How It Feels

Imagine you’re walking home alone, late at night. None of your neighbours’ lights are on, no one seems to be around at all, and it’s just completely dark out. Suddenly, three very large men appear behind you with weapons; a pipe, a knife, maybe a chain. You walk faster, trying to put some distance between you and them; they speed up. You start to slowly job, while they loudly laugh and quicken their pace to match yours. Soon, you’re in an all-out sprint through your neighbourhood, wondering why no one is coming outside to help you. You run, you scream, you call for help, all the while these three are slowly closing the distance between you. Your heart feels like it’s about to burst through your chest, while your lungs can’t seem to take in air fast enough. Your head is spinning, your legs feel like they’re about to give out at any moment, but you keep trying to push yourself forward just a little bit longer. The men chasing you are getting closer and closer, until you can almost feel their breath on the back of your neck. You can feel them reaching for you, touching your hair, laughing at you.

Picture everything your body feels in that exact moment: the fear, the exhaustion, the panic, the almost overwhelming urge to curl up in a ball and cry and vomit and wait for the world to go away while you just pray that nothing bad will happen to you.

Now imagine all of these feelings, this intensity, come to you suddenly while you’re lying in bed on a Monday morning. THAT was my anxiety attack Monday morning.

I misheard something Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend mumbled to himself while he was getting ready for work. He’s a total grumpy asshat first thing in the morning, and tends to say random things that are pissing him off. Neither one of us knows exactly what he was rambling on to himself about, but I thought I heard a few words in there about me. I sat and thought about that for a little while after he left for work, and then the panic set in.

The worst part of it all is that I KNOW that it makes no sense. I know that there is no reason why my heart should be racing, or why I should be sweating like crazy when I’m just sitting still. I can tell myself that the thoughts racing through my head are just stupid and make no sense. I can tell myself all this, I can know that it makes no sense, but that doesn’t stop it.

The thoughts that go through my head are crazy too. I thought AAB mumbled something about our sex life. The next thing I know, I’m sitting here imagining that we bought a little house, and I was pregnant, and he was so pissed that I was going to have a baby even though we both want one. I’m sitting there imagining that he would leave me, that he would hate me, that he would want nothing to do with me. And that just made the panic worse. No matter how much I told myself that these thoughts made no sense, they just got worse and more intense.

I like to think I was lucky, though. I had my panic attacks happen while I was at home this time. Aside from a roommate chilling in his own room, and my kitten faithfully watching over me, I got to sit here all alone and deal with this the way I know I needed to.

You see, people want to help. And they really to mean well, honestly. They just don’t help though. One friend would just constantly tell me to calm down, as if her ordering me to do so would stop this whole mess. AAB’s first instinct is to kiss and cuddle me. As amazing and awesome as he is, him doing that is probably the worst thing he could do. I know myself that part of my panic leaves me feeling claustrophobic, and his snuggling up to me makes me feel even more closed in. My head on his shoulder, or laying with my head on his chest, where I am the one deciding how much space we take from each other, is fine: anything else just makes my chest tighten.  He is really trying to help when he does that, though, just like all the other people who have tried to help me over the years.

And telling people not to help me just makes me feel worse. Suddenly, on top of all the other thoughts flooding my mind, “They’re just trying to help and show they care, why do you have to be such a bitch, you’re pushing them away from you, they’re going to stop coming around if you treat them like this” rushes in there to join them.

Now I know for many of you out there, none of this makes any sense. If you get thoughts like these in your mind, you can make them stop. If your chest starts tightening up and your heart races, you go to a doctor. For someone suffering from anxiety, though, these things don’t work. I’ve had doctors suggest all kinds of things to “help” me: yoga, tea, meditation, reading, long walks, deep breathing……… and yes, these help me to feel a little more balanced sometimes. None of these things stop panic attacks, though, and none of them help once one has started.

For years, I felt completely alone in all of this. I had people tell me I was overreacting, that I was doing it for attention, that if I didn’t stop I’d be thrown in the “loony bin” and it would be on my “permanent record” that I was crazy (where the hell is this permanent record anyways?). I was made to feel like I was the only one in the world having this problem, and that I was selfish for not stopping it myself. It took many, many years for me to find others who share my problem, who are open about their anxiety. I now know that this is a condition that there is no complete cure for, but there is plenty of support around me when I need it.

So Sunshine, if you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, please know that you are not alone. And if you know others who suffer from this, here is a little insight into what may be going on in their minds and bodies. Everyone’s panic is different, there is no one right way to have a panic attack. Please take care of those around you, in a manner they need and are comfortable with.

Updates: Even MORE Roommates From Hell!

Good morning Sunshine!

It’s 9:30am here. I’m working tonight from 4:15-9:15pm (weird shift, I know. But I take what I can get), and have been up since around 4am. Hooray for coffee! I didn’t get to bed until around 11pm last night, and the new roommates were in the kitchen LOUDLY cooking until around midnight, making it hard to sleep.

That’s right new roommates!

So for those of you new to my scene, here’s a quick recap of my living situation:

My ex-boyfriend and I lived in this house together for years (even after we broke up) with a few friends and a few random people. His parents own the house. He moved out, and Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend moved in over the summer. It’s a 5 bedroom house, with the two of us using up two of those bedrooms (one for our bedroom, and the other for our office/hidey-hole snuggle cave). The landlord/my ex-boyfriend’s father puts ads on Kijiji to rent out the other rooms. For months we only had Downstairs Gal living here (a MA. Social Work student with a husband and kid living a few hours north of here), and she leaves to move back home the middle of next month. Oh, and her husband is staying with us for most of this month, too.

We’ve been showing the house to people for months, and randomly two guys moved in over the weekend. Downstairs Man is only here for two months, and is on contract for his job for that time. Upstairs Man is a student (I think), or a recent grad (possibly), who is studying for a test that he’s taking soon (maybe?) or in like 18 months (no clue). Oh, and his girlfriend is a student, lives nearby, and is over often.

Ok, so that’s a big and sudden adjustment to make (did I mention we didn’t actually KNOW that these guys were moving in? Landlord forgot to pass that message on to us). But I’m used to this…..kinda. I mean, I’ve been living with random people for close to a decade now. I mainly hole-up in my room, hermit at the computer while I job hunt, write, and watch Netflix, and then I go to work. I talk to the roommates when we’re in the same room, like when we are both making dinner or grabbing snacks. But it’s not like I’m poking my nose into their business all the time.

Well, this is the beginning of Day 4 of our new living arrangement here, and people are already close to murder. DG likes to park her car in the middle of our driveway, leaving no room for anyone else. If someone else is parked in the big 4 car driveway, no matter how much room they leave her, she goes and spends 10 minutes trying to parallel park on the street, and then comes up to the house to demand they move their car so she can park. This wasn’t a big problem until UM moved in, and his girlfriend started parking here while she visits.

Now, this is all secondhand information since I was at work when this happened, but AABoyfriend and Awesome Neighourhood Mama both told me pretty much the same version of events:

DG had her car parked in the driveway, and was sitting in it, like she was looking for something she had left in there. UM’s girlfriend showed up and parked behind her. While she was in her parked car, she took off her seatbelt and started gathering up her books and purse and such to come in the house. Suddenly, DG turned on the car, threw it into reverse, and slammed on the gas before quickly hitting the break. She stopped less than an inch from UMG’s front bumper. UMG didn’t even get out of the car. She backed out, went around the corner, and parked in the street. She was so shaken by this woman almost slamming into the front of her car, that she didn’t want to come in the house. In fact, she didn’t come in the house until DG had left. After that, AABoyfriend and his Totally Awesome Co-Worker helped UMG park her car on the far side of the driveway, where DG SHOULD have been parking all this time.

As our Awesome Neighbourhood Mama said: “Shit, home girl needs to learn pull up. If she don’t move her car, I’ll come out and move HER!”

This is not the first, nor will it be the last, incident here involving driving. DG has pissed off the neighbours all around us by parallel parking in front of their driveways. UMG is over daily, too, giving those two plenty of time to clash.

And not all of our problems are limited to the driveway. We are each given one cupboard to use for our food. AAB and I have cupboard connected to each other, since we share all our food. DG is supposed to be sharing a double cupboard with one of the new guys, but seems to be refusing. She insists that she NEEDS the extra space since her husband is living her (rent free) and she needs to cook for him. She refuses to let a paying tenant use the space he’s paying for, so that she can have extra space. So I’ve been cleaning out cupboards, re-arranging spaces, trying to find space for everyone.

And everyone cooks ALL THE DAMN TIME! It doesn’t matter if it’s 4am or 4pm, there is someone in the damn kitchen cooking something. The whole house reeks of curry, cloves, burnt toast, and fish. I have no clue what all these people are cooking, or why anyone would need curried clove fish on burnt toast at 4am, but it’s driving me nuts. The smell is so strong that I got a headache the second I opened the bedroom door this morning. And no one cooks quietly, either. They have to blast their music, clang all the pots and pans, turn on the fan and all the lights, and talk on the phone ALL at the same time. I had no idea one could very loudly make a ham sandwich, but I’ve learned that is entirely possible.

I’m not looking forward to the Thermostat Wars that have already begun heating up (and yes, pun TOTALLY intended). DM thinks the house is too warm…… in the basement, which is usually cold. UM thinks the house is freezing, in the room with the most natural light and heat. One wants the thermostat set at 60, the other at 75. I came to a compromise at 69……… and have to constantly keep checking to make sure no one has touched it. I feel like the dad from all the termostat dad memes. I awoke from a dead sleep the night before last just because the room felt a little too warm and I needed to make sure no one had touched the thermostat (they did, it was at like 75).

The worst part of all of this is that this is reeking havoc on my anxiety. It feels like there are walls around my heart and they’re closing in, while my head just keeps spinning. Between that feeling and all the noise and temperature stuff, I’m barely sleeping. I can feel panic setting in, but the attacks just don’t come. I stocked up on my easy comfort foods (sandwich fixins, soup, bagged salad), and made a cleaning list to work on (to occupy my mind and body a bit), but even thinking of that stuff right now makes me want to vomit. AAB and I are already putting plans in place to start saving up to get out of here, but between both of our consumer debt and my student loans it’s hard in an area where credit checks for shitty apartments are the norm. Thinking about that makes the anxiety worse, but not thinking about it just gives me no way out of here………. yeah, I can see a breakdown coming on before the end of the year.

So Sunshine, I’m going more than a little nuts here. Hopefully this whole hermit-dom thing I’ve been doing will mean more time on here. I keep writing down post ideas, but never get around to them. And with this being NaNoWriMo, I’m usually more motivated to write anyway.

My Anxiety

Ok, so when I started writing here, I thought this would just be for story and article ideas, maybe some advice. But on one of my other blogs, where I write about my life a lot more, I had quite a few people message me about their own personal struggles with anxiety. Reading these messages, corresponding with these people, sharing resources…… it really helps me a lot.

So I thought, what if that could help more people? I know personally, I feel a whole lot better knowing there are other people out there who feel the same way I do. Sometimes it’s great to be able to talk to people, to exchange ideas on how to manage anxiety, to compare how we each feel when that dreaded moment of panic starts creeping in. Other times, just reading someone else’s accounts of what they’re going through is enough to help me through things. It’s enough just knowing that I’m not the only one out there feeling this.

So, I’ve decided to be a bit more open on this blog. Maybe it will help me keep it updated a bit more. Maybe it will help others out there who stumble across my ramblings. Whatever it does, Sunshine, this is part of my self-care. And you know how I loves me my self-care!

Untitled Ramblings of a Fragile Mind

I’ve been in a pretty bad place lately. I mean, there are parts of my life that are going great. I have a great boyfriend who is moving in with me; my ex-boyfriend is finally moving out (hopefully); I have some great friends at work. But even all the good seems tainted.

At work, they’ve cut our hours again. Unless a special project or a bit of “creative scheduling” comes up, I get almost no hours. Last week, because we had plannograms to implement, I wound up with 28 hours. This week, I have 9 1/2. Next week is 8 hours. The week after, when the boss has a bunch of shifts scheduled that go against our collective agreement (so, they may change) I have 25 hours. We lost one of our highest seniority casual workers to a full-time position, so we thought we’d be getting more hours once he leaves. Instead, they’re bringing in another high seniority casual worker, meaning everyone below her is going to get screwed on hours.

Things with the boyfriend aren’t all sunshine and unicorn farts either. We had a big argument a few weeks ago, and it’s created a big problem with me. I have a seriously hard time trusting him now. I’ve been trying to get some info from him (when he moves in, I’ll be in charge of all of our collective bills, so I need to know what he owes and what bills he has), and he keeps blowing all of that off.

And then there’s just the general job hunting I’ve been doing for what seems like forever. This week, Facebook was full of pictures and posts about people graduating, people getting awesome jobs (in their fields too!!), and people just generally doing awesome things with their lives. And I’m sitting here like, “Well, I have 2 whole shifts this week, so I’m not a complete loser…… I guess”. I’ve been turned down for more jobs than I can count, while everyone else around me just seems to be moving up farther and farther in life.

What’s the point of all this rambling?

Like I said, I’ve been in a really bad place lately with all of this on my mind. I wake up at 1 in the morning in a full-out panic attack, worrying about bills and lies and resume templates. I started drinking more than usual (which I didn’t think was possible for a while there). I was existing on microwave pizza snacks, potato chips, and cheap wine. And I started back up with some old, horrible, harmful habits.

You know what really doesn’t help at times like this? When people try to force you to cheer up, or “buck up” as I’ve been told.

“Don’t you know there are people out there who have it worse?”

“Are you really going to act like a child and mope?”

“Act your age, not your shoesize?”

What was so childish, so horrible, that I was doing? A little bit of self-care. No matter what people tell you, you are never too old for your favourite methods of self-care. I like to throw on music that matches my mood. Lately, that’s been a lot of 21 Pilots, some old emo standards, and a few weepy songs from back in my goth days. Sometimes I journal a bit. Some days, if I have the time, I’ll just wander aimlessly around the neighbourhood for hours. Day before yesterday, I scrubbed all the walls in my house.

No one thing will work for everyone. Hell, no one thing will work for one person all the time. Some days, I need to blast some Ministry and Black Daliah Murder and walk for an hour or two. Other days, I need to put on some old Prodigy and scrub the stove until it sparkles.

Your self-care is whatever you need to do to help you through your darkness, to keep away harmful habits, and to push you forward when you’re feeling healed.

And don’t forget: self-harm is not always physical. Self-harm is not all cuts and scars. You can’t always see self-harm. Don’t let others fool you into thinking that harmful thoughts, sudden dangerous actions, or a sense that you can’t be harmed (and acting accordingly) isn’t harmful to you. Just because you’re scars are on the inside doesn’t make them any less valid, just a little less noticeable to everyone else.

 

 

**if you have thoughts of physically harming yourself, feel suicidal, or start taking dangerouse risks (walking into traffic, jumping off high surfaces, cheating death in any way), please seek help. http://commongroundhelps.org/ has phone numbers, texting services, and an online chat for anyone seeking help.

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Can anyone explain to me how this is supposed to be relaxing? The lines and spaces are so tiny!
My brother got me this adult colouring book of postcards, a pack of colour pencils, and a pack of markers, for Christmas. He was hoping that it would help me with all the stress and anxiety I have right now. I have a tonne of friends who swear by these damn books, saying they’ve never felt so relaxed before.
Well for me, this damn this is stressful as hell!
I can’t stay within the lines. I can’t plan the colours out so they look nice together. And my pictures look nothing at all like the ones I’ve seen online, with the shading and gradients. Honestly, this damn book makes me feel like a failure.
Seems pretty stupid, doesn’t it?
And that’s ok.
As I’ve said before, not everything will work the same for everyone. Adult colouring books don’t help me at all. They help tonnes of people, but not me. What does help me? Cryptogram and logic puzzles. I know, who the hell is relaxed by those?
Just because everyone swears by it doesn’t mean it works for you. I have my long walks in the cold, loud metal music, rich red wine, and puzzles. Most of these things don’t work for anyone else I know (except the walks. My roommate is on a nice cold walk right now).
So you just make sure you’re doing what works best for you. Don’t try to force something just because everyone is talking about it. And that goes for most things in life.
So relax, my Sunshines.  And relax how ever works best for you.

The Meals EVERYONE Needs to Know…….?

So I’ve been seeing these articles all over the internet: The meals every 20-something should know how to make; 30 recipes you should know how to cook by the time you’re 30; 10+ dishes and drinks everyone should know how to make at home (including you). Apparently, there’s a lot of food out there we just MUST know how to cook in order to be considered an adult. To be honest, I don’t know anyone, aside from a few chef friends, who can cook all or even most of the stuff just in these three articles above, let alone everything every seems to think we need to cook.

To me, knowing what you need to know how to cook comes from learning about what you life to eat. For example, I’m not going to learn how to make polenta and zucchini when I don’t even like polenta or zucchini. And these things appear on a lot of damn lists!

If you know that there are certain foods you love when you go out, or certain recipes your folks make when you’re home that you absolutely love, then learn how to make these. But don’t feel any sort of pressure to learn how to make a bunch of stuff you’ll probably never eat, or never want to cook, or never want to serve to others, just because some list told you that you need to.

These lists are pretty damn common. There is always someone out there who is an absolute authority on exactly what you need to know by a certain age. Or things you absolutely need to do by a certain age. Or places you need to travel to, books you need to read, things you need to experience, people you need to date……. it seems like there are a whole lot of things we all need to do in our 20s and/or 30s. Honestly, though, we don’t do most of them.

And that’s not a bad thing.

You don’t need someone else setting up lists for you, or telling you that your life is unfulfilling, or that you’re wasting your time if you haven’t completed all the things on the list. Do you know how many lists I’ve seen that have things like skydiving or bungee jumping on them? My sister is turning 31 this month, and you couldn’t pay her to go skydiving or bungee jumping. Does she consider her life wasted? Oh hell no! She has an absolutely amazing husband, they have a home together, and the craziest fluffy black and grey Norwegian Forest Cat whose fur feels like cotton candy. Does she have everything going for her in life? No, because nobody does! And it has nothing to do with whether she’s ever jumped out of a plane or off a bridge with an elastic band wrapped around her legs. Because not everyone wants to do the same crap.

Why am I bringing this up? To be honest, I was going to give you yet another list of things you absolutely, positively need to do as a young adult, this time in the kitchen. It was inspired by the above Hello Giggles article and the fact that I had almost a full carton of eggs that was just 3 days away from its Best Before date. As part of my research, I tried to look up recipes and things you need to know before you’re 30 (because apparently cooking very specific dishes is something everyone needs to learn as a young adult, whether you like it or not).  Well somehow in my search, I came across this list, which temporarily mentally destroyed me.

Now, here’s a bunch of things on that list that apparently I absolutely should have by now that I definitely do NOT have:

  • A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in my family.
  • Something ridiculously expensive that I bought for myself, just because I deserve it.
  • A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
  • A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s a second list on there on things you should definitely KNOW by the time you hit 30. While most of the things on there are perfectly fine with me, there were a few that hit close to home. How I feel about having kids, for example, is a big one with me right now. When I was in my late 20’s, I didn’t think I’d ever want kids. After 30 though, once my friends started popping them out and I got to play with them and babysit them, I realized that I’m pretty sure that I do want them. Oh, and I’m over 30. Here’s the tricky thing though: I met my current boyfriend while I was in my 20’s, and he definitely does NOT want kids. Ever. When we started dating, I was perfectly fine with this. Now though, it’s putting a real strain on our relationship. If I lived according to this list, I would have known that when he and I first met, and it wouldn’t be an issue right now because it would’ve been a deal breaker back then.

So I started thinking, I know I’m not a shining beacon of grown-up success, but have I done absolutely EVERYTHING wrong? Have I done so much wrong that it’s messed up my entire future? I went into a panic, contemplating every decision I’ve ever made with my life. I started thinking, if I’ve already failed this much, can things get better? Or am I stuck in this crappy existence forever? I make no secret of the fact that my life totally and truly sucks at the moment, but have always been told that things will get better. But according to this list, I’ve missed my shot. I’ve missed out on the most basic and fulfilling parts of what I need to have at this age, and it’s too late to start all over again.

Ok, so I lasted like this for a few days (I hate having anxiety at times like that). I didn’t want to write (thankfully I have some drafted and queued posts for emergencies), I didn’t want to go out, and I didn’t want to research any more. It took the homeless fundraiser I wrote about last weekend to snap me out of that. There I realized that I was doing good things with my life, even if I don’t have a daily exercise regiment. I made new friends, and talked to some awesome people who share quite a bit in common with me in that regard. I found kindreds, and acquaintances. Basically, I lived life and in that moment, I loved it.

I wasn’t living off of some list. I wasn’t checking to make sure that someone, somewhere, had already made sure that this was something that I should be doing at my age. I found something that makes me feel good, that makes my soul happy, that makes me feel like I’m doing more than just existing, like I’m giving back to this world. And that feeling, for me, is better than owning new furniture or something ridiculously expensive. I was living.

Yes, eggs and lists helpful recipes both sent me into an existential crisis and to blissful existence. The human mind is funny like that.

Anyway, yes I will be posting more recipes soon. And some cooking basics (which you absolutely do not need to learn if you feel you live a fulfilling life without them). I think maybe this week, I’ll start with a salute to eggs.

The Negative Side of Temporary Employment

I know you’re reading this on Monday, but I’m writing it on Friday. I just don’t want to think about not being in this place first thing Monday when I hop on WordPress. I’ll try to keep myself busy until my night job shift, but it’s going to be weird.

You see, one of the biggest downsides of temporary employment is that…..well……. it’s temporary. No matter how much you absolutely love a place, or an office, or a group of co-workers, none of that is yours. It all belongs to someone else, and you’re just keeping their chair warm. Sure, once you’re placement is done you can start sleeping in again, and sitting around in your jammies. And the amount of laundry you’ll have to do will shrink like crazy, since you never have to put on real pants right now.

But there’s also a whole lot of negative sides to this temporary employment thing, besides the fact that you have to leave in the end.

-you have no security. The office I’m in is unionized. I’m not part of the union, since I’m a temp. This means lower wages, no benefits, no sick days, and definitely no job security. If the person who usually works here wanted to come back 3 weeks early, then I would have been out of a job 3 weeks sooner, no notice given. You’re just a disposable employee when you’re a temp. Some people won’t even bother to learn your name.

-nothing is yours. Your office, your desk, your chair…… they’re all someone else’s. You can’t decorate, or get a comfy chair, or move the computer to where it’s easiest for you to use. If there is something in that office (a filing cabinet, computer files everywhere, electronic chords running all over the floor) that drives you nuts, and that you know you could greatly improve, you can’t. You can’t change a damn thing.

-you’re not always going to get the best job instructions. I was lucky this time: I had a 3 page document waiting for me on the computer keyboard, outlining the most important things I needed to know. I’ve talked to people who were given nothing close to this. Some I’ve talked to were basically shown to their chair and told to start pulling up files, entering data, and were never even introduced to their co-workers.

-the pay isn’t the greatest. I’m lucky to make a few bucks over minimum wage here. The other office staff here make quite a bit more than me, though. Plus benefits, sick days, vacation time, and other perks. I’m doing most of the job of the person who is usually here, for half the price. Knowing that starts to make you feel used at times.

-you have to leave. I know I already said this, but it really sucks. As of today (when you’re reading this, not when I’m writing this), I will have no steady income, no way to pay my bills, and no clue when I will get an assignment again.

So, if I disappear for a week or so, it’s just the anxiety kicking in. One of the major triggers for me is my finances, so the next little while is going to be pretty rough.