Driving Anxiety

Not too long ago my husband and I were living in the city – as an anxious person, this always caused more stress than needed. Driving was the worst part for me, so much congestion and no one following the fundamental laws made my heart palpitate. I would find myself cringing at the fact of needing to drive. At a certain point, I decided to sell my car and rely solely on transportation.  When I mentioned this to a friend one day all she could say was “Oh, that’s bad.”

In the end, city living wasn’t for us, and we decided to move out to the suburbs. I took what she said to heart and needed to get over my anxiety of driving. Driving in the suburbs was a little easier, but a lot of people still don’t follow the laws. The most significant issues that we have are slow drivers (I’m talking 5km/h) and drivers who do not use their signals to switch lanes. I usually find myself doing the majority of my breathing exercises in my car. They help, sometimes.

On June 12th, two minutes away from my house I encountered a driver that made me incredibly anxious. He was two clicks ahead of me and was going so incredibly slow that I had to slam on my breaks at 20km/h. I had a quick decision to make, cause significant damage to the front end of my car or cause minimal damage by shifting my car into the left-hand lane.  I chose the latter, and all parties pulled off to the side to put their four ways on. I immediately jumped out of my car to give this person a piece of my mind (Thanks, Adrenaline!) but as soon as he saw me walking over to his car, he pulled his window back up and just took off. Appalled, I called up my husband immediately to start naming off his license plate number. In retrospect, I know that wasn’t the best idea, but I was livid about this accident and wasn’t thinking straight. My whole body was in shock and started to shake as I dialed 911 – the woman on the other end tried to calm me down as I explained what just happened but I just couldn’t. I exchanged all information that I could with this woman, took pictures of everything, and saved the tears until I buckled up to drive home.

When I entered my house, my legs gave out on me, and the humidity outside turned my body red. I dropped to the floor as a tightness in my chest began – my breath was slowly dissipating. I managed to grab my inhaler in my bag through the gasps of breaths. I was on the verge of a panic attack, and I needed to calm down. As I laid on the hardwood floor, the whole scenario flashed before my eyes again. How could he just take off like that?

I immediately called my insurance to relay all the information that I could – Unfortunately, my husband was working and couldn’t grab the entirety of the license plate for me, but I did send him in a panic through my cries over the phone (sorry!). Due to the nature of what happened, I am considered at fault for this accident. I gulped down the information as best as I could, kicking myself over the fact that I didn’t grab that plate number. This is my first accident as a driver, and I guess you can say that I learned my lesson on how to react if it ever happens again.

I won’t let this affect me driving, though. Facing my fear is the only way I can tackle this anxiety head-on.  I could easily say I will never drive again but “oh, that’s bad” will keep repeating in my head over and over. All I ask is for everyone to be safe out there, please drive the speed limit and always put on your signal when switching lanes.

The Sun Is Going To Rise Again

My heart breaks.

Mental health is not a joke, and we should not look down on it. We need less judgment and more compassion. More check in’s and fewer shares of one meme “suicide hotline.” I urge you to check in on all of your friends, correctly.

In a week, we lost two celebrities to suicide, but there are many others that we’ll never hear about who did the same. Trying to place yourself in both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain shoes are hard. They both genuinely believed that their children would be better off without them – Can you imagine how much pain they were in to think that?

We lose, roughly, 2160 people a day to suicide and it’s heartbreaking to keep seeing these rates go up. When we want to reach out to someone we need to stop looking down on them. From your wealthiest to your poorest friends, we all struggle with life. Instead of judging each other on which platform they stand – why don’t we encourage and lift others up? Where have we failed as a society to lack such empathy?

While undoubtedly chemical antidepressants have some value and should remain on the table, we need to radically expand the menu of options for people who are depressed and anxious to deal with the grave, underlying reasons why we feel this way.

For those that are struggling with depression – I urge you to hold on. If you’re depressed, if you’re anxious, you’re not crazy. You matter. You’re loved. This is not your fault. You won’t be able to cure this on your own, but, there is hope. Your presence on this earth makes a difference whether you see it or not.

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Basement Remodels, Anxiety Hell

I’m at the ratty end of a basement remodel, and I am feeling so depleted from it all.
Everyone usually warns you of how you and your partner will be whenever a renovation happens, and even though I fully expected it to happen, I still wasn’t prepared for the emotional drain that it has put on me.

I am quite opinionated whenever it comes to big projects like this, but I decided to take a step back and let my Husband be the project manager. I’ve done the ordinary tasks with no shame. Cleaned up all the debris, knocked out all of the nails of baseboards (in record time, I might add!) and tried to come to a solution on colors and organization. I know I could do more, but I’m trying to respect his decision and stay out of his hair. Saturday morning we got into a fight of how he feels that he’s doing the majority of the work and I just wanted to rip my hair out!

Even though he has taken the brunt end of most of it, he hasn’t asked for much help on my part. I kept offering my help many times, but I stopped at a certain point since he never accepted it. I have a lot of experience when it comes to hands-on work, and I never shy away from a hammer so it’s tough for me to accept that I’m not as involved as I’d like to be.

After our little spat, I started to shake uncontrollably. As my eyes darted back and forth, I began to question a lot of the decisions that we made and looked inward on our relationship. I immediately knew that I was over thinking, but I couldn’t shake off my anxious feeling and started to cry because I wasn’t in control. My husband caught on quite quickly and jumped over the newly grouted tiles so he could swoop me into his arms to calm me down. We stood motionless in our basement as he caressed my back gently to help regulate my breathing.

I hate my anxiety.

I hate that something like this can come out of nowhere and make me so incredibly doubtful of everything.

I hate when arguments lead me to question my relationship with said person.

Do you know what I don’t hate, though? My husband makes me feel like a ‘normal’ person when I can’t see it in myself.

After this, we went to pick up our paint colors and finally agreed not only on the hues but the placement of them. Instead of going home immediately, we went to a local burger joint and took a well deserve and needed break from our mess of a house. It’s always crucial to make sure that you don’t forget who you are as a person and who you are as a couple, knowing that we both needed that space away from our project was our blessing in disguise.

We spent the next day painting the majority of our basement, and I’m happy to say that we’re both feeling relieved that we’re in the home stretch!

Release and Vent

Venting
when you have so much bottled up inside you that you’re at a point where you can’t stand it and need to word vomit it out.

I’ve been there!

It’s not healthy to bottle up your emotions, and the immediate feeling of relief of doing so is understated. When someone genuinely seems to want to listen and care about you, your frustrations feel more legitimate, and the feeling of annoyance subsides.

I enjoy it when people vent to me. Although most of us think that said person is annoyed when we do it, I can honestly say that I would push whatever it is out of the way to listen to you vent.

I am too well versed in how it feels to bottle up everything your thinking and feeling. It clouds your judgment when you get tangled in your emotions. It has taken me a lot to open up to people over the years, but I do have many friends who I can run to with no shame in judgment. It’s always vital to vent to someone who you trust: if you’re in a toxic relationship, a simple vent can turn into a catastrophic event. If you choose to do so, you can increase your level of distress tenfold.

Choose who you vent to wisely but make sure you can do it whenever the feeling comes to mind. Ask your confidant if they can make the time for you before you get into your rant and spill it all out. Their positivity will outshine your negative state, and they might even come up with suggestions that you couldn’t think of in your frame of mind.

Like father, like daughter

This past weekend by birthfather and stepmother came to spend some quality time with my husband and I. I’m very close with the both of them, so I was quite excited to see them after two years finally. When my father and I had some alone time, he tried to pry me open as is tradition. He thinks that I don’t open up to him as much as I should when in reality he’s one of the few that I run to when I need help. He takes my lack of conversation to heart, so I am very blunt whenever we have these talks to show him that I’m never afraid to open up to him.

 

Back in November, we had a minor spat over an issue, and my solution was to back off to cool down for a few days. I’m lucky that he understands that I need this, but I also have to be sensitive to the fact that he does not appreciate it. He would rather open the wound fully to bleed out than patch it. I don’t blame him but whenever I get overwhelmed it seems like the most viable solution for me. He asked me if I was OK at this moment, and I was happy to state that I was. However, the tears started to flow as I put myself back in my situation in November: how overly stressed I was at work, how my husband’s schedule didn’t align with mine and the financial hiccups that I had to endure.

I apologized to him as the tears continued, I reminded him that I couldn’t stop them sometimes and to know that I am happy at this moment.

“I know – I suffer from the same thing, too.”

Those words have been echoing in my head. I’ve gotten nothing but encouragement from them since I’ve started this blog but hearing that validation almost turned those tears into a full-on waterslide. There have been tiny moments since our reunion that truly made me feel as if I were a part of this family and I can add another one to this list. I had a family member that UNDERSTOOD why I was crying. I got up from my chair and buried my head into the neck of my dad’s – I continued to gently cry as he whispered in my ear “It’s OK, it’s all OK.”

He has no idea how long I’ve waited for a father to say this to me

I pulled away and wiped my tears, thanked him for bringing me down and continued our conversation. No more tears fell, and my anxious flashback seemed like it happened hours ago. Even though it was a short visit, we had much other heart-to-heart’s and of course some sneaking father advice. It’s reassuring to know that the way I feel comes from my father and it makes me calm knowing that I’m not alone.Happy Personality with Heavy Soul

Where do I put my hands?

A little over a year ago, a friend of the family came to me with some advice knowing that I was struggling. Automatically, my guard went up. I started to become defensive about the situation and chose to ignore what she was saying. I politely asked her to leave my house, and without hesitation, she agreed. When she left, I went straight to my husband asking what her intentions were and all he said was “Andrea, she was just trying to help, can’t you see that?” When I looked back on the exact words that she said, her demeanor and how she approached me with caution I felt sick to my stomach. She was utterly genuine, and I was an ass by choosing to deflect as I’ve grown accustomed to over the years.

no idea how to respond

I apologized the next day profusely to her and thanked her for being concerned. I couldn’t believe that after years of therapy that I was still struggling to put my guard down. One of the techniques used in CBT Therapy is to catch yourself in an automatic thought before you react to it. I was upset at myself up over not being able to do it in this instance. I know that it’s only normal and it will most likely happen again, so, I try not to let it affect me as much as usual (easier said than done!)

Do you ever find yourself confused over a compliment, too? I do when it comes to something personal. Take for example this blog, one of my aunts came up to me recently and told me that my mother would have been proud of me for starting this. I stood there in a daze. With a little whisper I managed to say “Thank You” and my cheeks flustered. When you always talk yourself down as I do, it’s hard to know how to respond to positivity.

Akward when someone compliments me

When I thought about it more that night, I wish I could have said more to my aunt; to thank her for thinking of my mother, the kind words and how I too think she would have been proud. (Seriously, thank you, Susan)

My anxiety will never entirely go away, and I’ve come to accept that over the years. I do wish that I was a little better at receiving help or getting a compliment, though. I can only hope that over time it will get better, but in the meantime, I feel like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights.

 

I’m Tired

Whenever someone asks how I am my usual response is “I’m tired.”

This tiredness isn’t because of a long day at work, or not getting enough sleep at night (although sometimes it does add to it). It’s usually from the constant battle of anxiety that pulsates through my head telling me not to speak up because I will annoy those surrounding me.

Some days I can fight that voice, but often than not it’s hard to find the strength to ignore it. I want to word vomit how I am feeling

I’m burnt out; life is overwhelming right now, I’m mentally exhausted.

But my anxiety will send my mind spinning telling me that no one will understand, so I resort to the short version of “I’m tired.” I can be in the same room as people that I’ve known for years, whom I trust dearly, but I won’t over divulge.

It’s exhausting having that voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m weak, that I shouldn’t expect much and nitpick away at everything that I do. It makes me feel less of a person, and I think everyone can see it. It makes it easy for me to cancel my plans because the thought of being around people would be too much to handle on top of this.

I refuse to let my anxiety control my life any more than it has. Even though my mind rushes at a mile a minute the moment I wake up: I still get out of bed, I still prepare for my day, and I still go to work. All I want to do is go back under my warm blanket with my husband. (I can make a living like this, right??)

I push through the discomfort of my day so that I can turn my dark thoughts into positive ones. I ignore my thought of “everyone is judging you” and force myself to be productive. Always trying to be one step ahead is tiresome. I feel like I’m constantly trying to get out of my comfort zone and never feel truly relaxed. Yet, I try. I try so hard and put in so much effort.

The days when I do find the courage and strength to speak my mind amaze me – how can I be so brave when other days I let it consume me? These are the days that I realize people with anxiety are the strongest because we never have a minute of peace. I’ve been called “Strong” before, but I don’t feel it, I have a tattoo as a reminder.

Ani Hazika
Hebrew for “I’m Strong”

The next time someone says “I’m tired” try to understand that they might be struggling with something deeper. Maybe they need words of encouragement, a shovel to dig them out of a situation or just a simple hug saying “It’s OK to be tired.”