BAD (Battling Anxiety & Depression)

I’m always in a battle with anxiety and depression.

Anxiety is what wakes me up in the middle of the night.

Depression is what makes me feel tired all day.

Anxiety is my all.

Depression is my nothing.

Anxiety is gales of nervous laughter.

Depression is a hurricane of endless teardrops.

Anxiety makes me care too much.

Depression makes me not care at all.

Anxiety fears death.

Depression cheers on self-destruction.

Anxiety worries about the future.

Depression agonizes over the past.

Anxiety overthinks.

Depression can’t concentrate at all.

Anxiety overachieves.

Depression labels me worthless.

The battle rages within.

Hopefully someday I will win.

Can you fix me?

I have been having a debate with myself forever over what is coincidence and what is meant to be. Do things happen for a reason or is there no rhyme or reason?

When we bought our house almost a year ago, we had some problems with the dryer. It was taking forever for the clothes to dry. I really didn’t notice it after awhile. But then other things started to break. The fan went out in our refrigerator. The dishwasher started to leak. I needed to get someone out to the house to fix these problems. While the guy was here, he might as well check the dryer.

I started to time how long it took to dry clothes. Three hours for a big load! I knew it was long but I didn’t realize it was that long. Maybe I just needed a new dryer?

The guy came out and pulled tons of lint out of the machine. It was backed up into the vent inside of the house. Big time fire hazard that I wasn’t even thinking about fixing until other things started to break.

Why did I ignore the biggest problem that needed fixing?

I think that I ignored it because it was still working, however dangerously and inefficiently. It only became a problem for me when something else wasn’t working at all.

This past week I went to see the counselor alone for the first time. I never would have set up an appointment by myself for myself. My husband insisted on talking to someone when we were having problems with our son. Now our son is doing so much better and here I am going to the counselor talking about myself.

I asked the counselor if she could fix me. She said that she could not, but I can. How come I ignored this for so long? I want to fix everyone else, but don’t want to work on the broken parts of myself.

I think the way I’ve been living my life has been working, although at times not very well.

The counselor asked me what are three things I wanted to keep the same about myself:

  1. My grit/determination
  2. Honesty
  3. Continue seeking self-reflection/growth

Then she asked me what are three things I want to change:

  1. Worry less/relax more
  2. Healing
  3. Be at peace

When discussing these goals, I realized that I was afraid. Part of me wants to stay the way I am. The demons I know aren’t as scary as the unknown. My anxiety and inability to relax has given me great determination as a runner. My depression and quest for full healing and making peace with the past is what I attribute to my honest self-reflection as a writer.

If I am able to change the things that I perceive to be negative in my life, will I still be able to keep the positive outcomes that was ignited by my pain?

Will I still have grit if I have nothing to run from? Will I still be able to write if I was totally happy with my life? Would it be worth giving up some of my grit in order to be at peace or relax more?

Would I even be me anymore? It was very confusing.

Some of the negative things in my life I turned into blessings. If I get rid of the bad, would I purge the good that came out of it as well?

Do I have to give up the good things I have to get the good things I want?

I guess the big question I can ask myself is why I didn’t do anything about the major problems until something else wasn’t working?

Why didn’t I start writing my book until I lost my job?

Why didn’t I ask for help until my house was almost on fire?

I was so upset when I lost my job, when my son was acting up, and when several appliances stopped working. But I now believe that God used these things for my own good to spur me into action that I needed to take. Maybe I am wrong, but I can’t believe that any of these things have been a coincidence.

 

 

 

Cycles of life

I’m at the period in my life when I’m feeling the most hormonal.

It’s crazy like the very beginning, without the excitement of what is yet to come.

I’m getting older, midlife.

Hot flashes.

My body aches.

My skin itches.

My stomach bloats.

I feel ugly and fat.

My clothes don’t fit right.

Lights seem glaringly brighter.

Sounds normally tolerated scratch like nails on a chalkboard.

I feel irritated and angry.

Like PMS on steroids.

What sounds like my normal voice to me comes across as an attack to them.

They ask why I’m being so rude.

But I respond in my regular tone.

What do you mean?

I cry at the slightest provocation.

My eyes are red and puffy wrapped in dark circles.

I want to be left alone, yet I don’t.

Mood swings.

Laughter mixed with tears of sorrow.

Anxiety kicks in, marching in double time.

I am exhausted.

I can’t sleep.

I stare at the clock.

Is it too early to get up?

When sleep finally comes, I wake up soaking wet.

He is cold, but the room is on fire.

I feel hot, not in a good way.

I feel stinky, gritty, grimy, and gross.

My body seems to have forgotten how to regulate itself right.

I want to wish time away so this will be over.

But I don’t have extra time to spare.

I know in a few days I’ll feel better.

Then the whole cycle starts again.

 

 

 

 

Another weekend, another party!

Another weekend, another party!

I wonder why my son always hangs out with his friends?

Friday night, game night. Shuffling the cards we have been dealt.

Saturday, a murder mystery party. Strangers in even stranger clothes.

Will the weekend adventures never end?

My son came home late last night. Who is in the house tonight? Strangers that he’s never met. Dressed up in some garish garb. Food prepared, glasses clink. Questioning who the killer is.

We talk and laugh the night away. I wonder if he thinks it’s strange?

Then an unusual thought occurred to me. I had more friends over this weekend than my parents did my whole childhood. Maybe that is what he would find strange. He doesn’t know the me from back then. The person I spent half my life being is just another stranger.

I wonder why my son always hangs out with his friends?

Another weekend, another party!

Until next weekend…

Some April Fool’s Day joke

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Yes, it’s snowing again! I told my husband this morning that it was supposed to snow today. He said nice try, I do realize it is April Fool’s Day. But I wasn’t joking.

I decided not to play any pranks this year. Maybe I am getting old. I was just not feeling it. Plus I couldn’t think of anything great that I didn’t already previously do.

Sometimes life can be a big enough joke and today was one of those days.

In February, I had a meeting scheduled with the dean of students to talk about Alex’s graduation. I was feeling very positive after the meeting although I was feeling very negative going into it. We came up with a plan that involved a lot of choices on Alex’s part. I thought it was a great plan and I was feeling more positive than I was in a very long time.

Alex applied at the local tech college for this fall. He got a job working in retail. Some days he has to be at work on the weekends at the crack of dawn or work late on a Saturday night. Things have been going great. I’ve even noticed a greater effort on his part to get up earlier and be to school on time. Until this morning, that is.

I was worried that I would be getting a call from the school and I did. But it wasn’t the type of call I was expecting. I received a call from the school saying Alex didn’t even show up today. I was really confused since things seemed to have turned around so wonderfully. I even asked the secretary if it was some kind of April Fool’s Day joke. I also received an email from the school counselor saying that my son would also be dropped from a class if his absence was unexcused.

I was stressing. Now I am not so sure my son will be graduating next month.

I tried to get a hold of my son to no avail. I was feeling very worried and upset. I told my husband what was going on and he could tell from my expression that it wasn’t a joke. We blamed each other, argued a bit, and then came up with a fairly solid game plan.

My son texted me back a while later. He was in a dead zone when I called. He said that he got an excuse from a teacher to work on a group project. He would straighten everything out with the school later. Why didn’t he just tell us that ahead of time??

The April Fool’s Day joke was on me. The strange thing is that nobody really was playing the joke.

The bittersweet end

Today is the bittersweet day after the show is over. I am relieved to have more time on my hands. I even started working on my book again. But I will miss playing the part. This role was one of my all time favorites. I enjoyed working with the cast and made some new friends.

Things did end up getting a little out of hand with the special needs child backstage this past weekend. I am glad that I mentioned something though. The special needs girl latched on to another teen girl that was totally inappropriate. She said that she would die without the other girl’s attention and demanded to know what she talked about with other people. She even followed the girl out into the wings and hung on her right before going on stage. This behavior was upsetting to everyone and I’m glad I spoke up even though I took some criticism for it.

I did make a new friend, another runner. We are planning on going running together this week. I’m not sure if it will work out. This other woman is younger than me and qualified twice for the Boston Marathon. She is younger and faster. I told her if it doesn’t work out that I wouldn’t have any hard feelings. We have a lot in common, so even if it doesn’t work out maybe we could still be friends.

Friday night, after the first show, the cast that likes to hang around and celebrate got kicked out of the theater after the last patron left. So it was suggested that the next night I would have a pool party at my house. I was already planning that for the second weekend, but last minute threw it together for the first weekend as well. Both nights I ended up going to bed at 3 AM. THREE IN THE MORNING!! I don’t remember ever staying up that late which made the Sunday performance a little hard.

I have a lot of new friends (and enemies) now that I have a house with an indoor pool. For the first time in my life, I am really popular. I want to think people like me for me, but I really don’t care anymore. It makes me feel special, liked. In a strange way it makes me feel like I can make up now for the childhood I never had.

I had some friends and family come out to the show. Some lady even asked me for my autograph. Yeah, like I am ever going to be famous for my acting. But it felt good.

Something strange happened. My mom came to the show and my stage husband raved on and on to her about how wonderful I was on stage and off. My mother replied, “Is that so?” and then spoke to me about a problem she was having. She wanted my help in solving the problem. Why would she talk to me about something like that right after a show? Why didn’t she rave about the show? Or me? Or my daughter who had her first solo in a performance? I really felt hurt and wondered if she was always like that or if it was the first time I noticed it?

Someone asked me why I liked performing. I really had to think about it. I like to be somebody else. I love the costumes and the makeup. I love to sing. I love to be challenged. The strange thing about being an anxious person is that I don’t feel a lot more anxious being on stage than I already feel. Which in a weird way frees me to try things that most people would be anxious about. Plus I already know how to deal with anxiety. Does that make sense?

It was great to be in the show, but I am ready to get back to my regular programming with a couple of new friends in tow.

 

Good-bye winter?

Good-bye winter! Spring comes today.

It’s been a long winter in Wisconsin. My kids had 8 days off of school for inclement weather. The average is 2-3. We’ve had heavy snowfall followed by subzero temperatures multiple times this winter. The salt doesn’t melt the snow on the very cold days. Some towns ran out of salt. The roads were horrible for an extended period of time.

A lot of people died on our roads this winter. A couple of weeks ago there was fatal pile up on the highway that involved 131 cars. It wasn’t even snowing that day. There weren’t any warnings or advisories in that area. It just happened to be very windy and blew snow across the highway causing white out conditions.

There were some days that school wasn’t called off when it should’ve been because we used up so many snow days. What are we to do when we live in a climate that has the potential for nasty weather half the year? We drink! Which pretty much makes our roads hazardous year round. We lock ourselves indoors chronically depressed from the lack of sunshine and stormy weather that cancels our plans.

Okay, I will try to be more positive. Winter is beautiful. I had to share some pictures of the big snow this year. I was able to go out cross country skiing a couple of times. It was a great year for winter sports such as snowmobiling. Most years we don’t get this much snow.

Do I think that winter is over because the calendar says that it is spring? Probably not. Last year we got a huge blizzard in April. That is what I hate about spring (besides seasonal allergies). It fails to deliver. Spring is my least favorite season. I like summer best followed by fall then winter. At least with winter, we know what we are getting.

The trick is to try to enjoy every season while it is happening. That is sometimes easier said than done. The first few warm days gives me a feeling of false hope. But it won’t be too much longer. Last week we had a day in the 50’s. People started putting on shorts and were driving around with their windows open. But I know we will probably get more snow in April or May.

I can’t wait for the first run outside in this new year. It won’t be too much longer. I have to keep telling myself that at the end of a long grueling winter. The days are getting longer. The birds are coming back. The bugs will soon follow. But I won’t complain, winter makes me enjoy summer more. You need a few dark days to enjoy the light.

Good-bye winter!?!!

 

On writing

I took a step back from writing my book.

I was doing it all wrong. In January, I just jumped in and started writing. I took a break when we went on vacation in the beginning of February and haven’t wrote a word since.

It has become common knowledge now that I am writing a book. When my mom found out, she brought over 2 boxes of journals. I sat down and read through them all over a weekend. Most of them were notes between my mom and special ed teachers. It really gave me a glimpse into some of the school day that I didn’t see.

It was a reminder to me how incredibly violent my brother Matt was. There were times that he threatened school children with scissors and was into poking eyes. That is just a small glimpse.

Then I went and reread all of my personal journals. I flagged all pertinent parts of at least 15 journals and created a general outline of what I wanted to share in the book. Then I am going to go back and rewrite what I already started. I am even thinking about asking my other siblings if there was something that they wanted me to share. But I am afraid that they will be more open to what they don’t want me to share.

I decided that I will not write when I am really stressed out or feeling depressed. The next couple of weeks I will be performing a major part in the community theater production. That would not be a good time to stir my demons.

I have to be careful. I have to know when to run forward and stay back. I could get lost in it or worse dragged back into it. There have been times that I experienced PSTD symptoms. It is horrifying, but I am not afraid of it. I have people around me that will make sure I am safe. This is what I was meant to do.

I see writing this book as a challenge similar to my desire to conquer a 50k. It is a test of strength, determination, and will.

The people who know what I have experienced are saying that I am brave and strong to tackle this. I have a unique story that unfortunately is not unique anymore. When my brother was diagnosed with autism, as the first generation of de-institutionalized mentally ill, it was rather rare.

This is going to be a story of survival and abuse, many people do not realize that when I talk to them about it…the people that didn’t know me then. I seem so normal, healthy, and strong. But remember how I said I am in community theater. I can be a good actress. They don’t know how difficult this is going to be emotionally. I have to be very strong. I have to be smart to notice if I am slipping.

I am doing some public speaking in September for the local autism chapter. When I told the woman that I was going to write a book about my experience, she said that she knew of a publisher who would be interested. Maybe that should be my last resort. Maybe I can do this. Maybe this will be really big. If not, I am okay with it. I want to tell my story for me. I want to heal. I want to help others feel like they are not alone even if it makes me look bad.

I have decided to also keep my blog personal. I am at times tempted to share this blog with family and friends. I can’t waver. If I tell you I am tempted, please remind me of my words. It is a struggle to be fully honest with myself and others. I need to be completely genuine.

I can’t let anything stop me from telling my story.

 

BVI, day 8

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**This is a picture of the sailboat we stayed on.**

I was very happy that we awoke this morning without fish poisoning!

As the week progressed, my mood improved. We only had a few more days left. Any problem that might have occurred while we were gone was only a few days from a possible solution. My anxiety abated kind of like a reverse homesickness.

Our plan for the day was to sail to Little Harbor 2 1/2 hours away. It is Valentine’s Day. Stan surprised Angela with a big heart shaped box of chocolates. Kind of made the other gift less guys feel bad.

The wind was still very strong. When we got to Little Harbor, there wasn’t much to see and it was getting hit directly by the wind. No other boats were moored there. We decided to go to the next harbor. The next harbor was very picturesque, however there wasn’t an empty mooring ball to be found there. We decided to go to Tortola instead.

The harbor in Tortola was the busiest place we stayed at. We could see signs of hurricane damage there. A powerboat was laying on its side on shore. There was a crane working on the shoreline. There were houses without roofs with boarded up windows.

We went to shore to explore and asked where we could find a nice place to eat for Valentine’s Day. Someone said what sounded to me like My Ex which was rather troublesome considering the day. I apparently misheard the man because when we got there, it was called Myetts.

We checked out the restaurant by getting a drink at the bar. Then each couple reserved their own table for the evening meal that night. The girls left the guys at the bar and went shopping. The store within the restaurant area was very fancy and overpriced. We didn’t buy anything and wandered out the back door.

There were a couple local vendors set up outside. I found a cool red sailing shirt for Paul and decided to get it for him for V-day. I also bought a little gift for my mom for helping out at home. The vendors were very nice and told us about life after the hurricane. They said that some people still did not have roofs. There were many houses we saw with tarps for a roof. They said not only did the hurricane destroy their property, it kept tourists away for the season that they rely on to make a living. They were very thankful for the small purchases we made.

On the way back to the sailboat, we saw many chickens and kittens wandering the streets. The animals congregated at a dumpster that was overflowing with both garbage and recyclables together. A man walked by and pitched an aluminum can at the dumpster that scared a rooster from his task of finding food. There were two watch dogs that were tied up guarding a beautiful house that was damaged and had building supplies outside. They looked bored and didn’t bother to bark when we walked by.

I gave Paul his gift when we got back to the sailboat. He felt bad that he didn’t get me anything. Paul asked Tim if he wanted to take a quick trip back to shore with him. That evening as we got ready to go out we could hear the music of the steel drums on shore. Paul and Tim came back from their little trip bearing gifts. We got all dressed up and took nice couple pictures as the sun was setting.

Paul and I had the best dinner yet. He had lobster and I had the lobster mac. The restaurant had a DJ that played the sappiest love songs of the 70’s and 80’s. It was a little much and we were looking forward to getting together with our group to listen to the steel drums afterwards.

On the way back, we passed the nice house with the watch dogs. One dog was sleeping on a pile of lumber. I (of course!) worried if the dogs had food or any water on the hot day. I wasn’t going to go any closer to find out. There were times I had to remind myself that I was in a foreign country. I couldn’t save the people from their poverty. I couldn’t take the dirty dumpster kittens home. But I wanted to.

We made a quick stop at the small store for provisions. I scooped up whatever craft beer I could find which amounted to 4 bottles of British Island’s Summer Ale. We talked to the local people. Then we headed to the steel drum bar for a drink just as they were packing up the steel drums. Bummer!

After today we will only have one full day left on the sailboat.

 

BVI, day 6

Last night after supper, the girls and I booked a massage. Before our appointments, we went to the local store to provision. The grocery store was very small. It reminded me of the small town grocery store we went to when I was growing up when we didn’t want to make the 20 mile trip into town to the big store.

The couple (owners?) that managed the store was very nice. The lady was humming along to the Christian music that was on the store’s radio. Half of the store held groceries, the other half liquor with a little meat section in between. The atmosphere was very laid back and friendly. A lot different from our little town store where the guy smoked a cigar and the lady smelled of liquor always touting the latest gossip.

I have to admit, I absolutely love massages but I am always a tad bit nervous about receiving them in a foreign country. The previous evening the lady behind the counter asked us if we would be comfortable with a male masseuse. Quickly, Cara and Angela said no. I told her I would prefer a female, however I would go with whoever was available. I would rather receive a massage by a guy than no massage at all. This whole massage thing was my idea.

We all had female masseuses. I was lead back to a room with a very small table. I could hear Cara talking in the next room which was partitioned by a closet door. My massage was awesome! The prices were very comparable to a massage at home.

Today we are planning on sailing to Monkey Point. We had the option before leaving to top off our water supply and ended up paying quite a bit of money to do so.

We never made it to Monkey Point. Today it’s cool and incredibly windy. We decided as a group to spend the night at Scrub Island.

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Today was our third day of rainbows. Tim called me to come out to take pictures. He convinced me with the double rainbow over the water. It was beautiful.

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That night we ate at Pusser’s. Cara ordered a drink in the souvenir Pirate Mug, but they were out of the mug she wanted. I don’t think she was too crazy about what she ordered either.

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The next morning we were greeted with a glorious sunrise.

Cara had some eco friendly laundry soap. Since we packed light and my clothes were dirty, I decided to give it a whirl. To be honest, it wasn’t worth the effort. Off the back deck, I leaned down 2 1/2 ft and dipped all of the dirty clothes in salt water. I put small items in a plastic bag. I was afraid that I might lose some of the items. Then I washed the items in soap, rinsed in salt water again, hosed them off with fresh water, and hung them out to dry.

It was really hard on the knees. As I was hanging them out, I noticed that my pajamas had blood on it under the arm. I checked for a flesh wound, nothing. Then I thought I must’ve brushed it against some fish blood somewhere along the deck. Always make sure that the area that you are doing laundry in is clean. Apparently, I did not. It was a lot of work to have some clothes dirtier than they started.

I hung the clothes on the life line to dry. With the wind and the sailing, I was worried that they might blow off. They didn’t. Despite sailing and the wind, it took my clothes all day to dry. With the periods of rain and the humidity, some of the clothes felt damp and never fully dried.

Then we left for our original destination, Monkey Point.