Tag Archives: Anxiety

Crash and Burn

This was written August 4, 2014

Well, just goes to show you that the black dog is never far behind. He has been lurking, just waiting for me to crash and burn. Unfortunately, I am in the midst of another exacerbation of this chronic illness called depression. And yes, I feel pressed upon. What other metaphors might I invoke to describe this state of mind and body? See, that is part of the problem, can’t concentrate, thoughts are fleeting and memory is poor. Have been sleeping way too much. tearsMy therapist really was pointed today, in saying I have to change my thoughts or I will keep having these episodes every few years. They do seem to be coming more frequently. It’s only been about three years since the last flare up. A big part of it this time is my job. So I guess it must be somewhat situational. So doing what I can to change the situation.

 

Ex Anxiety

Why after almost 16 years do I still have some anxiety over seeing and dealing with my ex-husband? I don’t normally have contact with him at all since he moved to Alaska (I know, who the heck moves to Alaska??? But what a blessing!) but he has graced us with his presence for our son’s graduation ceremony. I feel very fortunate that he did move so far away, because we had a very contentious relationship and ongoing battle over custody and parenting. Let me just sum it up for now: it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t in our child’s best interest, but I did what I felt I needed to do to protect and nurture him.

Anyway, I imagine part of the anxiety is for my son. His relationship with his father is strained since dad moved away. My son had some say in where he lived when his dad decided to move, and he preferred to stay in Ohio, close to family and friends. His dad didn’t handle this well, and hasn’t managed to stay in close touch.  He hasn’t seen him for about a year, and now he comes into town just for the graduation ceremony and is leaving tomorrow. Like my son said, it’s almost as if he just feels obligated. I mean who spends twelve hours flying just to turn around and go back in a day?

There has been a lot of acrimony and hurt between us too. At least that is how I feel. Our failed marriage was the result of his infidelity during my first episode of Depression (how’s that for a kick in the teeth?). He subsequently married the woman that he had the affair with, and had another family. Because of the depression, I found it an extremely painful time of my life, and he is still associated with that pain. I have grieved the loss of the relationship after all this time, but the darkness and despair of that episode of Depression still scares the heck out of me. And I associate him with being abandoned at my time of greatest need. Perhaps that is the source of my anxiety, I just never thought of it that way before. Writing is therapeutic too.

So, wish me luck as I put on my game face and do my best to confront my anxiety/my ex. It does get easier over time as my son gets older, and as I become more self-aware. At least it’s only for a day.

Overwhelmed by the News

Twenty-Four hour news is such a bad idea. We get inundated constantly with information and the news is generally negative in nature. When is there ever any good news? They don’t have time to report that. I always said I would subscribe to a station that showed only good news. It would be so refreshing to hear about people who do good things for each other, not just as an aside or filler to all the bad news that gets reported. That would be fair and balanced don’t ya think?

Problem is it is so easy to get caught up in the world’s tragedies and the quagmire of our government that it adds to one’s depression. Makes me want to stay in bed! Where is the hope? I’m not saying we need  news “lite” or should minimize what is going on in the world. Perhaps it is just too much for some of us to handle in large doses. I know I can’t take too much, because I tend to internalize it and hold it. I can’t walk around with the weight of the world on me, I can’t carry it, I can’t change the world. I can only influence my little circle. Since the news rarely addresses my issues, perhaps I should just shut it off altogether. I feel like that would be the putting my head in the sand approach.

It is of course all about finding balance. As usual. If someone who has depression has been able to find a balance without being overwhelmed by the news, I’d love to hear about it.

Paranoid or Just Insecure?

So for instance, let’s say there was a situation where someone commented on an event that directly affected you, but they should have no knowledge of the why or how…should you feel paranoid, or just assume they are intelligent enough to guess at the circumstances that transpired because they were indirectly involved? Oh, this sounds so mysterious, but all parties shall remain unnamed so as not to incriminate anyone. Let’s just say I’m a little torked over something that happened this week at a place I spend a lot of my waking hours.

I’m not very good at office politics. I just don’t play games, I’m direct and to the point (I think I’ve mentioned that before). I think this is usually a good trait, and I use it judiciously. I don’t blurt inappropriately, and I do try to make a point of thinking before I speak. However, I have been known to be too direct. This apparently offends some delicate sensibilities. I’m working on that.

I’ve found some work environments  are places where you find yourself looking over your shoulder. Who’s watching? Is someone checking my work? Do they trust me? I generally take pride in my work, and want to be noticed for doing a good job. I think everyone likes a little pat on the back once in a while. But having to deal with Depression already gives you a sense of insecurity worrying about what others think of you. An unstable or chaotic work environment can just contribute to feelings of paranoia. Who wants to get up every morning and be sick with worry about their employment status?

Most often it has to do with the personalities and attitudes of the people in the workplace. Just a few people can make for a good or not so good work environment. Even one person in a position of power or who happens to be friends with the boss can affect the tenor of the office.

So, what to do? One can work to find a niche that suits them and steer clear of any conflict or troublemakers. One could also face the challenges head on and hope for the best. It can always be a gamble to play the office politics game. There really are never any winners and the power players can turn on you in a heartbeat. And always is the option to walk away. The grass is not always greener either, we all know that cliché. You can find yourself in the same situation with different players. It’s never an easy decision, just one more reason to feel less than secure.

Holiday Anxiety

As the major holidays approach, I find myself with mixed feelings, swathed in a layer of anxiety. There is always some “expectation” of what the holidays should be being marketed to us every day by Martha, Oprah, Rachel or Paula or perhaps some other maven of domesticity that is the hot ticket of the season. If we just decorate a certain way, or set the table festively, or handcraft all our gifts, our joy will be complete. When I was married, I really did believe that I could have it all. I did decorate, created hand-painted wrapping paper with my young son, cooked delicious meals and celebrated with family and friends.

So many things have changed. Two generations of divorce and a family chock full of depressives makes for some less than festive times. Of course my marriage collapsed during the holiday season so I always have that reminder of what was. And the loss of family members has upset the balance of what family was, so everyone seems to go their separate ways. It’s sad, but I think my grandparents were the glue that held everyone together, and now that they are gone, there isn’t anything that binds us.

I think the holidays tend to be a melancholy time of year for many people who have lost or never had family or friends with which to share it. It is very difficult for a depressed person to put his/herself out there for fear of being rejected. Some people just don’t have anything to celebrate. It sounds harsh, but it’s true.

So, I struggle on, trying to pick out useful but meaningful gifts for family members and close friends, hoping they come across as thoughtful. Maybe a few handmade things as well if I get motivated. Trying hard not to have any expectations about what the holidays should be, and just being in the moment. I might even acknowledge it this year with a few pictures. Couldn’t hurt, right?

Keeping the Plates Spinning

Am I the only one having a hard time keeping up? I feel like the guy in the circus or on stage who has all the plates spinning on sticks, only mine don’t spin all that well, they tend to bobble and frequently one crashes to the floor. Then while I am trying to gather up the pieces, all the other plates are hurtling out of control…like why even bother??? What an apt metaphor for life sometimes. Maybe it sounds like poor pitiful me, but really it’s just a description of how I feel sometimes. I can’t remember the last time when things were calm, smooth, and I didn’t worry about the next plate about to fall. Maybe back in college, but I doubt it, because my parents were divorcing for the second time (yeah, from each other, don’t ask!). At least I didn’t witness that chaos. Distance, at times, is a good thing.

So, it seems when I get my personal life together, the work life goes down, or vice versa. I just have never achieved great balance across all aspects/dimensions of my life. Do other people feel this way? Does it get any better? I do believe that if I could achieve some balance I would be less stressed and depressed. And I don’t believe things happen “for a reason” or it’s God’s doing. God doesn’t just randomly dole stuff out, stuff just happens. There is no rhyme or reason to it. It’s not punishment. It’s just random. I have faith in a loving and merciful God.

In the meantime, I still have to keep picking up the broken dishes and move forward…and find some meaning in this mess.

Relationships…or More “High School in My Head”

Everyone easily says don’t worry about what other people think, but that is so not easy for a depressed person. We just obsess over what we say or don’t say or should have said and what other people think about it. How we relate to others is a big part of our illness and a big part of how people understand or don’t understand what we are dealing with…which is why I love the Facebook category for “relationship” because my all-encompassing response is, “It’s Complicated.”

Let’s just say therapy was reeeealy rough this week talking about my intimate relationships. Not doing so hot at picking them was the conclusion. Guess because I don’t really choose, I just fall into them. That is all I want to say on that subject for now, because it’s pretty raw, and I’m still working through a lot of details, eeek.

I want to focus more on friendships, coworkers, family relationships. Absolutely loaded subject for people everywhere, not just us chronically melancholy types. Work can always be a minefield. Especially when you are the newbie. Just trying to figure out the culture of the organization, and where you fit in is a big enough challenge…don’t want to make a major gaffe by saying something inappropriate. I think it’s easy enough to avoid edgy jokes and surfing questionable websites during your introductory period, but what about speaking up in meetings, preparing reports or giving feedback? Generally I feel like when hired, they like me for my intelligence and experience, and value my opinion. So it’s hard to temper that with saying just the most “politically correct” thing, or avoiding being in any way controversial or questioning the status quo. Then, what can you say without worrying about having to process it through the “what will they think about this?” filter. By the time you do all that in your head, the moment to join the conversation has passed and the group has moved on to something else. There you sit, worrying what they think about your lack of response! Arrgh. When you do say something, it winds up being an unfiltered blurt, and either people don’t respond and just continue talking, or the room goes quiet like you just had a Tourette’s moment. Oh boy, that sucks.

 Eight hours a day you need to have your guard up, so you don’t screw up by saying something stupid and have people talking about you. Just what you need, is a little paranoia that people are talking about you and are looking to get you to go with the generalized anxiety about work! Always good to build some friendships at work if possible, so you have a sounding board to let you know when you are having a mental meltdown. Just be sure that they are people you trust and who understand and accept your illness. It would be presumptuous to just put it all out there and hope for the best. Feel people out before you give your whole self exposure.

Friendships are so very important in managing Depression. Again, it’s that support system that let’s you know what is good thinking and what is abnormal and when you need to do something about it. When you feel all alone, Depression becomes worse. Not a good place to be. Ever. Sometimes you do reach out, and people just aren’t available, being busy with other obligations. You don’t want to whine and be needy, it’s so unbecoming. That’s when it’s good to have family to lean on as well.

Oh family. Love them, but they can make you miserable at the same time. I think I count on my sister the most. She understands my illness the most, sort of walked a “mile in my moccasins” you might say, but a totally different road. There is a six-year age difference between us, so for  several years, we didn’t have much in common. But we both grew up, and we became the closest of friends. It’s a relationship I count on when things are rough and when times are good. I know she will be there for me. And I know I can say just about anything without worrying that she is going to judge me. And there are no head games. Matter of fact, we can commiserate about the head games others play, and try to figure out how to make our way in this big bad world.

This post has turned out way too long, but I think it’s so important to understand how crucial relationships are, and how depressed people struggle to initiate and maintain them. It’s never easy for us, but if we trust you, be assured that it will be a deep and lasting relationship. Unless you betray us. That’s a different post.