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

The Things I Can Control

For those of my friends who follow me, forgive me for turning off the comments. I’ve been fighting myself about updating, and I think this might be a solution to my trepidation. I promise it’s nothing anyone has said or done, or those who I know who read this blog. It is nothing against you — it is my own scaredy-cat attitude right now. Let me ‘splain.

Despite gaining greater confidence in some areas of my life, my emotional fortitude online has been lacking. I rarely post on Facebook anymore, and while I feel slightly less encumbered posting on Twitter, I’m not as nervous about screaming into the void there. Blogging, though… I want to feel, for the moment, like I’m kind of talking into the mirror. I’ll have an audience I can see (sorta), but won’t be worrying about pleasing my readers for replies, or angsting over comments on potentially sensitive or controversial topics — at least until I can rebuild the comfort in saying what I want to say when I want to say it. Again — the only thing personal about this choice is that I’m completely skittish about online interaction right now, and fighting with my own self-doubt.

As much as I used to love the idea of being read publicly, and the honest repartee with friends or strangers over my bloggy blather, much has changed since I first started blogging. I have far greater emotional investment in the world now, and in life, probably because I have kids to raise and protect (and I’ve kind of grown out of much of my past idealistic naivete). But the very business of blogging has changed a ton, as well, and the stakes are much higher now — not to mention I just don’t have as much time (or mental capacity) to spend on it as I used to.

I started blogging in 2001, after I graduated college. I’d been married for almost a year, my husband finally had a steady job, we’d moved into a better place, had some screamin’ dial-up internet that I had access to all day — and, for the first time in ages, I had no pressing schedule to adhere to. I also didn’t have a job, let alone career ambition — and I wasn’t expected to. I just had an apartment, a cat, and a husband to take care of. That was my job. I was a fantastic homemaker back then. I had a youthful, child-free brain and loads of time during the day.

But I was also kinda bored. I’d just finished up seventeen years of constant schooling. My brain needed something to do while I transitioned out of academia. When a friend of my husband’s started up a blog server, I was all over that, sometimes posting several times a day. It was online storytelling, and it was fun and kept my mind occupied.

I’ve had about four or five different blogs since then, but I was a much more honest writer when I first started, because that was pretty much it for social media. Well, that and message boards. I spent a lot of time on those, too. I was much less self-aware, however, and certainly less humble… Or maybe just more comfortable expressing myself back then. I hold my cards much closer to my chest these days, am far more cynical and skeptical, and less trusting of the intarwebs at large. And so scattered. Mom-brain is for real. So is ADHD. “Focus” is hard-won most days…

Whatever it is that I’m fighting against now, I feel like I’m trying to force myself to swim again after a near-drowning experience. Not that posting online has been that dramatic, but the mental block is there. I’m dipping my toes back into the deep end and feeling trepidation.

Or maybe it’s more like swimming in a lake versus swimming in an indoor pool. I can see my feet in the pool; I’m safe in the pool. I know the strokes, I can stay afloat, and even when I flail with anxiety in the middle of it, I can still dog-paddle to the edge and get out until I catch my breath. I’m competent enough (and somewhat insulated). It helps cool me off, at the very least. That’s how I feel in short-form posting, in relatively anonymous social media sites like Twitter — it’s safe and who cares if I’m dog-paddling? I’m not competing in the Olympics, or anything.

But lakes full of darkness, fish, weeds, and jagged or biting things scare the crap out of me. I’m a fairly competent swimmer, but I just won’t go swimming in a lake, creek, river, etc. Ocean, maybe, but rarely more than waist-deep. I need to see my feet. I need to see and prepare for threats. Little, nonthreatening things look huge or can be blown out of proportion (in my mind or others’), and I can’t justify the risk — despite being a grownup who should be able to handle it. The truth is, I know many, many people who feel very strongly about some things I am opposed to or disagree with, and my emotional capability for online debate (which is truly a joke right now, anyway) is 100% nil, not to mention I don’t want to strain those relationships just because I think I might be right about something or want them to see it my way. I will post in my safe groups on Facebook and link to pictures from my Instagram, and that’s about it. (I actually had to make Instagram private recently, due to an onslaught of weird strangers and creepy private messages, and I wasn’t even posting very often there.)

I’m a chicken, I guess, and not a duck. 😆 I’ll stick to my familiar roost on solid ground, thankyouverymuch.

(This analogy is breaking down, but maybe it makes sense? Do I care? Jury’s out.)

Suffice it to say I’m drowning in self-doubt, and I just need to pretend I’m in an empty room for awhile, until blogging feels comfortable again. I could give up blogging and journal privately, instead, but I do enjoy telling stories in a format where I can’t be interrupted. I do like to entertain, and maybe what I have to say could be interesting, eye-opening, relatable, or have some other effect on a reader. Aside from that, I want to train myself to be satisfied with what I’ve written for public consumption simply because I wanted to write it — not because of the response I want to receive.

And it’s not at all that I’ve been receiving uncomfortable attention, either, or had a bad comment experience — nothing like that. This is probably the hardest thing to explain, and I’m not even really sure I can. For a not-really-all-that-shy kind of person in real life (just introversion with à la carte social anxiety), I’ve been afraid of opening up online, and even afraid of friendly commenting. Trust me, I recognize how silly that sounds. I wish I could understand the anxiety.

But I also feel like I’m losing my mind, not being able to express myself in a long-form medium like I used to — telling funny stories, venting, saying stupidly random things… I wonder if part of the reason I stopped was to protect the future of my children and husband. So much of my life revolves around these other people (and blogging is so widespread and far-reaching now), that telling personal stories, even funny ones, online can backfire in catastrophic ways, and I want to protect my family from that. But there’s also a lot of deep, personal stuff I’d like to work through, that others might be able to relate to (like dealing with ADHD and my kids’ eating disorders), that I want to make people aware of, but carry a great deal of emotional vulnerability.

Another reason I want to turn off comments while I figure out what to write about, or open up about things I might not have before, is that I completely want to eliminate the feeling of doing it for attention. The Like button is what it is here, so it stays — but my readers are, for the time being, completely off the hook for expressing sympathy, advice, or anything like that. Not that I would need that in the first place (unless asking for it specifically, like I’ve done a couple times), but for now it’s an ego-balancing thing that I need to do to mitigate the part of my brain that wants to please people or seek attention from others. Like I said: I want to train myself to be satisfied with what I wrote. I want to have some fun with it, too, but not worry about feeling silly or that I’m performing for likes. I’m doing it because I want to.

Anyway, it’s a small thing I can control right now, in a time when I feel quite a bit out of control. I am grateful for the patience and consideration of those who read this. I really would like to make this a more social thing in the future, but until then I’m happy talking to myself in an empty room. 😉

Thank you! ❤

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 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.

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Life, Organization

Hijacked by Stress

We’re taking a short break from my prissy eyes. They will come up in this post, but Take 4, Part 4 is being delayed by life right now. Not that you even expected it this soon, of course — all two of you (and that’s probably being generous) who’ve stuck around to see if I ever post again. 😉

I can already feel the tsunami of overwhelm taking over my mind as I struggle to think of how to even begin, and am forcing myself to push on through this tedious sentence to make myself commit to this post. I’m also listening to the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony, and it’s nearly the thing that overflows the bottle I’ve been shoving all my feelings into this week so I can get stuff done. (Not that I’m getting a lot done; just the bare minimum to get by. Depression is a hell of a thing.) I love this music so much I can barely handle it.

In addition to my stupid eyes being stupid, and an inability to buy glasses without having to send them back multiple times (and allergies making my eyes feel raw and tired all day long), I also have some mild family drama that I tend to forget about until it crops up at random times and becomes emotionally conflicting; a good friend I’ve only had for a year has moved away (though I am very happy for her; she really needed the change); there has been a lot of drama with the Symphony I’m heavily involved with, and we’re scrambling to finish up the 75th season with a bang so there’s also a lot of planning and activity to keep track of; I still have a ridiculously messy house and no productive routines to speak of; I’ve barely written anything but the last blog post in months; and, on top of it all, we found out recently that one of our old friends has basically committed a long, slow suicide by alcohol, and lied his ass off for years about it and a whole bunch of other things that make us question everything we thought we knew about him forever. It’s extremely emotionally draining, and there are so many feels to feel that I can barely process them. They come in waves, when I least expect them, and the residual fatigue from all of it is kicking my butt.

My heart hurts right now. It’s heavy in my chest, and tight. And it’s not just emotional pain, it’s also the overwhelming nature of all the emotions put together. If my mind drifts over to a thought about needing to clean off a section of my table — or even just fill in the calendar for this new month and put it on the fridge — I feel this surge of sadness that kind of sticks in my throat and behind my nose. It’s as visceral as it is psychological — but it’s not enough to make me shed actual tears. I’m not much of a crier, honestly, and haven’t been since adolescence. It takes a lot to get me worked up enough, or it takes a very particular trigger (and there are very few of those). I can feel like I’m going to cry all day, but I probably won’t actually shed tears. If I do shed tears, they might not even leave my eyes. If they do, there aren’t many. I just have to blow my nose a lot. But it’s the same kind of rush and ache from head to gut that steals your breath and makes you want to go curl up under a blanket for a few hours. Not fun, and not easily ignored.

Since I’ve been researching ADHD and Executive Function Disorder (EFD), I’ve learned a lot about the signs and symptoms of each, and I know that at least with ADHD, it’s much easier to be overwhelmed with or by strong emotions (link is a slide show, but it’s not annoying like the click-bait ones), and have your actual brainpower hijacked by said strong emotions. I’m usually pretty good at regulating, but when I am bombarded by stress from several angles at once, the regulation goes a bit haywire, and — to use a Star Trek reference — I have to make the decision whether to take power from the engines (barely running on impulse control) to run the shields, or drop some defenses and less-important functions in order to keep the engines running and maintain life support.

For example, in the struggle to try to stay positive and on task — or even start a task — I feel like I’ve lost the ability to speak in a coherent manner, or I’ve lost whatever tenuous control I had over my ability to concentrate long enough to remember what it is I’m doing and why I’m doing it. If I do manage verbal coherency, I feel tension in my chest, and laughing — even genuine laughter; I don’t usually fake it — feels painful. The loss of concentration is like staring at a shelf in the grocery store (something I did today) and knowing there is something there you need to find, but the memory of it keeps sliding out of your head as you become overstimulated by all the labels and things around you. You can even stare at your list and hope you can concentrate long enough to find one of the things on it that should be in front of you, and suddenly all your energy is directed at this one thing, and you walk out of the grocery store utterly exhausted after having only bought maybe ten things…

I get angry, too, but lately I feel like sadness has kind of overwhelmed the anger, especially when it comes to our friend dying in the hospital. I want to be sad, but I’m also kind of angry with him. But I can’t stay angry, or even grieve for him right now. I’m just…depressed. Depressed with a side of tension. I think I’m sad for my husband, too, who was closer to our friend than I was, and has been spending the most time with him and his family. I have no problem with being emotionally supportive, but I hadn’t realized how much of it I’ve been taking on, myself, until this weekend.

I have things I have to do this week: commitments to fulfill, kids and pets to take care of, cleaning and shopping to do, a big Symphony gala to make it through next Saturday. I’m not so depressed that I’m completely nonfunctional, but there are other daily things I’m letting slip by, because managing to do the caretaking and socializing that needs to be done takes all the brainpower I have. I feel like I’m moving through molasses — like there is not enough caffeine in this world to wake me up all day. Crazy weather changes and allergies are not helping with that, either. Ugh.

But this, too, shall pass. Times of refreshing will come. And I have The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild to help me escape once in awhile. I’m trying to use it as a reward for getting important things done this week, and I have sort of managed to keep from letting it be too much of a draw on days I have a lot to accomplish and no time to play.

Anyway, that’s what’s up with me right now. I have more developments in the saga of my stupid eyes that I need to finish documenting for your entertainment. Even if it’s tedious and annoying, it’s more fun than this.