I know that I need to stick to a routine as much as possible. Knowing and doing are two different things and this damn blanket is heavy.

So what am I doing? I started by writing it down here! Telling “the world” or my world, the beautiful people who have chosen to follow my musings. Anyone who willingly follows a blog called Anxietyoholic will most likely have some experience with the weighty feeling that stress and anxiety bring along. As the name implies, Anxiety does not travel alone for long. Also anxiety will not travel in the dark. Like a cockroach turn on the lights or open the curtains and anxiety will retreat into the cracks. Depression is not exactly the same in my experience. (Probably because it’s that damn heavy blanket, it doesn’t care about light, it just blocks it out)

How do I battle back the depression? Sigh…..I start by making sure that I am getting up. No skipping exercise. And I grab my pen! When life gets busy (I still have two teenagers) sometimes the nightly journal is the first thing to go as I fall into bed each night exhausted. What has to come back IMMEDIATELY is the gratitude journal. No matter how tired or how late, I write 5 things I am grateful for that day. As silly as it sounds it makes a difference. Attitude of Gratitude. There was a PSA campaign at one point about healthy living and all the commercials focused on “One good choice leads to another”. It does. Skipping the doughnuts at work and making sure that I walk when I get home makes me more ready to make dinner. Making dinner two nights in a row makes me more likely to get the house cleaned on Friday before I leave to take care of Mom. Even if it’s my day to clean her house.

The Gratitude Journal goes from:

  1. Got out of bed
  2. Made it through work
  3. Talked with my son
  4. Meditated 15 minutes
  5. Wrote this list

To looking more like:

  1. Beautiful Sunrise
  2. Giggling with my son on the way to school
  3. Crunching leaves on my walk
  4. Dinner with my boys
  5. Great talk with Mom

Where am I now? Peeking out from under the blanket dear followers. The winter gets long, there is work to be done, writing to be penned, light to be spread, and stories to be shared. Stay tuned. I will try not to vanish into the dark under the blanket, but peek out from time to time with a new story and Plenty of Gratitude!

Is there an emoji for that?

I’m finding it more and more difficult to answer the question, “How are you?”, lately. No one really wants to hear you say, “Well, honestly? Somewhere between Good and Shit show. And you?”

I’m wondering, is there an emoji for that?

How are you is such a difficult question. It is a perfectly polite and proper greeting, but in my lifetime I have found that 99% of people don’t really mean it. They are offering the pleasantry we have been taught to use and so we offer a pleasantry back in response. “Great and you?”

But right now I am not great, I am also not awful. I just am. I am existing. Blaming Covid seems ridiculous because if I am honest, I feel like this is were I’ve spent most of my life. Being an Anxietyoholic means measuring life from one panic attack to the next. In between working hard to get everything right so that I can keep the Panic Monster at bay.

What Covid did do, was make more people ready to answer the question for real and suddenly when I asked people – How are you? They answered. I’m really struggling. This is hard. I’m scared. Suddenly, people were expressing my everyday answers to that polite proper little question.

This doesn’t help me answer the question, though. And I still wish there was a group of emoji’s for Anxietyoholics. Emoji’s that help us express to others just how we feel. Like this place. My life doesn’t feel great right now – but it’s not a shit show! I think that emoji is somewhere between –

and

That first one…

It’s back to school time! YUCK. Anyone else totally triggered by this time of year? I HATED going back to school each year. The anxiety was totally consuming. I was speaking with someone who sent her 18 year old off to college just a week before and her child was already home. Consumed with anxiety about living on campus, all of the classes, eating in the cafeteria, they were back home and struggling to figure out how to make it work. Their answer – the student should live alone.

As an Anxietyoholic, the screaming voice in my head was “NOOOOOOOOOO!” I remember starting college (long ago) and it wasn’t any less traumatic then the other 12 First Days. There was so much unknown, so much to figure out, so many “What if’s”. But the difference was I was surrounded by 1,000 other freshman women in the dorm that where going through the same thing. FOR THE FIRST TIME – I was not the only one freaking out. Others were expressing fear and anxiety. And believe it or not, I became the expert. Not because I had all the answers, yet, but because I knew how to find them. Ask.

If lifelong Anxiety had taught me anything at that point it was how to ask questions. (Remember dear readers I am old – this was Pre: internet, Google, smartphone) Going into a new situation I wasn’t afraid to ask the “What if” questions because I knew that information was essential to me keeping the anxiety at bay as long as possible. For anyone who is a teacher, or parent, you may be having a lightbulb moment right now. You just smacked your head and said – “I have THAT kid! They are always asking 1,000 questions when I change the routine, change the plan, or introduce something new.” Yep. That’s us.

What got me through my Freshman year, which by the way I did try to quit about 10,000 times, was being surrounded by others. I didn’t know that at the time but when I transferred colleges late in my sophomore year and did live by myself I figured it out quickly. Living by myself let the anxiety once again consume me and before I knew it I could barely leave my apartment. The only thing pushing me through at that point was the extreme desire to be a teacher and make a difference….for kid’s like me. It still wasn’t easy. It was a horrible struggle. Getting out of bed, getting to class, making myself engage and interact. What got me through – others. I found a few people that needed help, and they told someone, and so on.

Helping others, for me, has always been the best way to keep me out of my own head. And now we also know, with lots of scientific research, that helping others releases serotonin YEAH! and less Cortisol BOO! As an Anxiteyoholic (an old one pre-SRI drugs) that is the goal – more Happy less Anxiety.