How Anxiety Landed Me in the Hospital

For the past week and a half, I’ve been feeling truly sick– heart palpitations, leg numbness, shortness of breath, extreme thirst. I let it go for awhile because I assumed I was just dealing with a pesky cold. I didn’t want to make the trek to urgent care unless I was truly dying.

Yesterday I grew tired of feeling like death’s guinea pig, so I made the trip and forked over my ridiculous copay– only for them to tell me to go to the emergency room for blood work. My blood pressure was high and they began to worry because of my leg numbness.

Reluctantly, I made the trip.  The last thing I wanted to do was spend the next 10 hours in the ER, but I clearly lack strong decision making and any dignity, so I did it anyway. They ran a multitude of tests; from blood work to urine sampling to a CT scan. Despite my oddly above-normal heart rate, all tests came back normal.

The doctor’s suggestion?

  1. I should see an endocrinologist for further treatment.
  2. It is likely I just have severe anxiety which causes me to have physical symptoms.

How frustrating it was for them to come to that conclusion, seeing as though I already knew I had anxiety, yet it has never affected me like that before. I have had real panic attacks, debilitating ones that have stopped me in my tracks. I have hyperventilated.  I have gone through all of that before– but never something like this.

Do I really believe the doctor?

I mean, I guess I don’t have much choice. She’s obviously much more qualified than I. I suppose more than anything I am just frustrated, with myself and this feeling that has plagued me for most of my life.

What’s next?

I don’t know. I am too stubborn to give up on this fight for normalcy. I would sooner die than be put on medications again. It does feel unbeatable sometimes– especially nights like yesterday. It’s frustrating. I feel dumb. I feel misunderstood. I feel a billion things– none of them necessarily good. But I know deep within me that I am worth so much more than this, and I will get it.

Even if it takes fifty years, I will get it.

 

 

 

The Art of Pleasing Others– and Why it’s Bullshit

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Living is hard enough. Living for others? Bullshit.

Societal pressures, family, friends– they all tell us we need to be something other than ourselves.

If we don’t do this then we won’t amount to anything.

If we don’t lose weight we’ll never be attractive to the opposite sex.

If we don’t have kids, our futures are worthless.

If we follow our dreams, we’re irresponsible.

If we play it safe, we aren’t living. 

 

Quite frankly, it’s all bullshit.

I truly believe our early twenties are the roughest years in terms of trying to find ourselves. It’s painful to be pulled in fifteen different directions, silencing your inner voice for the sake of others’ happiness. We are afraid to branch out and see things for ourselves because we can’t handle the unknown. We are petrified of not being accepted. We are so consumed in other people’s (irrelevant) opinions that we often forget that our only duty is to keep ourselves happy and healthy.

When I first enrolled in college, someone told me I was “stupid” for studying anything other than computers or technology–words I remember being spoken like shards of glass in my back. It hurt to be let down, but it hurt even more coming from someone I thought I could trust.

Gradually, things began to change. I found something I was good at and ran with it. It’s hard to incorporate passion with career. It’s hard to keep your head above water when it seems like the whole universe is attempting to drown out your hopes.

Don’t let them steal your spark in life.

The day I enrolled in university, I knew I had to do it for me; regardless of what people thought or how crazy it seemed. They thought I was crazy for studying media and culture– but I thought they were crazy for not giving me a chance to prove myself.

The art of pleasing others digs much deeper than career choices or college majors. I’ve done a whole array of things that my family has deemed questionable; from relationships to my appearance to how I act or what I do. Its exhausting pretending to be someone I am not.

So I stopped.

I imagine it hasn’t or won’t be that easy for others in the same situation. I feel for them.

Truthfully speaking, I don’t owe anyone any explanation for why I do the things I do– and neither do you. It is not our job as humans to conform to what other people want. We need to do what’s right for us in order to grow and contribute as decent people. Being someone we are not gives the false idea that it’s okay to hold back.

It is not okay.

We aren’t doing the world any favors by keeping ourselves on a tight leash. The world desperately needs more authenticity.

At the end of the day, it is imperative to remember these three things–

  1. You don’t owe anybody shit
  2. You are you for good reason– don’t question your worth
  3. You don’t need anybody that doesn’t need you

When life seems to be getting too tough, too unbearable– keep going. We need you.

We really fucking need you.

Anxiety // How I “Cope”

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A few months ago I made a post regarding my use of CBD oil and how I had been using that to soften the everyday effects of anxiety I had been forced to reckon with.

It’s only been a few short months since I’ve posted that article– but a lot has changed. Although it helped greatly at the time, I no longer feel the need to take CBD in order to cope with my anxiety. I can’t say that the levels of my anxiety have changed after stopping CBD, because they haven’t. It is not a cure. It is not a magical drug. I still have panic attacks and sometimes even sleep paralysis. Some nights are complete hell. Some days are complete hell. Its how I choose to face it that is entirely up to me.

Some mornings I wake up with nothing but existential dread, which sounds fifty shades of dramatic, but its the truth. The reality is people with depression and anxiety don’t get to pick and choose which days are good or bad. We also don’t get to just stop living our daily lives because things seem to be snowballing downwards. Its a lifelong battle; one I am not sure people really grasp unless they or someone they know have gone through it.

So, how do I cope? That’s a loaded question, because I am not really sure I would consider it coping. Some days I am just trying to distract my mind, aka ignoring the problem at hand. But when I am doing the “coping,” I find myself doing things like:

  • reading
  • writing (such as this!)
  • getting knee deep in Netflix
  • listening to music
  • taking naps
  • drinking coffee
  • meditation

Now take a look at that list and breathe it in– because it is truly dumb. These are not coping mechanisms. These aren’t going to somehow cure my anxiety and rid me of my depression. These are just things. Nothing more than activities that bring me an inkling of joy. However, I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with that. We all have things we do to relax, but it is entirely up to us to decipher when a “coping” habit becomes a “bad” habit.

Honestly, I don’t have an answer for you because some days I can’t even help myself. I am always quick to say that things get better, and they do, but it is not helpful in the moment of a sweaty panic attack or an on-edge day.

I think we’re all human and none of us really know what exactly it is that we are doing– but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

It’s easy to take comfort in knowing that I am not alone, this isn’t the end, and tomorrow doesn’t have to be the same way.

Just remember we all have to get by in life, so be nice to those around you.

You never really know who needs it the most today.

 

 

 

Poetry Collection 9/2/18

Below you will find a few poems written over the past few weeks that I have decided to show you all.

Please Drive Home Safe

please drive home safe

i’ll miss the way your fingers latched with mine,

it took me to a faraway place

i did not recognize.

please drive home safe

the way you look into me, through me,

it makes me feel alive.

the spark i thought i lost in life,

was right there in your eyes.

please drive home safe

the best things in life come unexpectedly,

or so that’s what they say.

regardless,

the truth comes out some day.

please drive home safe

i don’t know what i’d do without you, baby,

please understand

i need you to drive home safe tonight

so next time i can hold your hand

i know life seems tough, doubtful and shallow

i’m here to make things better for you

and a little bit for me, too

i’m in love with you, a feeling i forgot i knew

thank you for showing me a love so kind

it could make the angels rage with jealousy

a feeling so pure, it can only exist for us two

please honey drive home safe tonight

i need you here to love you tonight

tomorrow

and

longer

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I drank four cups of coffee yesterday, three the day before

I thought it might help me keep busy, caffeine running through my veins like my system depends on it

I thought it would help

But my mind began racing, the piercing thoughts pinching me like little insects gnawing on me

I want to tell you what it means to have you by my side, but you already know

I want to tell you how easy it is to get lost in the thought of you, but I’ve said that before

Maybe I’ll mention the ease of your lips on mine and how it fills my being with the same warmth that coffee brings me, except

I would give up the caffeine addiction to become addicted to you

I don’t think you really understand, you don’t truly grasp what it means to me

when you look through me, into me

and you can relate because you’ve been there.

you don’t judge, nor mock

and if I could tell you a million times to make you understand

I would.

Fuck anybody that doesn’t understand what it means to feel raw,

like bones sawing against each other, like our skin is falling off and we can’t stop the sheer pain it brings,

but instead embrace it.

If I could tell you, sweetheart, just what it means to have you here, then maybe we’d both be better off,

but I can’t put into words what I feel when you’re next to me,

and how much I crave your existence next to mine,

I can’t say any of those things.

But I sure can fucking try.

a man

i once met a man

he said he’d understand

the pain and heartbreak and sorrow

i once met a man

he said he once had a plan

to change the world tomorrow

i once met a man

he said he’d felt hollow

in a society full of false hope and

big problems

i felt sorry for that man, a good guy

dealt the wrong hand

“I wish I could take all your pain away,” and he said “ma’am i would do the same”

for everyone in this world strives for happiness

but most of us leave with heartbreak

i’m sorry honey for the cards you were dealt

you know that i would and i would if i could if i could

take all of the heartbreak and insufferable pain, away and away forever

but that’s not life and that’s now how it works

i once met a man

he said he’d understand

the pain and the heartbreak and sorrow

he didn’t understand, though, no not at all

how his existence made the world a bit brighter

in the darkest of hours

his demeanor did not fool, not me at all

he doesn’t understand

his worth

to me

and to all

First Day of University–What I Learned

library-1400313_1920.jpg18-year-old me vowed to herself that she would never go to college with a laundry list of half-assed reasons and little to no idea what to do with her life.

Like most teenagers with a plan, (or lack thereof) I was wrong.

I ended up enrolling in a community college near my house when I was nineteen and graduating with my associates degree in journalism and media writing when I was twenty-one. Next step? Bachelors.

It is to be expected that a university is vastly different than a community college, but man, what a slap in the face today was.

Here’s what I learned on my first day of university:

  • Invest in the world’s comfiest shoes, because a lot of walking is to be done. I expect to lose 25 pounds by the end of the semester. Updates to follow.
  • Try to be nice to the bitchy girls. It’s rather difficult considering their bitter attitudes and overall negative energy, but they are people too. Maybe they are having a terrible day–maybe not. None of my business either way. Karma knows what to do, so let her.
  • The freshmen are nine times out of ten terribly annoying, but they are excited. Let them be excited. The world is too jaded. Let them have their dumb fun while it lasts.
  • Your roommates are supposed to be your friends. Bake cookies with them at bedtime even when you’re in a bad mood. They’re your first friends in a whole new world, don’t shut them out.
  • Allow yourself ample amount of time to get lunch anywhere on campus because lines for a rice bowl are absurd and no one has that kind of time to be wasting.
  • DO. NOT. DRIVE. ANYWHERE. UNLESS. YOU. ARE. READY. TO. FIGHT. SOMEONE. FOR. PARKING. NEAR. YOUR. APARTMENT. I really wanted to throw hands at the Honda Civic for taking my parking space, but life goes on…I GUESS.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one in undergrad knows what the hell they’re doing, even if they think they do. Just be nice to one another.

I suppose most of this is common sense, but what a day it was…

Be good, do good, smile, and remember that no one in life gets out alive.

We need you.

🙂

How my Anti-Depressants Almost Killed Me— and What I Did About It

I remember being in the middle of a Target store when I started to fade out. Something deep within me knew I wasn’t right. My vision was becoming blurry, my balance off, everything around me becoming dark. I made it to the pharmacy just in time to mutter “Please call me an ambulance,” before I started to hyperventilate.

On my way to the hospital I kept begging the EMT to tell me I was going to be ok. He remained silent.

My resting heart rate was a little over 180.

Was I going to die?

After I arrived at the hospital, staff took three EKG’s, inserted an IV of Ativan, and told me to rest. It took a little over an hour for my heart rate to lower.

The problem?

An adverse reaction to two medications I was taking.

I’d been on a cocktail of pills since I was about fourteen. Prozac, Xanax, Trazodone, Viibryd, Ambien… and that’s only a select few. I’ve had depression from an early age, that much I know. But looking back; I wonder, was it necessary for a kid that barely hit the stages of puberty to be taking prescription drugs like candy?

I knew the moment I landed myself in the ambulance that something had to give. I was fighting the good fight, as so many of us do, but I couldn’t take it anymore. My body physically and mentally could not bare any more experiments. I had gained weight, my anxiety had heightened, I was suffering from extreme sleep paralysis and hallucinations. I wasn’t sleeping. I had no idea who I was or what I stood for anymore. If this was what my life was destined for, I wanted no part of it.

So I quit cold turkey.

I threw seven years of work down the drain. I knew if I didn’t stop I would end up killing myself or the medications would end up killing me. If I was going to die, I wanted control over it. I wanted a life, my life, back.

So I ran after it as fast as I could before it was too late.

Every breathing second after ceasing my regular use of medication was a walk through Satan’s garden. Withdrawal is a bitch and it was no kinder towards me. The shakes, cold sweats, confusion, sleepless nights and everything in between. I almost wanted to go back on everything I said I wouldn’t do– but I couldn’t and I didn’t. I had to pull through.

And I did.

It’s been three full months without any prescription medication in my body. It seems so minuscule, but it is a victory 14-year-old me would be mesmerized at. I never thought I would be able to say I’m free of all anti-depressants and sedatives.

The story for each prescription is the same– I take it for a few weeks and feel great. I swear I am cured and I am so happy to be alive and I can take the world by storm.

Then the crash comes and the cycle continues. Over and over and over.

But not anymore.

The only “drug” I take regularly now is CBD oil by mouth once daily and melatonin at night to help me sleep soundly.

It’s been three months since I’ve released myself from the pharmaceutical prison that held me as their bitch for so long.

I’m doing fine.

I’d like to stick around to see just how much better it gets.

The world needs me.

DISCLAIMER: I do not condone nor endorse quitting medication abruptly without a doctor’s approval. This story is purely to share how far I’ve come– every one of us deals with things differently. Everyone’s body is unique and should be treated as such. Take care of yourself. ❤️

It’s You, Not Me

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I’ve spent so many nights in bed with my eyes wide open and my mind racing a mile a minute. The anxiety stemming from every aspect of my life was always enough to send me in panic mode. The main concern?

Why aren’t I good enough?

For my friends, my family, my job, any potential lovers. It seemed like regardless of how hard I tried or how much effort I put forth, it would never be enough. I would never be smart enough. I would never offer enough. There would always be someone much better than I out there, waiting to scoop up every opportunity that should have been mine.

Which is true.

There will always be someone better than me– and you.

Ready for a pill thats hard to swallow?

Just because I care an awful lot about someone, doesn’t mean they’re required to reciprocate that same energy towards me. The same goes for employers, friends, anyone really. It’s heartbreaking. The truth can be a rotten bitch.

When you’re let down by those around you it’s easy to jump into a pity party for one– what’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?

This type of thinking will destroy you. It destroys me every single time. If you think about it, its a bit egotistical to think that all of life’s inconveniences are our fault. Most people are naturally selfish. Most employers don’t have some weird vendetta against you. People are just people and we can’t expect any more than that. At the end of the day we all have our own battles. Fight them alone every once in awhile. It makes you stronger.

When the timing is right, something sweet will come along. I mean that for every single one of us. A great friend, a job you love, a husband or wife. Whatever you want is possible. The universe works in strange ways, who the hell are we to question it?

So yes, there will always be someone better than you and I; which sounds terribly depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. Live every day understanding, not questioning, your worth and eventually the world will give you what you so-understandably deserve. I promise.

Make sure you stay around to see it.

We need you.

Overcoming the Losses in Life

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The ninth anniversary of my father’s suicide is next Monday.

Its strange to me. Not because of how quickly time has gone by, but how I have healed from the loss. I won’t say I am complete– I never will be. But I am at peace with the situation, mostly.

I’ve had so many great losses in my short lifetime, whether it be deaths or broken friendships or relationships. In the heat of the moment, the emotions you feel always seem everlasting. Its hard to look hardship in the eyes and say “This is only temporary. This too shall pass.”

As humans I expect none of us to be perfect with how we manage our emotions towards any unideal situation. The lives we live are not black and white, and the tragedies we suffer through are not black and white either. Shades of gray and black and whites fill up our world, making whatever we’re going through that much more complex.

The ugly truth is, we all handle loss in our own way. There is no right or wrong. There’s no secret manual to guide us through all of life’s major and minor inconveniences. We can debate for as long as we live why things have to be the way they are, or we can be sensible and say to ourselves, “Okay, this is what it is for whatever reason. How do I become better from here?”

I’d like to say that managing any loss, big or small, is easy. But its so far from easy. Its heart-wrenching, its exhaustion, its I-haven’t-eaten-or-slept-in-weeks. Its a multitude of very high-highs and very low-lows.

And the only control we have over what happens is what we choose to do with our attitudes and reflections towards the situation.

That’s the hardest part.

The only ease we have is knowing that despite how lonely we feel during a time of loss, there’s a billion people out there that feel very similar to us. Everybody has or will lose somebody. Sometimes we lose a lot of people. Sometimes we lose people who aren’t even dead.

But we owe it to ourselves to keep moving forward. We have no time to waste.

We could be next.

 

 

Reality Prevails–A New Chapter

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The bravest thing I’ve ever done was step out of my comfort zone.

How cliche is that? I know, its gag worthy. I’m actually mad I typed it out and used it in an article.

But reality prevails.

As I creep closer to my move-in date and revel in the truth that my life is about to change, the more anxious and emotional I get.

As much as I hate this area, its home. NEPA is the center of every experience I’ve ever had, from tragedies to triumphs. This is where my dad rests in peace, where friends were made and buried, where memories are burned in floorboards of outdated homes and in cars with too many miles. This is where I experienced my first heartbreak and last conversations. NEPA is where I graduated, became self-sufficient, grew strong. This is the root of who I am and how far I’ve come.

I remember being sixteen and angsty; promising myself that I would move far the hell away from here, start a new life with new people and a fresh slate. I never thought it would happen. In fact, seventeen-year-old me would be shocked to learn that I haven’t killed myself, a feat that is exceptional on its own. I never thought I would make it this far, and yet I am here.

I waited so long to say that I’m officially getting out of here, and now I am petrified. I’m sad. I’m doubtful. I have a lot to offer the world; that I am sure of. But the lingering doubt that encapsulates me is the worst of it all. Did I make the right choice? But what if?

I don’t know if I made the right decision. I don’t know if what I’m doing is out of my reach or too far-fetched. I don’t know if I have what it takes to be a writer, or be anything at all, really.

All I know is that my lease is signed, and that bitch was expensive; so there is no turning back.

The future is mine.

 

 

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