Tag Archives: anxiety

Facebook Memories

If you’re on Facebook, you’re probably familiar with how Facebook likes to share memories, showing you pictures and status updates that you’ve posted on any given day in years past.  It is mostly really fun to see what was going on in your life.  I, personally, love seeing old pictures of my pets and my friends, and thinking about the fun nights I had over Facebook in law school (without Facebook, lawyers from the class of 2011 would not have made it).

But there are times when I don’t necessarily want to remember, Facebook.

On January 23, Facebook reminded me that it had been 3 years since my Gram passed away.  I had a good cry, I posted a sappy post, went on a walk to process my sad feelings and saw a hummingbird in the desert (which I’m currently convinced is my Gram’s way of saying hello these days).  It worked.  Remembering my Gram’s passing was bittersweet; full of missing her and wishing she could see me now, but remembering how much of her lives on in me.  Okay, so Facebook memories can remind me of my Gram any day.

I still wish I could be selective about what I’m reminded of, though.  Maybe Facebook could come up with a shitty life events filter or something.  Of course, it may not have even helped with this next one considering that I had intentionally, selectively, mostly forgotten about it.

On February 4, I was reminded that around this time in 2014, I had a second weird psychotic episode that I’ve hardly discussed with anyone, even though everyone basically saw it happen this time.  After quitting my job at the big law firm, going on my round-the-country road trip, and pouring every bit of myself into launching my new law firm at the end of 2013 and into the new year, I lost my mind again.  It was maybe a period of about 48-72 hours without sleep, endlessly searching the internet, convinced I had broken it, writing this crazy manifesto that I still can’t bear to read, and sending “coded” messages to all the friends on Facebook that I felt close to at the time.

Yep.  Facebook memories reminded me that I sent a bunch of psychotic messages to my friends.  Lovely!

I posted a status update blaming it on Facebook, which seems to have gone over okay with most of my friends (except maybe one).  But it was me.  I was only about a year and a half into recovery from my childhood trauma, burned out and running away from myself on my road trip, I came back and immediately poured myself into my work and avoiding everything rebelling, but then I caught up with myself again and lost my mind.  No wonder my business failed didn’t go so well the first time I tried it.  No wonder I could barely motivate myself to get off of the couch for months after.  I have so much shame about it, and Facebook reminded me.

Thankfully, Facebook also reminded me how much I have grown since.

I honestly feel like such a different person than I was those two years ago.   I have worked really hard in therapy to move beyond so many things and it is paying off in my life.  I not only AM lighter (if you didn’t read my post yesterday, though currently stuck in a stall, I am -105lbs now!), I FEEL lighter emotionally.  My spirit is freer these days because of all of my hard work.  I am freer.

I do still fear a return of the psychosis, though.  Even though this second time around was far milder and far less damaging, it still sucked; a lot.  I’m still incredibly embarrassed and and carrying some pretty intense shame because of both of the times that my brain short circuited.  If it happened twice, it can happen a third or fourth or fifth time.  I fear being permanently disabled by my mental health issues.  If my brain can fail me in such dramatic ways, how will I ever be able to be a successful human being like I want to?  What if I’m not cut out for being a lawyer?  What if I cannot actually be a business owner?  I could go on, but I don’t need to.

Definitely some things I need to talk about in therapy.  I have so many good things going on and, despite the bullshit thrown my way this year so far, I feel pretty good emotionally, so I hate to get too much back into the serious stuff.  Finally telling you is pretty helpful (and remarkable, especially since a year-old blog post about the same subject sits in my drafts), but I’m sure telling Sam will help me tie a little bow on this and put it up on a shelf.

No more shame, damnit!  Well, at least a little less shame for now.  Thank God for therapy this week!

Negative Self Talk: Perfectionism

I touched on an important idea in my first therapy session of the new year.  Plenty of my shame-driven negative self talk (and I have a whole lot of it these days) isn’t even my own.  It dawned on me in a way that it hadn’t before: a whole lot of the bad things I throw at myself in my own head began with someone else’s shame (my mother’s mostly), which was was transferred to me before I ever knew what to do with it, and I’ve now adopted it as my own.

The negative messages began early; perfectionism, especially.

Though highly intelligent, my brother and school were like oil and water and never really worked.  He acted out a lot and hated authority (gee, wonder why), and was regularly abused by my parents for that and his bad grades.  I was powerless to do anything about anything that happened growing up, but I got a big message loud and clear: imperfection could be very dangerous.  My good grades, staying squeaky clean, being naive and innocent, over achieving, it all kept me safe.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that one of the first panic attacks I remember having came after I got my very first B in second grade.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that my anxiety goes crazy and my negative self talk is at its most nasty and vile when I feel like I have failed in even the most minor way.

It can be debilitating, constantly berating yourself at every turn for every little thing.  I am continually working on it in therapy, but lately if I’m not beating myself up about something I think I’ve somehow failed at, how I’m not perfect at whatever it might be, I stop myself only to beat myself up about beating myself up.

Today, for instance.  Since it’s a federal holiday and the courts and 98% of law firms in this town are closed, I’m trying to give myself the freedom to take an additional day off from working to process my life, to write, to do laundry, to enjoy my family, to clean my room, to eat well, to maybe get creative and/or take a walk.  I have incredible amounts of guilt and anxiety over it, though.  I have guilt and anxiety about taking good care of myself on a day when I have the actual ability to take care of myself.  I have to repeat it because it’s so clearly illogical – I have guilt and anxiety about taking care of myself.

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I am not an idiot (that was my favorite self-insult this last therapy session).  I am not dumb either (what I was just calling myself for feeling guilty about taking the day off to continue to care of myself).  I am not a failure at business (like I constantly tell myself I am or will be).  I am not failing at weight loss surgery (appx. 90 total pounds down).  I am not failing at exercise (I got 5 miles in over the last week).  I am not a failure.  And I don’t need to be perfect.

Now how do I let that go?  How do I embrace the idea that I don’t even NEED to be perfect in the first place?  Perfectionism doesn’t serve me anymore; I don’t need to be perfect to stay safe, but the message is still there.  Still loud, still clear.   I suppose I may fight against the message of perfection for the rest of my life (in all kinds of ways), but at least I’m fighting.

Let me try to keep this in mind today as I continue to allow myself the freedom to take care of me before all else…

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2016 Begins With a Bang

2015’s ridiculousness spilled right over into 2016, unfortunately.  It’s been a crazy few weeks, but the worst seems to be over…for now.  Of course, life happens in threes.

I was avoiding therapy at the end of last year because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my relationship with my mother.  Should I bring her in to therapy, be vulnerable in a big way, and try yet again?  Turns out, the answer is no.  I can’t do it.  I’m not ready and I may never be.  I’m back at a point where I have given up on my relationship with my mom.  I mean, we still speak occasionally.  I can still be around her.  So, I suppose a more accurate statement is that I have made the decision to give up on the idealized version of the relationship I have been hoping I might have with my mother someday.  I have to let go of it, once and for all.  We will never have a normal relationship and clinging to the (very false) notion that we might is only hurting me.

Letting go meant sending her an email telling her why and what it meant for us in the future.  It was really hard for a few days; it still is.  But I’m beginning to feel a sense of relief about the decision.  Letting go is freeing up my heart and mind for other things.  I have amazing people in my life that I CAN and DO have normal relationships with that are indescribably wonderful.  I have a business that is slowly building up steam.  I am on a long-haul journey of physical and mental health.  It’s nice to have the ability to turn my energy toward the people and things that actually matter in my corner of the universe, including myself.

Well, as I’m still somewhat reeling from the finality of sending my mom the email I did, my troubled nephew’s problems showed up on my front porch.  Whatever happened, or didn’t, the wrong person got very angry with him.  Thankfully my brother handled it, but scary people now know where my family lives and, if my nephew makes a dumb mistake again, who knows what could happen to any of us.  Hello, anxiety for days.  It really makes me sad too, because I wish there were something more we could do for him.  Unfortunately, though, addiction is a cycle only he can break.

Then, just as we’re getting our feet under us financially, my sister in law loses her job this last week.  Woosah.  Goosfraba.  There really are those days that I’m not sure how much more I can take.  There are days I can not get out of bed because it’s too difficult to deal with everything that happens.

Then I write.  I started walking more often (it’s kinda shameful how far I can’t go, but I gotta start somewhere).  I went back to therapy.  I keep working.  I move what I need to move around.  I’m honest with people that I “don’t feel well.”  I beat myself up in my head (man I am m a super bitch).  I cry.  I laugh.  I’m sad.  I’m scared.  I freak out.  I try to remember the good things.  I reach out.  I isolate.  I just keep living life.  Somehow, I keep living life.  Thank God.

Keep living life, friends.  It keeps going, so we might as well enjoy the ride.  Or at least try to.  Something like that.  :)

 

Shit Is Getting Real

After seeing the nutritionist for my last medically supervised diet appointment with him on Wednesday (one more with the dietician on July 1, then it’s on to the surgeon!), I decided I had to get into my PCP to get my pre-op tests ordered yesterday. EKG,  chest x-ray, blood work (plus clearance letter and progress notes) and then I’m ready to sit down with the man who will slice me open, take most of my stomach out, and change my life forever. What?!

I thought my PCP would just give me referrals for everything and I’d be on my way, free to plan it all out for next week. Nope! Having the EKG at his office, right then and there, was totally unexpected. I’ve never had one. I didn’t know he’d even be able to do one in his office. And it turns out that it was not a good day to wear a dress. Since I couldn’t just take a top off, I was down to nothing but my underwear in the exam room (couldn’t even keep my sport tank on). My boobs were flailing, my rolls were all over the damn place, and I was sweating just enough for that godforsaken crinkly shit on the table to get stuck all up on my back and my butt and the back of my legs (it was 108 degrees out yesterday, dont judge).

Awkward.

I was surprisingly not self conscious, though. As I laid there on the table, getting wires taped to every extremity and right under my left boob, I kinda had to laugh. I’m sure this is not the last time I’m going to be all boobs and rolls and butt hanging out in all my fatty mcfatterson glory on this journey. Might as well get used to it, right?

With my EKG done and my clothes back on, my PCP came in and we chatted a bit about law school and being a lawyer, since he’s trying to help persuade his step daughter to go. He’s been all for WLS for a while now, but always in a gentle way that made it up to me no matter what. I think being able to have those non-judgmental conversations with a trusted physician really helped me move forward (among so many other things) on this journey. Anyway, before he gave me my referrals, he was really sweet and said that I’m going to have to fight the guys off once I’m down my 100 lbs. I reminded him I needed to lose a lot more than that, and he said it didn’t matter. Sometimes I wonder if he thinks a huge part of this is about my physical appearance for me.  That’s really not even the half of it; this is as much a spiritual and emotional awakening for me as it is a physical one. Anyway, it was a nice compliment and I took it. :)

He suggested we could have everything together by Tuesday if I got my chest x-ray and labs done this weekend, so hell yeah I tore my ass over to the nearest radiology place to get this shit done. Chest x-ray, check! Labs this morning (fasting and all), and I’m on my way.

Like usual with all things WLS, I’m super excited at first. Pumped. Ready to go. Then I get nervous as shit and my anxiety goes crazy. Because I freeze and shut down when my anxiety is triggered, I went right back to my comfort (though it’s none of that word anymore) last night and almost sat down and ate enough for four people to push the feelings away. “Fuck it,” I thought.  The audacity! Actually, I may have said that out loud, if I’m being honest. Oops. Thank God for a #wls instagrammer posting something that legit snapped me out of my food stupor.  But then I was left with the feelings. Suck.

Having these tests means this is really going to happen. This is it. I’m afraid of the tests themselves, because I’m worried they’ll find something awful that’ll be devastating to me, or hold up my surgery. Anxiety.

I feel like shit and worry because my support system is wonky. I don’t have a boyfriend or husband I know will be there by my side. The people I should be able to rely on for medical things like this (my parents) I can’t even bring myself to tell. I’m having to rely on my friends, imposing myself upon them and their families in order to get through this and that is fucking hard. I feel so guilty, so unworthy of the love and generosity they’re all showing me. This is next level vulnerability for me, relying on people to uproot a portion of their lives just for me and my bullshit. I have to get used to it, though, because it’s the only way I’m going to make it through.

Ugh. Brain, stop thinking!  Shower time, time to get poked. In the arm. Pervert. Have a great day :)

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

Knock Knock (Trigger Warning)

Suicide is coming too close lately. I hear it’s death rattle knocking at my door.  No, I’m not suicidal; but it wasn’t that long ago that I was.  So when the news of suicide comes into the little bubble I occupy in our vast universe, it has an effect on me like never before.

A couple of months ago, a person sadly took their life by jumping into morning traffic from one of the higher freeway overpasses in town. That overpass is such a familiar part of home and it instantaneously became the site of an incredibly tragic moment. I pass by that overpass on my daily commute. I have passed by that same overpass so many times in my 32 years of life, that I can’t even count them for you. I was a barely permitted teen that white knuckled through rush hour traffic in that portion of the freeway, terrified of the towering levels of vehicle filled concrete and the median whizzing by immediately to my left, with my dad sitting to my right (probably even more scared). It happened so close to home.

I learned about the suicude before it hit the news because one of my best friend’s husband’s watched it happen on his way to work.  Of course, it wasn’t long before reports spread like wildfire.  The comments on social media varied wildly between understanding and compassion, insensitivity, and obnoxiously offensive and callous (from good riddance, to attention grabber, to should have thrown themselves off the Dam, with a side of eff you for ruining my commute folks – yeah).  The suicide was shocking enough, but the responses from people in my home town were worse (way to further stigmatize mental illness, Vegas). While I was shocked and saddened by it all, the day moved forward. 

The next morning, shock turned visceral and physical as I made my way to the office.  I took the same route as always, on auto pilot as I mentally prepared for the day.  I was not prepared for the way that my breath caught in my throat as I rounded that short stretch of road and imagined a body falling from the sky.  I was not prepared for the overwhelming anger as the vilest of the vile comments came flooding back to my mind. I was not prepared for the incredible anxiety and sadness that I felt being so close to where that poor soul left this Earth. I couldn’t help but weep for them, their family, and myself.

More recently, a very dear friend of mine reached out to me as she dealt with a mixture of shock, grief and guilt after a high school friend’s husband committed suicide. I didn’t know the gal that well, but my friend and I are soul sisters; we have known each other for 20 years; I came back to my relationship with God in the small church she planted in Delaware; we have shared our darkest demons with each other; and I just plain love her.  So, her hurts are my hurts and she’s been going through a lot as it is.  While I have not had the same reaction I had to the last suicide, it’s still too close to home because of how it affected someone I care so much about.

I never thought I would be able to relate in an almost intimate way with a person that ended their own life.  But as my life fell out from under me a few years ago, I became quite familiar with the level of sheer desperation and despair it takes to legitimately contemplate suicide.

When I had a psychotic break after the fraying rope that held my sadness and terror at bay for 29 years finally gave way, when I relived all of the abuse in vivid detail for the first time in my life, when I finally realized that my own mother molested me, I wanted to die.  When I also lost the two most important and supportive people in my life at the time – my boyfriend who I thought I was going to marry and my best friend – because of how I acted as my mind failed me in the worst way, I simply couldn’t stand the thought of being a part of this world anymore.

As I sat for what felt like hours with a steak knife to my wrist, all I wanted was for the memories and emotions to stop. I needed relief, peace, an escape from all of the pain. I had tried everything, I thought and I just couldn’t see any other way out. 

Thankfully, I had hastily saved this adorable little fur face from the pound in a brief moment of (slight) sanity that month.

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Okay, so getting her was also kind of an eff you to the ex boyfriend, because we had talked seriously about getting a dog when he moved in, but I digress. 

Little did I know, my crazy freckled dog would save my life that night.  I’m convinced that, even as young as she was, she picked up on what I was feeling because right as I intended to dig the blade into my skin, she forced her little muzzle between my hands and sat at my feet, insisting that I love on her with an immediacy she had never shown before. The debilitatingly dark trance I had put myself in was broken just long enough for it to dawn on me that it really wasn’t just about me; I had a responsibility, if to no one else, but that little face, not to kill myself. 

I put the knife on the table.

The feelings I had been having that night didn’t go away automatically. I still struggle with all of it, and will continue to struggle. But had it not been for The Spotted Freckledog, I would have given in to my demons.  I would have, in an instant, become an (unreported) abuse statistic.  Though life really is worth living, I was immesurably close to being the jumper.  I was this close to making my own friends and family experience the unfathomable shock, grief and guilt over my death.

I’m eternally grateful that my dog saved my soul. 

Nowadays, when my darkness resurfaces and interferes with my life, even a little, I’m terrified of returning to that hell.  It’s why I stick with therapy, why I write, why I create.  It’s why I have finally decided to have weight loss surgery to free myself of the chains of morbid obesity brought on by the abuse. It’s why I’m here sharing this with you right now. I’m afraid that if I don’t let it out, it will consume me again. 

I know this post might make you uncomfortable, and I’m sorry for that, but I was truly lost and felt like I had no one to turn to (I wish I had been a part of this wonderful blogging community at the time). My hope is that if someone chances across my blog in their own desperation and sees that, although it’s not always easy, life can go on, that there can be joy despite suffering, and that they are not alone in this world, it will break their dark trance just long enough that they, too, put down the knife. Maybe my suffering won’t have been for nothing.

Maybe no one will ever needs my words in that way (I certainly hope that is the case).  But if you happen to be that person, please know that you are not alone.  I am here thinking of you and I am here to talk to.  I can’t make it all better, but I can listen without judging. Please don’t give in. Please keep fighting. Please reach out, spill your guts, and live this oddly magical life with me.  It’s worth it.  You are worth it. 💛

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

Rollercoasters and Childhood Dreams

In the last week I have experienced more emotions than I ever thought I could possibly handle.  From anxiety to elation and exhaustion and everything in between, it has been quite the roller coaster.  I am a different person for all of it.

I got all of about thirty or forty-five minutes of sleep Tuesday night because I was anxious and excited for the biggest day of my career to date on Wednesday – the first day of my first solo bench trial.  I was pumped at first, getting ready to do this thing.  I was thrown off by the small podium and got my papers all mixed up as I tried to figure that out, so when I started the first witness the first morning, I completely blanked.

Yep.  Everything about the case left my mind completely.  Not. Fun.

It took me all morning to work through that as I examined my first witness.  The Judge was none-to-happy about my morning ineptitude either.  Ugh.  I was running on fumes and I was nervous, so sue me.  I took the Judge’s words to heart, beat myself up about it, then regrouped and worked it out after lunch.  It went much smoother, but the witness was equally challenging.  When I left, I was beaten up and bruised.

As I drove home, exhausted, enjoying the cloudy sky and processing the day, I began to give thanks for having this moment.  While it was beyond challenging, it was still the first day of my first solo bench trial and I was floored.  This was the final realization of a childhood dream and I was so grateful for it.  As I prayed, the clouds opened and visible rays of sunshine shone down upon the mountain.  It was a glorious moment.  I felt like God and my Gram were both there and I couldn’t help but cry.  As my tears dried, the clouds closed and I felt revived.  Tomorrow would be another day.

And boy was it!

The second day of trial on Thursday started off with me missing my alarm.  I stayed up late again the night before so I could prepare better witness outlines and plan my attack for the next day.  I slept like a rock and had apparently turned my phone on DND the night before.  You know that feeling when you wake up late?  Yeah, not fun on day two of an already tough trial.  Thankfully, my body clock actually had woken me up on time.  But the adrenaline was already coursing through my veins by the time I realized that!

After I managed to assuage the near panic attack I had from missing the alarm, I got ready and made my way to the Court.  Thankfully the morning anxiety and stress did not stop me from having a killer day.  Before I even made it into the courtroom, I had seen three attorneys I know who all had support to give.  It really helped me be on my game like I wanted to be the day before!  Talk about exhilarating, friends!  This is why I wanted to be a lawyer, after all.  Finally living the dream.  It’s so fun to be doing what you want to do with your life.

As a side note, opposing counsel and the Judge were both women.  Also, a few senior girls from a nearby high school came in to observe for their class project.  It was totally girl power up in there Thursday morning!  But I digress.

After a great day like I had, I couldn’t go home and be alone!  So I met up with a friend at a business mixer at this cute little restaurant I had heard about before.  I was out in full effect, let me tell you.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been in public and felt like that.   Carefree, happy, not worried about what anyone else thinks of me.  I made lots of new friends (one, in particular, I can’t stop thinking about – AK) and a couple potential clients.  It was, to say the least, a great night.

What had just been an awesome day turned into an incredible 24 hours.  After leaving the bar following a long, heartfelt, naturally meandering conversation with AK at 11:30 p.m., I couldn’t sleep when I got home.  I had to work through the prior day so I could be ready in the morning.  Ugh.  I shouldn’t have stayed out so late, but it was 100% worth it.

I was going to try to sleep, then get up early to prepare for the next afternoon (Court didn’t start until 1:00 p.m. Friday, thank God).  Hahahaha!  My brain was so not into that idea.

I needed to talk to someone, but by then it was 2:00 a.m. Friday morning and no one I knew was up except my parents.  I had not intended to call her until after trial was complete.  I still had words for her and did not want to get into another screaming match right at that moment.  God called me to do it anyways.  So I did.  And, well, you already read the result of that.  After having the day and night I had already had, I was truly overwhelmed.

With so many feels, it took me until about 9:00 a.m. to fall asleep, but I did enough work to feel pretty prepared for the next day.  I managed to get a tortured couple hours of sleep and was nothing short of exhausted as we begun day 3 of trial.  I was still pretty on my game, though.  Worked through my last witness and rested my case.  I think I got all of the important evidence in.

I almost cried during my closing argument.  I did my very best to tell my clients’ story how I would want someone to tell it if it were my own.  As I got near the end and was summing up how this case has affected my clients, I turned and looked at them and I almost lost my composure.  One of them, the older man, winked at me and I somehow managed to keep it together.  It was a special moment I will absolutely never forget.  To be zealously advocating for my clients and to get so into it that I experience that type of pure, unabashed, emotion is beyond words.

Beyond words.

Having A Moment

It was a bad food day. Started with the best of intentions.  Fruit and a skinny caramel macchiato.  Then had to scarf lunch mid day – a Bobbie from Capriotti’s.  Not terrible. 

Then protein shake sampling time – yay Amazon!  (Btw, iso100 #teampurple is better in my humble (and dietician’s) opinion). 

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Then pigged out.  Pizza. Big chef salad. Dessert.  Ugh. 

What if I still have this insatiable appetite after surgery? Chronic anxiety and weight loss surgery. Will I ever pass the psych eval? I will, but when that bitch anxiety gets going, she tears everything down.  All your successes are failures.  You are a failure.

This may end up being even harder than I could have anticipated.  It’ll be worth it in the long run, and I’m not stopping.  But still.  

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.