Managing

`M (1)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 with posting every day. It hasn’t become a habit yet. Who knew? Well, all I can do is my best, you know?

As I was reading through the articles I had marked about managing the symptoms of anxiety, I just got overwhelmed and all of it started to not make any sense at all. So I thought, what the hell? I’ll just write down what do to try and manage my own anxiety. That way, after you read it and it makes no sense to you, you can substitute in what you do! Ha ha ha.

Remember to breathe. The first thing that happens to me when I get anxious is I forget to breathe or I start to breathe really shallowly, which amounts to the same thing. So, I have to actually remind myself.

If I’m feeling worried/bad/sad/mad/frustrated, change the thought. Works every time. Change how I’m thinking, and I’ll feel differently.

Crochet/meditate through the problem. The repetitive nature of crochet lends itself to meditation very easily. While I’m crocheting I can think through a difficulty, or–better yet–let my mind empty itself and sort of rest.

Relaxation. I usually do deep breathing while I sit in a comfortable chair, eyes closed, but I breathe differently than most people tell us to. I breathe in through my nose (through the diaphragm) and back out through the nose (not the mouth).

Reading. This is just a really fun escape, because it takes me so far away from anything and anywhere I was before I started reading. It’s tough to be anxious when you’re in the middle of a thriller or a romance. Really. Try it.

Color-by-Number and Dot-to-Dot. I went to a Michael’s art store and found these intensely intricate adult color-by-number and dot-to-dot books. Except I’m too intimidated to start them, because I’m a perfectionist and I don’t want to make a mistake. LOL! How insane is that?!

Television. It goes under the escapist column, but it’s also very educational. I learn how other people act in similar situations, too. And we got the Amazon Fire Stick recently, so have been stuck on Mad Men (we’re on Season 4–there are I guess 7 seasons), for real.

Doing my best. It’s all I can do. It’s all any of us can do. ifeel

Exposure Is Like A Four-Letter Word

exposureOr at least, it should be, and that’s the word fear. In the book I’m reading about social anxiety disorder, Dying of Embarrassment, there is lots of talk about exposure as the main solution to dealing with most anxious and troubling situations.

The first part of the book helps one figure out what exactly is distressing and anxiety provoking. It’s all very individual, of course. Then we’re supposed to put it in a hierarchy, like from least anxiety-provoking, to moderately anxiety-provoking to severely anxiety-provoking. I’m just reading this book to read it for now. When I sit down to really look at situations and make a list it’s going to take me a while, because my knee-jerk reaction is always “It’s all severely anxiety-provoking! What do you think got me into this mess?!”

Exposure therapy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposure_therapy) as a form of torture began in the 1950s. It’s also known as flooding. Of course, I’m kidding about the torture part (a little). I only say that because I’m actually considering it and I’m afraid. The next section of the book (I forgot the part about the coping skills and changing cognitive distortions) is actually doing it. Exposures take two forms: in vivo (real life) and imaginal (in the imagination). Before we do an actual in vivo exposure, we’re supposed to take ourselves through a few imaginal exposures.

In imaginal exposures, everything is imagined as detailed as possible. All the smells, the sounds, are people sweating, etc., get as detailed as possible. Then go through the situation and let your anxiety rise as you sit through it. Go through the anxiety and stay with it because it will go down again the longer you stay with it, as you remember your breathing exercises and so on.  You might imagine absolute success or you might imagine marginal failure and how you would come at your cognitive distortions in the imaginal exposure.

In in vivo exposures everything is real. The book never mentions this, but to me it is like taking someone who is afraid of snakes and throwing them into a pit of vipers! Of course, it’s not that dramatic, because there’s the hierarchy list; the list of lesser anxiety-provokers and higher anxiety-provokers. So it’s much more within the control of the person with social anxiety disorder. For example, let’s say you’re afraid of public speaking. You might start with saying hello to your neighbor when you’re both working in your backyards. Then a medium task might be giving a talk at the high school. A severe task would be giving the baccalaureate speech for your daughter’s friend’s graduation.

If you read this far, God bless you, Geshundheit, please place your trays in their upright positions, and thank you for not smoking.

coffee

Changes

David Bowie in 1969 and 1995. I got an interesting email from WordPress in which told me they “missed me.” You and I both know that’s propaganda-esque crap, but the stats show people still visit my site even when I don’t write, which hasn’t been for months.

The problem is, I’ve changed a lot in that time. I don’t want to write about the same things. I’m not the same person anymore. I don’t go to Al-Anon, I hardly whine about my sister and nephew anymore, and it’s just not on my radar. They live in Ann Arbor, and I don’t see them often enough that they are a problem for me. My boundaries are intact.

What I do struggle with, what is the “new me” if you will, is social phobia and panic and anxiety. I’m also trying to read through the list of books in 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Given that I’m already 52, I realize I have to read faster. LOL

Crocheting is still a big thing for me, but I don’t want a separate blog about it. I want to talk about it here when I’ve accomplished something especially difficult, of which I’m proud.

Also, my mother is 87 now. Sometimes we get along super, just fantastic, and other times we are at each other’s throats. I can’t explain it. I might need to blog about that here.

If this new blog approach sounds like something you might be interested in, keep on coming! If not, see you on the flip side, and thank you for reading as long as you have. You are all dears.

Have a sunny-side up day.

Just Relax

RelaxThere must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. ~Chinese proverb

Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at other times move forward with it. ~Ray Bradbury

It seems like everywhere I go people are talking about relaxation these days. My therapist asks me about my stress level, like it’s something that can be quantified, measured on a daily basis. lying down

I probably mentioned already that I’m participating in an study for bipolar disordered people on a site called Optimism. I love the name, but the site is both complicated and ambiguous.

The site tracks your mood every day, how well you coped, hours slept, quality of sleep, whether or not you exercised, and took medications, if relevant (here’s where I find some ambiguity. It doesn’t ask if your meds make you feel like you’re on auto-pilot, or so thirsty you could drink a gallon of water and it wouldn’t be enough, so tired you’d just run a marathon…only you hadn’t). It then goes into three different categories: stay well strategies, triggers, and symptoms. 

Relaxation fits under the Stay well strategies, along with adequate sleep, plenty of water, and routine, just to name a few. I use a relaxation cd daily. One of the choices on the cd is A Walk on the Beach. The narrator uses the elevator technique to take me deeper down, until I’m so relaxed I’m actually somewhere way in the basement. Ha ha ha

If only it would stay. Not minutes after that, I checked my email, and there was something from an editor or promoter of a book I’ve signed up to read on Netgalley. Now, I love reading more than anything, and I just finished my third book for them. I have three more books in the queue before the book this promoter spoke of. All the relaxation I’d just had given to me went right out the window. I had no idea what to say to this person, so I took my usual route. Say nothing, and keep plodding along. My dog, Lucy, would have peed on the email and gone on her happy way. 😀 We should all be so lucky.

dog

The Morning After A Good Sleep

I SO LOVE this picture. In case you can’t read it, it says: “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Had THE BEST sleep last night. I mean, if I could call The Guinness Book of Records and report it, I would, but I’m not sure how they rate the scale. In terms of number of hours slept, it wasn’t amazing: eight. Lucy woke me once and I took her round back, eyes at half mast, to do her thing before I slid under the covers once again. But I went to bed at 9:00 last night. THAT’s a personal record. Slept until 5:00.

Everything looks better in the morning. I’m on my 3rd day in the Summer Reading Program, and enjoying my 2nd book.

This photo reminds me of a trip to Ireland I took with Karissa, to see mutual friends of ours who lived in the countryside of Dublin. The roads out there are so narrow that when another car approaches one has to pull over in the next available spot on the side of road. And I don’t remember seeing any posted speed limits. LOL Maybe fast and faster? But it was so much fun, and very, VERY spiritual to be there. I’m an early riser, and Karissa as well. We’d both get up, she to read her Bible, and I to walk along the winding path, pray, meditate and smoke, commune with the sheep in their pastures. We had lovely hosts. I did try a Guinness while I was in Dublin for the day. Our hosts laughed at me, because I couldn’t tolerate the dark ale.

This other picture reminds me of a weekend Mom, my sister and I went to a place halfway between here and Traverse City. It was

during National Novel Writing Month. I was working on a novel and my sister was working on her memoir. Being late November, we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving there, and were treated to the worst blizzard they’d had in years. I was in my element. I’m a snow bunny. If I’d packed proper boots, I would’ve been traipsing about in the woods every day.

Good times. It’s a grand Wednesday after a proper sorting in therapy. I hope you are well.

Peace out.

Guest Post! Sherrie Theriault Shares With Us

Hello all. We are in for a wonderful experience today. You get to hear someone other than me!! Just kidding.

Sherrie is someone I met through FaceBook. She had written a book called My Sponsor Said.  I bought it, really, for my sister. But I couldn’t resist reading it myself first. It was wise, poignant, lyrical. Last Friday I bought Sober On The Way To Sane, which is near the very top of my TBR list. Sherrie has written 33 books, 31 of which are available on Amazon.com. She writes for the recovering community, also writes villain-free fiction for kids, regular fiction for adults, poetry, and she designs coloring books for all ages.

Now, here’s Sherrie, in her own words:

My name is Sherrie and I am a member of both fellowships.
Thank you, Chris, for inviting me to be your guest here on Recovery Along Route 66; I am grateful to be here. I thought I would share with you a few pieces of prose I’ve written; each addresses a sticking point in my struggle to have strong boundaries or healthy relationships. I have an odd sense of humor and I hope you will bear with me; I mean well.


Lie
Yes, a lie is just a lie, but the truth also has problems. I relay the facts and the words take on a life of their own, leave out the backdoor and walk on down the road. They move to another town and never find time to come back for a visit even though, I am their mother. And woe to the woman who grows attached to credit or recognition for her ideas. These kidnapped prodigies are never ransomed but sold outright and their DNA not questioned or tested.
So, my advice is to love your words in secret and raise your notions behind high walls. If you are ever called upon to share your wisdom, lie. For even if you’re caught the risk is tolerable. Exposure is awkward but then again no one is looking, so, what is there to lose. A lie is just a lie but it stays home with you at night.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
GOOD AS GOLD
Just because I’m as good as gold doesn’t mean that I win the prize. Doesn’t mean I get my way. Doesn’t mean I gain your heart. Being ‘extra special sweetness and light girl’ doesn’t secure my future.
It does prevent me from living my life as someone I don’t like. It contents me to keep my own company. It is a huge improvement over living as the raging fury I once was. Any destination I desire is more readily assessable from this amiable posture; in spite of inexpert yearning.
I can breathe past you if must be, walk down the road holding my own hand instead of holding a lung full of air. But I am the treasure. You must earn me never capture me. Appreciate me not devalue me. I’m good as gold. And please know that I am the prize. 


Isolation
I isolate from you, I isolate from others, I isolate from friends, isolate from G-d, I practice connecting by connecting with my sponsor, practice connecting with my friends, practice connecting with G-d, finally I am able to connect with you, the first thing I do is isolate us from them, my sponsor, my friends, my G-d, they are all now on the outside of the bubble of us and I must start again, only now I must try to maintain the you and me connection while at the same time connect with the rest.
Are we still us if I am connected with them? Are we still us if we are in the midst of the crowd I think of, the crowd I call, them? Just because they see us as us, refer to us as us, are we still us if we don’t feel like us to me?
If I don’t know us in the landscape of hordes are we still we? Isolation is an attempt at preservation, how can we best be preserved without being pressed in a book or jarred or jammed? You say let us be, and I say that’s how I got us; are you sure that’s how I keep us? And you hug me tight.


Thank you for sharing this journey of recovery with me. I would love to hear your thoughts about this post, it’s my first time being a guest blogger.

Thank you so much, Sherrie, for sharing your writing with us. I know I could relate on several levels. “Holding my own hand…” The isolation piece was a kicker for me… 

Please do share your thoughts! Sherrie loves comments, right Sherrie? 😉

Peace out.

Filling My Cup

Is this not a beautiful picture? I couldn’t resist it when I saw it. If I could get my heart started every morning on a cup full of sparkles instead of caffeine, I’d be all over it. 🙂 That is SO pretty to me.

It made me think about what I need to fill myself with every day. Like, how does what I read, watch on TV, and look at on the internet affect me? How does who I talk to on the phone or in person affect my mood? How does what I write about or not write about make me feel? If I don’t spend time in knitting do I feel that loss of my center?

What about meetings? Sometimes who I sit with at a meeting affects my ability to share more . . . not freely, necessarily, but – without stumbling over my words? I get very nervous, and if I don’t  know at least half the people at the table pretty well I get very skittish, like a cat.

But wait–let me back up a second here. My super sponsor and I were talking about books and what we read, and she said that if she reads horror, like Stephen King and stuff like that, it affects her too much in a negative way. Now, I can read Stephen King-like stuff all the livelong day and it does not put me in a negative mood. But let me read some self-help book that tells me I’m doing something wrong — and I’m in a pissy mood the rest of the day.

So the only self-help I need in my life at this point is Al-Anon related material. That’s what I can fill my cup with.

I used to be able to watch the different Law and Order spin-offs all the time. Now I can only watch the main one and Criminal Intent (okay, okay, because I have a thing for Vincent D’Onofrio, happy now? :P) He’s married. So I have to admire from afar. I still watch The Waltons on The Hallmark Channel, and I once watched a whole 24-hour marathon of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. If you remember that, I’m your friend for life. 😉 Too much violence isn’t a good thing to fill my cup up with. Humor is great. 

My mom thinks I’m too open on here, and on FB. Psh. It’s my blog. And —okay, I’ll be more careful on FB. I don’t exactly have to say where I’m going, or where I am. I still think she worries too much. I guess that’s what Moms do. It’s one of the many ways they offer their love up.

And I’m babbling. What positive ways do you have to fill your cup on a daily basis?

Peace out.