Monday, January 14, 2013

Of sad bathrobes and melancholy umbrellas

I've been thinking increasingly about:

a) blogging as a medium for writing rather than just posting pictures. Some of my favorite bloggers post almost entirely thoughtful narrative accounts of what's going in their life (and some of my other favorites serve purely to fuel my rampant materialism, so it evens out I guess), and

b) what am I actually willing to share on here? Even with a no names policy to protect the innocent (and the total bastards) to what extent does it make sense to go on about my personal business? This is where you're all thinking either "who gives a crap your personal business, you internet stranger" or "oh yes, please tell me you're going to share all the pointless details of your daily struggles because I eat that shit up." As I personally fall into the second of these categories (give me more personal details! I don't read GOMI for nothing. Blogs are better than soap operas as far as I'm concerned), I have for the moment decided to give the longer more personal blog post format a go. Interspersed with the occasional shopping post, although I have to say that even I'm getting turned off by some of the crass materialism that blogs and Instagram seem to promote in myself lately.

So what exciting tale of personal nonsense do I offer today? Anxiety, that's what. The fact that I've been struggling with anxiety (mainly generalized and some situational issues) since I was a teenager. There were a few months back when I was about 20 when I struggled with daily panic attacks (thanks, BC hormone induced madness!), but I've pretty much got a lid on that now. Still, the primary limiting factor in my life has been anxiety. I generally do what I need to do professionally because that's sufficient as a driving factor, but when it comes to my personal life it's traditionally been a lot easier to just stay at home (or within walking distance from home) rather than go out and do stuff.

Via tumblr

I think my worst case situational scenario for anxiety would be to take the chinatown bus to NY. That would kill me. It would be like an X-Files episode where some young woman spontaneously combusted because she had a rare condition that caused her to start vibrating at an intense frequency whenever she was trapped in a public bus for an extended distance. It's unfortunate. But it would make for a pretty exciting obituary notice.

Of course it's all vaguely ridiculous from the outside, but whatever your issue happens to be, panic, OCD, PSTD, social anxiety, GAD, it feels like the most real and important thing in the world at the time. It's hard to explain what panic or anxiety feels to someone who has only ever experienced anxiety in a casual non-crippling kind of way. But it's all consuming, and rationalizing it away does not work. Quite frankly there are few things more offensive than people who tell you to just rationalize the fear and get over it. That works about as well as yelling at someone who is depressed that they should really buck up.

But I'm working on it, and do I think it's gotten better over the past year or so. Not thanks to pharma (I have a bottle of klonopin that I got last year that I've taken a grand total of zero pills from, because taking pills gives me anxiety. There's a conundrum for you!), and not really thanks to therapy either (although talking to someone about school stress has been immensely helpful in other regards). I think what's primarily helped for me is a) meditating, b) exercise, and c) realizing that I need to stop fighting anxiety and just accept that it's always going to be there. I've read a few books on the topic and that message has probably helped me than any other (and if you catch me mumbling something under my breath while looking vaguely pale and clammy it's probably "function with fear.").

Most recently I've been reading this workbook. The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety. I definitely recommend it. As the title suggests (no shit sherlock) the book is focused on mindfulness and living with anxiety rather than fighting it or trying to reason your way out of it. So far so good, although I have yet to get to the chapters at the end where they make you actually go out and do stuff. But the small things that trigger my anxiety aren't bothering me as much right now at least.

It is kind of counterintuitive to have to accept the fact that you are anxious. After years of wanting nothing more than for your anxiety to die a horrible death by stabbing (and snakes, and then maybe setting it on fire and dropping it from an airplane into a pit of more fire), you're suddenly supposed to just accept it and stop fighting? Still, it's worked better than the alternatives for me at least.

I suppose it's a bit like those hilariously awful Abilify commercials where the improved scenario involves you being followed around by a sad bathrobe or a melancholy umbrella forever. I mean, shit! Am I going to be harassed by an anxious bathrobe for the rest of my life?

Don't look now lady, but...

Apparently, yes. I am going to be harassed by bathrobes and umbrellas forever. But the book makes the valid point that it's something like a tug-o-war (let's start mixing metaphors shall we?) where if you just drop the rope and stop fighting, then you'll be able to life your life even if the rope is still there. Seems fair enough. We'll see what happens I guess. But I think my main point is that as I get ready to graduate and be done with school once and for all I can't help but wonder what my life would look like minus the constraint of anxiety. I mean, minus that I could do anything (I mean, clearly not anything, but you get my gist). So I'm putting in the work over the next few months in the hopes that I'll not only be done with school but will also be done wasting my time basically wrestling with myself.

Anyone else have any thought on this? From my experiences online I suspect that people who blog or spend all their time on forums are some of the most anxious and depressed people out there. Either that or we just have a medium to actually be vocal about it without immediate stigma.


  1. Great post! But, I do love hearing details about other peoples lives, but I think thats mostly because I dont have a life of my own. haha I have depression (idk if thats the right phrasing). It definitely goes through phases (luckily!) of when I have it. I was prescribed pills for it, but I hated being on them. So, I've found other ways that work to help pull me out of it. I'm not sure if it would work the same way for anxiety, but from what youve written it looks like you are at least finding ways to manage :-)

    1. Yeah, the anxiety definitely comes in phases sometimes too. I guess the good thing about non-med solutions to these types of things (like exercise and eating right) are that they're usually the things we should be doing anyway!

  2. I can be extremely anxious- it's been bad ever since I was a child when I'm in a situation where I can well, be 'graded' or something. Apparently with what I do (glorified administrative assistant for multiple departments) this is a good trait to have! But I did almost cry Friday night on the way home because I'd messed something up. I may just be needy.
    I really like this post/think you should do long blog posts! They are some of my favorite as well. Getting to look into someone's mind and feel a connection in some way is so great. (Bloggers are totally anxious haha)
    Blogs are better than soap operas! I found GOMI through a major blog complaining about the site and it's a guilty pleasure. Same with

    I hope you see progress over the next few months with dealing through/with your anxiety. I will check out this book! Thank you for sharing it. :)

    1. I was definitely a nervous kid, but I don't think it turned into full on anxiety until middle school for me. I don't blame you for crying! Sometimes messing up can feel terrible, especially when you start worrying about not being able to fix it.

      I found GOMI looking for people who were talking shit about gala darling, hah! Sometimes they can be a little too mean for me, but overall I think the comments are pretty interesting. Some blogs really are soap-opera-tastic!

      I'll definitely make more posts about it! Especially when I get to the part where I'm supposed to get out and start pushing my boundaries.

  3. As a person who began blogging to better her life and happiness, I can definitely relate. I wouldn't call myself an anxious person, but I definitely struggle with depression and unhappiness. I am always feeling like I'm not living up to my potential. I started my blog as a way to push myself creatively, and although it has helped there is only so much the internet can do for a girl. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to be that girl you dream about right out of school. Give yourself some time to figure out your next step.
    Good luck lady! And I personally, dig the personal posts. :)

    1. That's awesome that your blog has helped! I have definitely have no delusions about my internet presence making me happier, if anything my old LJ was pretty much only for documenting all my troubles!

      You're definitely right about not putting too much pressure on. The flip side is that if I just stay in my comfort zone all the time I'm never going to get over some of my situational anxiety though. It's hard to balance it all! But hopefully once I get everything turned in I'll actually have some time to get out there and do the things that scare me.

  4. I like mostly picture posts, but sometimes posts with a lot of writing are good too.

    ps. You can watch season 7 of Dr Who here!

    There are some pop-ups when you click on the video, but just exit out of them and click "watch as free user". :)

    1. Will have to check that out!

      Since I pretty much decided to not post pictures of myself on the blog until I know what my career plans involve I feel like written posts have a lot more potential. Otherwise it will just all be shopping wish lists!

  5. I love this post. I think it's well written, honest and I love that you added humor. I have had anxiety issues my entire life. I have never and will never take pills for it. As I have gotten older I have just learned to accept myself for the way I am. In high school and even in my early twenties, people made me feel like there was something "wrong" with me. I have always been one to show emotion. I worry about stuff all the time. AND sometimes I just have to be a bitchy and cry. I guess since more things in my life are going better for me the anxiety isn't as bad. I think with age you just learn how to ignore it and accept that some days you are just going to be upset. I don't know if this helps at all. I guess if there are things in your life that you can change that make you anxious, change them. Also, it's good to force yourself to get on that bus and go to China Town!! LOL I have done lots of things that have made me anxious but I forced myself to do them to get out of my comfort zone. Now those things don't make me anxious anymore. :) It also taught me that I can do anything no matter how anxious it makes me. All without popping a pill!!!

    1. For me it's sometimes gotten to the point of anxiety disorder. Where I'm unable to do things that other people can without a second thought, that's the hard part to just try to function with or ignore. There's no ignoring a panic attack! The everyday worries and general being an uptight person I can handle better.

      But I'm really hoping to keep working on the big things. It's encouraging to hear that you have been able to face those fears! With enough repetition I'm hoping to get over some of mine as well. Sometimes it's a scary thought though. But I really do mean to do it this year!


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