Posted in Anxiety and Depression, Life

How Do You Handle Anxiety?

I’m never sure when it’s going to strike: that niggling doubt that turns into a stomach ache or stabbing pain in my right side; the sense of dread that tightens my lungs and chest so that it’s hard to breathe; the tension that accumulates in my shoulders, neck, jaw, and temples; heart palpitations; reflux . . . The list goes on.

Never good, never fun. But I know I still have to follow through with commitments I’ve made, so it’s not like I can go hide from the world when it hits (well, not always; there are some things I can beg out of, but those things are few and far between). I have to suck it up and do life, regardless of how I feel.

It makes following through on commitments harder, especially when I can’t ignore it. But I still have to acknowledge what I’m feeling — name it and own it. Then I have to work on containing or defeating it. It doesn’t get to run my life, so I have to find a way to overcome. Easier said than done, right?

Some of my strategies include:

  • praying for calmness, insight, wisdom, forgiveness, or whatever fits the situation that’s making me anxious;
  • telling myself that what I’m feeling is not reality, it’s my mind blowing things out of proportion;
  • telling myself to breathe, and focusing my breathing on expanding my belly and chest, where the tension lies;
  • using essential oils with calming or pain relieving properties (yes, I’m one of those oily people, but I find they do work for me especially for headaches);
  • doing whatever it is I’m anxious about, no matter how lousy I’m feeling (this one is the hardest, especially when the anxiety becomes paralyzing);
  • exercise, or some form of physical activity that loosens up the ball my body wants to become;
  • listening to music that fits the mood I either need or want to be in. Sometimes I need quiet music that sparks my imagination and let’s my mind wander away from whatever’s weighing on my mind, but sometimes I need angsty, heavy, or loud, to help purge the lousy thoughts and get something done (usually the dishes).

Those are my coping skills used most often. If you’re reading this and have problems with anxiety, depression, or other mental states that you have to fight to defeat, what are your coping mechanisms?

I’ll probably write more about this later, but I have to go be a responsible adult and get some things done so we’re not late this morning (something else I’ve had to create coping mechanisms for, because time doesn’t work in my head like it’s supposed to).

Have a lovely Thursday!

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Help Me Choose What to Write for NaNoWriMo!

I realized this will be my FIFTEENTH YEAR participating in National Novel Writing Month! Even if all I did was sign in and open a document during November, I counted it. I had two (2) babies in that fifteen years (one of which is going to be TWELVE (12) in February!!) and it’s hard to type one-handed. But I’ve managed to make it to 50K in 30 days at least three, maybe four times, which is pretty darn good for me.

Usually, however, I have some seed of an idea by the time October or November rolls around. This year I’ve been obsessing over a different story in October that I don’t want to work on for NaNoWriMo, but I do not have an idea for November! I’ve discovered that I have more fun writing cute little romance stories (instead of big epics or long, involved fiction) for NaNo, because the average pulp romance is just about 50,000 words(ish) long, and it’s not too hard to get from start to finish in thirty days.

But I can’t decide on an idea! So I’m going to ask the intarwebs to help me choose. Below is a list of “meet cutes” or pairing ideas that I’ve listed over the year, and you can either vote for your favorites in the comments, or give me some other new ideas. I have nothing to reward you with if I choose your idea, other than my gratitude and a promise to do my best to write that story in 30 days. Sorry. 😅

Here you go!

  • They see each other regularly at a gym or coffee shop, and start talking
  • They’re stuck at the top of the ferris wheel, one is panicking and the other is talking them down from the other car
  • Receptionist & Patient at a doctor’s office
  • Accompanist & Soloist
  • Concert Musician (or Candidate) and Stage Manager
  • Actor and Pit Musician
  • Sick Shopper and Helpful Clerk/Pharmacist
  • Librarian and Researcher
  • Flight Attendant and Nervous Flyer
  • Conference Attendees
  • Makeup Artist and TV Star/Host

Do you have favorites? Other ideas? Ideas for these ideas? Throw them in the comments! Throw out things I should include in the story! Name someone! I don’t care; it’s my 15th year and I want to win it. 😉

Thanks in advance, everyone! If you are a NaNoWriMo participant this year, tell me about it! How many years have you done it? What’s your plan? What are you writing? I want to hear your strategies!

Thanks again!! 😁

P.S. If you’d like to hear some of my tips and tricks for participating in NaNoWriMo, check out my Rainy Day Writing Guild video, HERE!

Posted in Writing

Retreat!

I’ve had two retreats, two weekends in a row. The first one — last weekend — was a ladies’ retreat for church, and came after a couple of extremely busy weeks, so it was nice to spend some time away with people I loved, and take a little time to breathe and worship God. That one was at a house by the ocean.

This weekend was my favorite Christian writing retreat in the mountains, in the complete opposite direction from the other one. It was restful, cozy, worshipful, and productive. I wrote over 11,000 words of a story I might eventually publish, but for now am just enjoying the telling of. I love the characters, I love making them interact, and they are very useful for catharsis when I’m going through stressful life events — because I can make their lives far more stressful than mine, so that mine doesn’t look nearly as bad by comparison. 😆

I also wrote a little 200-word scene for a contest we had during the retreat. It was a “Worst of the Worst” contest, and the three categories to choose from were Worst Kiss, Worst Action Scene, and Worst Fantasy Monster. Only two of us entered (it’s not a big retreat, and not too structured so we can feel free to concentrate on writing or doing the things that free our minds to write better), so we both won prizes.

Here is my “Worst Action Scene”, for your reading pleasure. 😉

Deep in a mud puddle, somewhere nearby, lives an amoeba. It is a lone amoeba, wandering to and fro, traveling great centimeters, on an adventure. Until suddenly it spies, tenths of millimeters away, another amoeba heading its way—moving at a high rate of speed. If they don’t change course now, in mere quarters of an hour they shall surely collide.

“Beware!” the first amoeba calls out to its speeding counterpart. “Or we shall surely crash!”

“I can’t stop!” the other amoeba replies. “You will have to move first!”

The first amoeba is panicking now. Whole minutes have passed, and they have moved dangerously close. Half a millimeter separates them, and if amoebas could sweat, they would both have produced buckets.

Closer and closer they get, until they can see the whites of their nuclei. But, at the very last sixty seconds, they slide one hundredth of a micrometer to either side, floating past each other by a cilia’s breadth.

If amoebas had hearts, they might have stopped. If they weren’t already so, they would have wet themselves. It is such a close encounter, they will remember it for hours—or at least until the puddle dries up.

THE END

I’m going to go write more of my other story now. I could probably expound on my last two wonderful weekends, or the crazy things going on in life right now, but I don’t want to. My characters have more angst to work out.

‘Night!

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Life, Organization, sleep, Sluggish Cognitive Tempo

I Am NOT a Morning Person

I have tried. Then I tried harder, and tried again. But very, very little can get me motivated to be up and terribly active before 7:00am.

If I’m anxious about something, or nervous, about to embark on an adventure, or I have a commitment, I can manage to drag myself out of bed earlier. Those things are not daily occurrences, however, and I have a tendency to avoid commitments that would make them so — especially since I often have evening commitments that might keep me up late.

No, I am a night owl through and through. It’s difficult for me to be fully wound down and willing to go to sleep before 11pm, even on days I’ve been up since oh-dark-thirty and am completely wrung out. And now that my kids (who are homeschooled but still get up between 6:30 and 7:30) can entertain themselves for a little while in the mornings, it’s not imperative that I get up with them anymore. My early-morning motivation has dwindled mightily since my kids grew out of toddlerhood.

Don’t get me wrong, though — I’d love to be able to convince myself that being up before them and ready to attack the day is something I need to be doing every morning. If I could only force myself out of bed by 6am, or even 5:30, I’d be that much closer to getting a jump on things. I would have extra time to do just about anything: write, clean, read my Bible, do laundry, think . . .

I’ve managed to do that about two days in a row before it catches up with me and I can barely function, even at 7am. Doing any of those early-morning pursuits results in me falling asleep over them, or not fully comprehending them, or falling into a state of hyperfocus that I sustain until it’s too late and now I’m struggling to change gears to get anything else done.

So maybe I’ll remain a night person, and figure out how to work my habits and routines around being up later and getting up later. Sleep is still important to me and my mental health, so I can’t actively abuse my circadian rhythm anymore, like I did when I was a young college student or later when I had babies up all hours of the night. My husband and kids can be the early birds (until the kids are teenagers and their sleep rhythms change), and I’ll enjoy the quiet dark of the night after they’ve all gone to sleep and my brain is still active. There is nothing wrong with this.

That’s really all I had to say. I embrace my alternative lifestyle, because I have the luxury to do so right now. I’m also researching “sluggish cognitive tempo” and how it relates to ADD, because it actually applies to my historical and current symptoms in ways traditional ADHD doesn’t. I really ought to get diagnosed, or at least evaluated. I know I fight with my lack of executive function and various other atypical neural behaviors, but fatigue and brain fog often figure into that fight more than hyperactivity (mental or otherwise).

Anyway, speaking of executive function, I need to get moving now because I have less than an hour till an appointment, and need to start getting ready. I have more on my mental discoveries to talk about (and that of my kids’), but that will have to wait!

Now is time for more coffee . . . 😉

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Identity, Life, Organization, Writing

Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES

The following is a draft from August 2015. I might not have posted it because it was the one I’d taken so long working on, that had reverted to an old version of the draft after I’d tried to post it. It’s complete, and has relevant information about my journey from then to now, so I think I’ll post it today. 🙂

—————BEGIN POST FROM AUGUST 2015—————

I remember updating my blog every day. I would have to resist updating a few times of day, because I had nothing else to do. Those were the early days of marriage, after I’d graduated college, and could clean my apartment in an hour. (This year marks fifteen (15) years of marriage for me and my Sweetie. Where has the time gone??) But now? It will take days to do the amount of cleaning I need to do in this house, and my rugrats keep my mind running in circles all day, even if I don’t accomplish a darn thing.

But those aren’t the changes I’m referring to!

Since posting about adult ADD, I’ve sought professional help, and it’s been lovely! I haven’t received medication, because I wasn’t seeking anything more than cognitive (“talk”) therapy, and while I still struggle with anxiety and depression, I have a better roadmap for dealing with it. I have also managed to pinpoint the less-obvious triggers and make some rather monumental (a.k.a. “hard”) decisions regarding my life that have made a big difference in how I treat myself.

The first big, hard decision was owning up to the fact that I’m a lousy Mary Kay consultant, and, well, maybe I should admit that it’s not a career I should be pursuing. I already knew that, and wanted desperately to improve, but I was not making the improvements. It was driving me CRAZY that I could not even make myself do what I kept planning to do, or what it would take to make me successful at this career. How hard could it be? People from all walks of life could make it in Mary Kay (or direct sales in general).

But I am not a direct seller. Approaching strangers (or even friends) to sell them stuff is just not in my programming, and trying to program myself to be able to do that was blue-screening my motivation to do anything. It took years to come to this conclusion, because I believed that telling myself I was not meant to do direct sales was “stinking thinking”. You don’t tell yourself you’re not good at something! You tell yourself you’re excellent at it! And you will BECOME EXCELLENT.

Dear readers, I’m going to tell you right now that there are wonderful things I’ve learned from Mary Kay that I will always be thankful for, but IT IS OKAY to say that I AM NOT A DIRECT SELLER. Forcing yourself to do something you do not enjoy in order to fit a niche you believe you should be in works only for certain personalities — but not for mine. Mary Kay is a wonderful company, with a great product. The troubles I had with my own business are completely separate from the business at large. I’ve just finally come to realize that direct selling is not something I enjoy or want to do with the rest of my life.

See, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing stories since I could form sentences. The first time I “quit” Mary Kay was to become a writer, but I didn’t have the discipline for anything nor did I have the support structure I have now. I used writing as an excuse, rather than a true chosen career path, because even then I didn’t believe that it was something I could realistically pursue in my life. It wasn’t a “real job”. No, I wanted my “real job” to be motherhood — so when my husband came home from Afghanistan and we started our family, that’s all I had in mind.

Of course, then I signed back up with Mary Kay, days before giving birth to our first child. Again, for some, this is fine. For me, it was a spontaneous choice perhaps fueled by hormones and the fact that my husband was not thrilled with his job. Don’t sign up for life choices when you’re eight months pregnant, ‘kay? Wait awhile to see what you’re up for. Ian was a difficult baby, and my life and demeanor was just not geared toward making money off strangers buying stuff from me, or for being organized in any way, shape, or form. Home businesses require organization, and that is another weak point with me.

I was loyal to my team and to my director, whom I love dearly. But I can count on one hand the number of skin care classes/parties I held in my entire two attempts (about nine or ten years, total) at being a consultant. I was not a productive member. I was spending more than I was making, and I was constantly guilting myself over my inability to just DO IT. Was I scared, or was I just lazy? Why did I constantly feel this insane mental block when it came to picking up the phone, or trying to work out the logistics of a single party a week? Why did I never say a word to people in the store, even when it was obvious they were looking for skin care or makeup, and I could totally help them? Was I just that unskilled? Did I just need to get over myself?

But, then, I feel such great satisfaction in being in my house, creating worlds and characters and fashioning stories out of thin air, participating in NaNoWriMo (and winning!), and telling everyone about THAT? When it comes to writing, I can’t shut up! When it comes to singing, and telling people about Symphony and Lyrica concerts, I can’t shut up!

What I finally figured out (but probably knew for a long time) was that, perhaps, I needed to honor the fact that I have an artistic personality that needs to pursue artistic goals — and I needed to leave the business to the business people.

I’ve purged much of my old Mary Kay stuff that’s been sitting around, staring at me and waiting for me to sell it/use it/give it away, and am building up my artistic self. I have a great writing group, which is more like a support group than just a group I write with. I actually believe, now, that I really can publish a book, or use my word skills to make money if I wanted to. I’m jumping with joy that I will be joining the Bremerton Symphony Chorale for the 2015/2016 season (at least), which I couldn’t do in the past because it rehearsed on MK meeting nights. I’m trying to put together my crafting nook, so I can spend more time knitting and sewing, things that bring me great joy and sense of accomplishment.

I didn’t want to “quit” Mary Kay, because I felt committed to my director and my sister consultants, and it felt like if I quit, I was “not being true to my potential” and just “being a quitter”. I was avoiding the things that brought me joy, even through hard work, for something I thought would eventually bring me joy through the hard work I would have to force myself to do for years. It did scratch an itch for teaching and leading — which I enjoy very much — but not as much as running workshops for my writing group.

So you see where I’m going with this. It was scary to admit this to my husband, who never thought direct selling was for me (but greatly supports my pursuit of a writing career), but whom I wanted to convince I could cut it, and even scarier to admit it to my director, to whom I was deeply loyal and did not want to disappoint. Once I finally did these things, though, and gave myself the permission to dress the way I wanted to, and wear little or no makeup out in public, and spend my time not focused on my family or house in creative pursuits, my outlook on life began to improve considerably! I’m happier, my husband is happier, and my friends, whom I just don’t call often on a normal basis, are happier that I’m not only calling them to hit them up for sales.

My house is still a mess and I have a LOT of work to do in various other areas of my life, but freeing up that anvil over my head has lightened the burden immensely. And now I’m making actual progress on my novel(s), with a mind to publish them, and I’m ridiculously happy with my decision to follow that path.