b a r e

writing is healing. ask me anything.

Tag: anxiety

Influence

All around you, all the time, is language that is absorbed into your brain. Advertisements telling you “you’re lacking, buy this” or “you’re unhappy, buy that.” The voices of your parents, alive or as ghosts. Those are particularly hard to ignore. They adhere to your insides, leach into your bloodstream. Contaminate. The voices in your mind. The echos in the very back. The broken records that blend in with background noise. That we don’t even realize are there, are guiding our boat, are triggering the storms. So many intrusive messages you didn’t choose, you never had a say in.

But what about the ones you do get to choose. The facebook group posts. Are they angry? Are they distraught? All of their voices march into your head. Onslaught. Their cries of pain, their desperation, your brain soaks that in. What messages are you letting in? The company you keep. The friends and the ‘friends.’ Do they complain constantly? Are they victims of life? Or do they have hope? Do they believe in humanity? Do they seek out ways to improve, to help others, to evolve? Look around you. Make conscious choices. You might not have had any control over the world around you as a child. But you are no longer that child. You get to decide your habitat. You pick the decorations, the furniture, the art on the walls of your mind.

The anchors you cling to from familiarity, only you get to decide when to let go. The knives you’re squeezing in your hands. Only you get to pick when you’re ready to set them down.

What are you going to choose?

What thoughts bring the greatest peace to your mind? How do you use them?

Peace. So elusive. Like reaching out to catch the wind, or fog. If I could trap it in a bottle and carry it with me, then I could guarantee having it when I need it. But behind glass I cannot feel it, I cannot experience it. All I have is this cold, smooth surface. And when I open the bottle up, it evaporates. But maybe peace isn’t a thing you hold in your hands. At the beach, warm sand, cool breeze, crashing of waves. Here, yes, this place brings me peace. My body is solid, heavy, sinking and relaxed. But then I leave, and go back into the world. How do I bring this peace with me? Maybe peace isn’t external. I close my eyes and return to the beach. It is a capsule of time, gleaming, inside my mind. Not always accessible, especially when I need it. That’s why I meditate. I practice separating from the world of chaos and ego and demands. I return to the core of my being. My true self. The light that shines bright no matter what. Though sometimes I forget it’s there, or forget the power of its light. I go back there, and I am. I exist in the I am for however long I can. Before the flood gates of thoughts, worries, doubts and insecurities fall open and wash over me. And somehow, that light has recharged me. Refilled my sanity gauge, even just a little helps. And I am not flattened by the onslaught. I stand there, I’m soaked, but I’m standing. My jeans are weighed down, and it takes effort to walk forward, but I walk forward. And each time I am still standing, each time I am still moving forward, shows me that I am strong. Proves to me that I don’t have to drown again. That I can, I will, I am at peace.

tug of war

I am at peace. I am at peace. Oh God I’m losing my mind! My healing is already in progress. My healing is already in progress. Please take this nausea away! I can’t breath! I’m trying. I’m really trying. To stay positive. To focus on the calm, the light. It’s so hard. It’s hard if I think it’s hard. How do I make it not hard. I am calm. I am the light. I am breathing. My heart rate is too fast! In and out, breath in and out. I’m trying not to throw up! Help me please. Make these symptoms go away. I am hanging on. I am healing. I am making incremental improvements. Every day, a tiny bit better, a tiny bit easier. Make it go faster. Start with the nausea! The nausea makes me panic, which creates the nausea. Get off me! Get off my neck! I am breathing. I am calm. I am at peace. I am healing. I am safe. I trust the Universe. I just want to be better already. Hurry  up. I just want myself back. I just want existing to be easier. To be easy. Please. Please. Please.

Breathing. Peace. Calm. Comfort. Rest. Light. Ease. Allow. Trust. Heal.

struggling against the entire universe

“The more readily you accept the circumstances of your life as they are in this moment, the easier your life becomes. When you struggle against this moment, you’re actually struggling against the entire Universe. And while you may have the intention for your life to change in some way, accepting it, as it is right now, places you in the best position to attain your goals.”

Day 13 – Abundance and the Law of Least Effort
Chopra Meditation Experience, Creating Abundance

I’m fighting and clawing with all my might at the invisible thing choking me, squashing me. And then it occurs to me, the harder I fight and the stronger I push it away…the harder it chokes and squeezes. I’m fighting myself! And I’m losing. Instead of seeing this as an alien trying to destroy me from the outside, I now recognize this fight as coming from inside myself. The only way to win is to accept it. It’s not easy. Instinct wants to kick at, kick off, the intruder. These are real, physical sensations. My mantra: “I accept this.” I keep repeating it. I have to constantly remind myself…accept, accept. But I am finding a measure of peace, despite the sensations. And right now, I’ll take what I can get.

hang on

And just like that I’m there again. No sleep last night. And my sanity has unraveled today. Faking it so my daughter doesn’t see. Can’t breath. Can’t find calm. No energy, no appetite, but no rest. Heart pounding, pounding, pounding. I can’t take it. I don’t want to be here. To be. Gotta hang on. Hang on. Gotta remember this is temporary. It has to be.

unwelcome passenger

There you are again. The unwelcome, familiar passenger. Sitting on my chest. Heavy. Unshakable. I can’t breath. Gulping air in but cannot fill my lungs. When I carry you around, you get in the way of everything. I no longer directly touch anything I come in contact with. Everything is a few feet away farther. Just out of reach. Distorted by your interference. When I hug my child. When I hug my husband. When I watch tv. When I eat a meal. When I talk to someone. You make it hard to hear. You make it hard to pay attention, to stay focused. I start to talk and you get in the way, what was I saying, what were the words I was looking for. You’re blocking them. A wall in between me and everything else. If I move fast, can I get around – no, you’re already there. And so I’m not quite myself, not quite inside my body. Because my body is such an uncomfortable place to be. When I’m touched, I don’t feel anything. When I’m spoken to, it’s from miles away. I’m in limbo, not quite anywhere. I’m a balloon, floating further and further away.

please

I can’t breathe. There’s a tightness around my throat and a pressure on my chest. The nausea is constant. I keep taking big breaths, forcing the air in and out. I keep clawing at my shirt collar, hoping that will help somehow. This is the first time in years I haven’t been on antidepressants during my cycle. I feel so exposed. Like a deep layer of skin has been removed from my body. Every hard word or sound, every jarring or startling experience, feel like chunks of my flesh are sawed off, leaving me shaking and traumatized. It is so uncomfortable to be. It is so exhausting to be. I am trying to remind myself, this is temporary. But every moment, every second, lasts forever. This isn’t a 5 minute panic attack. This is nonstop, unending, ever present from the moment I hit consciousness in the morning until the moment my sleep meds kick in. Please stop. Please stop. Please stop. Please make it stop.

Writing this helps. Posting this makes me feel less alone.

what is this

My anxiety and depression used to be textbook perfect.

My panic attacks always came on like a tornado. The sucking building pressure and then the mind crushing explosion as the storm hit. Shaking and crying and a surety that the end was upon me. It would blow through me, devastating me, then leave me in a scattered pile of jagged pieces on its way out.

My depression was the bottom of a dark hole, miles away from the light at the top. Feeling completely worthless, a burden, disgusting, a waste of space, deserving of only misery. All willpower crushed out of me. All self-advocacy erased. I had no say, because nothing I could say would ever have any value.

But lately I think I’m dealing with a completely new beast. There are things that scare me, that demand action in my life. I can see them clearly. But it’s like they’re down at the end of a long tunnel. I can’t reach them. They’re so far away. And I’m so very, very tired. I try to push forward. But it’s not so much mud or sludge, as it is hardened concrete around my legs. I know I should be screaming and waving my arms to get attention. But instead I just try to keep the oxygen going in and out of my lungs. And I aim some darts in its general direction. So something kind of gets done. Why can’t I be aggressive? I used to be so good at that. Get in your face and demand. And instead I’m mostly paralyzed. Dragging forward, some.

But I’m not sad. I’m not value-less. I’m not filled with self-loathing. I’m not terrified. I’m not covered in knives of fear and worry. I’m not crying nonstop for no specific reasons. I don’t wish I could just disappear. Every day, for at least one moment, I feel the flame of joy in my heart. (I remember going months without any light or warmth inside me.) I am grateful to be on solid ground, instead of beneath it.

I wonder if it’s the “new” me, or a transitioning “current me.” That’s what we’re told to expect. You won’t ever be the person you were before. So figure out how to appreciate the person you now see in the mirror. I’m trying, I’m really trying.

recovered?

A new mom asked this in a forum:

“Is there really an end to this.. Like 100% healed? I feel like what I have is too disturbing and terrible to ever go away.”

My answer:

I went through an outpatient program at a hospital and they talked about accepting a “new normal”. Now, I refuse to accept that this means my new normal is misery. But I don’t think we can ever go back to the person we were before we had our birth/postpartum experience.

Like any trauma, it has left a mark on our psyche. And so we have a choice about what to do with that. I’ve tried wallowing, and that worked for a while, but it got in the way of joy. I’ve tried hiding from the world, but I missed out on living.

So I’m at a place in the middle between where I used to be and the pit I had dropped into. Sometimes I need to wallow, and I give myself space to do so. But I don’t move back in there. Sometimes I need to hide from the world, and I accept that, that I don’t have the stamina of the extrovert I used to be. But I also challenge myself, just a little, and over time I see progress towards a new me. Wiser, stronger, but also weaker in some ways, and accepting of that part of me too.

And my story, and yours too, becomes something we can share with others who are somewhere along that tough journey of losing yourself and trying to figure who you are now. We bring each other strength because we have compassion and empathy and help heal each other. Because we understand the pain. And we’re not alone anymore.

sick and tired

Tired. So completely, utterly tired. Limbs heavy. Body sinking. Mind struggling to focus. Heavy like laying at the bottom of the ocean crushed by the weight. Heavy like 100 suffocating blankets. Heavy like pinned down by Sisyphus’ boulder.

The heaviness is centered in my chest. That’s where the virus settled down. 5 days of body wrenching coughs. 5 days of not being able to sleep because I wake up unable to breath. Today is the first day I’m not coughing all the time. But I can still feel the pressure, the obstruction in my lungs. An itch I can’t scratch. An uneven surface, abrasive breathing. This illness has really dragged my mood down. The racing heart, the pressure in my chest and around my throat, mimicked my panic attacks…and so resulted in panic attacks. The weakness in my body, the loss of appetite, the nausea, mimicked my depression. I had no energy to do anything but sit there. And sitting there, alone, in a darkened room with the curtains drawn, is a ticket to the bottom.

I forced myself to sit outside, in the light. Even if I still couldn’t do anything but sit there, at least I have fresh air. I forced myself to focus on specific tasks. Take myself out of the helpless stuckness. One moment at a time, get through this, get through to the other side of this shaky bridge.

I finally got my appetite back yesterday. What a relief. To be able to enjoy the taste of food again. To enjoy the process of eating, what a treat. You don’t realize how miserable eating can be until you’re forcing yourself. This will definitely help with my energy. Now if I could just sleep through the night. Piece by piece. I’m putting myself back together. It’s surprising how much mental pain can be brought on by physical discomfort. But I’ve made it through the worst of it. And though it’s a slow, tedious climb, I will get back to solid ground.