Anxiety About Current Events

News stories affect my anxiety differently. I want to read them to stay informed and to know how to help in situations that require it. However, it does ramp up all the feelings of my insides shaking and the combination of fury and nervousness that all is lost. Or, furvousness. I make myself keep reading them because being ignorant of what is happening around me, while good for my overall stress levels, isn’t an option. I need to know what’s happening. I need to help. I need to spread the word and urge others to help. Even if your “following” is small, everyone knows someone who they can reach out to. Talking to people causes me anxiety in general so in times of national crises (see: Supreme Court Overturns Roe v Wade) it’s like someone inserted an air pump to my anxiety valve and pumped it up to almost bursting. I don’t know what to do. I have no fucking clue. But I do know some ways to try and help. And since this news just came out a couple of hours ago obviously my nervous system is in overdrive. Rather than breakdown (I’ll give it a couple hours) I decided to do what I do: I made a list.

Here’s some small ways you can help. Feel free to comment links/other ways to get involved below.

  1. Get a therapist. I know: WHAT? Trust me. You’re gonna be stressed and your brain is going to be overworked and the feelings of helplessness might fade but they aren’t going anywhere. Talk it out, get it off your chest, and keep going. I used Better Help – this is not an ad, just a great place to find a therapist who aligns with your values and can help you.
  2. Subscribe to people who are doing this work at a professional level and GIVING YOU THE ANSWER on how to help. Providing history, updates, petitions to sign, + tons of other info. Join their patreon if you can. Here’s a few that I use that are truly amazing sources:
    A) Anti-Racism Daily Basically real time news and ways to help.
    B) America Hates Us I follow on Instagram but you can subscribe to their patreon as well for even more content.
    C) The Progressivists Again I follow on IG – they provide a ton of news, resources, petition links, actions.
  3. Donate to Planned Parenthood. More importantly, donate to your *local* abortion clinics as well as to funds that help people that need to travel to get one if they happen to live in one of those states that think they need their hands in people’s uteruses.
  4. Reach out to get people to vote. There’s a lot of ways to do this – helping canvass, call and text banks, volunteer to drive people to voting booths or ballot drop-offs. Social stuff makes me uncomfortable so I’ve been using Postcards to Voters. Fill out postcards to voters in key elections and send ’em off. Super easy.
  5. Keep learning and sharing your knowledge. Read books, share the books, buy new books, share those books. Is a book banned? I personally recommend grabbing a copy. Find used ones on PangoBooks. (My personal one is MyFavoriteBookAffair…I add important books to the shop as often as I can get my hands on them.)
  6. Take a break to help yourself. This is a rough time so do a little more than you think you can but also take breaks and be nice to yourself.

Trying to remind myself to breathe but I’m having a hard time calming down today after the news this week. The overturning of Roe v Wade was just the cherry on top of a wholly shitty week courtesy of our very own Supreme Court of the United States. Check out my other article here on how to calm down your anxiety.

A Series of Anxious Events 1

I’ve been waiting to use the section title for this series until I was ready to tell you all a good, fun, anxiety fueled story. Lucky for all of you, the perfect starter story happened to me on my trip to Ireland last week! (Lol, “lucky” in Ireland, huh?)

My dad has always wanted to go to Ireland. I don’t know why exactly except maybe since it’s his heritage? Hard to tell. So my mom and I decided to plan a surprise trip for him. He did not know he was going until the night before the flight and only because we didn’t want to get stopped for dragging him onto a plane against his will. (He hates travelling, he’s a weirdo.) We had everything planned ahead of time though from days trips (Cliffs of Moher, falconry lessons), to tours (Guinness, Jameson), to our stay in Airbnbs…to a rental car. Because like an actual genius, I thought it would be easier than booking stuff through tour agencies and having to wait on buses for everything.

I don’t know how many people know this but fun fact: in Ireland they drive on the left side of the road. Not only that, but their cars are flipped as well. So instead of the wheel on the left it’s on the right. Most of the cars are manual so now you’re shifting with your left hand while driving on the left side of the road on the right side of the car. (To be clear, they do have automatic cars but I didn’t want to pay an extra $100. Because I’m cheap, that’s why.) Bonus: there’s practically no stop signs so hello, one million roundabouts! It should be obvious at this point that I have never actually driven on the left side of the road…

So we spend 16 hours traveling to Ireland to get to the airport and pick up our rental car and with zero practice, I am in the driver seat taking us on a 2.5 hour road trip from Dublin to Galway. Luckily we didn’t have anything planned for the evening, but less luckily we arrived slightly too early for free parking. Because everything requires a parking fee except between nighttime hours. So we drove around city streets (on the left), I’m sure angering the locals with the slow speeds and lack of knowledge on how to make turns, until about an hour before free parking kicked in. We paid the fee and then finally were able to park that machine and leave it for 12 hours. Good thing we were staying above a bar.

Next morning we’re up bright and early to get out of that paid parking space, and spend the day driving in the rain to the Cliffs of Moher (3+ hours with the godforsaken roundabouts and chocolate factory detour). Go home, repeat for next day’s activity. Well, I made it two days without incident on these roads where I should mention they drive insanely fast on the universe’s tiniest roads. Day three we’re headed to Ashford Castle for falconry lessons, and I, who hates driving even in normal (American) conditions, have a full blown panic attack when we stop at the gas station. I’m sweating, panting, gasping for air, heart racing, and looking like a trapped animal. My dad is like wtf is happening and my mom, who also has anxiety, is like it’s cool just take her outside it’ll be fine lol. So we head outside and finally it passes and my mom’s like okay, I will drive for a bit so you can have a break. I was so grateful & it was a huge mistake, both of these things can be true.

My mom starts driving and I’m in the front passenger seat and NO. 100% do not recommend. I thought she was going to hit the walls, the hills, the bicyclers, the trees, the ditches, the other cars, everything. I felt like I was about to deliberately be driven to my death. Which she must have been feeling while I was driving but graciously only mentioned 100 times. I was at 100 within 5 minutes. I was gripping the “oh shit” handle like someone was trying to rip me from that car and take me. I was white knuckles and “watch outs” every 10 seconds until she was like, “ok, do you want to drive?!” YES. Omg, YES. I never thought that would be the better option here but pull over and let me drive!

Some of you are probably like why not just switch off driving? And to that I say “see above paragraph” and also, because I’m cheap, that’s why. It was $100 per person who was to be driving that car so I was actually supposed to be driving. Regardless, even if I would have paid the extra money to take turns…you know what, see above. I would have been panicking from the other seats the whole time or else stuffed in the trunk which I’m sure would have been full of it’s own issues. Basically, I would have ended up driving anyway.

A couple of notes: I hate driving even in my own normal driving conditions. Which is to say American driving on the right side of the road. Additionally, I live in Colorado where its 75MPH which is 120km~ BUT ON FLAT LAND! I was doing my normal Colorado speeds in winding mountain roads and super tiny streets. Bananas. I drive in snow and rain and extreme cold and heat frequently. All of those are less scary than my time driving in Ireland. But. I only had the one full size panic attack AND even if I’d had one every day I think it was worth it because that trip was amazing.

Travel causes me a lot of anxiety but for me at least it’s worth it because I love experiencing new places. Wanderlust and all that. But sometimes it results in these little anecdotes. Funny now but at the time I definitely thought the air was trying to suffocate me.

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When You Choose Anxiety

Not in the realistic sense, obviously. More so in the “I know this will make my anxiety go up a few notches but I’m going to do it anyway” way. This is just within the last few weeks. Things I’ve done that I should (read: did) know better than to do.

And yet:

1) I brought a new puppy home. Riff is less than pleased. He’s more along the lines of “you traitorous beehive, how could you do this to me, I’m dying and nothing will ever be okay again”. It’s been extremely stressful and so tense in the house but I mean. Look at our new Margot Doggie’s face! How could we NOT bring her home?

2) I decided to rent a car on my recent trip to Ireland. (Of which I am currently waiting in the airport to return home from.) You know, where they drive on the left side of the road? I’ve had multiple panic attacks and did more driving than I ever do at home, but I did it! At the expense of 90% of my nerves being fried and scaring the s%#t out of my parents for a week, I DID IT. I’m worried for Colorado drivers when I get back.

3) I started wearing makeup again after 10+ years of maybe occasionally wearing only mascara 1-3x/year. So now I play a fun game called “Is this makeup acne, period acne, mask acne, or just my skin being my skin acne?” I have gotten the answer right 0% of the time and continue to be mystified and stressed daily about it. Do I stop and ruin the progress of getting my skin used to makeup to where I can eventually wear it with no acne? Do I stop and my skin clears up immediately? Do I continue and I just don’t have skin that will ever just be cool? Will my skin ever be clear again or have I ruined the algorithm of my face?

4) I’ve spent time scrolling social media and news sites after the the SCOTUS “leak” about overturning Roe v Wade. Everything is infuriating and I am furious and these posts fire me right back up every time I’ve calmed down to what is just the high simmer that is my baseline now. Just writing this one is making my insides shake with rage.

5) I requested way too many books on NetGalley thinking I’d only get approved for like 25% of them and instead got approved for ~70% and now I’m on a time crunch to get books read and reviews submitted. I KNEW not to do that. But what did I do? I did it.

And finally, 6) I started this post 30 minutes before boarding my plane and I know it’s super readable and engaging and it seems like I can do all of this really quickly, and I can, but it takes a lot of work and nerves to get it edited and ready to go before they shout “airplane mode” over the intercom and I need to sign off. I know I seem super with it but that is actually, and very much so, not the case.

Happy anxiety! I mean, Saturday!

Pets & Anxiety

A fun one that is basically me choosing anxiety. I love my pups. More than anything. But WOW do they cause me some mental (and occasionally financial) issues.

My good girl Berlyn took on my bitchy personality traits where she doesn’t want anything to do with anyone except for a select few chosen ones. (Sometimes I’m even one of her chosen!) She wants to play fetch and, very rarely and on her specific and weird terms only, she will play with her brother. When she is done playing, instead of just being done playing she picks a fight and storms off in a huff. She’s…ridiculous.

My buddy and Berlyn’s brother, Riff, is my sweet ball of anxious energy incarnate. He. Is. Wild. He is typical whippet running up the walls (seriously, YouTube it). He is also typical napping greyhound after the energy is spent in 30 seconds. He is laser focused on food until – SQUIRREL! And then he obsesses about that squirrel until he gets his toys. He moves on to fetch. For the rest of the day. Non-stop. I mean, try it. Try and stop him. He will kick the toy and chase it for himself. He’s also super territorial about me and HATES it when I leave the house. (I get it – I also hate it when I leave the house.)

Between the two of these dogs and their temper tantrums and my constant worry that something might happen to them, there is a certain level of anxiety that never goes away as long as I have pets. If I could clear every other aspect of my life, I would still have this base level of afdjhudnvdf because I have these dogs. I love them and will never get rid of them and I’m not saying Bad Vegan lady was right, I’m just saying if you promise immortality for my dogs: I’m listening.

All of this drama and awareness of how I live with dogs and constant anxiety just to say: it’s a lot. So I got a puppy. Obviously.

Fav Anxiety Symptoms

I (very) recently started experiencing a new symptom. That made me think about alllll the symptoms and how they’re all so different that it’s weird anxiety was ever able to be diagnosed in the first place. So, obviously, I decided to share my fav symptoms ending with the newest one. And though it should be clear, I will still note that when I say “fav” I do not mean that I actually like or enjoy any of these symptoms. They all suck and anxiety is a monster but laughter helps.

  1. The Sahara-Arctic Pickle. About half of the time I can tell when I’m getting a panic attack because I get super hot for no reason. I’m not in the sun, not working out, usually just sitting there and boom: SWEATING. I can sometimes cut it off if I can get cold enough quick enough. This is weird for someone who is always too cold because I usually have a sweater on year round and then all of the sudden my head is in the freezer. Literally. I stick my head and as much of my body as can maneuver into the cramped space of the nearest freezer to try and get real cold real fast. If it works then I don’t get panic attack! If it doesn’t work then I get the attack…and then I get all regular sweaty…and then I shiver for an hour. Because I was in a freezer.
  2. Footsie. And no, not the flirty kind. Although, I guess if someone shares a café table and I end up kicking them because I can’t keep still then they could take it that way? Usually they just think I’m kicking them to get more space though. Which, not wrong. I don’t need anyone near me that I didn’t specifically consent to being near me. But I’m also not kicking them on purpose, you know? I just can’t control my legs. And if I do, it eventually ends up in my hands. Fingers tap, tap, tap; pens click, click, click.
  3. Accordion Spine. I guess another form of a panic attack? Not entirely sure. What I do know, as a person who has only ever seen an accordion in movies and never in real life, is that it feels like my spine is being pressed from the top down and the base up like an accordion closing. One of the most unpleasant feelings on the planet and the really fun part? It sometimes lasts *hours*. Imagine that Itchy and Scratchy show from The Simpsons: Itchy takes out the spine of Scratchy, turns it horizontal. He presses it from each end inward. He makes the most godawful music straight from Scratchy’s back.
    Speaking of Itchy…
  4. Itch City. In the most recent of developments in my presenting anxiety, I have been itchy AF. At first I thought it was an allergic reaction. After ruling that out I was just confused until my mom was like, “probably anxiety, it shows up weird sometimes.” So from the soles of feet to my neck I have been scratching like I have fleas. (I don’t. No bed bugs either.) Luckily (?) my new anxiety meds are also used as an antihistamine. However, if I take said meds I can expect to be passing out soon. And when I wake up it looks like I got attacked by Freddie Kreuger when his blades are dull.

So, aside from all the constant shaking and tapping and inability to sit totally still I’d say these are my most fun symptoms. People could play roulette on me leaving the house and win big money. It won’t be all of the things every time, but it will be one of the things most times. I want to wonder what other weird symptoms are out there but I steer clear of pondering on that too much so I don’t end up accidentally manifesting it for myself.

Anxious Thoughts About Things That Don’t Concern Me

Sometimes I get really buzzy anxiety that makes my heart race and my legs restless and suddenly I need to walk/sprint 5 miles but also I’m paralyzed by indecision and I can’t??? It’s really stupid and obviously *I KNOW* it’s stupid and I shouldn’t be concerned but my body is on a different playing field. So while my brain is like, “Calm down, this 1) doesn’t make sense and 2) isn’t something that’s ever happened, my body is like, “You fool. It doesn’t matter if it’s never happened – think about this: WHAT IF IT DID?” And then my brain is like, “You’re absolutely right! I will now freak out with you.”
So here’s another list. This time of things that cause me a higher amount of anxiety than they should, especially considering they aren’t really based in reality.

  1. The medical field and cavemen.
    Sometimes when I get a headache (or similar) and medicine is temporarily unavailable I think to myself, “This is probably good practice. They didn’t have it in cavemen times and they were fine.” And then from there I think the spiral is obvious. We’re not cavepeople now, sure, but if another meteor strikes? Or even if just one of those many apocalypse scenarios happens? Suddenly most of mankind is dead and do you really think it’s going to be all doctors that survive? No. You’re gonna have to fight to get a doctor on your squad. What if another squad can offer your doctor more food than you and they switch? Then you have to find a new squad and that’s only if they let you leave alive! You never know. Humans are stupid and we could end up without meds again.
  2. Killer Hide’n’Seek.
    When I go into new buildings/houses I like (read: need) to figure out where I could hide in the inevitable case a killer/the government/a purge crew shows up to either take me or kill me. It can’t be an obvious one though, like sure I could fit in the cabinet under the sink but so could many people. I need to find the half sized cabinet for storing lids only, or under a bed that has a cardboard cutout that looks like the wall but is really hiding a lot of stuff shoved under the bed to get behind. Somewhere they wouldn’t automatically think to look. Maybe I can fit through a ceiling tile? Behind an awkward shelf? Not finding a spot is not where the anxiety kicks in though, it’s how much time I spend on this imaginary scenario. Then I start going through enemies in my head and ranking who’s most likely to show up. I start imagining what I must have done to make them come after me. I think about if there are any other people in the house: will I need to forego the hiding and defend my pride, or are they people I’d be okay with leaving as a little buffer between me and whatever entity is coming for me? This is all nonsense, I KNOW THAT. But this is a since-childhood thing and old habits, ya know?
  3. Imagination school.
    Every so often I will think something in the opposite direction of my current career trajectory sounds cool. So I’ll lightly check into what it entails. What certifications, deadlines, salary, PTO policy etc. I could expect. And then I will get overwhelmed and I’ll close all my browser tabs and give up. And from there, all my research meets me in bed – and not in the sexy way. It’s there like, “Hey you know you have a deadline coming up to apply to go back to school, right?” Or, “Girl, you know you’re not going to pass that certification exam if you’re not studying, right?” Studying what?! I don’t have to make any actual step in the direction of changing something in my life, I just have to kind of think about it and my body hits me up, “LOL you absolute idiot. You really thought you could imagine a different life with no consequences?”
  4. Singers and actors.
    You ever hear a song on the radio that just hits you? Or watch a movie and the actress just moves you? It gets a little tiny hook in your heart and just shifts your worldview to the point where you start thinking about what if you made that song/movie? You’d be so famous right now and you’d be the one who made someone feel like you’re feeling? Basically, if you’d been born as said singer/actress your world would be vastly different? Yeah, me neither.
  5. Alternate timelines and infinite potential outcomes.
    And, finally. Once in a while, I will start thinking about past, abandoned projects. And I’ll think about how amazing they would have been if I’d finished. Writing a book, art projects, training for a 5K, learning a new language, getting the guts to try out for some sort of acting gig. My anxiety ramps up thinking about all the things I could have done if I lived in the reality where I completed them and not in this current reality where I didn’t (yes, like in Men in Black). This causes a little panic-sesh of starting new projects (like this blog…we’ll see how long it lasts) and then I quit those too.

I’ll stop here because I’m, I mean this is, getting to be a bit much, right? I will now go have anxiety about both not making this longer and making it at all.

Mental Health Reads

Here’s a list of books that address mental health that I love love love. I can’t relate to every single aspect of every book and you likely won’t either, but even just one gives that warm hug feeling of not being alone. Plus, the great thing about books is there’s always something for every genre! While I love Jenny Lawson, for example, for her raw and open discussion about her own personal experience with mental health, I’m also a huge fan of thrillers (# 5). This is just a short list, but trust me – start adding these to your tbr lists online and the web will start recommending more like them!

  1. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson – alternately hilarious, blunt, spear to the heart sad, and relatable.
    Non-fiction, memoir
  2. Broken by Jenny Lawson – same as 1, but different stories and more about her family.
    Non-fiction, memoir
  3. What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer – beautiful collection of poetry about what it is, can feel like, can seem, to be a woman.
    Poetry
  4. The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves – a second chance love story about Annika Rose, a girl who likes being alone with her books, where she doesn’t have to worry about people and saying the wrong thing. She never had that problem with Jonathan though, and he’s just walked back into her life after 10 years.
    Fiction, contemporary romance
  5. The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth – Fern Castle has a strict schedule. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week, she works at her local library, she follows the rules. She also avoids bright lights, crowds, and loud noises as much as possible. Any disruption in her routine could be dangerous. But when Rose finds out she can’t have children, Fern thinks she can do it for her. She will have a baby for Rose to thank her for all she’s done. Now she just needs to find a man…
    Fiction, thriller

I hope you find some enjoyment in one or all of these! And no in between – you like one or you like all five and that’s the deal. 😉 But seriously, enjoy! And yes, I’ve read (or listened) to all of these and they are all great! Drop your favs in the comments below!

The Cure for Anxiety!

Just kidding.

But these things will help! As a professional anxiety-haver, I’ve been working pretty hard on getting it under control. So aside from the obvious (Xanax, alcohol, excessive sleep) these are some things I’ve found that help me. If they don’t help you then…don’t do them, I guess? I bet you’ll like at least one of these suggestions though 😉

  1. Puzzles. I prefer crossword but word search, sudoku, actual physical puzzles, are all great too. Gives you something to focus on which helps to calm your system down. Personally, I feel like I’m buzzing when I have anxiety so that feeling goes away. Or at least simmers at a low hum instead.
  2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation for the lazy person (hi, it’s me). You can probably find a more detailed version anywhere online. Here, you get the easy version. I start by flexing my toes and move up. Flex toes, count slowly to ten. Flex feet, count slowly to ten. Calves to ten. Quads to ten. Butt to ten. Abs to ten. Hands, arms (biceps), chest, shoulders. At the end it’s like you’ve taken a nice long cat stretch and your whole body feels more peaceful. Obviously there are way more muscles than listed here but my version works for panic attacks as well so there’s that little benefit too since it’s the “quick” (lazy) version.
  3. Exercise. Kickboxing if you’re frustrated too or yoga or barre for more flowy, stretchy moves to help your body relax. Plus, endorphins. And you know what Elle Woods says about endorphins!
  4. Water. I like to look at pics of it. I’ll just google “water” and look at ocean pics. This could probably work for pictures of anything you find soothing though. Puppies. Various forms of potatoes.
  5. Binge that show. Schitt’s Creek. The Office or Parks and Rec. The Walking Dead or Dexter. Science-y people say to watch something you’ve already seen because you already know it so it’s soothing. I agree but also disagree. Sometimes a new true crime doc helps too.
  6. Read. Takes your mind out of reality for a bit which I find helps me reset.
  7. Therapy/counseling. Talking to someone who can help you work through your problems/anxieties can help so much. Tools (like this list) come out of it. Your behavior changes in a healthy way as you focus on yourself and your mental health. Insurance companies should really include mental healthcare but as they don’t places like Therapy Den can help (not an ad, I just find them helpful) and you can always Google around and call different counselors to see if they can work with your budget.
  8. Pet a dog. I don’t feel inclined to provide further explanation here.

Soooo, thanks for reading along in my serious of anxious events. Hopefully one of these will work for you and if not or even if so but you ALSO happen to know of others, drop it in the comments to share!

A (non-comprehensive) List of Things I Don’t Finish…

…due to anxiety.

  1. Beverages. Usually hot, idk why. Because what if I drink it too fast and I want more? So then the coffee gets cold and I reheat which is never as good and then I don’t finish it again. Usually like 5 reheats and it’s still half full at the end of the day.
  2. Decorating. Because what if I don’t like it afterward? It will have been a waste of time (lol, who cares?) and/or money.
  3. Books. Because if it’s good and I finish then its over and then what? I could read it again but I won’t so instead I do neither.
  4. Series. I know the others were good so will it live up to the hype?! Will it be a huge let down? A waste of time??! Will I be too sad when it’s over? Examples: Twilight (books, not the movies), Zoo (the show, not the books)
  5. Hobbies. Because what if I don’t get better? What if I get TOO GOOD?
  6. Making plans. Because what if I don’t want to go later because, you guessed, anxiety! So then I pretend I’m spontaneous which is also…not great for anxiety….
  7. Writing blogs/articles/a book…I mean, what if it’s just bad? So I’m making myself write one which brings me to…
  8. This list. Because I’m sure anyone can tell by the groundbreaking content here that there has to be at least 50 more.