Anxiety

Birthday pity party

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Tomorrow I turn 35, and I just don’t want to deal with it.  I usually like my birthdays, but I am greeting this one without a lot of enthusiasm and quite a lot of dread.  I don’t know how growing older doesn’t bother so many people.  It bothers me.  I can’t embrace aging.  I’m not happy about it.

I don’t like feeling that my best years are behind me, and there’s nothing to look forward to.  I have been through so much in the past year, and I hate thinking that might be all there is.  I hate thinking that I won’t look as good, and that my body will start to hurt in all sorts of ways I haven’t imagined.

It makes me angry that I have swallowed this whole “women aren’t valuable after 35.”  That I’ve internalized it to such a degree that I have been depressed about it for the last few days.  It infuriates me that men are just considered to be reaching their prime at this age while women are seemingly thrown out with the trash.

It’s maddening, in so many ways, that it should be this way.  Because I really have come so far, and accomplished and learned so much.  I should be celebrating.  I should be happy.  I should be saying, “fuck it, I don’t even care any more.  I’m the best!”  But all I can do is look back on my twenties with jealous envy.

I don’t even know what 35 is supposed to be like anymore.  Half the people I know have families and kids, the other half live alone in an apartment.  Some people are world leaders, some of them just play video games all day.  Everyone older than me can’t be bothered with technology and everyone younger can’t live without it.  This is 2017 and the world is super confusing.  I don’t even know what’s supposed to be what.  All the old rules are gone.

I’ve never been happy about growing older.  Ever.  The night before I turned 10 years old, I went into the bathroom and cried all evening.  When I was 16, I used to complain to everyone about how old I felt.  On my 21st birthday, I started having panic attacks and had to spend the day in bed.

I’ll probably be fine tomorrow.  I’ll have a good time.  But tonight I just want to curl up and feel sorry for myself.

Anxiety · Depression

Back on the meds

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Daisies, June 2017

Just a short update today.  I finally got in to see a doctor last week.  He said that given my family history and the fact that my mood has been so up and down, I should stay on the escitalopram indefinitely.

I am both relieved and devastated at the same time.  Who knew it was possible to feel both?

Depression

Regretful

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Painting by my mother

I don’t know that I really have a topic today, other than I just haven’t been feeling well.  I have been moved for six weeks and I still ache thinking about what I left behind.  I still don’t feel settled in.  I have been working for a month and I am tired all the time.  We are still living at my mom’s but we have bought a house.  I am exhausted from all the work that entailed.

I keep having this nagging, pervasive feeling that I made a huge life mistake.  We moved back to my hometown, which is in a really economically depressed part of the country.  Part of the reason we moved was so that we could do more and give back to the community that raised us.  But I worry that the poverty and lack of education will take too much of a toll on me.  Almost everyone who graduated with me is gone, moved to greener pastures like I was for the last ten years.  Everyone who is educated eventually leaves.

It is just a really depressing situation.  In the place I just moved from, I was always jealous of the people my age who had all their family and friends with them and almost no one left.  I did not have the privilege of being raised in such a town.  In the town I grew up in, the reality was that everyone leaves when they graduate.  Canada is peopled by the scattered population of the Maritimes.

I know there are lots of good things about living here, but right now I am in a funk.  I have already started to help people in my new job, but I worry I have given up my dreams of adventure and success.  I just wish I could feel settled and content.

I am turning 35 next month.  I don’t want to be old.  I don’t want to have made the wrong decision and doomed myself for life.

Anxiety · Healing

Journey off medication

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I have been trying to write for ages but I can never seem to steal the time.  Between my new job and house-hunting, I’m exhausted at the end of the day.

I have been trying to go off my anti-anxiety medication for good now.  Partly because my worries have subsided somewhat since I moved, partly because I’m on a waiting list to get a new doctor so I have no idea how long it will take to get a refill.

The process has been really frustrating because there is just so little information on what to expect going off the medication.  I went to a half dose for awhile and then a half-dose every other day, then (mostly) cold turkey the last week or so.  Some of the side effects are annoying but expected, like brain fog, irritation, dizziness, some anxiety, etc.

The biggest difference I’ve noticed is a huge weight gain.  This is what makes it so frustrating, because I can’t find anything online about if this is a side effect of going off medication.  I just know I’ve had a huge appetite the last month or so, like nothing I eat is satisfying me.  I’m trying to get more nutritious food and I’m actually exercising more than ever, but I can’t seem to curb my appetite.  I am trying not to cry every time I can’t fit into clothes I’ve worn for years or see the extra layers of fat in the mirror.  But I’m a small person and every extra bit of weight shows on me.

As a perfectionist this is so hard on me.  I’ve been doing so well fighting my negative thoughts and adjusting to my huge cross-country move and my new job.  But if one thing is off, like my weight, I obsess about it and feel like a failure.  I usually start the day with good intentions, but after a long day of work I inevitably crash and just want to gorge.  I’m not in my own house so I don’t feel like I have any control over the kitchen.  I am still settling into a whole new daily routine so it does through one’s food habits off, so I shouldn’t be surprised.  Still, it’s one more thing to deal with emotionally that I wish I didn’t have to.

Sensitivity

On place, time and feeling

Having moved, I feel in tune with the way places affect me, the way I feel in tune with how certain times of day influence my mood.  Maybe my sensitivity is what causes my brain to connect the two (synesthesia).  I love making these connections.  For instance, when I was younger I thought certain years had colours.  1991 felt pink, 1993 was green, and 1995 seemed yellow.

Walking through my mom’s suburbs the other day, I felt the same heavy, draggy feeling that I get whenever I walk through suburbs.  It struck me that it was similar to the feeling I get during slow afternoons.  And it occurred to me that my feelings about place mimic the feelings I have about time of day.

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Saint John River, August 2007

Mornings are like nature.  Fresh, new, and ripe with possibility.  There’s a quiet energy about them, and a sense of restorative hope.  It’s no coincidence that humanity’s “morning,” their beginning, also took place in nature.  Nature and mornings both give me creative inspiration.

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My old house in England, May 2006

Afternoons are the suburbs.  It’s no secret that I dislike both.  At best, they are a place/time to retreat and relax from the world.  Mostly they feel stuffy and confining.  There is little energy about them, just weary resignation.  It feels like nothing can change, and everything must conform.  It is like having a crappy filling between two delicious slices of bread.

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New York from the Empire State Building, April 2008

Evenings are the city!  I absolutely love evenings and the city is my favourite place to be.  After supper everything comes alive again, shaking off the doldrums of the afternoon.  Work is over, now it’s time to play!  It’s all about socializing with friends, having dessert, going to the theatre or movies, or enjoying a concert.  In ancient times, this is when we would cluster together around the fire, telling stories.  Laughter, friends, and fun, what could be better?

Disagree?  Have you own time/place associations?  Let me know!

Anxiety · Depression

A new place

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It has been a very long few weeks, but we have moved.  My mind and body are still in shock.  Having a mental illness adds another dimension to the confusion and chaos.  There are times when I really struggle to remember just why we did it.  It was in part due to my mental breakdown.  We wanted a slower pace of life, and we knew we’d find it in our old hometown on the other side of the country.  But ooh boy, has it been rocky.

Moving out of the place I lived in for the past ten years has felt gut-wrenching.  All the people, routines, places, and a million different memories, have suddenly vanished.  I feel like an exile on a distant shore.  The place I am now is both physically and culturally very distant.

We are staying at my mom’s house until we find a place of our own.  Being back in the town where I grew up feels freaky.  Everything is familiar, yet different.  I am trying hard to reconcile the place I remember with the place I see before me.  There are so many things I recognize, and yet I marvel at the things I never noticed when I was younger.

It is stunningly beautiful here.  Like, knock-you-over, jaw-dropping beauty.  Just across the street from my mom’s house is a gorgeous lake set against a backdrop of evergreens.  In Ontario, this place would be overrun by screaming kids and parents carting gigantic strollers, Tim Horton’s cups, and dogs.  But here our only company is the ducks.

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Our bedroom overlooks a forested ravine where trains regularly run by, so close you can almost touch them. The deer are abundant too.  They wander almost up to the house.

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The pace of life feels much slower.  There is almost no traffic, and people will stop for you when you try to cross the street.  We are just a short drive from the ocean, which I have always found peaceful and restful.  When the stress of moving is too much and I start to feel derealization, this setting helps combat that.

Fundy Trail

Work is my biggest worry right now.  I have no idea how I am going to feel moving from an incredibly busy, hectic, fast-paced environment to a much more sedate one.  I have another week before I start work.

I am trying hard to combat feeling like a failure, that I somehow couldn’t take “real” life in the busy world.  Any move is a trade-off, and what I lose in amenities and access to things I make up for in nature.

Time will tell how things go…

Healing

Peace

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Friday was my last day of work at my old job, and I can’t say the day went well.  I started crying before I left and didn’t stop all the way home.  I bawled all through supper, and it didn’t end until I went swimming with my husband.  Even on Saturday, I felt extremely anxious and depressed.  I honestly had no idea how I was going to hold it together with not working and the stress of moving on top of it.

On Monday we had my good-bye lunch with my co-workers, and afterward my husband and I went for a walk in the woods.  The temperature was perfect, breezy and sunny, and the woods were so peaceful without a soul around.

As we started walking I could feel my thoughts start to race again.  Fear, self-doubt, and negative thoughts crowded around.  But the day was so pretty and lovely, I told my mind to stop talking.  I forced myself to pay attention to my surroundings and only my surroundings, and let my thoughts be carried away on the wind without holding onto them.

It was perfect.  It was lovely.  We saw birds, and chipmunks, and frogs.  I breathed in the scent of pines (trees are known to help reduce stress).  My husband just stood and held me for awhile.

It wasn’t everything.  It wasn’t forever.  But just for that afternoon, I felt peace.  More than I’d felt in a very long time.