Anxiety and Getting Out of the House

**This post does not contain tips because I don’t have any, but I need some.**

I have anxiety. Generalized and social. And probably every other sort of anxiety there is. It’s a part of me and has been since I can remember (kindergarten, ugh). I finally started getting help for it three years ago, and haven’t found that anything really helps. Not meds, not therapy, not meditation.

Tonight, there is a local photography club meeting. I signed up (and paid) back in August at the fair, but I have yet to attend a meeting because ANXIETY. I’m anxious about being around strangers. I’m anxious that my photography sucks compared to everyone else. I’m anxious that I have to bring my oldest child and that I will be judged for that. I’m anxious something will happen to the car on the way to or from the meeting (I’m anxious about the car in general).

I’ve been more anxious than usual this week. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the ridiculous summer temps? Threats of storms that never happen? School and homework getting overwhelming already? I don’t know.

I haven’t been to see my therapist in a long time because something always comes up. After next week, though, I am scheduled weekly until the end of October. I am also not on meds at the moment because I haven’t found something that works yet.

**UPDATE** I went to the meeting and I was fine. I knew I would be, but anxiety tells me something different. The next meeting is October 1, so I am planning on going to that. I probably should have posted this on my photography blog but I kind of want to leave that for pretty pictures.

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When You’re In A Bad Mood

It’s hard, day in and day out, doing the same things. Feeling the same feelings. Fighting the same battles. I used to have a really tough time getting out this hole – deep, dark, bottomless. I’ve learned some tips to make my bad days seem…not so bad.

DRINK WATER

It’s obviously the healthiest beverage choice, and the cheapest. I keep a 64oz container of water in the fridge, ready to go when I need it. Staying hydrated is important anyway – but this is the best choice when you are grumpy. Caffeine makes me jittery and hurts my stomach, which doesn’t do anything to improve my mood, no matter how good it may taste at the time.

GRATITUDE

I am grateful for so much in my life. My kids. My family. My friends (it still makes me smile, writing friends. I spent many years alone.) After all that’s happened, I look back on how far I’ve come – and my kids – and remember that God used that experience to shape me into what I am now – and what I have yet to become. Sit down and make a list of everything you are grateful for today.

MUSIC

Listening to some music usually helps me feel better. I use Spotify, and have certain playlists I go to when I’m feeling icky. My current favorites are the Moana soundtrack (especially Shiny) and my Christian radio playlist. Unfinished by Mandisa and Hard Love by NeedToBreathe are some really motivating ones!

EXERCISE

I hate exercise. I hate being outside. I hate being sweaty. But there’s something about moving, burning calories, that makes me feel so much better when I’m done. My current go-to is walking, but I’ve been thinking about trying yoga – I know my kids would love it – and the benefits are endless. Do you have any tips, YouTube channels or advice on how to get started with yoga, especially as someone who is not flexible at all?

MAKE A LIST

Sometimes, I make a simple to-do list, adding things like: eat breakfast, wash the dishes, take a shower. When life gets crappy, seeing even routine things crossed off a physical list can be powerful.

JOURNAL

Write it all out. Get it down on paper, or type it out on your computer or phone. It can help you sort through what’s making you so grumpy. It’s like venting to a friend. Or…

CALL SOMEONE

Reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Most of the time, they will be more than willing to listen and they may even have some suggestions. Bonus points if they meet with you in person. Sometimes, when you feel crappy, you don’t want to be alone.

GET A HOBBY

Find something you genuinely love to do. For me, it’s taking photos of my kids, writing YA paranormal fiction and reading through the Harry Potter series.

Sidenote: if you have meds, take them! If you don’t, and think you might need them, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about it!

When all else fails, lounge on the couch and binge-watch some Parks & Rec or Supernatural. Sometimes, you just need to feel crappy for a little while. Just don’t let it go on too long!

Another Day of Therapy

I wasn’t scheduled to see my therapist until September, but she had a last-minute cancellation so I was able to get in. I was in a fairly decent mood going into it and I feel like that makes me less anxious about it.

I tend to quit things that are hard or that I don’t see progress from. I’ve been to therapy before – in 2017 and 2018. But I didn’t stick with either of those for longer than a few sessions. I’m an introverted introvert – I hate talking to people, I don’t like leaving my house, and I really hate to be judged. However, I think I’ve found a therapist that I feel comfortable with, and I actually want to go to each session. I get disappointed when I have to wait a month for my next appointment. I take that as a good sign.

This is only my fourth session with her, and I don’t know how much progress I’ve made, if any. But I know that I need to stick with it and see where it goes from here. I’m taking 18 credits this fall so I’m sure I’ll have plenty to talk about!

Photography Club

Today’s session was spent recapping the last two weeks, and informing her that I joined some local groups. The first one is a photography club. I am not confident in my photography skills (though I hear great things from people). I would like to be more confident, get some critiques on my work, and work on my skills as a photographer. There are monthly photo themes where we can submit our work for critique at the next meeting, and also several events throughout the community that I could help photograph.

One upside to this club is that it forces me to get out into the community, attend events, and photograph things I wouldn’t otherwise photograph (I mostly take photos of my kids and Cat). Of course, being an introvert, that is also a huge downside, because I would rather stay in my house than go out. But I’ve already paid my yearly dues and my first meeting is in two weeks!

Writer’s Group

The other group I joined just last night is a local writer’s group. I haven’t been able to write fiction since I took a creative writing college course in the Fall of 2017. I got some really harsh feedback from the instructor and since then, I can’t sit down and write like I used to. I loved writing, and wrote only for myself. To hear the things that were said about me and my writing just shook me and I can’t seem to get over that.

My therapist is hopeful that this local writing group can help me through that, give me some inspiration to actually write, and also get me out of the house (I prefer writing on the couch while binge-watching Supernatural for the hundredth time). The first meeting I am (hopefully) able to attend is next weekend. The only issue I may have is finding childcare since the meeting is three hours long. I don’t have family nearby to help out anymore, so I’m not sure what I’ll do. I know I can’t bring them along – that’s too long for three kids to sit nicely!

Unless there is another cancellation, this will be my last therapy session until the middle of September. I really am a little sad about that. Tomorrow, however, is another acupuncture session, so we’ll see how that goes.

Mental Health Care

I’m sitting at my psychiatrist’s office right now, waiting for her to come in and give me a little bit of hope. I’ve been having a lot of anxiety and restlessness the past few weeks. Since I can’t get into my therapist until early June, I’m hoping that the things she prescribes will help at least a little. 

I have a 5-point plan for the next month. I will switch Abilify to bedtime, increase the Celexa to 40mg, take Gabapentin three times a day (for the anxiety), increase Vyvanse to 30mg and come back in a month. 

I like that my doctor writes my plan down so I can take it with me. It’s sometimes a lot to remember, and when I have my 5-year-old along, things don’t always register. 

I feel like I have a good team this time. My psychiatrist and therapist are both in the same practice, and genuinely seem to care about my mental health and about me getting better. Which makes me feel better. 

We’ll see how this helps, along with the @Headspace app for a few minutes a day, and a 30 minute walk. 

Mental Health Month

Last May, I had a post about Mental Health Month on my old blog. I was in a different place, mentally and emotionally. I had jumped dumped a guy for cheating on me, I quit therapy and medication wasn’t really helping.

Now I am in a great relationship (though it’s still early), I’m making plans for our future, Spring Semester is winding down (finally) and I gained a few new diagnoses. I do feel like a quote from last year’s post is still true, “It’s not depression so much anymore, just anxiety.” I’m anxious and restless and just overall all feel weird. I think this is due in part to a combination of the meds I am on and the new diagnosis.

I’m back in therapy for the third time. I really like this one, so I hope I can make some progress. She gave me an assignment, since I wasn’t able to make another appointment for a month. I am supposed to “feel my feelings” when I get anxious or restless. I’ll be honest – I am not doing this every single time. I would be doing nothing else than feeling my feelings. But I am trying to catch myself in the big moments and figure out why I’m feeling that way and to calm myself down. It’s a process.

I am also enrolled in Diabetes Education classes. Due to a combo of genetics, bad diet, anxiety and Binge Eating Disorder, I am “borderline pre-diabetic”. Obviously, I don’t want to become diabetic, so I will work hard in those 16 weeks of classes to learn and change and grow.

This month, I turn 33. I’m not nervous or scared or anything. Honestly, it’s just another day. It will be a little different this year, as I have a Significant Other who actually cares about me and my kids, so maybe it will even be fun.

The plan is to drive up to my parents’ house in the morning, have a BBQ bonfire with s’mores, take some photos, maybe do some sparklers, and head home to a clean, quiet house to relax after being with people all day. I’m an introverted introvert – people exhaust me – even if they’re family.

I’m hoping to blog more about mental health and our life here in Northern Minnesota. Stay Tuned!

Therapy Session 1

I went back to therapy recently, and in the first session, I told her that I want to stop using my phone as a coping mechanism for anxiety. We didn’t work out what I would do instead – that will come later – but I’ve been doing some research on my own since then.

I reach for my phone often. Like, all the time. I carry it with me in my pocket or in my bra (yes, I know that’s bad) when I don’t have pockets. A few weeks ago, I left my phone in the car while Hannah and I went into Walmart before school. It was an accident but I felt panicky and sweaty and nervous. I didn’t like not having my phone. I told Hannah my excuse – I needed to know what time it was so I could get her to school on time – but really, it felt like I was losing my mind.

I feel like maybe I am getting a little better sometimes, like when I’m at the park with the kids (it’s too sunny out to see the screen anyway) or watching a movie with my Significant Other (aka B). But I find that I am thinking about my phone during those times. It’s not like I’m getting a ton of messages or there’s so much to do on there. I don’t even have the Facebook app or Instagram app anymore. It’s just such a habit now that I need to have my phone, even if there’s nothing to do. It’s the first thing I reach for when I open my eyes at night, no matter what time. And I get annoyed with myself when my eyes are too blurry to see the screen.

There are some positives. It’s the only camera I have right now to take photos of my kids. I read a lot on my phone – I have hundreds of free and purchased Kindle books. I also keep track of my assignments on my phone.

My homework from that first session was to write down the times of day when I’m feeling anxious and restless, and try to figure out why – to just stop and feel the feelings. She said it won’t feel good, and it will be hard, but it’s a good first step.