Anxiety Chronicles: New Level Unlocked

I had an anxiety-fueled panic attack yesterday (I can usually tell the difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack, but what I experienced yesterday was different and I still don’t know what to call it, so I settled on this).

It’s a complicated thing to take care of your mental health while also being concerned about offending others. On one hand, I’m cycling through an hour-long experience of breathing way too hard and doing this weird tapping thing I’ve never done before so my brain can fixate on something other than making tears and trying to breathe so I don’t hyperventilate and pass out and wanting my mom but not being able to call for her; and on the other hand, I’m fully conscious of everything that’s happening but unable to stop it and worried that everyone things I’m being a brat and having a temper tantrum at 34.

And then there’s the issue of trying to act like none of it happened because I’m now at a family member’s funeral and people I love are grieving but I’m still trying to recover from this major mental and physical experience and I’m exhausted and I have no room for other people’s feelings but this moment isn’t about me but because I’m not engaging “normally” people are taking my silence as rudeness and I’m trying really hard not to argue with people who are grieving so I sit in the car until the service is done because my brain hasn’t returned to default and now I can’t stop crying but also this moment isn’t about me because I’m at a freaking funeral and other people are grieving.

Anxiety is a bitch.

It started the night before. I’d “peopled” all day and was wiped out and a series of events led to an anxiety spiral that kept me up too late and woke me up too early in tears and just as I’m trying to regulate that experience by taking my morning slowly and practicing self-care in the form of brushing my teeth and getting some iced coffee, another (unexpected and uncomfortable) moment ignites the bomb that is an anxiety-fueled panic attack and I’m done for.

At what point am I allowed to say, “fuck everyone else and their feelings” and focus solely on my own painful, complicated experience that very few of the people I know understand? Unfortunately, I feel like the answer is “never” because my pain and the way I respond to it aren’t contained in a bubble.

And I oscillate between withdrawing completely from everyone I know in the real world and participating more in my relationships in an effort to be a well-functioning person.

I don’t think I ever truly feared for myself (in regard to living alone) in the past; it was more so a situation of money is funny. Now, though, living alone would mean I have absolutely no responsibility to engage with anyone outside of myself on a regular basis and (lately) I have experienced too frequently moments where I would absolutely turn off my phone and only respond to emails about business if I didn’t live with family, and particularly my mother who encourages (read: forces) me to engage with people and events outside of my corner of the house. I’d fear for myself if I were to live alone in this state.

Not engaging with others means fewer instances of situations that could trigger an anxiety spiral, a panic attack, or even just personal insecurities. It also means a limit to my opportunities for growth. I don’t want to be a recluse.

If anything, I want understanding; at the very least, I want people to honor my boundaries, and I want them to leave me alone when they see I’m not engaging as I usually would (especially, if they saw me the day before and I was in my normal, good-natured mood).

The experience yesterday was a new one. I have experienced attacks that were mentally more intense (intrusive thoughts and what not) but never as physically involved. It’s like a new level of my experience with anxiety has been unlocked just as I was overcoming the last one.

I don’t know what comes next, but I’m taking today slowly.


Can we take a second to appreciate a short work week? We had a great time on vacation, but I got almost no sleep because I can never sleep in strange beds, so I’m still playing catch up with my Zs. Our administrative assistant is out all week so I’m back to doing both our jobs (like I have been for the last two and a half years before she started this position in September)… but only for the next three days. Hooray!

Thanksgiving season always brings about reminders of how grateful we should be. I’ve been doing a 365-day gratitude challenge since last Thanksgiving. It started out as a photo challenge on Instagram, but quickly devolved into a running list in the notepad app on my phone. Regardless, I’ve been taking time daily to find something for which I am grateful.

This week, I am most grateful that I got to spend a lovely Sunday with some of my favorite women who I have not spent time with (except for two of them, but one is my mom) in over a year.

We had a book brunch picnic, but didn’t talk a whole lot about the book. It was just really nice to spend time together in a safe and comfortable way. We shared stories and advice, enjoyed the cool cloudy weather, and ate yummy food. I made individual brunch boxes which included egg and cheese souffles from Panera, fruit, mini chocolate and blueberry muffins, and fancy strawberries from one of my cousins who couldn’t attend. For drinks, we had sparkling cider, water, and one of the ladies brought mimosas. We had a fantastic time!

Two more days of work for me this week, then I can enjoy a long weekend and maybe finally finish catching up on a week of limited sleep and insufficient water intake (sigh).

What are you thankful for this week… month… year? Let me know.

Happy… being.

Journaling is Writing

I’m a strong advocate for journaling. It’s a great way to relive stress, flesh out thoughts, and memorialize events in our lives. I often use journaling to vent my frustrations and to really understand what I’m thinking. There are times when I can’t fully work through what I’m feeling until I write things down. Strangers on the internet often advise that writers should write every day no matter if it is a full story, part of a story, a scene, a list of imagery, setting descriptions… whatever.

There are many days when journaling is the only writing I get done. It may not have anything to do with my creative writing process, but translating thoughts and ideas onto paper, in any form, is what writing is about. Journaling keeps our writing muscles active, literally and figuratively, but there are times when even my journaling isn’t great. Some days I can only manage a sentence or two, but at least I wrote something.

I did a daily journaling challenge a couple years ago. Every day, for the entire year, I journaled… even if I felt like I didn’t have anything to say. The days when I felt the most wordless, were often the days I was holding a lot in, so journaling forced me to express those thoughts and feelings in writing. I’m always afraid to be one hundred percent honest in my journaling, however. I still feel like somebody is going to pick up my journal and read something I don’t want them to know, so I do censor myself to an extent when I reflect or vent. I’m trying to break out of that fear, though, because I know that being completely honest with myself, especially in journaling, is the best way to release stress and find solutions to anything I may be struggling with.

I love giving journals as gifts, especially when I know the person does not have a journaling routine yet. I truly believe that journaling is a healing practice. I have a journal now that I love. I got it from Target a couple of years ago. It’s big (over 300 pages), and has a stiff cloth cover. I’m almost to the end of it so I have been looking for a new one, but I can’t find anything comparable to the one I have. I wish I’d gotten two of them the first time. I’ve never used the same type of journal twice because I always ended up finding something better the next time I needed one. This time is the exception, though. This time has me thinking about designing my own.

Designing my own journal would be amazing, but it’s been a challenge finding the right manufacturer to produce the kind of journal I want with a reasonable price point. Some of the really nice places have a minimum order requirement that would fill my entire closet. Though I have thought about designing journals similar to the one I use currently to sell, I need to have one for myself first to make sure it’s worth selling.

If anybody out there knows where I can get a good, thick, cloth-covered journal for a decent price, or where I can get one made, let me know. And if I ever decide to design and sell NINE & TWO branded journals, I’ll let you know.