Anxiety Society

That title sucks, but hey, it does rhyme. Moving on.

I’ve taken some new shots with the intention to continue working with the curves tool when editing my photos, so I was sure to use some backgrounds, costumes, lighting, and poses that I thought would work for that purpose. So far, so good, and I’m having fun playing around with these new techniques.

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I also bought these two feather collars from Free People a while back when they went on sale (honestly, is there no end to the over-priced cool stuff that store carries?) and was finally able to use them.

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I also broke out a flashbender I can attach to my external flash and used that in some shots, like the one above. When I first got it I used it a lot, but over time I found I didn’t care for the harsh light I got when using it and that it was much more difficult to edit those photos and achieve the look I wanted. But I wanted to see how the photos would turn out if I used it and then edited them with the curves tool, so I strapped the flashbender onto the camera and gave it a go. I’m glad I did because I did get some nice pictures as a result. Although, right out of the camera they looked awful.

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The flashbender directs the light from the flash into a narrow beam, so it gives the photos a spotlight effect, which makes for some really interesting shots, although I barely know how to use it so they need a lot of work when processing to make them look right. So anyway, yeah, on the photography front things are pretty cool, but in other ways, things are a bit tricky right now.

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The big problem I’m having right now is anxiety. I’ve actually starting having anxiety attacks, and they’re really fucking annoying. It starts with some random body ache or pain, which sends me into a panic thinking I’m going to get sick, which leads to this awful lightheadedness that starts in my gut and radiates upwards into my head as if I’m going to pass out; I sometimes also feel hot and nauseous, and like I can’t catch my breath even though I’m breathing fine. I had my first attack like this over a year ago; I thought I was having a heart attack until I realized I wasn’t, and that by calming down with self-talk and walking around to get myself moving, I could make it stop – even though I felt jumpy for some time afterwards. After that first bout, I didn’t have another one for almost a year, but in the past 3 months or so I’ve been getting them regularly. Several attacks have come at night, and twice they’ve been bad enough to keep me up for hours (two other times I just talked myself through it and feel asleep in spite of it). I haven’t had an attack in public since the first one a year ago – until today.

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I’ve been feeling pretty confident about these attacks because I’ve been controlling them well, but today it started as I was driving around town running errands, and the anxiety just stayed with me all damn day, no matter what I did. Of course I know part of the problem was that I kept trying to “do” things to calm myself when it just wasn’t in the cards for me because not only was I having an anxiety attack, but I was also trying to run a bunch of annoying errands that I was determined to do anxiety be damned, and everything kept cycling. It was totally frustrating, and more than a little disconcerting, because in my mind I’m thinking, how long is this going to go on? Is this going to happen while I’m tutoring a student? Am I going to just feel this way forever now? What if I become one of those people who’s scared to leave the house because I’m afraid of having an attack in public? Is this going to totally ruin my life?

I don’t have answers to those questions yet. I don’t know why this is happening all of a sudden, although I’d say I’ve had low-grade anxiety my entire adult life, so perhaps I should be surprised it’s taken this long to manifest this way physically. What I do know: I talked to my gynecologist about the possibility of this being related to perimenopause, and she was pretty non-committal about whether it was or not either way. She feels that because I’m still on birth control, I shouldn’t be having any menopause-related symptoms, and that what i described to her was garden-variety panic attacks and nothing more. I went and got a physical and that doctor felt what I was describing was panic attacks as well; all my bloodwork came back normal, so I know it’s not related to my thyroid, or diabetes (a possibility since it runs in my family), or anemia or any other blood-related thing that might be causing it. After today’s fun anxiety-fest I made an appointment with the psychiatrist who prescribes my Wellbutrin to discuss this with him and see what he thinks. I know Wellbutrin can cause anxiety or exacerbate it in people who are prone to it, so perhaps that’s part of the problem too.

I also know that I grow increasingly anxious by the day about the man who currently sits (or squats, as the case may be) in the Oval Office. I feel like the anxiety level of the entire country is in overdrive right now, and the events over the weekend in Charlottesville have me good and freaked. I also know I lost a friend a few weeks ago, and that having people so close to me in age and life experience die does freak me out any time it happens. I also know that over the past year or two I’ve had other things happen that have felt so unfair as to be almost unbelievable; the sort of things I never thought would happen to me and that disappointed and distressed me to my core. I know I had shingles in January, and there’s really only one reason someone gets shingles (stress). I know my entire life schedule is still topsy-turvy and I’ve not yet gotten myself into a decent routine, and I spend way too much time still sitting around doing a bunch of nothing other than play too many video games and read/watch WAY too much CNN. I know my sleep habits are pretty awful, and let’s not even get started on my diet because that’s a total disaster. I know I still haven’t gotten myself back into a decent workout routine, which is partly due to injuring both my rotator cuff AND my wrist on the same arm – two things which also make me anxious as I fear growing older and getting fragile and sustaining injuries I can’t recover from (fears I’ve never had before – my clumsy ass has injured myself tons over the years, but NOW I fear every injury will permanently damage me for some reason).

So yeah, I guess when I write it all out I can see why I’m having panic attacks. But for anyone who’s been down this road, you know that it’s not always enough to know why they happen. Once they start to happen they seem to take on a life of their own, apart from all logic and wisdom, so getting this under control will be a challenge, but one I am willing to accept, because I refuse to just hide out in the house all day and stop living my life over something like this. Some things I’m doing to try to help: 1. Actually get involved politically instead of sitting on the sidelines. 2. Eat better and exercise more. 3. Schedule my life each day instead of just wandering from hour to hour and day-to-day without any real plans for how I should be living and what I should be doing. and 3. See if there is something medically I need to do differently, like change my medication or get off of it (which I tried once, without success).

As far as getting more involved politically, in this little town near my neighborhood yesterday a woman put together a spontaneous vigil for the people of Charlottesville, and I decided to pull my head out of my ass and go. The plan was to walk about a mile up a major road holding candles, and then walk back. It sounded a little odd, but the heart was in the right place and it was nearby, so I went and joined them. It really was a small little group of women (and one man), so honestly I felt a little silly doing it, but everyone was lovely and it was something to show which side I am on, at least, and I met some nice people in the process. Hell, one woman showed up on crutches just because she wanted to stand up for love and peace and harmony, and the man was older and had to turn around halfway because it was so damn hot and humid, so all in all it was at least nice to see some sort of light in the midst of the weekend’s darkness.

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Getting ready to walk in Fulshear. That one woman carried the mirror because she said something about Trump needing to look at himself in the mirror, or something. I didn’t really understand that part – but I was super-impressed that she carried that damn things for three miles. It was heavy! 

So I don’t know, y’all. I don’t want to be dealing with panic attacks all the time, and knowing it’s not something physical like blood pressure or low thyroid actually doesn’t help as much as I thought it would, because at least if the problem is physical that means there’s a physical process for correcting the problem, whereas when it’s mental/emotional it feels impossible to fix. Then again, the last time I remember feeling this frustrated in relation to my body was when my gluten intolerance reached the breaking point over ten years ago and I kept ending up in the emergency room, and no one could explain to me what was going on, and I eventually figured out how to deal with that problem. And in my twenties I went through a terrible phase of having awful migraines, the kind with aura and partial blindness, and I remember feeling pretty despondant at first that the situation was going to permanently ruin my life, and that didn’t happen then, either. So, I am hopeful that this too is something that’s awful right now but DOES have a solution that will work for me, and I just have to find it. But, as I already mentioned, I’m also less optimistic about shit like this than I used to be, too, so while I’m hopeful, I’m not as hopeful as I would have been ten years ago, or even five years ago, because now i realize that some problems just don’t have solutions at all, and eventually all of us get that one diagnosis that signals the start of the end of things for real, and really shitty bad luck does happen to other people all the time so why couldn’t it happen to me too. So there you go. Hopeful, kinda? But also, in a way, not entirely. Boo.

 

12 thoughts on “Anxiety Society

  1. Hang in there cynthia. It can take a lot of tries to get anxiety under control. I have had a life of anxiety and panic attacks. I was very young when they started and they went away for awhile. It then at 21 they came back with a vengeance. I had to go on klonopin to actually function in life. But that was almost a decade ago and I am off those. I swear mine started with onset of period so don’t let your damn doctor poo poo your theory of peri menopause related. They say creative people are more prone to these and anxiety. Yay right?

    • Thank you. Yes when I look back I would say anxiety has been more of an issue for me than the depression I went to the psychiatrist for a few years ago. And it’s definitely come to the forefront now. I would prefer non-medicinal solutions, but I am not above taking medication if that’s what it takes.

  2. You are not alone. I feel more people than ever are experiencing the same given the state of our nation. A psychiatrist friend of mine mentioned they’re seeing a huge increase in people reporting high levels of anxiety – how could anyone feel otherwise?? The fear of the unknown and uncontrollable just fuel it and it’s EVERY SINGLE DAY! Take a CNN break, girl. I had to to save my own sanity. Hang in there!

    • Thanks Nancy for saying this. I feel like the entire nation is in a state of anxiety. I never realized knowing someone fairly sane was in the White House was such a luxury before now; as much as I thought I hated, say, George W. Bush, I now realize I ultimately did still trust him to put his country first even if I disliked the decisions his administration made. This is what other countries have suffered under for decades, and I’m falling apart within six months, LOL. Shows how much I still have to learn about the world outside my own little bubble.

  3. Hi Cynthia. I feel your pain. Literally. My anxiety has been off the charts lately. I’ve been having anxiety attacks on a regular basis and three times I thought I was having a heart attack. The phuck in the white house is a trigger. I’ve never, EVER, truly despised anyone more than that racist imbecile. I’m getting worked up so I’ll stop.
    I like medication. But with medication comes a bit of a fog. I’ve been on seroquil, zoloft, prozac, trazadone and a few others. In fact, I’ve been on a seroquil, trazadone, zoloft cocktail. I remember driving in the car and upon arriving home, not remembering how I got there. I was slurring words and my thoughts were coming at a slower pace. It was GREAT!!! But it wasn’t reality.
    I medication free now and trying to just go with a more natural approach.
    Feel better knowing that you aren’t alone. Life takes our emotions on strange rides..sometimes there is no good answer, we just have to learn when our triggers set in.
    Peace and love to you!

    • GIRL, after his press conference today, I just feel so SICK. I have never felt so unsure about where our country is headed. I actually asked my husband tonight if I should learn how to shoot a handgun and buy one…and I’m the most anti-gun person imaginable! But I am afraid of the violence he is stirring up in this country. Lord give us all strength. Thanks for sharing what you’ve been through – it is greatly appreciated!

  4. I truly feel for you. Mine (panic / anxiety attacks) started in 2011, at night and I thought I was losing my mind. An awful month of it before my doc prescribed clonazepam for me. That allowed me to get a grip on things to go on functioning at work and with life. Small things start one and I can feel them take over. The med helps and often just knowing that I have them can settle me down. Hope you can find some peace.

    • Yeah, I’m at a point where I’ll take a medicinal solution if it’s offered. Even if it’s just to get me over whatever this hump is I can’t get past. Thanks for sharing your experience, it really helps!

  5. My wife suffered this for some years. She could never explain to me “what it was”. Your so very
    exact descriptions of the very familiar outward signs of my wife’s symptoms are very much appreciated . Her condition disappeared over time (3-5 years) without any medications . I think,,
    I know she managed just as you have with a lot of self analysis and optimism. Just as you’ve
    indicated. You’ll beat this one also. Good luck .

  6. Love the feather collars, concentrate on your art and stop watching the news for a short while.
    Do an art collage of your feelings maybe work it out through a photography series.

    Im glad you’re not bottling this up, I hear people talking through their anxieties about their future a lot.

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