anxiety-related update

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




How About A Life Update?

If you recall, I stopped calling them anxiety updates because that's not what my life is anymore. Today, I felt like it was time for a life update and it has been awhile since the last one, so here we go.

Yesterday, after mentioning it to my parents, I came to a decision. Since then, I've been thinking about it, and honestly, I'm a little nervous about it. Since March 2011, I've been seeing my therapist every two weeks (unless something came up). Still, I saw her consistently within a certain time frame.

My therapist mentioned earlier this year, I believe, that if I wanted, I could space my appointments further apart.

I almost had a panic attack on the spot. I laughed it off, shook my head, and said, "Not going to happen." Those four words have been a mantra of sorts since then. Anytime it's brought up, that's what I say. I wasn't ready, even if she thought I was. Or maybe, I should rephrase that. I was worried about changing how often I see her. This woman has been my lifeline a lot of times and there were too many what ifs in my mind, even though my anxiety has been nonexistent for about a year now.

Plus, I really enjoy my sessions.

But yesterday, I decided that when I see her next week, I'll tell her that I'll do it. I'll space them out more. How did I come to this conclusion?

A freaking budget.

Seriously.

There are three big things I want to do next year and while I manage my money pretty well, I need to get serious if I wanted to do those trips like I plan. So I was hashing out a budget and knew that one way I could save money was if I cracked down to one session a month. I was willing to consider it.

And I did. I thought of all the reasons that made me think that I could really do this.

-It is summer. I'm not in school. Cutting back will be okay. She's always an email away anyhow.
-I can always go back to a session every two weeks.
-I actually feel like I could handle it, or handle any situations that may arise, on my own.

That last one is the most important to me. When she mentioned it those months ago, my instinct was to say a big fat NO! It's taken some time and a little incentive, but I was able to reach this all on my own. It used to bother me a great deal when something would come up and cancel our appointment, pushing me off for another two weeks. I would worry about forgetting to mention something I wanted to discuss or worry about something else happening and me having a meltdown.

Now?

I'm okay if something comes up and I can't go. There aren't any second thoughts other than, "See you in two weeks!" That's a big step for me. I know I've posted before that I had really realized that I was in control, but that was always followed by "of my anxiety." I knew that I was in control of that, but the other stresses of life? I wasn't so sure.

I've always had trouble dealing with other things, but thanks to her and our sessions, those aren't issues anymore. Sure there are still problems, but not like before. I know what I want, I know what I don't want, and I have a better grip on how to do those things or to ensure that I don't do them. I've probably confused you, but I know what I mean.

Life is good, y'all. I'm doing my best to enjoy everything, to stand up for myself when needed, to be happy, and to be anxiety-free because these moments will turn into memories before long. When I look back, I want to remember all the good, all the growing up I've done, everything I've done for myself, and know that I did what was best for me.

Reading Helps Me Deal with Life. (This Post is All Over the Place. And Long.)

(This post started as a simple anxiety update and turned into something else. Something really long.)

Do you ever look at your life, at how far you’ve come over whatever hurdles you’ve had to jump, and feel completely baffled that you’ve made it? Maybe I’m still feeling emotional after reading Left Drowning by Jessica Park (if you haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?), but it hit me today.

I’m starting my third semester of college.

I made it through my first one, even though I missed a week due to my psych ward visit.

I made it through my second one, even though I had to take the spring semester off and start back in the fall.

And now I’m starting my third semester of college. Not only that, but I haven’t had a lick of anxiety. None. Okay, that’s sort of a lie. The only hint of anxiety I’ve had is the first day of class, I was nauseated as I drove there. Once I was on campus, it disappeared. And then there was a flare today because I was going to have to get up and speak in front of the class, but it was gone as soon as I realized it was there. As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t had any anxiety because I haven’t had to consciously put forth extra effort to manage it.

I really hope I don’t sound like a broken record every time I do these anxiety updates, but I need them. This is therapeutic for me. But if I do, feel free to ignore me. I won’t blame you.

Anyway, as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I feel baffled by this realization. It almost seems impossible to think that I’m here after being where I started. Or impossible that I was ever that way to begin with. I’ve been thinking about the past a lot lately. I don’t know why. Maybe I need to tell my therapist about this.

But I’m happy with life. I’m me again.

Things that used to seem so elusive and hundreds of thousands of miles out of reach. I want to say that I now hold those things in the palms of my hands, but that feels inaccurate. Those things are coursing through my veins again, touching every part of me. I don’t think I could be anything but happy right now. How could I?

One thing, that I think is really getting to me, is that I’m reading again. Not just a book here and there, barely making it to my goal of 50 last year. I mean that craving I had before, that need to constantly have a book around and immersing myself in another reality hasn’t been as strong as it used to be.

When I started spiraling with my anxiety, the magic of reading left me. No comfort could be found between the pages of a book. I had never been without that before and it was devastating for me to lose that. My therapist has said numerous times that reading is just like me attending my appointments with her every two weeks.

The ability to get lost in someone else’s story, someone else’s joys and heartache, to escape my reality, was therapy for me. Always had been to some extent. 

When my life got to be too much, I read. 

When I needed something to make it through the day, I read. 

When I just wanted to enjoy a taste of happiness, I read.

So I was out of sorts when reading no longer did that for me. When I no longer had to always carry a book with me. When I didn’t get excited about going to the bookstore. When I couldn’t fathom sitting down for any period of time to read a book. And I know this sounds crazy, considering I write books and would still read here and there. But it wasn’t the same.

It’s been an uphill battle as I’ve slowly gotten it back. A couple weeks ago, my therapist told me something along the lines of how I need to read. I need that magic as part of my therapy.

It helps me deal.

With anxiety.
With bad days.
With good days.
With life.

Reading helps me deal with life.

Just like writing does.

But writing and reading aren’t exactly the same for me.

Writing helps me be in control. I can escape reality, but I’m in complete control of this other reality in which I’m immersing myself. It helps me cope, heal, and get to a better place.

Reading lets me hand those reins to another person, to that author, and they let me relax, cope, heal, and get lost in another world.

Sometimes, I need to be in control. Sometimes, someone else needs to be. I’m thrilled that both keep me grounded.

Books truly are amazing, magical, wonderful things. I get to enjoy reading, just like I used to. More than that, life is so much better when reading is part of my "therapy". (My therapist doesn't force me to read or anything. It helps me deal, and that's what I mean by therapy.)

I feel like the reader I used to be and I couldn’t be happier.

I'm happy. 
I'm anxiety-free. 
I'm writing.
I'm reading. 
Life is good.

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.

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!