Thankful Amalgam

The last several weeks I feel like I’ve had very structured blog entries about very specific things. Today, however, I just feel like rambling a little.

be thankful.First of all, if you’re reading this, thank you. Truly, thank you. I’ve received an uptick in positive feedback recently and I’m just so honored to hear that people enjoy my style. You see, I’m not a writer. I’ve never been a writer in the purest sense, although in the past I did attempt to write a novel (and gave up because apparently I don’t like being told that my writing is too adult and that I should write YA fiction because it “sells better”). The words that make it to this page and just me, the person behind the blog, sharing my unique and sometimes opinionated viewpoint on healthy living. What you read about is what interests me and how I live my life. For me it’s a form of catharsis, the need to talk about these things in a space where someone might garner some sort of benefit from it. So thanks. You readers are making all this effort worth it.

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This weekend wasn’t my best emotionally. I’m struggling with some personal issues that have been distracting me a little.  I am so incredibly fortunate to have some good friends who have been there for me through these trying times and who have made an effort to show me that I’m far from alone in this world, and I’m always amazed and honored when someone shows me that they see past my shoddily constructed facade to who I am underneath. In fact, because of this, I put forth this challenge to you, my readers: the next time you talk to someone you care about, pay attention to them. REALLY pay attention. Don’t just just listen to the words they speak on the surface, but observe their body language, hear their inflections, and try to decipher the full meaning of what they say. You don’t need to acknowledge this task or mention it to them. Just observe. You might discover there’s more to your friend than you first thought, and that might be a good thing. You might find some common ground you never knew you had.

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Am I the only one who thinks this should be “Brace Your Elves”, or am I the only one who thinks this is punny?

Lastly, as I’m sure we are all intensely aware, the holidays are coming. There isn’t much we can do about it: the holidays come and go like the tides. Some people love it, and some don’t, and that’s fine. A friend of mine was surprised to learn that I hate parades. (Seriously, standing out in the cold while watching floats surrounded  by too many people and too much noise sounds like total torture to me.) But to some, the holidays are a rough time. Maybe they have bad memories this time of year. Maybe they have conflict with their family. Maybe they struggle to afford gifts for their loved ones and it makes them extra stressed. Sometimes our first instinct is to try to cheer them up. How about we just give those people a big hug and let them know it’s okay to be a little sad? Because it is.

12blogsofxmasNow, after all this super deep stuff I’ve been shoveling onto you, I’m announcing that I will be using the month of December to post a series called The Twelve Blogs of Christmas which will feature a series of ways you can make a difference this Christmas season. I will still be posting weekly menus and the occasional recipe but this blog series will be dominating the month. Don’t worry, all posts will have a decidedly frugal slant. Hope you don’t mind!

Anyway, thank you as always, my dear readers, for indulging me on this journey. I couldn’t do it without you. 🙂

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Anxiety Sucks

Last year I spent a couple of months in therapy for a severe bout of anxiety. On my worst day, my fight-or-flight response got so bad I started bawling at work for no reason and had to leave early. I never wanted medication, so I gave hypnotherapy a shot. While it didn’t solve my issue, it did help me get a toolkit of coping mechanisms, such as choosing physical activity, the EFT tapping method, meditation and journaling. Things are a LOT better these days but there are still times when my anxiety rears its ugly head. Now is one of them. This image is a pretty accurate description of how anxiety feels to me:

cc3c4fc50bd5db3843ddc5456cf8cdccIt sucks. And I hate talking about it, because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m asking for them to tell me how awesome I am. Because honestly? When I’m in a state of anxiety none of that even helps. It doesn’t MATTER if you tell me I’m awesome or I have tons of be proud of or anything, because no matter what anyone says my brain doesn’t believe it. Because my brain is temporarily stupid. My brain is lying to me. My brain is asking me a thousand questions I can’t answer or that I don’t WANT to answer. I feel out of control at times.

The worst part of this anxiety is dealing with other people. I want to be around other people, but somehow the anxiety makes me feel like an addict. I crave the attention of others but my interactions are never quite able to quiet my inner doubt. Every second of silence makes me question the relationship, as if all of my friends suddenly find me the most irritating person on the planet. As if they can smell the desperation over the internet.

rottenecards_5820967_5s8fvngqkyMy safe spot is my car. I can make it through the evening of a bad day if I can make it into my car after work. There’s something interesting about the dynamic of sitting in traffic, surrounded by people who can clearly see you, but being alone, able to let go of the tears you’ve held in all day while trying not to reach panic attack level. It’s cathartic. Occasionally I wonder if people passing see me and make up a story about why I’m so upset, and then I remember that while I glance at other drivers, I rarely think deeply about their motivations. We’re a self-centered species, humans, and we often only focus on ourselves. I think that’s why so many of us know what it’s like to feel alone in a crowd. We’re focused on ourselves. It’s part of being human.

My anxiety is relatively infrequent, but when it’s here, it feels like I’ve always been this way and WILL always be this way. And these thoughts create a sick cycle of worry. When I’m not in an anxious state, I forget what it’s like to be anxious, and I forget that other people feel anxiety also. Sometimes I forget to be understanding about these things. At those times I’m sure I fall into the reassurance mode, telling people how awesome they are even though I know it doesn’t help.

Do you know what helps me? Writing this blog entry. When I started typing, my fingers on the keys, noticing that I’m beginning to have difficulty typing because my fingernails are entirely too long and are slipping off the keys, my anxiety was high. Maybe a 6 out of 10. I was fighting back tears. I’d taken a walk in the beautiful spring sunshine but that didn’t help much. I was tense and felt sick to my stomach and like I could only take very shallow breaths. But now, as I’m wrapping up this Tolstoyesque-seeming entry, my level of panic has reduced by half, to maybe a 3 out of 10.

The simple act of writing about it, getting it out of me, is helping. And no, it doesn’t bother me that this entry isn’t my “usual” fare of food and frugality with a dash of fitness. This is me, too. This is me.

I know many people who suffer from anxiety to varying degrees. Maybe you do, too, and don’t even realize it. Here’s a handy dandy list of coping mechanisms you can use if you begin to feel the world closing in on you:

Ccl0WckW0AAEj8ZToday I used exercise, writing and breathing. Today writing helped most. I hope some of these things can help you, too.

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