Is finding Joy anything like finding Jesus?

This phrase has always baffled this small town Mid-West raised Catholic girl.  I didn’t hear it until I moved to the “Big City”. Then there were a smattering of people I went to school with, worked with, or met in a bar that would ask, “Have you found Jesus?”

To which my sarcastic ass would reply, “I didn’t know he was missing? Was he on a milk carton? Is there a reward?”  I didn’t understand the concept that others would be interested in knowing after 5 minutes of meeting me what religion I was and if it was on their approved list.

Fast forward 25 years to this point in my life and I am considering this question 5 minutes after meeting people – “Have you found Joy?”  Why you ask….because as an Anxietyoholic my brain is always on the look out for those people who can provide the “crack” it needs.  Everyone has met these people (or you are one of them).  People who live at the bottom of the rabbit hole, who know the sky is falling, who are sure this is hell and we are in the hand basket. Joysuckers. (it’s sort of a cross between a leach and a villain from Scooby Doo)

I have lived with an anxiety disorder all my life, there has never been a shortage of adrenaline and drama.  I could give you 30 worst case scenario for staying home on a Friday night let alone bungee jumping off a bridge.  I’ve worked very hard in AA – Anxietyohlics Anonimous (Never heard of it? Not surprising, we don’t advertise, we’re too anxious) to let these people suck the joy I work so hard to find in every situation.

When I first get into a large group of people my brain starts to rub it’s greedy little hands together “Ah! This is Worst Case Scenario Wonderland. Awesome – let’s get our freak on!” That’s where the AA training comes in: being mindful, square breathing, counting blessings, finding joy. Could the stadium collapse? Could I get diarrhea? Could someone get drunk and start a fight and fall on top of me? Sure.

So I say to my brain, thank you for all that helpful information. Wow look at all these smiling faces. Aren’t we all lucky to be alive, enjoying this beautiful day and this amazing event in the home of the free and the land of brave. Elizabeth Gilbert calls it Stubborn Gladness. That’s one of the principles you learn in AA, Ms. Gilbert knows she is a member also.

Pam Grout is an Author and blogger also on WordPress and she recently wrote about perception and our ability to choose it.  She maybe be an AA member also but I am not sure, we don’t carry cards or wear pins. That would draw attention to us and that causes WAY to much anxiety.

Perception is another principle of AA. Knowing that you have the ability to choose your perspective and choose like your life depends on it helps in those times when your brain is desperately trying to take control and override the manual setting.  Like the Captain in the Wall-E movie that’s what I feel like during a panic attack.

Wall-E video link – not mine all Disney or Pixar or something….

That is why I am considering asking people when I met them – Have you found joy? SO that I know right away whether this is someone that I want to spend time with or run away from-fast. I do not need any help in freaking my self out. But I do love help in finding joy, stubborn gladness, and changing my perspective.

If you haven’t read Pam or Elizabeth – check them out. And if you haven’t seen Wall-E by all means watch it.

Elizabeth Gilbert .com

Pam Grout – Author, Blogger, Joyist


18 days…..

Eighteen days ago I wrote a blog post – I’m done! That was one day before my husband left on an extended trip and one day before it all fell apart. Again.

That’s the thing about panic disorders, what we are really scared of, is the next panic attack. When, where, how, why, will I be ready, will it take me out, what will happen this time???

Those 18 days right now seem like a lifetime ago. An Eon. An Eternity.  Funny, you know what else seems like an eon ago? My first panic attack. You know what doesn’t feel like an eon ago – every single solitary panic attack. If that makes any sense.

Even though five years-old feels like a helluva long time ago the first panic attack I remember is still right under the surface if I start to talk about it.

Do you find that to be true? That just talking about a panic attack can bring on a panic attack? That you can go right there immediately and feel it all over again.

I’ve been working with that theory for the last 17 days in part to the two books I was reading when I wrote that blog post.  If I can feel ALL of that all over again, why not feel my wedding day all over again? Or the day they put my son’s in my arms for the first time? Or Kindergarten graduation, or the first soccer goal, or etc..etc…etc….

There is a lot of brain research going on these days and it’s all fascinating but the stuff that interests me the most is the stuff like 90% of the thoughts you had today – are the same thoughts you had yesterday. That our brains have to process so much information on a millisecond basis that is throws a lot of that information out in lieu of finding patterns or past experience.  It wants a quick and easy and already defined pathway instead of creating a new one.  So if it looks enough like a duck your brain says DUCK! and runs with it.

Is it any wonder that anxietyoholics struggle with getting rid of panic attacks? Our brain is determined to keep chugging that train down the tracks because it’s easy and it’s already there.  And derailing that train is hard. Very hard. And it can be done, but it is SO HARD.

I know it is, I’m sorry, I’m struggling too. Just don’t give up – if you don’t I won’t!! Together we can derail this damn crazy train.

The Brain Flu

I am in that place. If you are here reading this you know what I am talking about. My body is stuck in “On” and can not turn off.  It’s exhausting, annoying, and really no fun.

My friend stopped by to offer her love and support and she had a wonderful take on it. She said, “You have the Brain Flu. It will take 10-14 days to get over this and then be gentle to yourself, because we all know how the Flu kicks our butt.”

It is the perfect analogy for me right now – and hopefully give you the same kind of giggle and peace that it gave me. I have the Flu – that’s all. It’s just a virus.  It will run it’s course in 10-14 days and it just means that I need to be extra gentle to myself and my body during this time.

If you are in “that” place right now, know that you too will feel better. This is not permanent. It will not last forever. Be kind to yourself and your body.  Know that you are not alone -ever. You are loved.

It’s just the Brain Flu 😉

It’s not called a Panic attack for nothing

I’m pretty open about my panic disorder and what always gets me is when I’m having a panic attack and someone says – What are you afraid of?

What am I afraid of? Spiders, the dark, the IRS. My fears are pretty normal. A panic attack is not normal nor is it rational. Otherwise it would be called a rational attack and everyone would want them.  What should I do about this job offer? Gosh I am so torn, I wish I could have a rational attack and figure it out.

As the name suggests a panic attack is a full on heart pounding, chest tightening, body shutting down, monkey mind screaming shit sandwich. Yum Yum.  I would say 90% of all my panic attack are totally random. Only about 10% are predictable. About the only one left is getting on an airplane.  When I was younger I think it was probably 50/50. Lots of things freaked me out but they didn’t always set off a panic attack. But, put three or more of those things together and you were guaranteed a total meltdown.

Even that is kind of logical as we all know that the more stress you have at one time the harder it is to deal with it. Take graduating from college, getting a job, planning a wedding. Anyone in that situation feels more than a few rough days as the stress piled up.

For me at least, the panic attack is a different animal.  It’s not an “OMG I don’t know if I should get married.”  It’s more like the music playing, the church is full, the last bridesmaid steps in the aisle and suddenly I can’t breathe, my heart is racing, and my mind is screaming stuff like “GET OUT BEFORE YOU DIE! DON’T WALK DOWN THE AISLE, RUN RUN RUN!!!!!!!”

What reason would I have to fear the love of my life? Was there a Zombie Apocalypse while I was in cry room waiting for my cue? And there better be a damn good reason to run because I don’t do that!

If this were a rational attack it would be more like….”You can go ahead and walk down that aisle but the chances of this marriage lasting are only 65%. Do I have time for a pre-nup? What if we waited another six months just to see how this living together things is going to work out?”

I wish a panic attack was always predictable, and rational, and had an off switch.  (I bet the Flight attendants wish they did too) They are each unique in their own way and once you start to load up on tools and resources to combat them then they will try to morph. You can’t hit it with rationality – that’s like feeding a Gremlin after dark.  You have to hit it with bright light. Love.

Show yourself the love and tenderness that you would show your child, your sister, your best friend if they said to you, “I CAN”T DO THIS”

breathe breathe breathe  

yes you can, I believe in you and I’m right here

we got this

I’m done! wait, what will I call this blog?

I’m done being anxious. Done. I have heard the message loud and clear after 45 years and countless times. I got it-I don’t have to live this way.

Brene Brown says I can be Scared and Brave at the same time. Shit Yeah I’m there!

Glennon Doyle Melton says life is Brutiful: Brutal and Beautiful. That describes my whole life.

Tony Robbins says I can’t be Fearful and Grateful at the same time, so I’m choosing grateful.

Pam Grout says every moment holds within it goodness, magic, and blessings just waiting to explode. Explode away!!

Lousie Hay says do not fix your problem, fix your thinking and the problems will fix themselves. Mind blown.

Mike Dooley a.k.a The Universe says, well a lot but the universe just told me I ROCK AMAZING AWESOME SAUCE – BooYa’!!!

These messages have all been out there for years, but the timing was now perfect. The stars are aligned, my moment is now…..I set my GPS for AMAZINGLY AWESOME and there is no turning back. Although Mrs. TomTom (our loving name for the GPS woman who tells us to turn left at the motorway) is fighting me tooth and nail.  She is begging me to turn around at the next exit.  There is a GPS war going on in my body right now with every fiber and synapse of my body trying to turn around and me saying NO. Not any more Mrs. TomTom, I got this. I’m not taking that route ever again. I found a way better one.

I came up behind all of my boys riding their bikes tonight and I burst into tears. How incredibly blessed am I, what an amazingly awesome life I have, ALREADY.  I don’t have to struggle, I am enough just the way I am. I’m more than enough. I’m Awesome.

If you struggle with anxiety, panic, irrational fear, know that I am writing this for you. There is hope. There is light. There is coming out on the other side.  There is beauty. I promise, if you look for it. Fight the GPS!! Reconnect to the powers that made you.


Curious about Mindset??

If you are a thinker like me, always asking why? and you are curious about the Mindset Movement then I encourage you to check out

There are several levels of involvement but if you know anything about me you know that I would only be here if it is Free. And it is. You answer a series of questions that help define your specific area of interest. You will also get a daily Curio. It’s like trivia only better because you don’t have to answer the question – they do that for you! Ever wonder why the bottle has to say Tomato Ketchup? Dating humans, Slow news day, paying in Parmesan.  These are just some of the daily curio titles this week…

There are also daily puzzles, weekly brain teasers, and weekend mindset moments.  I really enjoy the random eccentric trivia but the mindset reminders are awesome.  We live in a world where we are constantly told we are not enough, we don’t have enough, and be afraid of everything.  {insert coughing Bull$h!t here}

This weeks mindset curio (#25) asks, Is Willpower enough?  I think for most of us but for sure, those of us of a certain age were told you either got it or you don’t. Willpower is what you need to be strong, successful, skinny, beautiful, and powerful and the rest of you are just lazy.

You can have all the willpower in the world but if you have a fixed mindset you will still struggle to make changes.  I’m a great example. Look at the title of this blog – Anxietyoholic – I was born this way.

For years I have been told that I am just hardwired to be this way and that life will be a struggle that I should accept. Isn’t that the WHOLE of Fixed Mindset?!  You are broken little girl and there is only so much that you can do.  {insert coughing Bull$h!t here}

The fixed mindset asks all the wrong questions according to

Our fixed mindset personas like to ask us the wrong questions: Am I smart or not? Lovable or unlovable? A good or bad parent/partner/friend/colleague?

If you have ever asked yourself any of these questions – or more go check this out. Google Mindset – get curious. (pun intended)



If there are others in the neighborhood…why do I feel alone?

I’ve lived here all my life ,Anxietyville, and I know that there are many of us here but I still feel all alone. Anxiety is a very shame filled isolating emotion.   Even though I know I am not alone it’s still hard to fess up and say, “This is hard and I’m scared and I could really use a friend right now.”

Anxiety is that friend that you know is not a true friend, they are not really good for you, but you are not sure how to get rid of them? They’ve been around so long, they know you better than anyone else, and when the chips fall they  are always the first one there. Granted to say, “I told you so” but the devil you know versus the devil you don’t, A?

I’m 45 years-old and still living alone in Anxietyville hoping that others move in and say “Hey – you’re so cool! Let’s hang out.”  It might be time to admit that this is not a neighborhood that other want to move into, but I could move out. WOW! That took a long time. Breaking up is hard to do.

I’m breaking up with Anxiety and moving out of Anxietyville.  I’m not so silly as to think that I won’t bring some baggage with me, how else do you move? But I do know that moving is also a time for cleaning, reorganizing, and purging. It’s time to purge. It’s time to move.

When the panic sets in, like it has these days, I know that it is time to get rid of one more old habit. It is time to remind myself that I HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE and I lived through it, not just a little, but brilliantly.  That which hasn’t killed me (and try as it might anxiety hasn’t killed me yet) makes me stronger.

If you are in that place too – know that you are not alone. I’m here too. We can be in this neighborhood together.  I’ll even host the cookout!