From April, 2015

Zany

I don’t like the word zany as it applies to mentally ill or anxious people. It’s the same as saying “crazy,” and it’s placing a stigma on a population that has enough to deal with on a day-to-day basis. I’m not even sure I like “mentally ill.” Sure, I have three separate anxiety problems, and bipolar disorder, but does that make me mentally ill? Does someone with diabetes say that she is physically ill? Of course not. She has a problem with her sugar, and she’s hopefully taking care of it. We all of us exhibit crazy behaviors now and then. None…

Yesterday

Although we’ve talked a lot about living in the present moment, the fact is most people with anxiety either live in the future or, more likely, in the past. The future living sounds more like a lot of “What-ifs,” and can get very scary very quickly. Living in yesterday sounds like this: I know I hurt my friend’s feelings when I said that that particular way. She seemed funny after that. It couldn’t have been just because she was dealing with her own issues. I know it was my fault. Or: I looked so stupid buying groceries yesterday. I’m sure everyone could…

Xanthophobia

Today is brought to you by the letter “X.” Your first instinct, when you hear about today’s subject matter, might be to laugh, but I urge you not to. It’s a very serious matter, and I think, if we suffered with it, we would not be laughing, not one bit. Xanthophobia is an intense, irrational fear of the color yellow. It is very real to the person or persons impacted by this phobia. Taken to its extreme, the xanthophobic person may even feel an overwhelming fear of the very word yellow. Xanthophobia comes from the Greek word “Xanthous”, meaning yellow…

Worrying

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.” –Charles Schulz Charles Schulz is great. My dad was a cop, and he had a cop friend who was friend who was friends with Schulz, so for Halloween, instead of passing out candy, my older brother and I would pass out old comic books with the covers torn off. Of course, we always sat around and read them first. It was a sheer blast. I related to both Charlie Brown (with all his worrying) and Linus (with his security blanket–I had one until I…

Venting

When I saw my therapist Wednesday he gave me a homework assignment. He even wrote it down, because otherwise, it would have gone right out of my head. “Challenge absolute thoughts (All or Nothing thinking). Find 15 cliches that relate to adapting to uncomfortable situations. Practice squared breathing exercise three times per week.” I’m not saying the assignment is stupid. It’s very worthwhile, actually. It’s just that I have so  much going on right now. Does he not realize that? The A-Z challenge goes until next Thursday (I think), I’m crocheting one very large granny square per day for a blanket I’m…

Understanding

Dear Loved One, It’s me, your (wife, daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend). I know it’s been really hard lately, watching my meltdowns. I don’t think I could be in your position, witnessing panic attack after panic attack, and an overall highly anxious state. It must be utter hell. Now imagine what it’s like to live through it. It’s worse than hell. It’s like being promised heaven, having it dangled in front of you like a carrot, and then snatched away at the last minute. You know how when your foot falls asleep and it feels like pins and needles when it…

Therapy

Therapy can be a very helpful tool to get one from “here” to where they want to be. So much depends on the therapist, and the relationship between client and therapist. There are as many different kinds of therapies as there are grains of sand on the beach, literally. I was going to introduce them all here, but I went on Wikipedia, and they were actually alphabetized, there were too many for me to count. When choosing a psychotherapist, there are some important things to keep in mind. Like the fact that a therapist can be a social worker, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or…

Relaxation and Social Anxiety Disorder

The first time I ever learned a relaxation technique I was in a psychiatric hospital. This must have  been, ooooh at least twenty years ago now. Doug, who was the Activity Therapist, had us all go into a quiet, dark, room (he had turned off the lights), grab a floor mat, and find a space on the carpeted floor. It’s weird, remembering it now. Some of us lay on our tummies, some on our backs, our sides with our knees pulled up. All the while, Doug just said to get comfortable. Then he told us to close our eyes and…

Illness

Faithful Readers, I’m sorry. I have been unwell all day today. Please come back tomorrow for letters R and S. Thank you. –Chris

Quivers And Quavers

Often, medications have side effects which include shakiness. But mostly, if we have anxiety, shakiness at one time or another, sort of comes with the territory. Either our hands can shake, our voices, or both, or our whole bodies can tremble if we’re very afraid. It’s actually extremely common, and the only way to stop it is to deal with the anxiety beforehand. If you’re already anxious and trying to prevent shaking hands, it’s too late; kinda like closing the barn door after the cows get out. There are different types of shaking. There may be more, but these are the ones…

Panic Disorder

Well, I did manage to bring in the mail during the day yesterday and, as always happens, by the time I got back in the house my heart was pounding, I was sweating, I could barely catch my breath, and I had to sit on the stairs before I could take the mail either up or down (we live in a bi-level). So, before I could celebrate that I had achieved something which was a 9 (on a scale of 1-10) on my Fear Ladder, I needed to calm myself down. I did something my therapist had taught me. I placed my…

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Most people, when they think of OCD, imagine the comedic detective, Monk. While he shows some of the fears, obsessions and compulsions that may indeed be typical, I think it’s mainly a caricature. It was still a wonderful way for people to be exposed to this particular illness. The obsessive part of OCD symptoms usually includes: fear of contamination, having things in order or symmetrical, strong or horrible thoughts about harming yourself or someone else, and unwanted thoughts, especially sexual. The compulsive part of OCD symptoms usually includes: washing or cleaning, counting, checking, asking for reassurances, following a strict routine, and being very orderly. The two…

Neutralizers

Welcome to the letter “N.” It might be easy to smile or, even, laugh at the picture I’ve included with today’s post of Will Smith from MIB holding a neutralizer. But–picture this. There you are, stuck in a panic-anxiety cycle, with no clear end in sight. Along comes handsome, sexy, Will. He flashes his neutralizer at you and suddenly you’re perfectly fine. In fact, you can’t even remember what it was you were so anxious about! Because that’s what the neutralizer does, right? It zaps your memory. I think that would be incredibly clever. In a way, outside of the…

Managing

`P.S. You’re not going to die. Here’s the white-hot truth: if you go bankrupt, you’ll still be okay. If you lose the gig, the lover, the house, you’ll still be okay. If you sing off-key, get beat by the competition, have your heart shattered, get fired…it’s not going to kill you. Ask anyone who’s been through it. —Daneille LaPorte Well, it turns out I’m not the best sort of person to do this sort of thing—-the A-Z Blog Challenge. See, besides writing the blog post itself, we’re supposed to comment on each other’s blogs. But I can barely keep up…

Keenness And Learned

Today’s post is brought to you by the letters “K” and “L.” Please forgive yesterday’s lapse; it was not a good day for me. As described in Definitions.com, keenness’ 3rd definition is: “characterized by strength and distinctness of perception; extremely sensitive or responsive.” I think again, we see the double-edged sword, where perception and sensitivity can be either a strength or a hindrance when taken to the extreme.  I think if we dig hard enough, we can see that that’s true. It’s very true for me, I know that much. My sensitivity allows me to know when someone is feeling upset or out…

Judgment

is for judgment, or lack thereof, when it comes to being anxious. I know that when I’m anxious, it gets harder to judge the looks on peoples’ faces, or their body language. It’s easier to take things personally, as an attack. My judgment is all askew, and it’s like I forget that people are basically there for me; they wouldn’t purposefully hurt me if they could help it. Anxiety hinders our judgment  by interfering with our concentration, causing us to miss cues or hurry to a wrongful assessment. We’ve all made decisions in life we wish we could take back. For the…

Impulsivity

I never used to think of myself as an impulsive person. I mean, sure, sometimes I spend too much, or eat too much. Maybe I’m not too careful, and at times say the first thing that pops into my mind. But most of the time I am too careful, which is why I don’t like social situations, because I never know what’s safe or easy to talk about. As usual, I did a bunch or research for this topic, and learned a great deal in the process.  I learned that impulsivity, as it relates to anxiety, has four separate parts: 1. Sensation seeking is…

Hardwired

There is some debate as to whether or not one is hardwired to be anxious. According to dictionary.com, hardwired means “pertaining to or being an intrinsic and relatively unmodifiable behavior pattern.” To me, that almost sounds instinctive, something done without thinking.  In all the research I did, one person asked a question on a site. She explained her psychiatrist told her that her anxiety would be hard to control because after 25 years it would be essentially “hardwired” in her brain. Most people who responded were angry with the doctor for even saying such a thing to her, giving her a…

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

I saw one of my favorite therapists (of which there have been many), Heather, for two years. Each and every time I saw her, because I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, she gave me a seven-point assessment test called the GAD-7. These are the statements it included: Feeling nervous, anxious or on edge? Not at all Several days More than half the days Nearly every day Not being able to stop or control worrying? Not at all Several days More than half the days Nearly every day Worrying too much about different things? Not at all Several days More than half the…

Fear

is for fear. Fear can be a good thing. It keeps us from touching a hot stove, or walking down a dark alley (hopefully!). It’s a protective, survival instinct. There are three other types of fear that we might not think about all the time: 1. First, we can’t forget the sort of fun, oogedy-boogedy chiller fear we get when we watch horror flicks or go to a haunted house around Halloween. That scares us for a bit, but we get over it because we know it’s not real, it can’t hurt us. 2. Internal fears. These are usually triggered by things or…