Life is tough, my darling, but so are you! Living & Coping with Anxiety

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I know I’ve touched on this subject before, very briefly, in some of my past blog posts.  However, with September being Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I wanted to go into a little bit more detail about anxiety and mental illness in general.

I want to start by saying – if you are feeling depressed, anxious, lost, confused, hopeless, or struggling in any way, shape or form, please, do not be embarrassed to ask for help. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.  I totally understand, it’s a lot easier said than done.

My symptoms of anxiety began in childhood, though they were so small, they were overlooked.  It wasn’t until high school, when I began having horrible social anxiety (though at the time, I had no idea what that was, and I didn’t understand “what was wrong with me” or why I felt the way that I felt) that I never experienced as a child. During my childhood, I was very outgoing.  I performed in talent shows, I danced in recitals, I played sports, I read a poem in front of the entire elementary school and wasn’t nervous about it.  Fast forward to tenth grade – I can remember vividly sitting in my American Sign Language class, a class I actually really enjoyed and found interesting.  The teacher was going around the classroom, asking each person a question, and they would respond back in sign language.  I remember the fear that washed over me, and I had no idea why.  You’ll know the answer, I reassured myself, but I was still filled with doubt.  What if you don’t, though?  You’ll have to say you don’t know and the entire class will be staring at you.  Even if you do know the answer, the entire class will be staring at you.  These thoughts swirled around my mind, escalating to the point that I just had to get out of there.  I don’t even remember if I asked to go to the bathroom, I just remember feeling relief once I was out of that classroom.  I remember feeling sweaty, my palms tingly, and somewhat breathless.  (I did not have a full blown panic attack that day, which I would realize later on in life when I actually began having them.)  I do remember asking myself why I freaked out so badly, but once I was safe in the bathroom, alone, I realized I didn’t care.  My thoughts were no longer racing, my breathing was starting to return to normal, and I didn’t feel that dreaded fear I had felt while in the classroom.  Who cares, I thought, it’s gone now.  Sitting in the school bathroom, I realized, I couldn’t just stay in here.  But the thought of actually going back into that room, facing the entire class (because in my mind, I truly believed that everyone could see the anxiety on my face) wasn’t even an option.  There was no way in Hell I was going back.  And I didn’t.  Ever.

Side Note: It took me about five months to get caught skipping classes.  I stopped going to American Sign Language, Geometry, Gym class, and eventually History.  I attended the rest of my classes.   Our days were broken up into four periods, so these classes would be an hour and a half, every other day.  During these times I would literally sit in the bathroom, or in a friend’s car, texting or reading.  Some days, my mom would drop me off at school and I’d go in, hide in the bathroom until first period began, then sneak out the side door and walk home.  I have no idea how I was able to get away with this.  The only reason I got caught was because I skipped gym class last period, and my brother was home sick that day.  He told my mom, and I really thought nothing of it.  I lied and said I had a study hall, and that I just wanted to come home because I was finished all my work.  My mom ended up calling the school, and was finally informed I was barely attending my classes, and definitely not passing.

My mom was the one who made me realize I actually had a legitimate problem.  Anxiety wasn’t something talked about that much, at least not something I was familiar with in 2004.  I refused to admit that anything was wrong for a long time.  I claimed that I just “didn’t want to go to school” and that I didn’t care ( I know, I was such a rebel.)  Once that word was thrown out there, though – ANXIETY – it was something I thought about.  (Shockingly, I wasn’t really in tune with my feelings as a teenager.  I truly didn’t understand how I felt, nor did I really want to think about it.  Anyone who knows me now knows how aware I am of feelings – my own, and other people’s.)  I remember the first time I went online and looked up Anxiety on Internet Explorer – I was shocked and speechless at what I read.  I cried.  I wasn’t alone.  There were billions of people who experienced what I was feeling.  I didn’t have to live this way.

Do you ever think of your life in segments?  When I think back to this time period, I always think of this as a defining moment.  Before Anxiety, and After Anxiety.  (I guess there really is no before & after, it was always there, lingering, and it doesn’t ever go away), but this is when I decided that yes, I needed help, and that I was ready to change my life.

It wasn’t easy.  It’s still not easy.  But over the years, I’ve educated myself, and it’s made life much more manageable.  Most of the time, I’m able to talk myself through my anxiety. A few months ago, I went to 102.5 Country Fest Street Party in Boston.  It was jam packed, and we had to fight our way through the crowd just to get a beer.  I was anxious, but I talked myself through it (it’s only your anxiety, you’re fine, everything is okay, just breath!)  I remember Jena telling me she was so proud of me – she asked me if I felt anxious, and I said that yes, I did, but I was okay.  She told me I had come so far, and that a few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do that – and she was right!  And it made me so happy to hear that.  Of course, I have my bad days.  I recently skipped a party because I was so anxious, I had a panic attack hours before it – and I was so mad at myself about it after.  I was mad that I let my anxiety get the best of me, I let my fear rule me.  But I can’t beat myself up about it, I just have to move on, and continue fighting this battle.

There are many different ways people cope with anxiety.  I’m going to list some of mine, and I hope that someone finds at least one of these methods helpful to them.

WAYS TO COPE W/ANXIETY & PANIC

  1. Talk yourself through it.  (My favorite is: This is just your anxiety talking, it’s okay.  I don’t know why this works for me, but it does, usually.)
  2. Talk to someone.  Whether it’s a friend, a parent, a significant other, a therapist – let it out!  Keeping it bottled up makes it worse.
  3. If you have plans (a concert, a party), or any other kind of event that makes you nervous, tell one of your friends before hand.  This always helped me – Jena knew about my anxiety, and for some reason, just knowing that she knew, that if I needed to leave she understood and would just go with me, made me feel so much better.
  4. Breathing Exercises.  (Yes, I’m serious!)  Take a deep breath, hold it for three seconds, and then slowly let it out.  Do this about four times.  It slows your heart rate down and relaxes you.
  5. Distract yourself!  Seriously, do something, anything.  Read a book, watch TV, clean, organize your closet, go run an errand – do something that will help you take your mind off of the fact that you have anxiety.  Sometimes just changing your scenery is all you need.
  6. Exercise.  This is one I need to take my own advice on more often.  Every time I exercise, my mind feels a billion times clearer.  It doesn’t even have to be an intense work out – just waking on the treadmill, listening to my favorite music, helps a lot.
  7. Remember that it’s okay, and that you are going to be okay.  You cannot die from a panic attack.  You’re not going to go crazy or have a nervous breakdown.  You will be okay.  It passes.  It always, always passes!  I know it sucks in the moment.  I wouldn’t wish a panic attack on my worst enemy.  But it doesn’t last forever.
  8. Color!  Coloring is so therapeutic.  I like to light a candle, drink some tea, and just relax.  It really does help, as silly as it sounds.
  9. Make small goals for yourself.  Example: At one point in life, I literally couldn’t even go into Dunkin Donuts by myself, my anxiety was that bad.  I would make small goals to get over my fear of being alone in public.  I would go into Marshalls for two minutes.  ( I know, doesn’t seem like much, but to me, then, it was huge.)  Once I accomplished this, I would do it again, but add another minute.  I did this until being alone in public no longer frightened me.
  10. Make a list of all the good things about yourself.  Yep, I’m serious!  Having anxiety can be emotionally draining, and often leads to depression.  When you become frustrated with yourself, for so long, you start to forget all of the wonderful qualities you have.  So list them!  You are more than your anxiety.  It does not define you, though at times it can feel like it does.  Never forget how wonderful and amazing you really are.

 

I’m thankful for my struggle, because without it

I would not have stumbled across my strength

 

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FALL 2016 TV SHOWS|PREMIERES & RETURNS

Just another thing I love about Fall – NEW TV SHOWS! And old TV shows that I’ve missed oh so much are returning.  What’s better than plopping yourself down on the couch after work with a nice glass of wine, watching something good on TV?  (Don’t answer that.)  But it is nice to see all your friends again – I mean, fictional characters, on the screen.  It’s especially nice on a Snow Day, when you’re stuck in the house.  Netflix & Chill it is.

On a serious note, here are some Fall 2016 TV Show Premieres/Returns!

PREMIERES:

SUNDAY, 9/18: THE CASE OF: JONBENET RAMSEY (CBS)

JonBenet

The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey is a six hour, three part docu-series that airs on 9/18 from 8:30-10:30 PM ET/ 8:00 – 10:00 PM PT.  The second part will air on Monday, 9/19 at 9:00-11:00 PM ET/PT, and will conclude on Sunday, 9/25 from 8:30-10:30 PM ET/PT.  This docuseries follows the case of JonBenet Ramsey, who was murdered when she was only 6 years old, in December of 1996. Her father had originally reported her missing, but found her body in the basement of their family home about eight hours later.  JonBenet’s parents and brother, Burke, who was nine years old at the time, were immediate suspects.  The police did not find any evidence against them, and death still remains a mystery.

I remember hearing about this case when I was little – I was eight years old when it happened.  I remember seeing JonBenet’s face splashed on the cover of every tabloid, everyone claiming they knew something about her murder.  As I got older, I wondered about her myself.  I read numerous details about the case over the years, if I happened to come across it.  I remember reading that it was snowing the night of her murder, yet there were no footprints in the snow leading to her house.  Logic clearly points to someone in the house, yet no DNA was found to convict anyone.  This will be sad to watch, because it’s a true story and JonBenet never actually got justice.   I do think it will be a very interesting six hour event, though.  And hopefully one day JonBenet’s murderer will be convicted, and she will get the justice she deserves.

NOTORIOUS, 9/22,  THURSDAYS @ 9:00 PM (ABC)

Notorious

(Description is from IMDB.Com)

Follows the professional and personal relationship between a charismatic attorney and a powerhouse television producer as they attempt to control the media, the justice system, and ultimately – each other.

*I’m hoping that this show will be a mixture of Law & Order SVU & Castle.  I’m hoping that the two main characters, Julia & Jake, can live up to the expectations of Benson & Stabler, and  Beckett & Castle.  We’ll see!

THE EXORCIST, FRIDAY, 9/23 ON FOX (TIME TBA)

Exorcist

(Description is from IMDB.Com)

TV show based on William Blatty’s1971 novel about a priest who performs exorcisms on demonic spirits.

*Everyone has seen the movie, The Exorcist (right?), so this is pretty self-explanatory.  I don’t really have high hopes for this, but scary movies/TV shows are my favorite, especially around Halloween, so I’m willing to give it a try.

CONVICTION, 10/3, MONDAYS @ 10:00 PM (ABC)

Conviction

(Description from IMDB.Com)

A brilliant young attorney (Hayley Atwell), who is also the daughter of a former U.S. president, is blackmailed to head up NYC’s new Conviction Integrity Unit. She and her team investigate cases where people may have been wrongly convicted.

*This looks interesting.  I love shows that have to do with the law.  Especially when they’re trying to help people who were wrongly convicted, because we have so many major flaws in our justice system in real life. Let’s hope that the main character, Hayes, is a bad ass!

FREQUENCY, 10/5, WEDNESDAYS @ 9:00 PM (THE CW)

frequency

(Description from IMDB.Com)

A police detective in 2016 discovers that she is able to speak via a ham radio with her estranged father; Frank Sullivan, a detective who died in 1996 and the two must work together to change the history of tragic events to come while also getting the chance to heal their complicated relationship.

*Okay, seriously, everything about this show looks so cool.  I love anything paranormal, and I’m hoping there is some time time travel thrown in there as well (even though it confuses the hell out of me.)  Can’t wait to see this one.

NO TOMORROW, 10/10, MONDAYS @ 9:00 PM (THE CW)

No Tomorrow

(Description from IMDB.Com)

Evie, a risk-averse quality-control assessor who falls for free-spirited thrill seeker Xavier only to find out he lives his life that way because he believes the apocalypse is coming.

*No Tomorrow looks really cute and quirky.  The main characters are adorable.  I love a good love story mixed in with an apocalypse.  (Hopefully it’s a zombie apocalypse.)

THE FOLLOWING HAVE NO DATES (THAT I COULD FIND), THEY’RE TBA:

MIDNIGHT TEXAS (NBC)

Midnight Texas

(Description from IMDB.Com)

Its Twin Peaks meets True Blood in Midnight, Texas; a remote town where your neighbor could be a vampire, a witch, a werewolf, or even an angel.

*I read that Midnight Texas is actually based off of a book by Charlaine Harris, who wrote the Sookie Stackhouse series.  True Blood was one of my favorite TV shows, and I was beyond sad when it ended.  (I still miss True Blood Sundays with Jena!)  This looks promising to me!

STILL STAR CROSSED (ABC)

Still Star Crossed

(Description from IMDB.Com)

A period drama that picks up where the famous story of Romeo and Juliet leaves off, charting the treachery, palace intrigue, and ill-fated romances of the Montagues and Capulets in the wake of the young lovers’ tragic fate. Based on the book by Melinda Taub.

*For starters, I read that Shonda Rhimes is one of the producers for this show, so I already love it.  Romeo and Juliet were a classic, I can’t wait to see where Shonda takes this show.

PRISON BREAK: SEQUEL (FOX)

Prison Break

(Description from IMDB.Com)

Seven years later, thanks to information provided by T-Bag, Lincoln and Sara discover that Michael is still alive in a Yemen prison and develop a plan to get him out.

*This is probably the most exciting news I’ve heard in regards to TV shows all year!  I was obsessed with Prison Break in high school.  (Michael Scofield forever ❤ ) I cannot wait to see this and I hope it’s amazing as it was the first time around.

RETURNING SHOWS!

9/11 – 90 Day Fiance, 9:00 PM (TLC)

9/12 – Dancing With the Stars, 8:00 PM (ABC)

9/14 – American Horror Story, 10:00 PM (FX)

9/19 – The Voice, 8:00 PM (NBC)

9/20 – The Bad Girls Club, 8:00 PM (Oxygen)

9/20 – Scream Queens, 9:00 PM (Fox)

9/21 – Modern Family, 9:00 PM (ABC)

9/21 – Law & Order SVU, 9:00 PM (NBC)

9/22 -Grey’s Anatomy, 8:00 PM (ABC)

9/22 – How to Get Away with Murder, 10:00 PM (ABC)

10/2 – Shameless, 9:00 PM (Showtime)

10/4 – The Flash, 8:00 PM (The CW)

10/13 – Supernatural, 9:00 PM (The CW)

10/21 – The Vampire Diaries, 8:00 PM (The CW)

10/23 – The Walking Dead, 9:00 PM (AMC)

11/20 – The Affair, 10:00 PM (Showtime)

What are you looking forward to!? Happy Fall 🙂

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