Thursday, July 25, 2013

This Time Of Year Has Its Perils

Five years ago I lost my mind at this time of year. I suddenly and without warning began to experience anxiety which, I realize now, I had always experienced but this was different in many ways including duration and intensity, meaning, I was in a state of unrelenting panic every waking moment for weeks and weeks which stretched into months.
I had only had two other times in my life which even came near this experience and both of them were directly related to external and very real circumstances but this time, there was no correlating event, simply a battle between two parts of my mind and thus, there was no way to win.
Both parts were me.
Now there had been stressors leading up to this but just life stuff. We talk about the perfect storm and I think perhaps this was a case of that. The life stuff (and some of it fairly intense) combined with plummeting estrogen and who-knows-what-else? to create this...insanity.

I can only call it that.

After trying fruitlessly to combat or come through it on my own with exercise and diet and meditation and every other thing they say to do, I went and got medication which helped and eventually, I got on a form of natural hormones which I think may have helped more than anything and I am no longer on the medication and have not been for several years and mostly, I am okay in the sense that I can live my life without the panic although I think I will probably always carry traces of the anxiety around with me. It is who I am and may well stem from a traumatic childhood as so many of these things do but, I can live with it.

But sometimes, that panic returns and this time of year it usually does. The body holds anniversaries with cellular memory, even if we do not consciously think of them. And so it is that as my birthday approaches, the panic creeps back in and so it has. And as it creeps, as it begins to form and take shape in my mind and in my body, I always have the fear that it will be as it was five years ago and take over entirely again and I will be left in that place of no-hope and fight-or-flight.
I do not really think that will happen but it is a fear. I admit it.

I woke up with it today, not a level 10, by any means, but an uncomfortable 6, say. But not fully bloomed. Not with all of the elements involved and for that I am grateful.

I have taken my walk and exercise does help. I take my natural hormones. I get good sleep. Perhaps too much but I have always loved sleep and needed more of it than many and I am old enough to realize that this, too, is part of who I am and I do not fight it or berate myself for it. I take of much of it as I need which I can take.

I know that this has been a year of extremes. Deaths and marriages, mostly, and far more traveling than I am accustomed to or feel comfort with. And as I write this, I am getting ready to leave for Asheville to visit my youngest daughter and my oldest daughter will be traveling with me and I know that the trip will be a joy and I can't wait and yet...of course I am anxious.

Well. As Matt Haig said, writing can help. When I had the horrible time, five years ago, I never quite quit writing. Even as I felt my most frantic, I wrote. Sometimes not too much because to truly write about what was going on sounded and felt too extreme and panicky and of course I didn't want to really worry the people I loved, even as I knew I desperately needed them.
It was a fine line and crazy people are not so good at those. BUT, I came through it, I am still here, and I am still writing and it is still part of my soul-salvation.

As is sleep, as is friendship, as is reading, as is cooking, as is exercise, as are my chickens. All of these and most especially, love, are the antidotes to the irrational thoughts which anxiety brings.

So thank-you, for your part in my difficult times and in my joyous ones too. Even as I isolate myself sometimes (which is a symptom AND a contributing factor), I never feel alone. And am able, eventually to push through or wait patiently, and come out the other side. Experience has proven this to be true and I write it down and send it out to remind myself, the universe, and perhaps you.

And now I am going to go to town and I will see my grandsons and their very presence fills up too much space in me for the anxiety to be in control and overall, I do not feel so bad. Not so bad at all.

As Always...Ms. Moon


  1. That really was a terrible time. And I could almost 'see' it brewing. I am SO glad that even when things are tough, you haven't come close to that level of anxiety as that summertime.

    And doubly glad that you kept writing. It kept me and others from worrying, and likely helped you work through it too.

  2. Peace to you, beautiful Mary Moon. I'm sending you love and hugs.

  3. I am glad you write. You probably have no idea how much you help me by being transparent about what you are feeling, and allowing me to realize that I am not alone, that some of us are made this way, and we will get to the other side. Birthdays are the worst, I don't know why. I always feel terribly inadequate when my birthday is approaching, as if I am once more being assessed and found wanting. Of course it is all happening inside my own head. I too am traveling this weekend, which is always a source of anxiety, even when traveling with loved ones who are very familiar with us. There is something about stepping into the larger world and saying here I am, see me, judge me. Thats how it feels to me. I do know, though, that you will have a wonderful time with your beautiful daughters in Asheville. All you have to do it get there. And carry me with you. And I'll carry you with me to St. Lucia, too. Much, much love my dear Mary. I have said it before but I will say it again: I am so very glad there is you.

  4. I hope you know how your struggles and your joys are solace and balm to many, many people. Like me.

    I love you much, Mary Moon.

  5. I'm so glad you write about this, Mary. For so many of us out here (because we're writers too? Or we write because we know this feeling?), anxiety and depression and that perfect storm are so familiar. I know for me, one of the things that saves me again and again--exercise, sleep, human touch, writing--is coming to places like yours, knowing that it's not just my crazy brain that does these things. And that we're all trying to make sense of it, find the beautiful things and speak aloud the terrible ones. And you're right: you're not alone.

  6. Experience is what keeps us together at this point in life. We have enough of it to know what comes next, to know we eventually get to the other side of things. It's the ride that's scary as shit, knowing what's around that next corner and cringing in anticipation. You are brave and generous and such an inspiration.

    Can't wait to hear about Asheville.
    Lean into it Mary.

  7. I think this is the best post I have read from you...Our bodies and our minds are such strange things sometime and we need to do whatever works to keep everything together as well as possible. I am the same as you with the isolation..I love aloneness and sometimes I think that is my downfall...but then I think is that only because of what other people say we should be. I do think it is important that we don't substitute the computer for real life though...but then again maybe again it is like having a cup of coffee with someone who does understand.

  8. Dear Mary. I understand so completely and I am grateful that you often write what I am unable to express myself. It seems like a lot of your readers feel the same. It's unfortunate that some of us carry really bad stuff on in our bodies and in our souls from childhood. Sure they take a backseat but sometimes they are the driver and the pain can't be ignored no matter how you try to carry on. Summer time is a hard time for me as well as it was the time I had to be alone with my mother and the time when really bad shit happened. And as an adult sometimes things that regular people go through trigger these bad memories and I go in a hole. And I think I can't crawl back out this time. I understand and I am so glad you have your loving family and most especially your grandsons that fill you will so much joy. Love Sweet Jo

  9. I'm so sorry you are having the anxiety and panic again. It's hell for sure, and i'm glad you're surrounded by loving family!

    Summer of 2005, the same thing happened to me. A breakdown for no apparent reason. Three months of nearly constant panic. I resisted medication for quite awhile, then gave in and became human again. I could get more than two hours of sleep a night, and i dared to leave my house. Every once in awhile i feel fleeting twinges of anxiety when i'm doing the most mundane things. Always on the hottest days of summer, like my mind and body remember.

    Hold your family close and take great care of yourself. Sending supportive hugs from the other coast!

  10. Your life and your home, this all is so different from mine and my home but I think I have been to very similar corners of darkness and panic and terror - walking along this thin edge with sheer drops to both sides of it.
    But there is family, humour, love, memories, gardens, laundry, all that ordinary boring stuff and yes, cooking as well.

  11. Dear comrade of the anxiety wars, I wish you peace. I fear the resurgence always, and try to remember to praise the days or parts of days without it. I would like to know more about the hormones. I attribute my improved state to yoga, walking, t'ai chi chih, and, perhaps, going gluten free.
    Breathing deep.
    Hope you are, too.

  12. I love you, Mama. We WILL have a wonderful time!

  13. I didn't know you then but I have other friends who slide into a pit on a yearly schedule so I get it. but only in an intellectual way. not that I haven't had bad times. I had one bad time that lasted for about 6 years, maybe longer while I was living with and trying to protect myself and my kids from my husband/their dad who had become a rageaholic in an attempt to deal with/fight down his emotional issues. he did finally get the right counseling and evened out. it took a couple of years for me to stop flinching internally, expecting the explosion. but I don't think I ever experienced the kind of despair that you write about.

  14. writing kept me from going totally batshit crazy in 2005. I've had ups and down and all arounds but sometimes? .... I didn't know about blogs then but kept paper journals and sometimes couldn't form a sentence I was so scared and tired and all the emotions you described.

    I looked back at them and wondered how I came in out of the rain… at least not look upward with my mouth open. I walked stores that were open all night on and off for weeks. I couldn't hold it together unless I was in public ~ taught to never make a scene… ha

    Our journeys are our own and those of us who survive find skills we never knew we had ... writing it all out is one.

    I'm so glad to have read this. It's great to know that we are not alone with all our thises and thats.

    We're all souls trying to do the best we can with what we were given to work with.

    I've written in my blog that I've put in a request to the egg and sperm mixers to consult with me a bit please before I'm dispensed this next time. dammit

    I like you Mary Moon. an honest, no phony person. hard to meet these days. everyone wants everyone to be alike ...

    I love Asheville ~ one of the places I had on my list to live.

  15. SJ- You were there for me. I felt you. I will always love you for that.

    Lulumarie- Thank you, dear, beautiful woman.

    Angella- Oh, dearest. Thank you. I am not sure exactly what about travel makes me so nervous. But it does. I believe it may be as simple as the being away from the safety of my home. And birthdays? Shit. I just want to do something on them which isn't birthday-ish, but maybe special in some way. Like...going to see my daughter with my daughter.
    I will carry you with me, do not worry. And I will be with you as you travel too. Remember- we will have each other in our back pockets. You are precious.

    Elizabeth- I love YOU. You're my strength some days. I swear you are.

    Sara- You're right. We are not alone and it does help so much to share with each other and not just the scary/bad but the joyous reminders of the beautiful too. Amen.

    Ms. Yo- Oh honey. I will, I will. Experience is good and it can be dangerous. I think it clips my wings sometimes. I wish that weren't so. Thank you.

    aint for city gals- It works for me and no, it does not take the place of real-time human interaction but it is beautiful and important to me and it has helped me save myself more than once.

    Sweet Jo- You will crawl through. I know you will. Would you like to email me? I will listen to anything, you know. Coming from you, I will. Gladly. Hang in there, woman. Hang in there. Loving you...M

    Mary- What in hell is it about summer? Sounds like what happened to me is what happened to you and wasn't it the worst fucking hell? Sometimes I can't believe I survived but I did and I'm glad you did too.

    Sabine- It is routine which soothes me so. Yes. I am so glad you're here.

    Denise- Whatever it takes is whatever it takes. That's my opinion. I know that when I got on medication, it was that or...well, I couldn't go living like that. It was terror all the time. That's not life. That is hell.
    I wish none of us ever went through this. Ever.

    May- And I love you, baby. We are going to have the BEST time.

    Ellen Abbott- Yes, it's a different thing when you can't say what is causing the internal, constant terror. That's what makes it so scary. Because if you don't know what's causing it, you can't make it go away. You were so brave to go through what you went through. I am glad your husband got that counseling and that everything worked out. It's rare, you know? Be proud of yourself.

  16. I've got some good, broad shoulders. Shift your burdens over this way; I can help carry them for you.

  17. Though I would never wish anxiety and panic attacks on anyone I am so glad that we have each other through blogging. Anxiety is so fucking insidious and rapes your spirit. All you can do is wait it out. I too do all the right things to keep it at bay but it shows up.
    Thank you Ms. Moon for your honesty. You keep me feeling normal.

  18. I like your recognition that you are "able, eventually to push through or wait patiently, and come out the other side." That's the key to all of this, it seems to me! I appreciate the reminder.

  19. oh this sounds familiar...
    I was on medication for this exact thing a few years ago. It helped for a while to have a "base," a sense of normal and I got used to that feeling. It helped so when I got off the medication, I could remember what that base was and come back to it when I started to feel squirrel-like and frantic. I love how you said the body holds anniversaries with cellular memory. How true that is - on a level our minds can't even begin to understand. xoxo


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