Windows

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A window from an old, dilapidated, once very famous hotel. It has been overgrown with a beautiful array of green foliage. Maybe it was never supposed to be there. But as the sunken ships on the ocean provide new landscape for it’s inhabitants so does this for the creatures in the woods.

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I would love to hear your interpretation on this one. (:

 

Still trying to figure out what’s normal

 

Anxiety vs codependency vs normal

 

Okay, so no such thing as normal so maybe the better word is healthy.

 

It goes like this. My mother was in the hospital for pneumonia. Prior to going in the hospital she was driving, going to the grocery store, cleaners, etc. She is a spunky, feisty, and very stubborn 90 year old. She has been in and out of the hospital 3-4 times over the past 3 years. Sometimes she comes home on 24/7 oxygen and sometimes she goes to rehab and then home. She always goes home and she always regains her independence. Being her only adult child that lives in the same state as her, she has played a big part in my anxiety.

She is home from rehab from a nursing home and she is back on oxygen 24/7. She was offered nursing visits, physical and occupational therapy visits. Everything was going well until she had to sign a consent form saying she agreed to having these professionals come to assist her. She declined to sign.

I wrote in my previous blog about when I was 5 years old I used to get caught in the “spin cycle” of a wave; spinning, spinning, out of control until the wave lost it’s power as it crashed into the shore.

The moment my mother declined to sign I went into an emotional “spin cycle”. It felt like the contents of my stomach were now at the top of my esophagus and standing in the ready position to launch onto my mother and the very patient nurse that was interviewing her. My heart was pleading for my mouth to release the expletives that had been storing up as I listened to my mother lie about her time in the nursing home. I could hear the committee in my head yelling, “REALLY, REALLY?”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy and grateful that my mother is still alive. I don’t mind visiting her on my days off to help her. But not signing meant I would have to be over there ALOT more and I work full time. I have time available for parental FMLA but I am almost maxed out.  I can’t imagine life without her. And yes, there is a BUT at the end of that sentence.

Not only is she spunky, feisty, and stubborn but also very manipulative and controlling. If she were an actress she would have a houseful of Emmy’s, Oscars, and all the other acting awards. She lies like nobodies business and gets a quirky little smile when she gets away with it. As the youngest of her 6 children, I am the only one that can bear spending long periods of time with her.

Therefore I ask, what is codependent, anxiety and healthy.

Since she declined to sign, I have been advised to leave her on her own and visit her, at the most, one time a week. This advice is from people who have heard her humiliate me in front of the various medical providers she has had.

“Why do you keep helping her when she is so mean to you?”

Well, she’s my Mom. I can’t leave her to fend for herself. Besides, I get it. She has had control for all her life and now she is finding that she can’t do everything and it’s hard to accept that.

I get anxious just thinking about it. I feel like I should do so much more. Is that the co-dependent in me or is it the heart of a child for her mother. I’ve heard about people quitting their jobs to move in with an elderly parent. I’ve heard of people giving up their life as it is, putting it on hold and serving their elderly parent.

My husband and I lost our house to a short sale because we were going to move in with my mother. We sold most of our stuff and put the rest in storage. Two days before we were to move in she said she changed her mind and refused to have us move in. We made a special place in the new house we bought and she refuses to move in with us. The only thing I haven’t done is quit my job.

When she declined to sign the papers the anxious committee members in my head said she was trying to force me to quit my job to care for her.

Ugh!

Codependent, anxious, (normal) healthy response; what the hell do any of them look like cause I just can’t figure it out right now.

GIVE UP MY GLORIOUS COFFEE?

I’ve heard it said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I need to add a bit of a tag line on to that….but not always.

This good intention has actually lead to the beginning of my redemption.

I started this blog with the good intention of addressing addictions and a source of help for those involved with addictions in some form or another. That’s still my intention-eventually. It has sort of evolved into a blog about my road to recovery. Well to be honest it is now about my recovery. My blog title “Recover Me” was supposed to be generalized for all of us in whatever form of recovery we find ourselves in.

At this point in my recovery I have come to accept that I have a diagnosis of anxiety and I am co-dependent (although my understanding is that the mental health field is getting away from using that term).

I have come to accept that I am where I am today because of anxiety and that I am not the only one in the world that struggles with feeling like I am “different” than the rest of the world.

I was watching a video of Dr. Kelly Brogan regarding anxiety. She is a holistic psychiatrist in Manhattan.

She said over 100,000,000 million prescriptions per year are filled for anxiety medications.

She described anxiety as a sense of discomfort in your own skin, a sense of unease and that you feel you can’t meet needs.

That’s me for sure. I think the last part is what developed the co-dependent part of me. When people are talking about a problem they are having or that something I suggested didn’t work or how someone else gave them “the best advice, present, help, etc” I feel I have to be better, do better, make it better. This leads me into a tailspin of how can I help, what could I have done better, I have to fix this, why wasn’t mine good enough. In other words, I get very anxious.

She also talked about a new division on mental health called psychoneuroimmunology. It says the immune system, brain, gut and hormonal system are all related and must all be looked at when addressing symptoms. She went on to say that the root cause of anxiety is linked to blood sugar imbalance, thyroid balance (I have underactive thyroid) , and food sensitivities.

Before I get to what she suggested I want to be transparent with one of my panic episodes. I’m not saying we all have the same issues with anxiety but I’m sure there must be others that have had similar experiences. If we can begin to recognize that some of our thoughts are the irrational interpretation of life at the moment that’s brought on by our anxiety then we can begin to try to take a moment to think before we act.

When I was a child my father loved to go to the beach and therefore alot of time  was spent at the beach. My family learned to love the ocean as well. Often my mother would takes the six of us to the beach with one of her friends. (When my Dad was working). I was the youngest of six so when we went to the beach my older siblings would venture off into the water with their friends. While my mother was involved in conversation with her friend I would wander off to the water. As a 5 year old I did not understand the power of a wave and current and  would eventually get pulled under into what I now refer to as “the spin cycle”. When I finally arose from the torrent I wanted nothing more than to run to the my family. Oddly enough the spin cycle carried me far enough way from the point I entered the water that my family was nowhere in sight. My thought was that everyone went home.

The summer before I entered 3rd grade my family and I were traveling to Morocco because my father was stationed there. We got on a train in Spain to get to our next destination. There wasn’t enough room in the compartment my mother was in for me to be there so she told me to step into the next compartment and she would come and get me when we arrived. I must have fallen asleep on the bench I sat on because the next thing I knew the number of people in my compartment had doubled and I could no longer see my mother or any of my brothers and sisters. I got up and people were staring at me and talking but I did not understand due to the foreign language. Again, I thought I would never see my family again.

As a result of these and other experiences like it, I have issues with abandonment. I tend to get panicky (anxious) with arguments and losing sight of people when out on an excursion or vacation. I can tend to be a bit overprotective and clingy.  So, as a co-dependent I do not like confrontation and do not do well with people in emotional pain (unless it is a non related person). My first priority with related people is to avoid confrontation so that they don’t leave me and to alleviate everyone’s pain so they always come to me and never abandon me.

When I can realize that the irrational thoughts and potential reactions are anxiety based I have a better chance of looking for the healthy response and reaction.

Now for Dr. Brogan’s initial suggestions

Eliminate coffee. Did I get that right. That in itself raises the sleeping anxiety dragon. I did it before for about 6 months or maybe a year but I did it by choice and now I am being told.  For some reason that makes it different. That will be a hard one. She also suggested a really weird breathing exercise.  I’m really not big on this kind of activity but hey why not, it’s worth a try. I just hope no one catches me doing it.

One of my own practices as I spoke of before is I made an essential oil blend and just smelling it makes me happy so I know it is at least releasing some of my own happy hormones.

OK, so I am listening to my logic side that tells me I don’t need to keep writing so that I get EVERYTHING in here.

See you next time!

Leave a comment if you’d like about your own experiences. Or you can email me at dsmpbrooks@cox.net

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Cloudy but not Clueless Anymore

Staring so hard that it feels like if I continue I will fade into a dimension that will take me away from the conflict within me.

My brain says that I am very very sad and stressed and anxious. So sad that my heart is crying, no it’s sobbing, but there are too many layers between my heart and my eyes so the sobbing stays shut within my heart.

 

Which came first

Did the anxiety cause the weakness known as co-dependency or did the co-dependency rob me of the serotonin necessary to keep anxiety at bay.

Did the anxiety cause the addiction or did the addiction cause the anxiety.

 

Was I born with a predisposition to anxiety or did the conditions I grew up in create an anxious heart within me.

 

As I venture backwards, I move forward.

I was told one time that I didn’t need to try to figure out why I am the way I am, why I think the way I think, and do the things I do.

But when new words are added to my personality description, I need to know when and why it happened.

I must tell you that when one feels SO abnormal, it’s imperative to know.

 

With my new diagnosis of anxiety and having tried to fight it, I have found that by accepting it, I have chosen to learn more about it.

 

I have learned that co-dependency and addiction are common by products of anxiety. Lets just say they are BFF’s. They are besties.

When you have anxiety and you don’t know it, all you do know is that you aren’t the same as everyone else. The struggle to try to fit in is exhausting.

I misinterpreted people’s intentions, words, and actions and as a result I alienated myself.

I avoided parties unless I was high. I made very poor decisions, left jobs, self sabotaged.

Going to parties and social events sober I feel very awkward and I can usually be found helping to clean and replenish empty appetizer trays or doing something productive, I am not at all well versed in the art of small talk

I listened to the lies that told me I was less than everyone and therefore had to do more, be more.

 

When the nurse psychiatrist told me it was anxiety I had and not ADD, I was furious.

My whole purpose in going to see her was to get meds for ADD.

I know now that it’s not an inability to focus, (ADD) it’s choosing to focus on the hundreds of thoughts clouding my brain while I am trying to listen to someone or learn something, or clean the house. Wait, did I just say clean the house.

I know about the house cleaning because once when my husband and I were trying to get our house ready for an open house, he had 3 rooms vacuumed and dusted and I was only halfway done with one room.

It looks like this: I’m in the bathroom getting ready to clean the sinks-oops no cleaner. I go in the kitchen to get my homemade cleaner and it’s almost empty so I have to go to the laundry room to get my baking soda. While in the laundry room I see the mop and my dusting rags. Now I have to figure if I should dust first or vacuum. Oh yeah, I was hoping to shampoo the carpets. I should probably do that now so there will be time for the carpets to dry. Well wait, I should throw a load of laundry in so that can be going while I am shampooing the carpets.

Yup, that’s how it works. Can you relate, Can I get an “amen sister”.Are you exhausted yet?

 

 

So yeah, I quit using over 30 years ago but took on a co-dependent lifestyle to manage the underlying culprit…anxiety

 

People saw me as compassionate, empathetic, so helpful, nice, sweet. You’d think a person with a description like that would have a lot of friends. Nope, no bff’s, no besties. Well that is not exactly right, I am married so I do have a best friend. Oh yeah, and I do have my dogs that love me SO unconditionally.

 

Since starting a group at work and getting involved in the world of essential oils I have begun to notice personality traits of successful people. Now, I’m a not saying they are the definition of normal but they are highly functioning individuals.

What I am finding out is that it takes hard work, DISCIPLINE, and sacrifice.

It takes focusing on ONE thing at a time and making lists and being organized.

 

Having anxiety is not conducive to being disciplined, organized, and focusing on one thing at a time. But, I have found some essential oils that I am going to start experimenting with to help me with focus and clarity.

 

Now that I know what I know I feel a bit liberated but know I have a long way to go.

I still have triggers that absolutely paralyze me, areas I drive by that bring back vivid memories and make me feel sick but the knowledge I have gained so far gives me a something stronger to hold on to. The tiny little thread that was holding me up is beginning to look a bit more like a solid rope that won’t unravel and drop me into the deep dark abyss.

Beautiful Acceptance

 

 

Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.

My heart is sore pained within me; and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.

Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me and horror has overwhelmed me.

And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For them I would fly away and be at rest.

Lo, then I would wander far off and remain in the wilderness. Selah.

I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

 

I read this and felt like it was a perfect description of how I feel when anxiety has latched on to my soul.

The hand of a king that had physical enemies penned the above words. It was written thousands of years ago but I can relate to it today.

 

Of course my enemies are not necessarily of the physical sort; they are the lies that float around in my head. The irrational thoughts that come from misinterpreting someone’s words or intentions

They can cause me to be impulsive, thinking I need to have or do something right NOW or I will miss out or lose a friend/relationship/opportunity.

 

I have left jobs, careers, relationships, parties, and gatherings.

I have allowed myself to be immobilized out of fear caused by anxiety.

I have turned my anger inward and punished myself and called myself pathetic.

I have allowed people to define me-giving away my power and letting others chart my course.

 

This is all part of the unraveling of my dark and mostly unhappy life.

I don’t think that most people would think that about me.

I try to put on the mask of “I have it all together with a good life”

 

My counselor told me it wasn’t necessary to find the source of my problems; it’s more important to learn to do things differently.

In talking to her it is happening, not because she is revealing it to me, but because the little breadcrumbs I have found in my journey are leading me to the joy and freedom I have been seeking for SO long.

 

I have not started taking any medications. I am trying my various essential oils until I land on the one that brings a calm to my storms. I am starting an essential oils business and my first venture brought on over 20 VERY negative comments on a neighborhood post. A month ago I would have spiraled into an anxious immobilized state and stopped pursuing this business. When I read the posts I was actually very calm and responded by apologizing to anyone that was offended. I am using it as a learning opportunity.

 

Instead of listening to the condemning voices that use to immobilize me, I am listening to the words of other business people that went before me saying it is a hard road. I have accepted that and am prepared.

 

I have accepted that I have anxiety and I am reading about it. A LOT.

I am not going to use it as an excuse anymore.

I have read that we can increase our serotonin levels by what we think about and by exercising. (I knew there was something magical about Zumba)

 

I still have my triggers but actually found myself not responding to one of the biggest ones the other day. It’s a kind of calm that feels a bit like I’m floating. (No, I promise I’m not on drugs and no alcohol).

 

I’m trying to recognize the irrational thoughts and replace them with the truth.

I still feel weird, like the odd one out.

I still often feel like the king that said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For them I would fly away and be at rest.

Lo, then I would wander far off and remain in the wilderness. Selah.

I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

 

I know I am getting closer to freedom and finding the ever so elusive answers.

I’m firing the committee members one by one that have lived in my head and lied to me for over 40 years.

 

I have found acceptance is a beautiful thing that comes with the promise of freedom!

Here we go

cropped-marys-pictures-277.jpgThis picture is of the inside of a little chapel I saw on the side of the road on the way home from the Grand Canyon.

As grand as the Canyon was, this little chapel is what remains as the gem of the trip that will forever live in my heart.

As my husband was concentrating on getting home as quickly as possible, I was basking in the amazement of the Grand Canyon experience when  I looked out the window. and caught a glimpse of a random little building along the side of the road.  As tiny as this little little building was and in comparison to the speed we were going it was amazing that I saw it. So in my usual vain of curiosity I said to my husband, “we have to go back and see that, what was that”. In his usual vain of wanting to get back home as quickly as possible and being totally focused on that he replied, “Why? You saw the outside, I’m sure it’s locked anyway.” To give you a time frame this was back in 2002. I said in my usual persistent impulsive anxious tone, “No, we must go back let’s just see.” So, he gave in and we turned around. He said he would wait in the car. I walked up to the door and to my amazement it just had a bungee cord holding it shut. I was in love- a naive, unassuming little building. The bungee cord was sort of a quiet little message that was saying c’mon in if you’d like. My law abiding black and white personality of a husband said, “you can’t just open it and go in”. My respectful but adventurous side said, “of course I can, that’s why there is only a bungee cord holding it shut”. So, in we went. I was in utter awe as I stepped through the doors. The window looked out to the most amazing view, beautifully framing the wilderness behind it. But what captured my heart and brought tears to my eyes were all the notes written in pencil  on the wooden walls and benches. Oh my gosh, There were words of hope and prayers and people just letting you know they passed through there. Wow! And not only was it allowed but it was welcomed.

I tried to take my boys back there and of course it just wasn’t meaningful enough until one of their friends wanted to go. So I took my one son and his friend. He brought his guitar and we sat together, the 3 of us, and wrote notes and we sang together. He played quietly and we sang together quietly. We sang songs that glorified our creator God. It felt like He was there with us. It was like we were in a house enveloped with the most amazing sense of peace and Love. It was, well there just aren’t any words to explain it.

I can recapture that feeling when I look at this picture and think about the moment. I felt safe, peace and I felt loved.

For anyone that has never dealt with anxiety, I want you to know that those are 3 things that people with anxiety don’t experience very often.

I went to a psychiatric nurse to get medication for ADD. She asked me a forever list of questions and when she was done asking, she said to me that my attention issues were not due to ADD but were due to anxiety. Excuse me, I’m pretty sure I need more help focusing then with anxiety. I left feeling depressed. I was really looking forward to getting meds for ADD, I knew I had self diagnosed correctly. Instead she suggested Lexapro or Zoloft. Nope, not happening.

So home I went so upset with a whole new set of thoughts to roam around in my already filled to capacity brain. I knew I had anxiety but again I fought against having that as a diagnosis. I had talked to my counselor about having anxiety but I only had it with certain triggers. I struggled with accepting that I could be labeled as having anxiety. The warrior princess inside of me fought it HARD.  It was hard enough accepting that I had co-dependency tendencies.  Now anxiety?

The analytical side of me kicked in and I checked with some family members that experienced some anxiety. I was trying to compare and explain it away, Didn’t happen. Ok, so I have some compulsive behaviors and yes I have some unusual triggers. Yes, I have let fear change the course of my life. Ok, ok yes I guess I do struggle with anxiety ALOT.

I now sort of have a mental excel spreadsheet in my head where I assign past experiences to a column sorted by age, location, friend, family, acquaintance, anxiety, co-dependency and believe it or not ( I ask myself) I am finding most of the experiences are landing in the anxiety column. It’s bringing another layer of clarity which is bringing answers to unanswered questions. Shame, regret, and humiliation are trying to drag me down but my warrior princess keeps telling me we’ve got this.

I can definitely see how anxiety was a BIG factor in my decision to continue using drugs and drinking when I started at the 13.5 years of age.

I think anxiety may play a big part in addictions. I think I will write about my experiences with anxiety because I think many people that have it don’t realize it and can become hopeless as a result. If we can understand it is an ailment then we can understand and have hope that there is a cure. I’m not saying it will go away but the more understanding we have about in regards to ourselves the more we can identify when it is anxiety and that the thought s we are thinking are irrational and we don’t need to pay attention to them.

One Step

cropped-long-climb4.jpgIt’s just around the corner, 5 more seconds, you’re so close, you’re almost there, let’s go up to the next landing, we’ve already come this far…

These are the words that kept me going. The first I can remember was when I was in 3rd grade and I was hanging straight armed on the pull up bar trying to hang on long enough to qualify for the Presidential Physical Fitness award. I told the person in charge of monitoring that I was too weak and wouldn’t be able to last. She was a heavy set woman and her smile was life giving. This was my 2nd try. There I was hanging and said I have to let go. I looked at her and she smiled that smile and told me I could do it and that I only had 5 more seconds to go. Her next words: she told me I did it- I could let go. What I found out later is that I really only had 2 seconds to go. I let go and she swooped me up into her big smushy hug. It felt like I was being wrapped in a pillow of love. I will never forget that hug and her encouragement. I was also the proud recipient of the Presidential Physical Fitness Award.

The picture you see here was the, “let’s just make it to the next landing”. Well about 15 more “just to the next landings” we arrived at what we thought would be the top. It was a long steep climb that offered bits of relief as the path leveled out along the way. What you can’t see and what we didn’t know about was after we arrived at the supposed top it appeared that just around the bend we would arrive at the top.  It was about another 15 “just around the bends” and several steep climbs Later that we finally arrived at the top. Oh my goodness-the reward was so amazing. I was so captivated that I forgot to take pictures.

Another journey was to a waterfall. I LOVE anything that involves water so off we went. Ok, so I’m going to be very transparent here. I love nature but I have a very healthy respect for it. We got a bit of a late start and it was around 4pm. As we got deeper into the woods and farther from the safety of a shelter I began to think it must be about feeding time for the critters. I figured I probably looked like a good meal since I had too much meat on my bones. So just as I was thinking about giving my husband the alert that we better head back because “it is going to be getting dark soon” a spry smiling couple walked by and told us we were almost there. We kept going and the “almost there” was like 2 and a half miles away. I learned that day that “almost there” is a relative term. But…when we got to the waterfall, I was so grateful for the words they spoke that kept me going to the beauty I beheld at the waterfall. Of course I did pick up a pretty good sized “walking stick”for the walk back to protect me from the hungry critters.

I’m so grateful for these experiences and others like it because for the most part it is myself  and my faith that keeps me taking that “one more step”. The people in my life tend to be very black and white, very logical, very “got it all together” people and they really don’t understand what it’s like to live with anxiety. How that what appears to be life or death for me is just a mere blink for them.

I am here at my “one more step” moment in life and will keep taking that one more step, make it to one more landing, go around the next bend, walking for the “almost there” and hang on for 5 more seconds because it has always brought reward and beauty beyond anything I could comprehend. That is my hope and my prayer today.