Compared to My Siblings

The frustration inside of me bubbles to the surface with a sharp bite. My parents treat us differently. I know this because I have ears and eyes and use them like most humans. It’s not hard to pick up my father handing my sibling a wound up wad of cash to “help her out.” Or when my parents show more interest in my sibling’s career choice (it’s within the medical profession), while I try to become a content writer I hear, “that’s interesting.” What I want is someone to say, “Good for you! Follow your heart! Money doesn’t mean anything if you’re not happy.”

See what I just did here? Over and over and over in my head, I weigh out the differences between my siblings and me. How we compare, who is thinner, who is stronger, who makes more money, which takes more handouts, who dresses better. Then I replay my own scenario, instead of hearing a monotone response or something equally lackluster, I envision the message I want to. I want them to say I’m talented, smart, courageous – something! Anything that makes me feel approved or praised.

I have a generalized anxiety disorder. Maybe I should have mentioned that sooner or if you are like me then you may have picked up on my battering thought process. It’s something we anxious people like to do. I’m insecure, I want someone to randomly ask me, “So, how is that writing career going?”  Then I could tell them I’m taking significant steps towards my first paying gig! Instead, I haven’t brought it up because I feel their response wouldn’t hold a candle to the thrill that I already feel inside.

Therapy has helped me with this area, even if the frustration and comparing still surface, sometimes unexpectedly. The answers I seek are already in my complex heart. It’s time for me to put myself on the pedestal and know that if I am seeking approval from others or I dream about praise, these things are already sewn into my soul. I know I want people to say I’m doing a good job, so therefore I already feel that I am. I’m going to have a party for myself that celebrates big steps and small steps. I’m going to do this today! Starbucks here I come! Make it a Verde.

Yes, I do feel like Stuart Smiley, but you know — gosh darn it I’m worth it. I may tease, but this is no laughing matter. You are worth it, and you don’t need other people to tell you this. In case you do though, I just said it, so I will repeat it. You are worth it!

 

Brought to you by Fingers to Sky: Soul Searching. Writing. Gardening

Asking: Is Medication the Answer?

Anxiety creeps in and doesn’t whisper sweet nothings into my ear. It screams at me, “You are weak! No way in hell can you do this! Quit! Go hide!” I shake my head, trying to relieve my brain from this damaging downward spiral. It’s no use, it won’t stop.

While I have made a lot of progress, I still feel as though there are things I should have overcome at this point in therapy. For years I have avoided medication. There are a lot of reasons for this, but mainly I think it’s because I’m scared. Sometimes I wonder if taking a pill would really calm the angry voices inside, the self-doubts, the mountain of fears. Is it really that simple? A daily regimen of drugs, foreign toxins introduced to our blood, recreating and shifting our brain chemistry. Would it leave me the same person I am, but a better version of myself? It’s so hard to believe it’s that simple.

Also, weight gain terrifies me. That is probably a stupid reason to avoid helpful medication, but it is the truth, please don’t shame me for speaking my truth.

With several friends openly taking medication I wonder if they are better off than I am. I want to break free from the cycles of self-doubt and fear. I feel like I’m on this plateau, stuck on progress. I had one goal, to be able to go into a store and walk through the check outline by myself. I have done this here and there. Though the anxiety that creeps in every time I consider doing this is haunting. So much so that I still avoid doing this whenever I can.

This is classic avoidance, I know this. I should care more, create a goal, but I don’t want to. The motivation to face my fears is strongly lacking. Would medication change this also? Maybe I would suddenly feel like joining a running team and volunteering at my son’s school. Hmmm, probably not. I have to fly out of state twice in the upcoming months. While flying has never been a trigger for me, there are a lot of triggers in an airport. All the LINES that don’t move!!! No way out!!! Oh my god, I am sweating just by typing that!

I have a prescription of Lexapro in my nightstand drawer, from over a year ago, that I never took.

This post is more of a question to followers of The Bipolar Writer. If you can share your story with medication, I am all ears and very grateful. I will never pass judgement on those taking or not taking medication. Shame free zone here!

Brought to you by Fingers to Sky

 

Juggling, Hiding, Saying No

When there is a relatively calm week with nothing outside of the ordinary happening, I can easily handle a hiccup or two. Now, if you expect me to be able to juggle multiple situations at one time, I may start to withdraw. Like a turtle drawing his head into his shell, I close myself off.

The static in my brain starts to send out sparks, misfires occur, rapid thinking, jumping to conclusions, and hopeless impressions wander through me. You can’t do this! Just quit! My inner demon whispers. This advice is so tempting. Quitting is easy. It might sting for a while, but the wound heals pretty quickly in most cases.

There are times when we pile on too much, and saying NO can be healthy, and part of self-care. However, we must be aware when we raise our hands in surrender to soon. Trying to avoid something that is demanding, or labor intense, we might turn our head at a challenge before we find out what we are capable of.

It’s too difficult, it’s too hard, I can’t do this! There are too many things going on at one time. I can’t juggle all of this at once!

Excuse me for throwing out a term so loosely, because the truth is I do not meditate in the traditional sense. I have tried, it’s just not my dish. When things pile up and start to crash down upon me however, I do say to myself, “It’s time to meditate on this.” To me this is taking a break, a step back. Thinking out all the logical options, and most importantly coming up with boundaries and goals. Breathe through it. If a situation is elevated beyond a determined margin, then maybe it is time to make an exit. Until then, it’s time to stick with it!

I find that when more than one task (even if a pleasant) falls on me, I start to get a little erratic. I haven’t been able to stop this from happening, but I do recognize it more quickly than in the past. I’m not sure if this is my anxious tendencies or just a normal human response to a lot going on.

Continued stress can do horrible things to our mind and body. Not accomplishing goals or backing out of a commitment can also wreak havoc on our inner self. Sometimes we need a little stress to propel us forward. Understanding our limits is important. More important yet, is pushing these limits in a healthy manner so we can gain achievement and self-worth.

Brought to you by Fingers To Sky

Anxiety: The Story Goes Round and Round

A friend reaches out to invite me and my family to her house for a cook out this weekend. She mentions a few other friends that will be there that I know. I recognize the names she mentions and instantly look forward to the gathering. Without hesitation I respond “Sounds great! What can I bring?”

This sounds like your typical acceptance to an invitation. However, the minute I respond my anxiety and excitement start to battle. Here is where my mind goes and why:

Excitement: This will be fun!

Anxiety: Wait a second! She just mentioned several other people that are coming to the party, that means she didn’t invite you with the first round of invites. She probably only invited you because you can almost see her house from yours and she didn’t want you to feel left out. Maybe another of your friends asked her to invite you, out of pity. She invited you last because she wasn’t sure if she wanted to invite you at all. It might be because she thinks your annoying or too loud or too crass.

Keeping score? This is exactly how my thought process went.

Excitement: 1

Anxiety: 6 and counting

Why did this happen? My anxious brain turns to worst case scenario anytime a self-reflection takes place. Anxiety is a beast that takes on so many forms and oozes out in diverse ways. I have recently discovered how much it affects my thought processes. Understanding that anxiety raises hell in my head creating unwanted chaos, has helped me weed through my cracked way of thinking. I can’t STOP my brain from doing this, at least not yet. I CAN remind myself that anxiety is trying to take over, it’s causing some irrational thinking that will lead to nothing positive. I CAN choose to ignore it.

The thoughts will come like a wave crashing inward. Instead of letting it rise and rise, I now let the wave recede. I recognize the thought for what it is, intrusive and negative, and then release it. The waves may come in sequence and for a duration of time, but I strive to let them continue to roll away each moment they surface.

I hope you find some peace with mental illness. As James says: Always keep fighting.