Is It Anxiety? Tips and Tricks to Recognize Signs of Anxiety, and To Deal With Them

I have a fairly normal outlook on the world:
-someone’s late coming home …so he must be dead or kidnapped.
-that person didn’t smile at me …she hates me.
-the warning light came on in the car …it will blow up before the next stoplight.
-I feel somewhat sick …yes, Google, it must be cancer.

What? That’s normal, right?

It’s not?

Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

This way of thinking has hounded me for most of my life. Not until it exhibited as severe depression from how other people treated me did I know …these thoughts may not be that normal. I also didn’t realize my worries had a name: anxiety. That realization didn’t come to me overnight. It didn’t come from a counselor, although uncovering and treating it did come because of counseling sessions. My learning about anxiety –my anxiety- came after talking with a neighbor.

“I felt like I should save up money for a trip,” I told the neighbor, back in June, “But then it got cancelled because of Coronavirus. So… I guess this means I’m going to get sick and will be hospitalized.” *Sigh*

Without skipping a beat, she responded, “No, that’s called anxiety.”

Initially, I felt shocked and surprised. I then felt denial, since anxiety was not a condition I’d ever considered. Anxiety was for other relatives of mine who had experienced panic attacks or hadn’t been able to sleep with the lights off. Anxiety couldn’t affect me…

Then, the puzzle pieces fit together -answers to my racing and irrational thoughts. I brought these concerns to my video counseling session; my counselor was not as surprised as I had been. I’m just glad she’s as smart and observant as she is.

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With her help, I learned that many of my panicky thinking is anxiety. I started making a list whenever I worried about a situation. I shared the list with my more-rational husband or a good friend. I learned which voice spoke: me or anxiety. Over time, I could see the differences.

After that, I learned to answer the worries:
-someone’s late coming home …so I’m anxious.
-that person didn’t smile at me …she’s having a bad day.
-the warning light came on in the car …and that light could be anything from needing an oil change to needing more coolant.
-I feel somewhat sick …it’s probably a cold.

Once I could recognize anxieties and stop the rising panic, I was able to formulate solutions. At the very least, I got better at delaying irrational actions and stress. Which, of course, does not mean the anxiety evaporated.

Sometimes, at times of high stress, my tips and tricks do not work. In times like that, I contact my counselor. Sometimes, she suggests anti-anxiety medications. Why? Because anxiety is like other mental illnesses in that I can’t always fight it on my own.

Armed with tricks, encouragement, professional advice, and help when I need it, I’ve found anxiety to be less formidable than before. I’ve found a freedom I didn’t know before. And it’s wonderful.

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©2020 Chel Owens

Why a Mental Illness is a Big Deal

I’ve been depressing for awhile now -as in, dealing with Depression. I’ve also entertained its close friend, Anxiety; plus a few hangers-on like Disassociation, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Social Phobias. I didn’t even know those existed till they walked off with some of my mental furniture.

Once I’m back to staring at the cracked ceiling of an empty apartment, I wonder why mental illness is such a BIG DEAL. Why does it always have the ability to kick my butt this badly every time?

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Because, Mental Illness is a BIG deal.

Yesterday, I witnessed a boy who collapsed into a hysterical fit when his mother said they had to ride in the elevator. A perfectly healthy friend had to reschedule her doctor’s appointment for “a better day.” Another friend told how she could not sleep in the same room as her baby, since the baby’s normal breathing patterns kept her up all night.

Minor issues become major. Small things are big. Mole hills are mountains!

So, now what? Treats? Bed? Movie marathon? I wish. Those things cost money! We need practicality before the rest of our sanity escapes out the window, and takes the rest of the chocolate with it.

Knowing that a mental illness blows things out of proportion is empowering. How? When one of my kids starts melting down, I KNOW to back off and get him a snack. When fear and anxiety cloud my horizon, I KNOW to get outside for a walk. When my friend says she needs to talk, I KNOW to drop everything and listen.

Am I freaking out? Don’t have a mental couch to collapse on? I take a break. I breathe. I run a meditative exercise. Try it; re-focus with what works for you. Then, try the basics: sleep, food, love, happiness.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

On the flip side, stop doing the little things that make it worse: staying up, eating crap, avoiding affection, and wallowing in sadness.

Sounds easy, right? It really is. The trick is to not make it difficult. “Just go get in the shower,” I tell myself. “Just get in there and sit -you don’t even have to wash yet.” Or, “Wrap up in a blanket and hang out on the porch. You don’t have to get dressed.”

See? Believe me, I’m in the camp of making a simple thing much more complicated. I also know how BIG I feel once I get past the little, white lies of my mental illness.

 

©2020 Chel Owens

My Dark Thoughts Weekend

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If I am honest. It’s been weeks of these thoughts, but they came at me hard today. I have tried to hide them, but I can feel the familiar feeling that accompanies these thoughts. It’s the dark place that I am always afraid of never leaves someone like me. The thoughts that I wish were in the past, but I am unsure of myself when things are this bad. This weekend was scary. I was not myself. I was going through the motions knowing where my mind was, and today it took me over. Those thoughts that I cannot even speak because then it becomes real.

My mental health has always been ironic. I celebrated ten years of suicidal thoughts and my last suicide. I can say that before today I would never go down that road again, and yet I did. I imagined the world without me. I got lost in all that is wrong with me right now. The feelings I am not dealing with on all levels. These thoughts are gone or perhaps that is what I tell myself so that I can wake up tomorrow and try to find the normal.

I have my doctor’s appointment with my psychiatrist tomorrow (Monday), and it is a good thing. I have to let her know that these thoughts have become a part of me again. I needed time off this weekend, and I didn’t seize the opportunity. I looked at everything and fell apart. I want to drink my troubles away like the old days. I want to just feel that beyond this blog, I can talk about these things. Tonight I go to sleep genuinely trying to find out where I am in this life. There is always tomorrow and the hope that I can have a conversation with my doctor. The Bipolar Writer is not in the right place, but I am safe. I will not allow these thoughts to consume. It might be a temporary weakness or a bigger problem, but I will continue to fight.

I can fight this demon. MY dark passenger. MY friend.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

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(Do-It-My)Self Therapy: My Foray into Art Journaling

I am a do-it-yourselfer. If you’ve by any chance read my blog post, My No-Medication Journey to Emotional Health and Well-Being, you are aware that this doing-it-myself thing extends to all things, even things as crucial as my entire existence. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s not. I’ve certainly been scolded for being too self-sufficient but that statement always struck me with confusion. Why wouldn’t I want to be self-sufficient? On the other hand, I guess I do get it: I don’t give other people a chance to help me, help can be good, we all need support, and so on. Hey, I’ve gotten help plenty of times. I mean PLENTY of times. Some of it was good, some of it was not so good. Regardless, I still developed this intense desire to figure it out by myself, whatever “it” is.

I’m also a researcher. I mean a personal researcher, not a professional one. I research EVERYTHING that crosses my mind (and yes, my mind is full and often tired but I can’t help it). I spend a lot of my life learning. I dare say I learn new things EVERY day. This, I have to admit, is something that I like about myself. Perhaps it started early in life. My mother told me many times, “Read well. No one is going to tell you your rights.” So, from a very small child, I have been reading, avidly. At times this has meant books. Sometimes it means news articles. Sometimes it means the small print on the back of a package of some product or other. Over time I adopted the (probably rather snooty) attitude that I once read on a poster: “Those who won’t read have no advantage over those who can’t.”

So what is the connection? It’s simple, really: if I spend so much time learning about something, why would I then turn to someone else to do it for me or to tell me all about what I’ve already researched for myself? This isn’t to suggest there is nothing to learn from others; to believe that would be just ignorance. I learned to READ from someone else, right? But for me, I take at least 90% responsibility for every, single aspect of how my life goes. The other 10% is reserved for those things I absolutely cannot accomplish by myself. There have been plenty of times when my mental health has fallen within that 10%. But, at this point in my life, that isn’t my issue. (Plumbing and electricity and washing my own car, on the other hand …)

As a person who has dealt with anxiety and depression since at least the age of 9, a great deal of my every day/every year life has been about finding ways to cope and feel better. I think it’s safe to say I’ve tried all the things (see the article referenced above). Here I am, half a century later, and I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel happy and successful (according to my definitions of those intangibles). But, as you all know, I will ALWAYS have to deal with managing my anxiety and depression. It’s part of the fiber of my being. Therefore, when I come across something that has a good chance of helping me to continue my lifelong emotional and mental management program, I’m inclined to give it a chance.

Because I’ve always been a bit of a maker (all sorts of things; I can’t specify), I’m always coming across articles and ideas about art. Recently, I came across some articles about art therapy journals. I was very quickly intrigued by the idea: daily journaling using any sort of media to express my thoughts, emotions, ideas. What intrigues me is that the process, by definition, is very hands-on, much more so than just writing on a page. In just a few days, I’ve found myself taking pictures with more thoughtfulness and then printing them out with the idea of perhaps turning them into something greater or at least different; using my fabric scraps to make pages; cutting out meaningful words and phrases from screenshots or off packages; painting with those tiny little containers I got who-knows-when ago from Walmart; using paste with reckless abandon; and returning to my once-abandoned study of art fundamentals (I’m still a beginner).

To say this is therapeutic would be an understatement. A more accurate word would be “meditative.” I wish I could really explain it in a way that would make everyone understand but I think it might just be too personal. Oddly, while I’m busy figuring things out, making decisions and bringing something into being from nothing, my mind is never actually BUSY. On the contrary, my mind goes quiet. I hear the wind chimes tinkling outside. I feel the house creak. I’m aware that my heartbeat has slowed. It’s as though all this work is going on in the foreground but I, myself, am lounging with my feet up in the background. It’s weird, to be honest; weird and restful and soothing and satisfying.

Right now, in the midst of this pandemic, having no idea when it will end, I’m free to throw myself into this and I’m doing so with the express purpose of making it a daily ritual. Even if I only get to do 5 minutes, I will do it. It’s like the cup(s) of tea I have everyday; I wouldn’t be the same without it.

Another aspect of art journaling that instantly appealed to me, as I noted when I saw images of other people’s journals, is there are literally hundreds of ways to approach creating one. As you can see in the photo, I chose to go super-simple and use a binder notebook. I didn’t see any images of anyone else doing that, something so super-simple, but I already had ideas about what I wanted to start putting in it so I decorated this binder and got started on my initial contents. But if you search for images of art journals on Google, you will be amazed at the things people have come up with. (People are so creative!) The main point is that an art journal is intensely personal and will, by extension, be unique to you and your aesthetic, both on the inside and the outside. If you search YouTube, you will find lots and lots of videos on methods, ideas, and materials. Here are the results of a Google search for “how to create an art journal.”

Art Therapy Journal on Porch
My super-simple, fledgling art journal waiting for me to join it on the porch.

If you have been craving something to do during this time of quarantine, if you have been looking for a way to reinvent yourself, if you have been struggling with emotions or problems you just can’t work through, if you have been simply seeking to add to your current skills and/or hobbies, if you need calming from all the anxiety of these days, if you’re looking for ways to use up some of the stuff you have lying around (pictures, cards, fabric scraps, jewelry findings), if you want to make a statement, then I urge you to give art journaling a try. You make your own rules; in other words, you cannot fail. You don’t have to be an artist!

Find a place to work that will give you a bit of solitude (even if it’s in the bathroom). My plan today is to get outside on the porch and enjoy the sun while I create. Most of us have been given the gift of at least a little more time. Try your hand and your heart at making an art therapy journal. You might be stunned at what you find in there even as you build it.

It is a War…

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We all have this fight, those of us in the mental illness community, with so many factors. We come from many different backgrounds, and our stories may vary in some ways, but the truth is we are all fighting a war. The war to end the mental illness stigma.

Like any war, it is a battle on many fronts. For me, it varies from day-to-day. Most days lately is a multiphase battle with depression, mania, social anxiety, and insomnia. It is a struggle I feel at times that I am losing, and other times it makes more sense that these battles are for the greater good in my life– like winning the war. The battles make us stronger, but it is not always so cut and dry for every mental illness sufferer.

Look, mental illness is for life, but that does not mean that we need to give up.

The other side of this war is even tougher– the fight to live. I was talking to a fellow mental illness suffer today, and this person spoke of the struggle of living with a mental illness and trying to find a place where they can lay their head down and feel safe. To indeed make the stigma surrounding mental illness disappear we must fight on all fronts. What I am talking about it taking care of two specific groups within our community– those soldiers coming back with mental illnesses and homelessness.

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I am one of the lucky ones. My family could have just let me go, but they chose to help me. I would be in one of three situations– in a mental psychiatric ward, on the street homeless, or dead. It is the cold hard truth of the reality for those who can’t afford to live in this world with a mental illness. The solution is often homelessness and death because of the high cost of medications or just living with a mental illness.

Many are not so lucky to be in a good situation. If we as a society are not willing to help those that have trouble taking care of themselves because of mental illness then what are we? Yes, there are many issues in this world that I want to fight along with mental illness like ending child hunger here in the United States, but I am a part of this war for now.

We must find a way as a society to care for our soldiers that come home with mental illnesses and those who suffer from homelessness– with or without mental illness. The truth is that mental illness is a growing global issue. I never get political because I am well versed in that realm, and this place is about showing the world that mental illness is not something “we should just get over.” But, we need better people in charge that believe in helping the people, that means healthcare for all. And, for now, that is about as political J.E. will get on this blog.

So let us continue to fight to end the stigma surrounding mental illness together.

Always keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

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My No-Medication Journey to Emotional Health and Well-Being

Going on about 40 years ago, I was diagnosed as bipolar.  Today, I don’t know whether that diagnosis was correct or not because I’ve chosen to live my life the way I’m going to live it regardless.

So in this post, I’m going to talk a little about my choices for medicating and not medicating.  I need to state up front that everybody’s situation with medication may be different.  Some people can’t live off of medication; it’s a life or death matter, the difference between being able to have a life or not, or have a life that’s undamaged or one that’s damaged.  So this post is not a comment on other people’s choices in any way, shape, or form nor is it a suggestion as to how other people should live or the choices they should make in any way, shape, or form.  I just want to say that clearly.  This is my journey, though there may be something in it that speaks to you.

I was diagnosed as bipolar, which is funny because years later I received – when I was in therapy, again – a book entitled Mood Swings.  The therapist told me to go home and read it.  I asked her, “Do you think this is what’s going on with me?”  She said, “No, I think it’s what’s going on with your mother.”  I’m not going to say anything more about that except to say that I have doubted my diagnosis of bipolar pretty much the entire time since I received it.  What I did believe myself to be was extremely depressed.  Yes, I get very, very active sometimes – it’s actually the way I live almost ALL of my life.  Energy is what I am; people comment on it all the time.  I used to have periods where I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning; I would be busy, I couldn’t sleep but I’ve never felt I was in a manic state.  I just thought I was avoiding laying down.  I didn’t sleep well.  In addition, my dreams and I are very attached; anything that’s bothering me comes out in my dreams and a LOT was bothering me, for YEARS.  (Over time, I have come to see my sleep avoidance as a bad habit and have dealt with it as such – the same way I dealt with the bad habit of smoking and too much wine; the result is that now it’s not a part of my life (well, I still like my wine!).  Staying up super late happens rarely now and when it does I’m quite annoyed by it and I knock it off quickly.)

I was never medicated as a result of the bipolar diagnosis but a few years later I found myself hospitalized for depression.  Sometime prior to that, I had been given two medications (I won’t say what they were), one for depression and one for anxiety. Those two medications drove me insane.  That’s the only way I can put it.  I went from being depressed to being suicidal.  I just couldn’t … I just couldn’t.  That’s all I can say.  I was also having other disturbing side effects from these medications.  I was told the side effects would pass as my body got used to them.  In addition I was going through something horrible.  I was very angry at medications and I developed the attitude, “Why should I be medicated because of what other people have done to me?!”  One day I decided, “You know what?  Instead of taking just one of these a day, I’ll just take them all today.”  I made the (life-saving) mistake of saying that to my therapist at the time and that’s when I learned an important truth about being committed:  commit yourself, leave when you think you’re well; get committed by a professional, leave when they think you’re well.  My situation was the latter.

That was the end of medication for me.

A few years later, perhaps five or so years after I was married I ended up hospitalized again.  This time I drove myself to the hospital because I was just having the worst day and I felt I couldn’t function and I went to an emergency room and tearfully told them, “I’m not safe.  I’m not okay.”  I took myself away from my husband and my children and I was in there for probably about a week.

When I came out of the hospital that time, I said, “Enough is enough.”  Now I’m not suggesting that I no longer dealt with depression anymore because I did.  I continued to have periods some might have called manic.  I don’t know.  I just wanted to stay up to avoid laying down and dealing with my dreams and thoughts and I can deal with it better when I’m up.  But I decided, “I just can’t do this anymore.”  I really paid attention to the materials I was given on my way out of the hospital, which discussed how to manage my life.

Around that time I had been seeing a commercial for a program called Attacking Anxiety and Depression.  Honestly, that program was somewhat expensive at the time; we didn’t have a lot of money early in our marriage.  I invested in it anyway and I actually did that program, the whole thing.  It was very involved.  It involved practically every moment of my every day for weeks and weeks.  I did the entire thing.  I wanted to get well.   I was desperate.  I don’t want to say it cured me because “cured” is such a subjective word; who the hell knows whether they’re cured.  The circumstances at the heart of my illness were still the same and therefore I still had to cope with the same things.  So I don’t know whether I was cured.  Like an alcoholic, I’m still a depressive – I’ll say in remission.  But what that program, and my dogged (almost crazed) devotion to it, did do was teach me to manage my life.  To this day, I fiercely – and I do mean fiercely – manage my life.

I talk to myself in certain ways.  I hear when I’m bad to myself and then I remember that I’m also pretty damn great.  After all, look at me surviving.

I fiercely defend my privacy, my time as my own and not being owed to anyone.  This has alienated many people in my extended family because I’m from a family (two, actually) that feels like we should get together often but my family is also very critical of each other and being with them is not healthy.  Well, I have a family – I have a husband and sons and a granddaughter.  This is where I put my time.  I also fiercely defend my need to spend my time in places and situations that don’t stress me.  My extended family stresses the hell out of me and brings back all of the bad memories and they like to talk about these things and they’re a little bit bullying.  And so I very, very rarely spend time with them because I always end up having to defend myself around them.  Who the hell wants to be in that?  And so I don’t.  I am comfortable with my family and I devote my life and my time to them.  My home is peaceful.  Many people have commented on it upon entering and again upon leaving.  It’s a great compliment that fuels my dedication to sticking with it.

I have chosen work and hobbies that nurture me and that allow me to nurture others, activities that bring out and display the best in me.

I have no interest in anyone else’s “shoulds” about life.  I have examined my life thoroughly.  I know what it needs and that’s what I give it.  If things fall by the wayside, they fall by the wayside for a reason.  If I say no to things I say no for a reason.

Another big change that occurred – perhaps the biggest – is I learned to defend myself as if I were defending my best friend.  You know how we all jump up and just don’t allow anyone to say anything horrible about our best friend?  Well, I’ve learned that I have to treat myself like that.  I will not allow myself to be made a doormat.  I will not allow myself to be bullied.  Even if it’s coming from me. This has made me assertive – not aggressive.  It’s made me stand up for myself.  If someone tries to embarrass me, even in public, I will call it out tactfully, “I understood what you said.  I don’t know why you would say that in front of of all these people but let’s talk about it,” which invariably makes the person stop and leave me alone.  (I did this just recently with a family member.)  I’m not perfect and I get those times when I’m bad to myself because, hey, I will probably always have low self-esteem; it’s part of my fiber, it was built into me.  So sometimes, when I can’t talk myself out of it, I have had to learn to

Listen to my husband while he talks me out of it.  (And he defends me like a mama bear!) I’ve had to learn to listen to those people whom I know love me and admit that sometimes maybe they are right and I’m not horrible.  Then I can get myself back on track.

I stick to my regimens.  My regimens are my regimens.  I get up the way I get up everyday and do the things that are important to me everyday.  I end my day with time to myself everyday.  Whether I use it to think or to read or to write or to make something or to watch a show or to play a game, whatever the case may be, I end my day privately.  My husband respects that and appreciates it.  When he realizes that he is staying long and I’m staying up because he’s staying with me, he kindly acknowledges and says, “I’ll see you when you come up.”  I really appreciate his understanding that there are certain things I have to do to be okay; time with myself is one of them.

During these years of transition, I was having a horrible, horrible, horrible time with my mom.  If anything has been close to killing me, it has been my relationship with my mother.  I decided I was tired of being sick.  I had done all this work and yet still I was sick.  And so I went on over to an online platform called LiveJournal and I said, “I’m going to write this journal every, single day for 365 days and I’m going to find my way out of this.”  And I did.  Over 365 days I missed writing on only a handful of days.  At the end of 365 days I was very proud of myself because when I looked into my word cloud, I saw that I had developed gratitude and I was beginning to see great things about myself and my life.  (A sad side note:  my relationship with my mother did not survive this.  We became emotionally estranged, although we did see each other from time to time and were civil.)

I really started to be healthy after that and will even go so far as to say happy.  This is my current state and has been so for several years.  Again, I still deal with things; I still get sad; negative emotions still come in, I still have to deal with them.  But a real, substantive change happened after that.  I said, “Wow, my life is great!”  My life is great.

During all these years, I also developed a very strong, close relationship with God.  I know there are people who will ridicule that.  There’s nothing I can say to you.  If God is present in your life, you will know.  I worked hard but I did not do this alone.  It required a strength that I just don’t have.  I don’t care what people call it. It’s not blind faith because I have seen, for certain, His hand in my life.

I’m sorry I can’t put all these things together on a better timeline.  I just can’t because all of these things were happening over years at different times by themselves and they all became part of one closely-meshed fabric of health and well-being.  But all of these things became my method for living that protects me.

I’m not antisocial.  I’m very extroverted; however, that has shifted also.  I’m extroverted when I’m around people but I really prefer not to be around people.  I’m an introvert who is just really good with people when I get out there.  (Sometimes.  Other times I feel like I totally make an ass and a fool of myself but I know that a lot of people feel like that at times.)  When I want to be with people, I’m with people; when I don’t, I’m not.  It’s important to note that my work is a mashup of teaching and entertainment so I am always doing both and people are my livelihood.  So when I say “I don’t feel like it,” I’m talking about my non-work time.

It all comes down to making choices that benefit my health, my well-being.  I just turned 60.  At some point in your life, you have to say, “This is my life.  I have to live it my way with my priorities.”  At that point, you have to start really taking a good and honest look at the things around you that work contrary to you living your life and living it in a healthy way.

Are you trying to live someone else’s life?  Are you living according to someone else’s priorities?  Are you living in a way that benefits your own well-being or someone else’s?

This is not selfishness, especially if you are a significant other or a parent.  Because if you can’t be healthy, how can your relationships be healthy?  Sometimes we say, “Yeah, but he/she just loves me and has my best interests at heart.”  Nobody knows what’s best for you but you – and I would hazard to say God.  Come to know yourself.  Come to know God.  (I’m not going to go any deeper into that because I don’t want to get into religion.  I can’t stand religion.)  I’ll just say learn to pray.  Get out of yourself, take an honest chance and pray.  Pray for guidance.  If you don’t believe, fine.  Prove that you’re right.  Just give a few, deep, heartfelt prayers, deep from your soul.  Pray for guidance to know yourself.  I could have done nothing without this.  It’s where I got the strength to continue because it was hard.  I didn’t mean to go off on that but it’s impossible for me to separate out.

So again, a list of where my journey to emotional and mental health has brought me:

  • Fierce protection and defense of myself as I would my best friend, husband and children
  • Fierce protection and defense of my time, priorities, and need for quiet solitude
  • Listening to people who truly love me when they stand up for me, not fighting against them
  • Remembering to ask God for help and especially to thank God for all the riches I do have, to be grateful

These are the little pills I take to protect my health and well-being.  I hope there’s something in there that will help you.

Peace

The Sound of Rain

I’ve missed the sound of rain and what it looks like when it’s hitting my windshield and being wiped away and immediately reappearing.

It’s ironic that, all these years, my brain has never shut off for a moment.  It’s always been so full.  And yet, in answer to that fullness, I’ve continued to stuff it to the brim with news, music, information.

Someone once said that people are afraid to let two thoughts rub together.  That has been me.  Because thoughts hurt.  Thoughts inevitably lead to conversations – you know, those that’s-what-I-should-have-said conversations – with phantom people who have either long since forgotten or never gave a shit in the first place.  Thinking hurts.  Thinking leads to feelings and feelings hurt.  But now that I’ve been loosed by the mercy that death brings to the living, even in the midst of grief, I’m not so afraid of silence.

I’ve missed the rain. It sounds lovely. It sounds peaceful. It sounds soothing. Like floating in the pool without having to go through all the trouble of changing out of a wet suit and neutralizing the chlorine afterward. It sounds like floating. It sounds like peace.

It makes me breathe deeply and it makes me feel gratitude that I’m still here to listen to it and to see it falling on my windshield, almost obscuring the view and then being wiped away and then coming right back again.

Unstoppable.


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