Tag Archives: Anxiety

She’s Done Chasing Happiness

Today, I have a treat for you. A darling girl (who I took to prom once, full disclosure) reached out to me, and asked if she could share something on Terminally Intelligent. I hope you enjoy Brittni’s stirring words as much as I did.

I am Still Fighting

I live my life in a fluid discontentment between anxious and depressed. My anxiety stays around a 7-8 on a 10-point scale (with very few spikes and valleys) until my body and my mind can’t handle it anymore. When this happens, everything shuts down, and I get really depressed.

I think when my anxiety is an 8, my depression is a 4. Even when I crash, my anxiety is still a 3, and my depression becomes a 9. The worst part is that I know it’s coming. It always happens this way. This means that in my brief moments of happiness, I still feel the looming of depression about to set in.

I’ve chased happiness for as long as I can remember. I played softball. I thought winning would make me happy. I tried to impress my parents, thinking that would bring me happiness. I was the first in my family to go to (and graduate from) college. That brought some happiness to my parents, but not a lot to me. I found a man I love. At this point, I have to distinguish that while I am happy with him, I am not truly happy. We moved across the country, and while he did this for work, I thought this would be just the transition I needed to finally find ‘it’. Guess what. In New England, the days are short, the winter is long, and this southern girl hates the cold.

I have a hard time making friends. Exercise isn’t something I enjoy. I don’t feel at home here. There is so much that I’m missing out on from so far away. These are the thoughts that come to me every single time I start to enjoy a fleeting moment. I forget that I am loved. I forget that I am brilliant. I forget that I have never set a goal that I did not reach.

An outsider looking in says, “You seem so determined, ambitious, and kind. I really thought that you were such a joy to be around. How could you be so sad?” My burden is so much to have to bear, I would hate to impose it on anyone else. I don’t ever want to bring anyone down. So, I “fake it till you make it.” That’s all I know. I open up to very few.

My first real “bout” of depression began when I was a senior in high school. I heard a preacher say, “You choose to be happy.” I went home and read Ephesians, and decided it was true. To this day, I have no idea how that book brought me so much peace. I’ve re-read it again and again, but the peace is gone.

There are things I’ve done to try to gain some sort of contentment. I lost a hundred pounds, then gained 30 back. I have a list of my “favorite things” (which includes The Sound of Music) that I reflect on when I stop seeing the positive side of things. I try to move, and go outside, even when I don’t feel like it. I make an effort to eat real, whole foods, because being Paleo Primal “will save your life.” I talk to my mom. I talk to my shrink. I write notes to myself to pick me up when I’m down. I am telling you right now, if you could choose to be happy, none of us would ever be sad.

I still have hope, and hopefully it’s enough. I’m trying this new thing out. I’m going to try to teach myself to be happy. Let me break that down into a more doable task. I am going to make an effort to combat every negative thought with a positive one. I may start off reusing the same positive thought over and over. I may need to start out small. Maybe one positive for every two negatives. The important thing is that I’m still trying. I may need to take breaks, and when I do, I know there are people there to help me through. I want to find happiness, but I’m not chasing it anymore. This time, it can meet me here. Right where I’m at.

I’m still fighting.

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Should I Go See ‘The Martian’?

Original Photo: NASA. Image: Rory Bristol

Original Photo: NASA. Image: Rory Bristol

Holy hot damn. I just finished what is easily my favorite sci-fi book of all time, and easily scores in my top ten. The Martian, scheduled to hit theaters tomorrow, October 2nd, is based on a fabulous book you can download for free. I just finished reading it, and I already want to read it again.

Did you catch all that? Free book. Best sci-fi book ever. Going to be a movie in theaters tomorrow. Jenny and I are breaking a life-rule together. We’re going to see it in theaters. We have literally never been to a movie together. Totally mark that up to movies being expensive as hell, crowded, inevitably boring, and a nice dose of holy-crap-I-can’t-leave-this-place-fast-enough anxiety.

But this book is worth the chance. Matt Damon as the primary character of a 141-minute film? Yes, please. No Ben Affleck? Double that yes! (Yes! Yes!) The character Mark is engaging, ballsy, totally jaded, and all kinds of hilarious. Totally up Matt Damon’s alley, and I cannot wait to see it. [we saw it, see below]

My to do list before going to this movie:

  1. Pack anxiety pills.
  2. Convince Jenny to let me buy popcorn.
  3. Give up on argument.
  4. Argue from a new standpoint.
  5. Give up argument.
  6. Eat a real meal before going.
  7. Enjoy the movie.
  8. Flee the theater, thankful that there is open sky when I get outside.
  9. Get pizza. 2 slices and a Coke. In the memory of a good man.

Now, how to bring up popcorn to Jenny… Oh, before this post runs, she’ll see my to do list. It has to start somewhere, right? [Love you, Honey!]

[Update: Spoiler alert!

We went and saw it. If you OMG love the book because science, or because of the main character, stick to the book. If you want a very similar story from a completely different angle, enjoy the show!

Mark is my hero. Science is my jam. The Martian is a book about the will to live, and the balls to make that happen. The movie is about NASA recovering a man left on Mars. Much less fun, IMO, and Jenny and I spent ages ripping it a new one afterwards.

They left out the ramp accident, and the storm, and the science behind the farm, and the bedroom, and the water reclaimer, and, and, and, and, and. Then they added in the Iron Man scene. Seriously. Just because “why the fuck not?” Ruined the ending for us. Made me very sad. Now, I have to read it again. Damn 😀

/update]

Top 10 Strategies to Reduce Anxiety

toptenanxiety

There are hundreds of ways to reduce anxiety, and they aren’t all good for everyone. This list isn’t comprehensive, and it couldn’t be even if it were the Top 250 Strategies to Reduce Anxiety. These are tools that help me, and I’ve seen help others. Interpret them to apply to your own life, and you will feel better for it.

Continue reading

I Didn’t Tell

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

My memory is getting worse, but I’m not sure what to do for that. More talks with my doctors, therapist, and Jenny. More adjustments. Possibly more meds, possibly fewer meds. It’s inconvenient, but it’s helping me get into some great habits.

Cons:

  • Jenny has to remind me of stuff. All day long. It’s frustrating for her.
  • I have a harder time getting everything done, because I won’t remember it in 15 minutes.
  • I regularly walk into another room and forget why I’m there. Like, eight or nine times per day.
  • I make minor commitments and lose track of them.
  • All this makes me fucking insane and sad.
  • I forget to take my medicine.

Pros:

  • I’ve developed better habits regarding checking behind myself to make sure I took my medicine or that something is done right.
  • I’m learning to make lists, leave myself notes, and communicate more clearly.
  • People know I really mean it when I compliment a dress or shirt, because I’ll have commented in the past.
  • It’s easier to sit down and commit to the work I’m doing, because my to-do list isn’t hovering anxiously in the front of my head.
  • It’s easy as hell to keep secrets and be discreet, because I forget the thing I’m supposed to not talk about.
  • I make a great confidant, because I can genuinely listen without judging that person by the conversation later.

It’s both good and bad. It’s inconvenient, and it’s a case of changing my life to address side effects of medication, but I think it’s worth it. It’s worth it to have reduced anxiety. It’s worth it to have more structure. It’s worth it because I am surrounded by people who understand.

Feed Me

Well, shit.

Well, shit.

Food. It’s what’s for dinner. Sadly, sometimes I fuck it up. Last night, I went to cook one of my Grannie’s dishes, and I did okay, I think. Until I started the potatoes. As you can see above, it didn’t go so well. My chemistry Kung-Fu just didn’t cut it.

The potatoes were dead, Jim. I called the skillet off as a bad job, and microwaved them. I literally just shivered. I hate microwaving food! The food was edible, but not as flavorful as it should have been, because all the flavored goodness was cooked onto the pan, and I had to finish dinner so my family could have food.

I helped my Dad move some more stuff today. He’s moving down the street, and I’m thrilled to have him close by, especially with his next surgery on the horizon!

Sorry for a short post, but see? I’m a human. I can burn food, and still have an okay night!

(I’ll take a moment to say THANKS to my doctor who’s been working with me on my anxiety symptoms!)

Small victories, dudes.

Going Out

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

Sometimes I got out, and it’s the most amazing thing in the world. Other times, someone invites me over, and I say yes. Then the plan changes a little. Then it changes a little more. Somehow, agreeing to go to their house for quiet dinner becomes helping them host a party. Not a good way to feed an introvert’s soul. There’s no polite way out. All the introvert can do is suck it up, or try to leave gracefully. Generally, my idea of “graceful” in these situations makes things worse.

I’m pretty good at holding it all in until the party is going, and then I’m like, “bounce!” A few times, I’ve had friends accuse me of leaving early so I didn’t have to clean up. In those situations, all I could think was,

“Bitch, we were gonna have tea and tamales. Who the hell made you think I was gonna set your party up, host it for you while you talk to people, and then clean up your huge-ass house?”

Sometimes, I make the mistake of saying that shit out loud.

Now, this hasn’t happened in a while. Mostly because I just don’t leave the house. It works pretty well. Especially with a wife. I get to use the most accurate and welcome excuse possible. I get to say, “No thanks, I’m spending tonight with my family.” BOOM. But when I do go out, I am careful about what I agree to. And then I speak up clearly as soon as it becomes shit I don’t wanna do.

The best part? When I DO make plans with people, I want to do them. I really do. But when they cancel, I’m rarely upset. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I was upset over cancelled plans. For me, cancelled plans usually add up to an excuse to watch Netflix. The other person need not feel like they let me down, because they didn’t do anything wrong.

Now, don’t use me as an excuse to be a dick to your introvert friends. They need love. But do remember, sometimes, cancelled plans are the best plans.

Music Heals the Soul

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

For the last few days, I’ve been running around with headphones half-on. It has caused a bit of confusion around my house. Normally, headphones mean I’m working. Headphones + typing = don’t interrupt. Problem is, I’m wearing my wireless headphones in order to listen to music non-stop. This isn’t because I’m ignoring people, or trying to say I’m busy. It’s because I’m anxious.

Having music run in the background is one of the most effective tools I have to address my anxiety. It takes a track or two of my brain, and gives them something to do. It’s a necessary reduction in ancillary analytical thinking. It doesn’t keep me from working well. When I need to focus, I just tune out. When I open the door for more abstract thinking (read: anxiety), I tune back in, so that my brain is engaged again.

This has caused me to break out my many mix discs from high school. The hottest chick in the high school was my girlfriend, and she made awesome country mix CDs, and I still have all four that she gave me. I’ve been listening to them while I work and it’s been awesome. Country music feeds my soul. Music in general is awesome. Thinking about someone who cared about me a lot, when few people did so? Even more nostalgic awesome.

I’m not trying to ditch the world. I’m trying to ditch my anxiety. Now I’ve gotta convince my family that I’m not ignoring them, when I have no fucking clue what’s going on. It can be quite a barrier to have sound in your ears non-stop. I get it. I’m still not ignoring anyone. That’s why the headphones are only “half” on my ears. I can still hear. You just have to say my name.

Shit. I suddenly feel the need to fix my ‘do. I need to color coordinate my hair and clothes to every room in the house. Not sure why? Ask the best Child in the world, Destiny’s: