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.

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. :)

    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.