anxiety

Have you heard about the Heaven and Hell Duet?

Releasing this fall is the Heaven and Hell Duet, which includes Hell and a Hard Place (October 11, 2018) and Light in the Dark (November 8, 2018). My love and excitement for these two books surpasses that of all my books before. I absolutely cannot wait to share this duet with y'all. 

It's a bit of a rollercoaster ride that will definitely bring out some strong emotions and that's all I'll say right now. But be sure to stay tuned and check into my social media for teasers. Read on for the blurb and check out the awesome cover.

What's a girl to do when she's in love with her best friend but she can't have him? Well, I pretend I'm not. I keep my best friend, FC, close and keep my life moving forward. I work. I date. I see my therapist for my mental health issues. But everything always leads back to FC, no matter what I do. The distance between us, FC's secrets, and our own relationships keep us apart while bringing us closer together.

I'm a guy with loads of problems. Where do I even begin? I'm an on-again off-again smoker. I'm an alcoholic. I have a best friend of twelve years who I can't live without, and I only recently met Idaline in person when she let me escape to her house one night. Oh, and did I mention I have an abusive girlfriend? That every day winds up being worse than that last? I'm stuck between hell and a hard place with the dimmest of lights at the end of the tunnel. And that light might not even be there tomorrow. Because things will get worse before they get better.

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

WIP Progress Report (#6)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my solos, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

When working on the latest chapter of Brittany and Trace's story, I knew it was time for another WIP PR. Let's go over the quick details first.

- Untitled. (However, I have an idea, but not sure if it'll stick.)
- Genre: New Adult Romance w/ Anxiety/Depression 
- Word Count/Goal: 51,636/80,000
- Release Date: Tentatively, the summer of 2016
- Series? Will be book 1 of 2.
- First Sentence of Last Chapter Written: 
I'm calling the grinch, babe,” I whisper, pulling the covers over my head, so I don't have to look at him.

There are two reasons why I wanted to give an update. One is because I passed the 50K mark, and that's worthy of an update. The other is because I felt compelled to give an update, mostly for myself and the need to talk about these characters. As you may remember from the last WIP PR, Brittany and Trace deal with anxiety and depression. That alone makes me love them a little more because these are my favorite kinds of characters to write.

However, this book is making me feel guilty. Here is a troubled pair and I'm putting them through hell right now. Usually, this would make me feel a giddy kind of evil, but this time, I just feel guilty. Poor characters! They're gonna break my heart, y'all.

I've known where this book was headed since I started writing it. It's finally catching up to me now because I'm having to write it. In an odd way, I'm eager to write it, too. That's all I'm going to say because I don't want to give anything away. Let's move on to the short updates on other projects!

Other Projects:
The final touches to get Bending Under Pressure ready for release are happening this month.

I'll be writing and doing edits on books from The Ninth Inning series to prepare for the upcoming season.

And that's it! As of right this second, I'm on my way to the airport to fly to Pittsburgh for a few days. I can't wait!!!

WIP Progress Report (#5)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my solos, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

Before I get started, you should take a quick look to your left! I've added WIP Word Count section. It's just a little way to get a quick strictly numerical update on WIPs. It's updated every chapter pretty much.

So, based on that, you see that I have two WIPs listed: Brittany & Trace's and Noah & Meredith's. I ended up having to set Noah and Meredith aside while I figured some things out and ended up reshuffling my WIP To-Do list. 

Therefore, my main priority is now to write Brittany and Trace's books and then Noah & Meredith's. I'll work on them here and there, of course, but they aren't #1 right now. Let's talk about who is!

- Untitled.
- Genre: New Adult Romance 
- Word Count/Goal: 17,772/80,000
- Release Date: Tentatively, the summer of 2016
- Series? Will be book 1 of 2.
- First Sentence: My stomach heaves, the retched sound of vomit falling into the toilet echoes in the air as my hands grip the seat.

Nice start, huh? What better way to start a book than with the main character throwing up? Haha!

Anyway, I think this WIP will excite fans of Nepenthe. Not because of any characters are crossing over, but because of topic. These two characters both deal with anxiety and/or depression. With Nepenthe, only one person suffered. I wanted to have both of them in the same boat.

I want to write about how they'll deal with it differently. This book, in comparison to Nepenthe, shows more of the physical affects, hence how the book starts. These are the kinds of books that I love to write more than anything, so I'm really happy to bring Brittany and Trace to you for two books.

Another thing that has me excited is the dynamic of the two. Trace is older, divorced, and more settled in life than she is. Brittany is trying to survive her last semester of college. And Trace was Brittany's therapist before she left for college.

A lot of different little and big things are going on in this book. That's all I have for now though! Just wanted to give an update.

Other projects:
Mary and I are cracking down on the rest of The Ninth Inning series and making beautiful progress!

Without a Doubt releases this month on the 18th! SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!

Bending Under Pressure, Haley & Keelan's book, will release February 20, 2016. Check out the details here.

A Bookish Life Update



It's been a long time since my last life update, which is good. It means things have been so good and crazy, I haven't felt the urge to write one.

You may remember how these updates came out. They used to be my anxiety updates, but I changed it to life updates because my life is about more than my anxiety.

Still, every life update seems to come about when I either am or have been struggling with something. That said, here's the most recent life update.

While this isn't weird, it feels a little weird.

Usually, I miss my characters the same amount once I've finished their story.

And then there's Corey and Olivia from Nepenthe. It's my book that gives me all the feels. The book that makes me proud while breaking my heart because I want everyone to read this book the most out of all my books. It means so much to me.

So, so much.

You see, whenever I'm struggling with either the anxiety or depression side of things, I think about Corey and Olivia. Among the craziness, I think about this book. I think about what I wanted to accomplish with it, what readers have told me about the effect of it on them, and what this book means to me.

In a way, it's my own nepenthe.

Corey managed to crawl out of the hole when he was at his lowest. It was a slow crawl, but he made progress, little by little. He managed to see the speckles of light to push him forward, to keep trying, to hold onto to hope that things would be better one day, to know that he would one day simply be able to throw a football again.

While I love all my characters, especially those you'll be introduced to in December with Without a Doubt, I wish Corey and Olivia were real.

I miss them and think about them the most. These characters fuel me into hanging on and knowing I can survive whatever life hands me. They remind me that though we may not want seek help, doing so is highly beneficial.

If one book has my heart and soul within the pages, it's Nepenthe. When life is hard, one of the people I turn to are Corey and Olivia. (See why it feels weird?) I'll read the book and find a source of contentment from their accomplishments and their love. It always makes me feel better about whatever's going on.

So, basically, my life update is that I still struggle, but I'm still doing my best and doing well in the grand scheme of things. I guess I felt the need to share all of that about Nepenthe because I relate to Corey so much. We're both trying to keep making progress and keep pushing through the tough times because we know we can and we know it's worth the fight.

Life Update: Am I Fixed?

Reading is a form of therapy for me. My actual therapist agrees wholeheartedly about this. If I'm not writing and not reading, she gets concerned.

It's probably a form of therapy to you, too. I mean, isn't a point of reading to get lost in another reality separate from our own? We don't want to step away from emotions or troubles, but to step away from our emotions and troubles and reality.

As of today, I've read 22 books this year. That's a huge number for me, especially in a short amount of time. To me, that speaks volumes. There's been something in my reality that I've been desperately trying to escape. I still can't say what that is.

I've been in an all-around funk and it's been weird and sucky. It's been plaguing me for months. Like since Oct/Nov, whenever it was that I finished Nepenthe. It's almost like an I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-myself feeling. Or kind of like a I-have-no-desire/energy type of thing.

It annoys the hell out of me because things have been good. For the most part, I've felt great. But there's something not quite right in the mix of it all and the unknowing of what or why makes me more rattled than anything else.

Usually a reading-binge fixes me, fixes me emotionally and fixes my lack of desire to write. But this funk has been like a veil hanging over regular everyday stuff. We'll consider it luck that it's only truly affected my writing. It's mostly been with my solos because Mary and I have pretty much been writing machines with the exception of this past week. Still, I've felt off.

Reading hasn't helped. Or at least, not in the way I'm used to. My reading-binges consists of three-to-four days of reading every free chance I get. Priorities are tossed to the side unless it's an absolute must. I've been reading more and more lately. I've been trying to escape something I can't put my finger on to identify. That in and of itself is annoying because I like to know what's bugging me. How can I solve a problem if I don't know the problem?

For 22 books, I've been trying to "fix" myself. For the most part, I've been failing. The off feeling is still there when the book ends, which leads me to pick up another and another and another.

But I think I've finally ended my funk.

The other day, I was super excited because I was writing in a solo. I only wrote about 400 words, but it felt amazing because that invested/obsessed feeling was there again.

It left as quickly as it appeared.

So what did I do?

I read three books in three days. I closed off everything else in life and read.

And tonight? I feel FANTASTIC.

Finally.

I feel energized, happy, and ready to tackle all the projects I'm working on.

There's a chance it'll be gone by morning, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic. If not, I have bookcases and a Kindle full of books waiting to be read until something bends in my favor and I can work out my issue. This blog post started with the title of Am I Fixed? That's still up in the air for the long-term, but for the moment, I am. That's good enough for me.

Plenty of updates to go around

Let's kick this post off with a positive.

The next six months are going to be awesome and I can't wait! I want to spill the beans about everything, but a few of those things have to be kept secret, only to be told at the right time.

In my personal life, I have three exciting things happening in the coming months. I'll graduate with my Associates degree and will transfer to a university to continue with my Bachelors in January. And Mary and I are going on a writing retreat/birthday trip in February for my 21st birthday! We're going to be having a blast in Pittsburgh!

Writing-wise, I'm going to start with this crazy fact: between now and January 2015, I'll release SIX books. SIX! So, I sure hope y'all are ready for more. 

Of course, this month is Bracing the Blue Line. Then in October, it's Looking for You, book one in Mary & my new series. The other three Oh Captain, My Captain novels will release one-a-month until the fourth one in January. 

PLUS, my secret WIP *may* come out in January too. So yeah, hope y'all are ready for more because they're coming.

Speaking of that WIP...

While I was writing Don't Panic, I was in the middle of one of my lowest points with my anxiety. The book was giving me panic attacks and it beat up my already broken down mind. The emotions that I was experiencing, combined with those I was writing about, overwhelmed me. There were a lot of moments where I nearly quit. I felt too much with that book. I felt all of it.

And it hurt.

Writing that book drove me as crazy as my anxiety did. The crazy, the anger, the sadness, the panic, all of those were working double time, 24/7. I was on edge all the time and there were moments when I didn't think I could do it. Just thinking about it has brought tears to my eyes. It's still hard to think about.

I don't talk about DP a lot, even to promote, and it's because of that. The book reminds me of my darkest times and I don't like thinking about it. Who would? (This totally goes against the reason I wrote the book, but that's an issue for me to tackle later.)

So what does that have to do with my secret WIP? Well...

I'm bringing up DP now because my WIP deals with similar issues as DP. This WIP is hard to write too. No lie, I cry at some point in almost every single chapter. It's not nearly as difficult as DP because I'm in a way better place now. Still, I've been more up and down with my moods than normal and picked up one of my old nervous habits again. (My leg is constantly bouncing up and down while I'm writing, and sometimes during other parts of my day when I'm not.)

This goes to show that writing and my sanity go hand in hand sometimes.

I've been wanting to write another book where a character deals with a mental disorder for a while, but I've been terrified. The opportunity for this book was unexpected. I didn't plan to write one like this anytime soon, but then I tweaked a thing or two and the idea was practically handed to me on a silver platter.

So, I'm writing it.

There's no way I would even attempt it if I weren't in a good place in my life at the moment. My three and a half years of therapy have done wonders and helped make me strong enough to write this book. While it's affected me somewhat, there's no way I'm going to stop. I can handle whatever is thrown my way, I'm sure of it.

This book needs to be written and I'm going to write it.

For the characters, for who I am now, for the hell I went through and had to crawl back out of, and for every single person who is dealing or has dealt with mental health issues before.

I wasn't intending to share this much, but my life update posts always end up being long. This is just part of what I'm dealing with both in my writing and in my personal life. I've never been one to not post about my anxiety or my other issues, so I felt like I needed to say something about it. And it gives you a little sneak peek to what's to come.

That's it for this post. Thanks for sticking with me to the end! I started this with a positive, and that's how I'll end it.

If you're a person who is struggling with something, anything, keep fighting. Things will get better. I promise.
Source: Pinterest




What a CRAZY Year!!!

This year has been the wildest ever, but I've loved every second of it. I hope I have many more years like this to come because it's been absolutely wonderful.

Here's a recap.
  • I turned 19. 
  • I have attended three Penguins/Canes games and the Pens have won each one! 
  • Always released.
  • Mary Smith became my co-author! I met her in person and loved her even more! We started writing and finished the first draft in just two weeks. We've been writing ever since and have published two books in our trilogy, along with a novella. I can't wait to continue writing with her in the new year and see what amazing things are sure to come for us. Mary has become a best friend. After this year, I honestly I don't what I would do without her!
  • The fifth Bold as Love book was not only given a title and release date, but I finished it completely. I can't wait to share Our Happily Ever After with you on the 13th! The cover will reveal tomorrow!
  • I completed another semester of college and have been 99% anxiety-free. If you missed it, you can read my post on that here.
  • I also completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal to read 50 books! Woohoo! You can see all of those books on Goodreads, if you want to check them out.
In short, I've had an awesome year all the way around! 

I hope your year has been great as well and that 2014 will be even better for you and your family. Share a highlight of yours from 2013 in the comments! I would love to see it!

Anxiety? What Anxiety?


It's on a day like today when I realize I've successfully completed another semester of college that I wonder how I've struggled so much in the past. Things since August have been wonderful. So wonderful that sometimes, I forget that I have an anxiety disorder.

I have never felt this good.
Ever.

-Three years, most of it spent being miserable.
-Therapy every two weeks for almost three years.
-Finishing high school through the county's homeschooling program.
-Five different medications.
-A week in the psychiatric ward.
-Three psychiatrists.
-Having to take a semester off from college.

^^^ That's what it took for me to get to this point. A lot of that was not enjoyable in the least. Switching medications and then having to adjust to a new one is terrible sometimes. Not to mention the side effects. (Hello, week-long stay in the psychiatric ward.)

But that's not the point of this post. I'm writing this because I had to go through all of that to get to this point. Today. A time in my life where I've never been happier. I'm on a medication that (in combination with therapy) makes me forget I even have anxiety. That is one of the best feelings in the world.

Since August, I can count all of my panic attacks on one hand and the number of minutes they lasted on one hand as well. If that isn't an accomplishment, I don't know what is. Especially considering my attacks used to last all day long, every day to the week.

So today, I'm celebrating.

I'm celebrating every day this year without a panic attack. I'm doing a happy dance for not missing a single day this semester due to anxiety. I'm singing as loud as I can to my favorite tunes because every day I don't think about anxiety is considered success. I'm celebrating that I easily survived a semester of school and I'm looking forward to the next one. I'm screaming, jumping, and looking a little crazy because I'm in control of my life now. Anxiety doesn't hold me back anymore.

Is my fight over?
No.

Is there a chance that I'll lose control again?
Of course.

Am I worried?
Not in the least.

I can finish school.

I can sit in a quiet classroom with little anxiety.

I can do all those things that produce my anxiety with a little effort instead of a lot of extra effort.

I can do whatever I dream of.

Because I can control my anxiety.

If these past few months have taught me anything, it's that. If I can make it through a semester as I did with this one, then my anxiety is no match for me. I'm prepared to fight, if need be. I have a Plan B and a Plan C. So, no, I'm not worried about it returning later because I know that I can control it.

Updates All Around!

The past few weeks, I've only posted Monday's Book Spotlight. It's about time to give an update post. There are lots of things to talk about! Let's get this show on the road, shall we?

Writing-wise, things are up and down. I've been bouncing between four solo projects and my co-authored projects as well. You can see the update for the latter here. (Psst. My co-author, Mary Smith, just had her first solo book released. Go check out Melting Away the Ice on Amazon!) Either I'm writing like crazy in one or I'm switching from one to another, or I'm not writing at all. For the most part, progress is being made.

A good chunk of book five has been written and if I pick up my pace, just a little, I can release it in the month I have planned. It's still my top priority and hopefully, I can share some snippets of it with you soon.

As of yesterday, I hit the one month mark since school started. I survived the first month and I plan on making it through the next month. Things with school have been going really well. I have my schedule set up in a way that taking seven classes isn't too overwhelming. My schedule will soon be tweaked again because I now have a job. I'm feeling really good about things though. To have had only one panic attack so far is a feat in itself and I'm certain that things are only going to get better.

The last update isn't really an update, but who cares? Hockey season will be starting soon and I will be going to two games next month. One to see the Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes and then to see my Penguins vs. Hurricanes. I am so excited about this! It's going to be awesome, as always.

Okay. There you have it. Have an amazing weekend, y'all!

Trying Something New

I've noticed that I've been a little on edge lately and why wouldn't I be when school starts in two weeks? Yesterday, I had to go to the school with the BFF for a little meeting of sorts and I'm proud to say my anxiety crossed my mind only once. It wasn't any sort of panic, but merely a passing thought.

Over the years that I've been dealing with anxiety as an every day thing and not just a every so often circumstance, I've heard various ways of handling it. Some have clearly worked. Some only work half the time and some don't work at all. But there are some that I haven't tried yet.

Well, it's time to put those things to the test.

Starting today, so I get a head start and in the right mindset, I'm going to change a few things in my life. Hopefully, these things will help and I'll start some good habits along the way. So what exactly am I going to do?
  • Reduce stress. There are a couple things that I can do to reduce my stress. Lots of stress triggers my anxiety and too much in a short time period will start triggering the attacks. Honestly, I can easily reduce my stress by changing a few things. Ignore some phone calls. Stay away from some people. Don't overload myself. Those are the main things I'll do to keep myself a little less stressed.
  • Exercise. That word was tossed around in the beginning. A couple doctors and my therapist told me that regular exercise could both help on the stress part and the anxiety part. The stress only becomes an issue when it gets to be too much. Since I could use some exercise anyway, I'm going to do a little of that and play tennis. It'll be good for my health, both mentally and physically.
  • Drink more water. I love my Dr. Pepper and I gotta have it everyday. However, caffeine isn't too good for me and my anxiety. That's why I stay away from the energy drinks 99.9% of the time and limit my frappé intake. The amount of Dr. Pepper I do drink isn't too much caffeine, but I know it would help if I switched out at least one drink of Dr. Pepper with a bottle of water every day. 
I figured if I start now that I will at least be in the routine of doing these things before school starts. And as long as I keep it up once school does start, I'm hoping that these three things in combination with my medication and all my other techniques will help me last through the semester. Things are still feeling pretty good right now, but I want to try and prepare myself anyway. Not to mention that these are all good things in general and I'm pretty excited to get back into playing tennis. :)

An Anxiety-Related Update (Warning: Long Post Ahead)

It's been a while since I've posted an update on myself and my anxiety. That's mostly because I'm in one of those good periods where my anxiety is low. I've been doing well. It's been a good few months with this period and when I realized this, my anxiety flared a little. It's like when you realize things have been going well and it seems a little too good to be true so you start waiting for the pen to drop.

That's where I'm at right now. One sign of my anxiety rising is having trouble sleeping. None of that, thank goodness. However, another sign is that I have a reading/writing slump. The last time I read a book was July 12th, which was a little over two weeks ago. Writing has been a bit of a struggle as well. Some scenes that shouldn't take long to write are taking forever. Why? Because most of the time, my mind goes blank and I stare at the screen until I can get my thoughts together long enough to write another paragraph. Then my mind blanks again. Sometimes, I even stop mid-sentence.

Talk about frustrating. Especially when I have a goal that I would like to meet this year. Part of me is pretty sure that these little signs are due to the never-failing reason behind 96% of my anxiety.

School.

It's almost August and I register on the 13th and start on the 19th. I'm still pretty excited to be going back. I'm ready for the work, the routine, the stability of knowing what I will be doing two days of every week while doing the rest online. I am a little worried about how taking 7 classes (3 face-to-face, 4 online) will interfere with my writing time. Like I said, I have goals I want to meet.

That's my biggest worry at the moment. I'm feeling good about the classes at campus because my BFF will be in those classes too. I'm not the least bit concerned about the online classes. Nevertheless, the process has started once more. I'm not reading and my writing is a constant struggle lately.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before, but those two things are crucial to my everyday life. Both are therapeutic escapes that I need, especially in regards to my anxiety. If I'm not doing either, then my anxiety is not in a good place and there is a good chance that I'm on the train to Crazy Town.

For now, I'm happy that I'm aware of the little changes that I need to keep an eye on and I'm going to push myself to read a little and keep writing. Once I really get going, then it won't be such a struggle and I'll be happier.

These posts are always so long, but I wanted to write an update, especially since it's been a while since my last one. Until next time, happy reading y'all!

It's Been One Year!

Thanks to the BFF, I just realized it's been one year since I graduated high school. I can't believe it has been a year already! Realizing the time that has passed has caused me to reflect.

I'm not where I expected to be by no means. I thought I would be finishing up my first year of college and doing great anxiety wise. Instead, I ended up in the psych ward for a week and started seeing my third psychiatrist. I only completed one semester of college and my anxiety reared up again.

However, I think I'm where I need to be and doing things that are best for me. My recent medication change has been working fantastically. I love my new psychiatrist. I'm feeling great about things overall. I still have until August before school starts and I plan on being there. I'm actually a little excited about it because I'm ready to be busy again. I'm ready to be in school and learn and do homework.

On the other hand, I'm a little worried. I didn't think about it much when my therapist said it, but when the BFF mentioned that it's been a year since graduation, it got me thinking. My therapist mentioned how after each semester, I might very well need a break. To allow myself time to recoup and prepare again for a new semester. If that happens, do y'all realize how long it will take for me to finish school?

Too long. That's how long.

I have come up with a plan, though. While the majority of my classes will be online, I'll alternate between having a few face-to-face classes to all online. Hopefully, that will be good enough where I won't have to take entire semesters off anymore.

I'm just excited that I'm actually excited about school. Hoping for better results this good round, but this time, I believe I'm going to get those good results.

About the Songs Mentioned in Don't Panic

As a reminder, these are the songs mentioned in Don't Panic:
  • "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith
  • "Miss Me" by Andy Grammer
  • "God Must Have Spent a Little More Time On You" by N'Snyc
  • "Without You" by Keith Urban
  • "God Gave Me You" by Blake Shelton
  • "Fall into Me" by Brantley Gilbert
  • "My Kind of Crazy" by Brantley Gilbert
For those that have read Don't Panic, did you wonder why I chose those songs? If you did, I'm here to tell you why!

The songs served a purpose. It wasn't about how it was Eli that was singing those songs. It wasn't about the fact that love is involved in those songs. It actually has nothing to do with the lyrics at all. I chose those songs because those are the few that I listen to when I'm having a panic attack. It was about the ability those songs had to relax me. How I could get lost in them and my worries would fade away.

That's why I chose those particular songs. They are on my phone under a playlist that I have just for attacks. Hopefully, you now understand why those were chosen. Not because of anything other than the fact that they can relax me during my attacks. In turn, Sam found them relaxing as well. The songs provided just the right amount of distraction we needed to bring the attacks down from it's climax.

You can look at my Don't Panic playlist on YouTube to find more songs that I find perfect for my anxiety attacks.

Am I Willing?


I'm unsure why, but my brain has been on anxiety lately. Not mine, really, as it has been in hiding since I started a new medication back in March. I'm sure it will rear it's ugly head come August when I return to school, if not before, but I feel good about facing it.

That's not the point of this post though.

When I finished Don't Panic, I thought about giving it a sequel. I wanted to show what comes after getting a handle on anxiety, because it doesn't just stay away forever. Happily ever after doesn't last long for someone who suffers from severe anxiety. I don't want that to come across as discouraging to anyone else out there with anxiety. I'm just saying that, at least for me, anxiety is a cycle of vicious attacks and then calm waters before the storm returns. Even my therapist said that the cycles are different for everyone. She, for example, can go years without having an attack and when it does return, it doesn't stay long. I don't believe for a second that everyone's anxiety is the same. Anything I say is based on my experience mostly.

Anyway, I've been avoiding even thinking about a sequel because it was absolute hell to write DP and I can only imagine the horrors of going back and telling more of Sam's story. I want to do so. Even feel like I need to do so, even though it can stand alone as it is.

Then something even worse happened. I got an idea for another book featuring another character dealing with anxiety. I thought, "Aw, hell. Not again! I don't know if I can survive another anxiety book." It takes a toll on me mentally to write a book like that. I seriously thought I was losing my mind while writing DP. Telling that story caused a lot of unwanted memories to surface and there I was, back to having full blown anxiety again. Just from writing. I lived through every attack Sam has in DP. I suffered through it right there with her and it was twice as bad because I had to stay sane enough to get the words on the screen.

My question to myself is am I willing? Am I willing to dive into even darker parts of anxiety to write another book with a new set of characters? Am I willing to return to Sam and wreck havoc on her carefully reconstructed world? To tear it down just so she can rebuild it again?

Hell, yes.

Okay. Maybe that should be a squeaky affirmation because that mirrors how I actually feel.

I don't know for sure about Sam's story yet. That is on hold for a while longer still. However, that other set of characters? They are clawing their way out of me and onto the screen.

Let the panic begin.

What I Consider to be an Important Day My Life


Fun Fact: I just had a tiny piece of glass push its way out of my face.

Fun Fact for the Fun Fact: This is a normal occurrence that happens every now and then thanks to a car accident back in '09 where my face connected with the passenger side window. The first time I received stitches, first time in a car accident, and first time I got, not one, but two black eyes. Doctors only got the bigger chunks out and that's why every couple months, another little, teeny tiny piece comes out.

Every blue moon, I think about that day. I was supposed to get my license the following month, but ended up waiting two additional months because of my nerves. Car accidents are always scary experiences and this one was no different.

My stomach was in knots when I woke up and I was tempted to skip, but I decided I needed to try to go. It was all I could think about while I was getting dressed it these off white jeans, an orange long sleeve shirt, and my favorite brown jacket. I clearly remembering that I should stay home while I was stepping out the door. I know that I told my mom bye, but I don't remember if I told her that I loved her or to have a good day.

My brother was driving and we were on our way to school, which was about fifteen minutes away. He lit up a cigarette and then attempted to roll down his window. It wouldn't budge. Smoke was crowding the car and immediately, I knew something was wrong. Especially when none of the other windows would go down either. Out of habit, I looked over at how fast he was going.

55.



We were coming up on the last curve before the school. I could see the gym. My brother wasn't paying attention as we were trying to find something to put the cigarette out. He ran off the road. No lie, everything happened in slow motion. Calm as a bird, he easily pulled back onto the road. We should be fine, I remember thinking.

Not.

There was a 3-5 inch drop where the pavement ended, like the one in the picture above. That drop caused the back passenger tire to come off the rim. My brother was no longer in control of the car as it took a sharp turn across the road. My side hit what I would call a high ditch bank, but I don't think that's right. The ground rose up on that side of the road before leveling off. There was a slight dip in the road, if that helps you put the image together.

After that, we flipped and spun on the nose before landing upside down. Once I saw myself going towards that ditch, I closed my eyes and thought, "Oh no." When I opened my eyes, I don't remember seeing anything other than the roof of the car and my arms dangling. Honestly, my first thought was, "Hey, I'm upside down. Cool." It was a slow thought that took a couple of seconds to form each word.

"Lindsay," I heard my brother call. I looked and saw him looking in from outside on the opposite side, as the passenger side was now by the road. "You need to get out. There's smoke." He was scared that the car might catch on fire. Me? I wasn't forming any more coherent thoughts. My brother had to crawl back into the car and tell me to push the button to release myself from the seat belt. I fell to the roof, cutting my knuckles, but I didn't notice that until afterwards.

I followed my brother out. He went left and I went straight to rest on the side of the hill. I remember looking over at the school. I could see the entire building and I thought, "We were so close."

Tears were pouring from my eyes. I was freaking out. I went to rest my head in my hands and that's when I noticed my pants. Blood was everywhere.

"Oh my god. Lindsay, I'm so sorry."

I looked over at my brother who just noticed my appearance and he came over to me. A woman seem to appear out of nowhere. She was down the road behind us and saw the whole thing. I listened as she told my brother to call 911. I couldn't help but cry and stare at my hands. Blood. So much blood. I know the woman said something to me, but I don't remember what.

"I'm tired," I told her. She let me lay down and I remember her hovering over me while my brother was on the phone. He was pissed because they were sending out cops first. I can still hear him say, "We need an ambulance. My sister head is bleeding."

I know he then called my mom, but I don't remember hearing anything. The woman was too busy talking to me.

"How do you feel?"

"Everything's cold."

Another car came by. It was a friend of my brother's.

"We need something to put pressure on her head," the woman said.

Easily, the friend pulled off his white shirt and then it was being pressed to my head.

"I'm tired." I closed my eyes. I listened as the woman ordered my brother, who was pacing, to come talk to me. Alternatively, they told me to talk to them. To stay awake. My brother would apologize every few seconds too.

I managed to stay awake. Then my brother and the woman was gone and I had a bunch of firefighters around me. A familiar voice to my right said, "Lindsay, you doing okay?"

"Yeah." Seconds later, I suddenly became alert. "Hey Jeffery!" I exclaimed as I realized who it was. "You're doing good," he said as they lifted me and placed me on the board. The firefighters were talking around me as they strapped me down and put a neck brace on.

I remember panicking just a little because it was either an one strap or a new one and one guy was having a hard time putting it on. Then they lifted me and I was in an ambulance with my brother beside me  on a stretcher and my mom at the front.

"Hey Mom," I greeted.

I don't really remember what she said back. The EMT guy was shutting the door and peering over me, taking a look at my head. I heard him say something about a gash and was eerily calm.

"How bad is it?" I asked my mom. (I didn't like doctors, much less needles, shots, etc.)

"It's cut open just a little."

The ride seemed quick to the hospital. I don't remember what else was said or done, except that I kept mentioning that I was cold. Things get more hazy at the hospital. I was transported here and there for machines to look at my head. My brother was still apologizing any time I was near him.

After those tests, I was in the ER in a room with my brother. Almost the whole family was there. I could hear them reassuring my crying brother that I was fine. I think I told him, "Don't worry. I'm fine."  He ended up getting released before me. He walked away being extremely sore and a few tiny scratches.

I was in the room with my dad and one of my sisters and I had to go to the bathroom. They put bandages over my head at that point. When that happened, I still can't tell you. Anyway. I can still see my reflection in the mirror. I was as white as white could be. My hair, which was up in a ponytail, looked horrible and there was blood in it.

After that, nothing much happened until I got five stitches and they removed one piece of glass. Then I was released and got to go home. For me, it was odd because I was hyper and wanted to go to school still. I was bloody from head to toe and looked horrible. I thought it would be funny. Instead, I opted for walking into a convenience store and Walgreens. One person did ask what happened to me. Otherwise, it was like I didn't look like blood was covering my entire body and like someone hadn't of beat the hell out of my face.

Anyway, I ended up having to go to a plastic surgeon about six months later. They had to remove a chunk of glass from my eyelid and to smooth the scars, I got microdermabrasion treatments, which are awesome.

That day changed my life. I learned that when you ride with a heavy book bag in your lap and use keychains on the zippers, one might hit you in the eye if you're in a car accident, giving you an additional black eye. I'm a very cautious driver now, greatly because of that. I listen to my gut when it says to stay home. Usually. There are no doubts in my mind that that day was the first of many major triggers for my anxiety. I was always an anxious person, but triply so after the accident. I got some cool scars out of it too. The scars have healed nicely and they aren't terribly noticeable anymore. Only the one where the gash was is apparent and even then, not a lot.

If you read this entire post, bravo. I didn't realize it would be so long.

Below are some pictures of my face the day after the accident. Pretty, huh?

DON'T PANIC! I have a teaser for you!

See? I think that was pretty clever of me, that title. Anyways, every Saturday between now and October 8th, I'm going to share a teaser from Don't Panic. I really hope y'all enjoy this feature and that it gets you excited about the book. Don't forget to add it to your shelf on Goodreads!

I'm thrilled to be writing this book because I have so many expectations for it and I want it to be a tool to show other teens with anxiety that they are not alone. Plus, I have enjoyed writing this book. It has been helpful for me and my anxiety as well.

On to the teaser!*



Every single day, I walk into my classroom and get this urge to leave. It’s impossible to ignore. The longer I ignore it, the more prominent it is and the harder it is to pretend it isn’t there. It’s even worse when I have to speak or stand in front of everyone. All of a sudden, these things that didn’t bother me do. I have no control and I barely want to leave the house to go to school.
I freeze as I hear water rushing out of a faucet.
What are you doing in here,” a boy asks as he rounds the corner and sees me. “Are you okay?” he adds seeing my frantic expression.
Oh, no. I’m in the boys bathroom.


*Please note that these teasers are may not end up being in the final product of this book. Changes may be made. Please do not quote these teasers until you have checked against the final version.

Techniques

Since I'm sharing with you my triggers, I figured that if anyone else with anxiety is reading this, I don't want to discourage them. Therefore, I have to share some techniques on how to deal with it. All of the following help me deal with anxiety. They could help you too. It's worth a try.
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When I was in school and struggling, my "technique" was to dig my nails into my skin, using the pain as a distraction. While it worked for like 2.5 seconds, depending on the pressure I placed, it isn't a good technique. But here are some good ones:
  • Counting. I'm dead serious. Counting saved me one day. This serves as a distraction and allows you to calm down. I would count in sets of ten or one hundred depending on the severity. It didn't always get rid of the attack completely, but it helped. Even just a tiny bit is worth a try.
  • Positive Self-Talking. Throw away all of those negative thoughts and start thinking positively. Tell yourself that you can make it through this. Remind yourself of any accomplishments you've made with your anxiety. This also distracts your mind from the attack and could help.
  • Believe in yourself. You can't just tell yourself these things. Believing is part of the trick!
  • Cut back on the caffeine. You wouldn't believe how much caffeine plays a part in triggering attacks. Cutting back on this could mean cutting back on attacks.
  • Eat right. Being healthy plays a part too.
  • Massages. My personal favorite technique is to go out, once or twice a month, and get a massage. This is the ultimate relaxation technique for me. Being relaxed means not being uptight as often which will help you stay in control.
  • Breathe. Make sure you are breathing normally. Heightened breathing or slowing down how often you inhale and exhale can effect your attack as well. Take nice, slow, deep and even breaths.
Those are just a few techniques. Hopefully, they will help you. 

Please note that I'm not a professional and that taking my advice should not interfere with getting/taking professional help. I'm only trying to let other gain a better understanding and to help others know they are not alone. 

Cycle of Anxiety and an Example


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Anxiety starts as a simple thought. It then grows into more thoughts until it's all your are thinking about. Next, it stirs negative emotions within you and then you take action. Here is an example to help you better understand the cycle.

I'm sitting at my desk in school and the teacher is lecturing on some topic. A thought of how it's quiet and there's a test coming up. (Thoughts) I don't like silence. What if people can hear whatever noise I'm making? Why is everyone looking at me, even though their backs are turned? My stomach hurts. I don't feel good. I'm ready to get out of this room. (Emotions) The intensity rises and soon, I can't stand it any longer. I have tried and I can't do it any more. I get up and bolt out of the room. (Actions)

That's a sucky, but hopefully, good enough example. If you have a better example, please share!

Day One of Triggers

imgres.jpgI did a post a while back on a few triggers of mine. The triggers included silence around others, drive-thrus, pumping gas, and crowds. That post was done during a time when I had hardly no anxiety going on. I figured it's time for a more in-depth post about my triggers. This is to help others understand me and my anxiety more and as a mechanism for me to better know exactly what I'm scared of. Each day, I will go in-depth about a trigger of mine.

First, I thought it would be beneficial to see a generalized list of triggers that I found from The Reality of Anxiety, a blog I have become addicted to.


  • Play the What if Game and other negative self talk- Setting Ourselves up for Failure
  • Poor Self Esteem- thinking we're not worthy enough to be around others and be liked for who we are
  • Put too much pressure on ourselves to be "perfect" for others or not to have an attack
  • Focus on ourselves more than those around us
  • Eat poorly, drink a lot of caffeine
  • Do not exercise and or meditate regularly
  • Full Exposure to our phobias instead of baby steps
  • Do not get enough rest at night
  • Hold in our feelings
  • Do not focus on breathing deeply

  • All of the above are triggers that help set my anxiety in action. You'd be surprised at how often I've had to skip my caffeine love of energy drinks because it would cause me 3 days worth of anxiety. Let's get started, shall we?


    No_School.jpgSchool environment. As you may have noticed from my last two posts, school is an enormous trigger for me. Sometimes, I can't handle driving by one, much less going into one. Just yesterday, I felt sick to my stomach because I was in the parking lot of a local high school, waiting on my nephew. I feel like I could throw up just mentioning it! 


    High school was unbearable, especially my last year. I missed three weeks in a row because I couldn't find the energy to get out of bed or move. Anyways, being in the school environment causes me to panic.


    I start wondering if the students around me can hear the not always audible noises I'm making. The click of my pen, the scratch of my pencil on paper, the creak of my chair as my legs continue to bounce up and down and I continuously rearrange myself. All these noises and some that aren't really there are so loud in my head. My head starts pounding; my heart beats faster; my ears hurt; and I feel faint. All of those things begin happening at once with such intensity. 


    I've always been the child to make good grades. The pressure I placed on myself to excel in school did not bode well with my anxiety. Especially when I took two AP classes at once. Never again will I take an AP class. 


    Me+AP classes=tons upon tons of anxiety. 


    I remember one day, I got my report card and had to keep myself from crying in class as I looked it over because I had a couple of C's. There's no telling how much stress I had over that. I finished with a 2.6 GPA. Before my anxiety started becoming so severe, it was a 3.7. I don't know how to explain how much that bothers me. A carefree Lindsay does not exist. No matter what I say, I care about my grades and that 2.6 is killing me on the inside. 


    All this talk has left me exhausted. Hopefully, that's a good enough insight. :)


    Yesterday's Attack Follow-Up

    I emailed that post to my therapist and I'm waiting to hear back from her. My attack ended shortly after that post, thank goodness. However, I'm still experiencing physical side effects from my anxiety over this problem.

    Here's how I see it, now that I'm fully rational...or at least I think so. Once I started getting better, I promised myself that even if I knew that I could survive the attack, because I can do so, that I wouldn't put myself in situations that I knew would cause a severe attack. Even if I can get through it, I didn't want to have to experience the mental and physical effects that the attack would have on me. In my opinion, nothing is worth going through that.

    Not new experiences. Not meeting new people. Not an education that would better my life, because I can find a way to get that without physically being at a school.

    I know, I know. Having this level over anxiety is ridiculous, but that's how it works for me. I freak out over something most people have no trouble dealing with. Sure, it's normal to have a little anxiety about starting college, but not like what I am beginning to experience once more.

    Something has changed. I'm not sure what triggered it, but it has happened. I used to see it as a test of sorts. It was me testing my limits and seeing how long I could last in a certain situation before I gave in to the anxiety and how that was a good thing. However, now it's like I don't care about that anymore.

    I'm back to where I was a year ago. Where my MC in Don't Panic is right now. I just want it to stop and be over with. I want a quick, permanent fix, not a subtle fix that will last until the next one. I'm right back to feeling that if I don't 'have' to deal with it, that I shouldn't go through it.

    Right now, in my eyes, college and being there physically is not a must. There are other options and right now, I want to take that other option. I don't want to go through these attacks again. It doesn't matter that I can survive them and tackle them. The mental angst is not worth it.

    Sometimes, I feel like Emily and that y'all (and the other people in my life) are Jake. It's like no matter how good I do, there's always a setback that follows. There's always someone out there to support me through these tough times, but I feel like eventually, you will get tired of being that support. Just like Emily feels Jake will get tired of being the strong one of the two. Just like Emily feels that Jake will get tired of how she operates, so to speak, and will get fed up with the constant ups and downs. But that is how it is with a person with anxiety. We have ups and downs all the time. Sometimes, more often than not.

    If people stop reading these posts and commenting words of encouragement, I'll understand completely.  I guess that goes to show just how much like Emily I am. I rather deal with it alone than cause trouble to others. Even though, we both see that dealing with it alone is not always the right choice.