nervous

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!

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.

    Emily and Lindsay Comparisons

    Some writers will tell you that there is always a little bit of themselves in their characters. I have to agree with that. Some writers will also tell you to write what you know. That is something I can't argue with. Therefore, I thought this would make an interesting post. Below, I'm going to list the characteristics that are common between myself and Emily.

    -Anxiety. Emily suffers from just a little bit of anxiety from the abuse she suffered from her mother. I also have anxiety, but mine is more severe than Emily's. There will be a book with a character like myself this coming year hopefully.

    -Our love of hockey and Sidney Crosby. I love going to hockey games and I love Sidney Crosby. A lot of Emily's opinions of Crosby are my own. Emily seems more of a fanatic though.

    -Looks. Emily looks a bit like myself in terms of eye color and hair color. Hence, why I am on the cover of my book.

    -Ice Cream- In Sweetness, Emily goes to Dairy Queen and orders a banana split. It is Emily's favorite as well as my own. However, I'm not as big of a fan of Cold Stone as Emily. Why? Because their servings are too big for me! Emily's favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry's (Chunky Monkey) is also my favorite.

    Those are a few things that Emily and myself have in common. What do you have in common with Emily?

    Anxiety, Orthostatic Intolerance, and I

    I want to share with my readers more about myself. It seems apparent to me that the only place to start is with my anxiety and orthostatic intolerance. These two things have been a huge part of my life ever since I could remember way back in first grade. Am I implying that these two things have run my life? Certainly. Until now, that is. However, I will dive into that later.

    You are probably wondering what orthostatic intolerance is. Well, it’s pretty common in teen girls. That sudden lightheadedness and dizzy sensation you feel when you step out of a hot shower? Momentarily clouded vision when you go from laying down to standing up too fast? That is a taste of what orthostatic intolerance is like. Orthostatic Intolerance is where my blood pressure drops, usually due to low sodium intake, and thus providing a lightheaded feeling. Occasionally, it leads to me fainting.


    If I haven’t ate that much salty foods in two days, I’m going to have an episode. Also, too much caffeine causes an episode. Some of the doctors I went to called it pre-syncope. Syncope means you have fainting episodes. I would always get the sensation of feeling like I would faint, but rarely did. These episodes could last anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours. It is horrible. Often, I would find myself wishing to faint so I could get it over with!

    That is the orthostatic part of my life. The more dominant part is my anxiety. Standing in the line at the cafeteria and BAM! I have to keep moving, whether it’s shuffling my feet or swaying back and forth, I can’t stop moving because if I do, it feels as if the world will disappear and I’m left in a state of panic. Going through that in the first grade was tough. There is no telling how many days I have missed of school because of similar happenings throughout my school life.

    Next major even would be in the fifth grade. I had a teacher that I loved and she ended up moving to another state during the school year. Our new teacher was okay, I guess. I immediately noticed something different about myself. My stomach was in constant knots whenever I thought about or was attending school. The thought of it was almost unbearable. “DON’T GO IN THAT CLASSROOM!” screamed in my mind everyday.

    I started “skipping” class and staying in the library with some of the coolest librarians. However, there was yet another change. The silence bothered me. The sound of movement was music to my ears. After a few weeks of this behavior and going home from where I was unknowingly making myself sick, I was transferred into another classroom. The change was tough and the agony of new people, more silence, and a new teacher was hard, but just what I needed.

    Then there is middle school. Fifth grade started a tradition. Every new school year brought weakness to my knees, pain to my stomach, and vomit to my throat. Silence was not appreciated nor welcomed anymore. I couldn’t stand it. What most would consider a peaceful work environment was Hell for me. My legs were uncontrollable in a bouncing rage. But! I was still able to concentrate and do my work. I tried to ignore my anxiety.

    Always have I known that I was a nervous person, but I wouldn’t have classified these feelings under anxiety. Well, that all changed once high school came and it wasn’t for the better. My episodes with Orthostatic Intolerance were getting worse. Cardio appointments were made and everything seemed fine. The doctor gave me a few tips that should lessen the extremity and frequency of the episodes.

    That worked…for a little while. I lost fifteen pounds in roughly four months. Apparently, that is a no-no for a ninth grader. My doctor told me that I did not need to drop below 125. I never have, but I couldn’t help it. My nerves were making my lose my appetite. Everyday in that year, I ate a pop tart (just one) for breakfast and a granola bar for lunch. Sometimes, I wouldn’t eat anything for breakfast. However, at dinner I ate just fine.

    Those damn EOG/EOC tests were almost the death of me. The silence during that time was unbearable. I honestly don’t know how I was able to remember my own name, much less the material I learned throughout the year.

    Back on track, tenth grade my episodes increased. I was still able to manage them pretty well. Eleventh grade nothing was working. I was missing school nearly every other day. In the dead of winter, I was sitting less than two feet from an open window wearing jeans and a short sleeved shirt and I was burning up. It felt as if it was 100 degrees. Not only was I freaking out because I was having these hot flashes, I felt as if every eye in the classroom was on me. I sat in the back of every class so that was not happening.

    No one paid attention to me, yet someone had to notice how my legs wouldn’t stop moving. I kept fidgeting in my chair. I was sweating in 35-45 degree weather. I couldn’t focus on anything thing. My nails were digging into my skin for a distraction, hoping to break the skin. I HAD to escape that room that second, but fear of being noticed when I asked to leave kept me rooted in my seat and the torture continued until I absolutely couldn’t take it anymore. I got permission and bolted out of the room.

    Progressively, my anxiety grew as well as my stress. Eventually, I missed three straight weeks of school and was withdrawn. That was terrible for me. If a B or less appears on my report card, I’m the girl trying not to breakdown in tears. The school social worker recommended a therapist who also recommended a psychiatrist. Seeing a therapist is by far the best decision in my entire life. (Thank goodness for my momma making me go!)

    I am now homebound and able to finish my senior year. Yes, I’m medicated and still going strong with the therapist. This is my story, but it’s only the beginning. If you want to learn more about my tribulations with anxiety, then stay tuned. In spring of 2012, I’m releasing a memoir that will include my journal (my therapist makes me keep one) and hopefully notes that my therapist and psychiatrist have kept. I desperately want to let other teens know that you are not alone.

    I wish there are more books about teens dealing with this. I do plan on writing some fictional ones as well. If you are a teen experiencing some level of anxiety and need someone to talk to, stay tuned because I have a special feature just for you.