Friday, July 12, 2019

Anxiety 101

When I woke up this morning I knew that I was a hot mess. Anxiety has taken over and I had somehow hoped that this sort of full blown storm of it was not anything I would ever have to deal with in my life again.
Well. Hopes and dreams, baby. Hopes and dreams.

It's so hard to describe what anxiety feels like. First of all, it doesn't feel like "anxiety" which is what one might feel before going to an office party or having to give a speech although those things can indeed be incredibly anxiety producing. Still, anxiety would be a normal reaction to those events.
This sort of anxiety, the kind that is toxic and is almost too much to live with feels more like what you might feel waiting on a doctor to walk into his office and tell you what the results of some test are when he's asked you to bring someone with you for support.
It's like a constant sense of panic and although it may have absolutely no basis in reality, that fact does nothing to assuage the constant adrenalin dump that accompanies it. The body is trembling on the verge of fight or flight with no outlet for either and no visible threat to fight or control or escape from.
Yes. It is JUST a feeling.
And those who suffer from it are more than aware of that even as the feeling that overtakes us leads us into places so dark and so horribly uncomfortable as to be physically unhealthy.
There's a whole lot of biochemistry involved and none of it is very positive.
And of course there is meditation, there are breathing techniques, there are grounding techniques, and there are medications to help. Exercise can help but in my experience it has to be intense and prolonged to provide much relief. The first time I really started experiencing anxiety I was taking yoga three times a week, walking, and eating the best diet of my life.
And yet...and yet...I was dying inside.

So. Knowing all of this stuff and knowing that as bad as it felt when I got up, it could get much worse, I decided to start back on the antidepressant that took me months to fully wean myself from and if I had a choice in the matter, I wouldn't do that.
But I don't have a choice in the matter.
Not if I want to live my life.
I also took an Ativan this morning, perhaps because I'm a wimp or perhaps because I am wise. I do not know. But it helped. And I set about getting the things done around here that I needed to do, very deliberately and very carefully because between the Ativan and the anxiety brain things can get tricky.

I took the trash and the recycle and saw the old racist at the dump. We ignored each other as we do. I came home and started the process of making pickles which sounds pretty funny when you think about it. But my refrigerator was full of cucumbers and I picked a few more from the vines this morning and it was actually very good for me to have something to do which needed that level of concentration. Washing and trimming and slicing the cucumbers, weighing them out. Peeling and slicing onions and also cutting up peppers from the garden. Sterilizing the canning jars and lids. Making the pickling solution with vinegar and sugar and spices. Salting the vegetables and letting them drain, adding them to the vinegar solution and bringing it all to a boil. Packing the hot, sterile jars and putting them back into the canner to finish the process.
Removing the jars and setting them on the counter to wait for the "pop" which indicates the jars are sealed. And then the real true visual proof of something done, something accomplished, something which will be of use and enjoyment in months to come which is a good reminder in and of itself that yes, there will be months to come and pickles will be enjoyed.
I needed to do all of that and thank god I had the work before me to do.

I was going to iron after that but simply could not. I laid down on the bed and slept for a little while. Unlike some people with anxiety, I can sleep and I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't.

My kitchen is cleaned up and ready for me to start supper. It has been raining most of the day and I collected six eggs including one I do not recognize although come to think of it, it may be Darla's first egg since she went broody a few months ago. I have not completely fallen apart, no matter how closely I feel that I am doing exactly that.
I have often said that people who suffer from mental illnesses can be, and often are, the best actors in the entire world. We do not want to frighten our loved ones nor do we want to make a big deal out of something which is so obviously "nothing." We feel a great need to hold it together. To not give in. Because it all feels that if we do give in, if we do quit holding it together there will be nothing for it but something which looks incredibly frightening and insane and although we don't really use the term "nervous breakdown" anymore that rings disturbingly familiar.

Break. Down.

Not just a bluegrass term, y'all!

And here's another crazy thing- since a person in the throes of anxiety can indeed appear to be functional and relatively normal, it is so tempting for the sufferer herself to think, "Well, yeah. I'm fine. I'm okay. I'm really making a big deal out of nothing."

It's not nothing. It's just not.

But. One does need to go on and that's why I'm getting back on the medication. That's why I am making allowances for myself and staying extremely aware of what I'm going through. I have things to do and places to go. I cannot become a terrified zombie. I have babies to love on and a garden to tend and a husband to take care of.
This is not my first rodeo and I'm going to do everything within my power to be okay.

Forgive me if there are a lot of grammatical and careless errors here. I know I'm not functioning as well as I could be. Again- I am aware of that. Also? I really don't need to hear about this supplement or that one that helped your cousin with anxiety or depression. I'll just be flat-out open about that. I've tried them all. Gut bacteria? Yeah, when they get the studies done and actually know what they're talking about, I'm going to be first on the list to sign up. Meanwhile I'll continue on with being outside as much as possible, keeping busy and out of my head, and making sure that if I need help, I will ask for it.

And I would say to any of you who are experiencing these things and feel completely hopeless and helpless and, okay, frantic- talk to your doctor. Get some damn help. Brain science sure isn't what it could be but there are some answers and there is help.
And hang on.

I will too.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. I don't have anxiety but when depression drags me under I feel like I am dead inside and would just prefer to lay down and die. It's a horrible feeling, obviously, and at the time it feels like it will never end. And yes, I don't tell my family because I don't want to worry them more than they do already and I don't want to be damaged goods because sometimes I feel like that. What the hell happened to me to fuck with my brain so badly that I can't trust my own thoughts?

    I'm glad you're taking care of yourself. Making pickles sounds like contemplation which is good for people, I think. Weeding is the same for me, or watering.

    You're in my thoughts. Take care woman:)

  2. Samesamesamesamesamesamesame.

  3. i'm hanging right with you, Mary. Hugs!

  4. I am floored, for lack of a better word, of your perfect description of what you are feeling. I have situational anxiety at times.....but nothing that compares to what you describe. I cannot even imagine it. I hope the meds (a curse and a blessing) will help you...... at least you have an awareness of yourself, and are taking steps. Canning more pickles won't hurt either . ;-)
    much love
    susan M

  5. You are a very brave and wise woman. And your jars of pickles are beautiful. Hugs, Elaine

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  7. I've had firm discussions with myself about accepting the fact that I will need to take my effexor until I die. I always worry my evil brain will try to convince me that I don't need it, and I'll be a mess. I've also learned my wacky thyroid is a bitch that must be addressed or I have life-altering anxiety and sadness. You can't argue with brain chemical needs and as you said, you do need to live - I hope things even out for you again soon.

  8. Your clarity about all of this is astounding. I have always had similar issues and wish someone like you had spoken these truths to me when I was in college, or even younger. It’s taken years for me to get to some knowledge and understanding and, ultimately, acceptance, that “this too shall pass”. Not that it’s ever easy when it hits, but it’s kinda the light at the end of the tunnel!

  9. Something to do is a wonderful thing.
    Keep up your stride. Stay in the ring.
    Labor is blessing. A bright one and true.
    Be thankful, be happy, for
    Something to do! AW Meek

    Before we had meds, we had something to do. We had corsets and could pull up the strings and get to work.

    I am so impressed by the grip you take on these episodes, and your enormous responsibility to life. Keep taking care, dearest Mary.

  10. We're here with you, Mary xxx

  11. I'm so sorry this dragon has reared its ugly head once again. I'm glad you're addressing it. As you said, it's not something to be ignored or powered through. I suspect you're benefiting a lot of people merely by talking so candidly about it.

  12. You do what you need to do and don't ever feel you have to explain it! Anxiety and depression are most definitely real. Again, do what you need to do, take what you need to take. You know yourself better than anyone else. Take care. -Jenn

  13. well, poo. wish I had a magic wand to wave in your direction. like having a tiger by the tail I suppose. let go and you're a goner. well, Mary, you are one strong woman. you will do what you need to do to get through it once more.

  14. you describe anxiety, the inner experience of it, with such power and accuracy and i hope it is read by everyone. the acting normal and functional, for the sake of loved ones, such truth you excavate in this. i am so sorry you are going through this, and you will do what you must to keep on, please know through it all i am here, offering my hand to you. squeeze it hard. breathe. i love you so.

  15. and those pickles all lined up on your counter are a thing of beauty.

  16. I'm back on an antidepressant, as you know, and things have been much better since I restarted. Please do whatever you have to do to feel better. I'm sending you a big hug and lots of love. This too will pass. <3

  17. I admire and respect your honesty right now. You are in my thoughts.

  18. Pharmaceuticals keep my sister alive and might have kept my brother from suicide. Anxiety and depression are shite.

    A dear friend is going to get a kitten. Sometimes it's the chickens (and cats and dogs and hedgehogs) who keep us here. And help us to find our way back.

    Eternal love,


  19. So good to know that you made the decision that is right for you. I wish I could explain my anxiety the way that you have described yours. I don't have the words. I don't recognize it coming and sometimes I don't know that it is what I am experiencing until I am well into it.
    Hang in there hon. You have lots of support and lots of friends who wish nothing but the best for you. Me included. Have an awesome Sunday. Beth

  20. You are one amazing person. I love you.


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