Tag Archives: Anxiety

An Update and Recommendations

One month late, what a slacker I am!

048e81d6f74b04b20056e33f5650b54a.jpg

Well, updates first, of course! I am not sure that I had mentioned it before, but I was hired to be a waitress at a Tavern/Bar back in March. Recently, though, I quit that job and now I have a new job! I am now a Video Game Advisor for GameStop, which is pretty awesome if you ask me!

2ff0b363df7fb72913c222195c2423ef

Also, I’ve FINALLY resumed work on my book, which I’ve been writing off and on for a few years now. My goal is to have the first draft completed by September 30th, 2016, that way I can start a brand new project for NaNoWriMo in November this year. =D

It was hard writing for awhile, with everything that was going on emotionally and mentally for me. Struggling through anxiety and medication and trying to figure out ways to handle situations that send me plummeting for an anxiety attack where pretty much my main villains when it came to story writing, because I was just SO obsessed trying to handle it, that I had a really hard time focusing on much else. Regardless, after working with my doctor and counselor to fix my medicine dosage, I am FINALLY feeling like my normal self (from before these anxiety problems started back in 2008) again, which is a huge relief and a lot of pressure off of my chest and mind.

That aside, I’ve been reading a lot. Have any of heard of the book “Awkward” by Svetlana Chmakova?

61nUmDCQGEL._SX347_BO1204203200_.jpg

She’s done a lot of manga books, but this was her very first work I’ve ever read. I absolutely loved not only the artwork but the story as well! It was such a great read and I plowed through it in under 24 hours. If you’re looking for a book to read before the summer is over, I highly recommend this one, especially if you enjoy everyday middle school life drama for a young girl trying to fit in.

Still not sure? Here’s the synopsis for it:

Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.

Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.

On her first day at her new school, Penelope—Peppi—Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!

Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals—the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

And, if you’re looking for anything to Netflix binge-watch, they recently added a new Japanese Rom-Com by the title of “Good Morning Call”, and is based off of the shōjo manga of the same name, which is adorable! Synopsis? Easy: A high school girl finally gets her own apartment, but she has to share it with the most popular boy in school. No one can know they’re living together. Come on, now who doesn’t love that?

To be completely honest, I’m an absolute sucker for Asian Rom-Com’s. I just love watching them so much, with their exaggerated expressions and reactions and everything, it’s just so much fun!

tumblr_nj21zgVL261tq4of6o1_500.gif

On that note, I’m going to head off. I just returned home from work and, speaking of Netflix, I want to watch some more of my shows.

Cheers everyone!

– Soleil

 

 

You Are Vibrantly Pretty!

Recently, my brother and his girlfriend set up an on-line dating profile for me. While I was in the room and fully aware of what they were doing, I did find it amusing and fun to set one up.

Normally, though I’m not very into the whole on-line dating thing. Then again, I’m very bad at regular dating to begin with. Online dating, though, just seems a bit more overwhelming than normal dates. Firstly, I have no clue who the people messaging me are, despite what their profiles might say and what pictures they might have posted.

635730327640352668801332845_online-dating-gif

I am especially bad at the private messaging aspect of the whole thing. For instance, I am not used to being called “hot” or “cute” or “adorable”. Sure, I hear it from my father all of the time: “You are a beautiful young woman and any guy would be lucky to have you”, but he has to say that, right? He’s my dad, after all. So, when other people tell me that:

“You are really cute.”

“You are beautiful.”

“You are the most gorgeous girl I’ve ever seen.”

“You are vibrantly pretty”,  and so on, I tend to become very nervous.

tumblr_lqm8kcTZCI1qbmavz

To be honest, I don’t see myself as cute or beautiful or gorgeous or vibrantly pretty. When I look in the mirror or at photos of myself I see a goofy dork who looks averagely average. So, when other people say otherwise I become very bashful.

I think it would be safe to conclude now that on-line dating is not for me and I will continue to struggle on alone through the actual real-life dating world (although it is just as awkward and embarrassing when I hear these things in real life, too).

tumblr_mcl28iB0qg1r657z8

 

Who am I?

Despite my last post and efforts, I have become addicted to Bollywood movies. Recently, I watched one called Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu and the opening song sort of struck on a chord. View the song here, courtesy of a YouTube upload.

The lyrics follow as:
As are the days, so are the nights, everything looks loose…
Even the sky looks a little less blue…
Life, sometimes,
Is a little full, is sometimes empty,
I know my name, but I don’t know who I am…
I know where my home is, but I don’t know who I am…
Who am I, who…
As are the days, so are the nights,
Everything looks loose…
Even the sky looks a little less blue…
Looks loose…

The lyrics I’ve made bold are the ones I found relatable. I’m not sure why but they really stuck to me, made me contemplate some things about myself.

I feel like, in today’s world, it is easy to get lost, swept up in the fast-pace of things and wrapped up in stuff that would otherwise be unnecessary.

Becoming lost is the easy part.

Finding who you are is the journey.

I do know my name and I do know where my home is, but if you asked me who I was, I would give you the generic response: “I am an art major trying to graduate and someday I’d like to be a Disney artist”, whereas the real, truthful answer is: “I don’t know who I am. I’m still looking.”

I know that I am studying art at university but I often wonder if it is the proper path. When I sit and muse over my life so far, the choices I have made, the studies I have engaged in, I begin to doubt that I have chosen correctly.

And that scares me.

Let’s go over facts: I am twenty-five and still live at home with my parents and siblings. I currently have no proper career that can give me the guarantee or safety of any kind of insurance and I’m studying for a degree that will give me access to a slim array of positions once I do graduate this upcoming Fall semester. The probability that I will land a successful and albeit decent art career are slim to none. Certainly, I will not get something that can offer me the insurance I so desperately need, nor the pay scale to even consider trying to live on my own, let alone survive.

That terrifies me.

It’s a big jump, from scared to terrified, you know, and when these dark and foreboding thoughts do worm their way back up from where I’ve tried to bury them away in the deepest corners of my mind, I feel even more lost than I normally do.

And that makes me stop and think and wonder: “What can I do?”, “What can I accomplish?”

But I have no answers.

It’s practically the same feeling as being stuck, of feeling stagnant and unmoving in my life (which I covered in a previous post here).

To be honest, my life is rather boring. I’m not an exceptionally exciting person. I live in an extremely rural area (as I have mentioned before) where the nearest shopping is at least a half hour drive, and even the options offered are minimal. The more you want, the farther away you have to drive.

I’d rather stay home than go out.

I have two friends within easy travel distance but our schedules keep us apart. My other friends live, spread across the wide world and we can only communicate through messages.

My biggest entertainment is my own wild imagination, where I can live the exciting life I am always dreaming about, and I make no efforts to turn my imagination into reality. That is my failing. And that is my triumph.

I am still learning, still discovering who I am and what makes me, what drives me, what limits me, what makes me soar.

But I am still lost and my journey is still ongoing.

So the big question is put simply, but the answer is seemingly impossible and limitless: “Who am I?”

STUCK

Recently, I read a post by a fellow blogger and their words resonated within my very soul, to the very core of my being. With this post, with those words, I was able to relate and feel and conclude and finally realize that it was the same way I felt. She wrote exactly what I’ve been trying to say myself for months now. Her name is Lindsey but she’s better known on WordPress as MomentMuser and the post I’m talking about is “Becoming”.

I want to quote a bit of it, the pieces that held the truest to me:

“I had thought I’d be further along by now.”

This much is true. To be honest, when I was small, I pictured myself happily married and with children of my own by now, just like my mother (married at 22) and grandmother (married at 20) when they were my age. Yet here I am, 25 turning 26 in March and I’m still not married, nor do I have any children. In fact, I’ve never even had a relationship last pass six months! This realization often makes me ask questions of myself like, “What’s wrong with me?”, “Is there something wrong with me?, “Is there really someone out there for me?”, “Am I going to be alone my whole life?”

But I didn’t want to just be married with a family by now. I also wanted my career by this point, but instead I am still a university student. I wanted to be this great artist, Disney Animator, working on amazing movies and creating characters and stories to be loved by all! Instead, I’m an unmotivated, uninspired slacker.

And this point resonates to the next quote of Lindsey’s post:

“I am not entitled. Surely the world does not owe me the Life I dream of living. I doubt that the world really cares what I do. In its indifference I will slip away.

I am lazy, lazy, lazy.

Today my alarm sounded at 9, at 9:30, at 10. Dozens of 8-minute intervals later, I rose at noon.”

Seriously, this is my life every day. I am actually quite the shackled-companion of those “dozens of 8-minute interval” snoozes. Frighteningly so.

I have absolutely nothing to live for it seems, no real reason to get out of bed in the morning except that it’s past noon and beyond reasonable to be in bed any longer. What kind of life is this really? A poor excuse for one, that is obvious. And I obviously want more, so what do I do about it? To change it? To go on? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I don’t try to change. To try new things. To find something to do. I don’t need to. I know what I want to do but I don’t do it. When I try, I am unsatisfied with the results and give up.

To be honest, I feel so STUCK. I have for a while now and I don’t know what to do about it. I am an artist, an author, but I feel so uninspired that I cannot draw or write. When I try to draw it’s nothing how I imagine it. So I give up. When I try to write, it never sounds quite right. It doesn’t flow the way I want it to. The story isn’t going anywhere. So, I stop.

I feel as though I’ve stagnated. That I’ve come to a point in my existence where I feel like I am not moving forward. There is this great uncertainty. I don’t know what to expect, everything is so unfamiliar, so elusive that it is terrifying.

And even though I don’t know what to expect, I know what I want:

“I know what I want. I know it so much that it hurts. My chest feels heavy with it. My mind fears it.”

I want to be a success. Not in the sense that I want to be some famous, well-known person, but I simply want to be able to support myself. To be stable and live. To be inspired and find the thing that I love most in the world and just by doing it I am filled with such joy, such imagination again that I feel as if I will burst from creativity if I do not get it down with paper and ink. I want to express to the world through my art, through my words all that I have learned on the journey called Life. I want to share everything with everyone. I want to learn and keep learning and never stop!

But that’s hard when your own mother tells you that you dream too big. That you can’t accomplish the aspirations you have concocted through years of daydreams no matter how hard you try. To pick something easier, simpler, so that you can’t fall short in the end.

I’m not blaming her. I understand where she’s coming from. She doesn’t want me to fall, to fail, to hit rock bottom and have nothing left to fall back on. I understand the reason but I am stubborn. I ignore her words. I want to dream, but it’s come to the point where I feel like all I have left are my dreams. And that that is all they will ever be: dreams, illusions created by a girl with no drive to actually go anywhere or do anything towards those goals. The day she told me my dreams were too big, was the day I began to doubt myself.

Now, I sit here and I stare at myself in the mirror and I want to cry because all I see is a girl who got lost somewhere along Life’s path and can’t figure out how to find her way again. A girl who is stuck, stagnant in the same place she’s always been and probably always will be. A girl who dreamed for the world from her home in a small rural farm town and began to doubt herself so much that now she is trapped by the very fear and anxiety that she created for herself.

I am lost. I am stuck. I feel like I cannot escape. And I am afraid.

I am afraid that this is all my life is going to be because I’ve dug myself into a hole and built the walls so high I cannot climb back up to see the light of day beyond me. Nothing but darkness and fear and anxiety to keep me company for all my days to come.

And that is daunting. Terrifying. PARALYZING.

Help me, please, because I am stuck and I need to be found again.

-Soleil

Just, Right Now….

Sometimes I get teary when I realize that I’m almost 26 and the longest relationship I have ever had was six months.

giphy.gif

And that I have had a pretty lousy date/relationship record so far, including an obsessive controller, a liar, and a cheater.

Personally, I think it’s rather hard to find someone to actually be in a relationship with. I live in a very rural area so it’s not like there are many guys around to choose from. When I’m in my university classes, my classmates are always much younger than I am (the downfall of being a 25 year old college student).

All I’m asking for is someone who understands (and if they share it, that’s a bonus) my appreciation of art, writing, and history. Who will actually want to sit and watch the same shows and movies as me (yes, I’m the girl who still likes to go to Disney and other animated movies because they’re cute and I adore them and animation is what I want to do for a career, so it’s cool to see animation in action) and who accepts that reading tons of books is a very fun hobby for me. That I like to watch anime and BBC and that I’m a Whovian through and through (PS. My favorite Doctor to date is Matt Smith as Doctor 11)! That I enjoy Sherlock and think Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic as the consulting detective (Martin Freeman is an excellent addition and they compliment each other very well, talent-wise). That I want to travel and find inspiration in new places for my art and writing (I truly believe an artist cannot survive creatively stuck in one place)! I mean, I don’t think I’m asking too much.

But sometimes…I’m just lonely and I’m getting awfully tired of waiting for Mr. Right.

Sincerely Yours,

Soleil

 

EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

It’s always been an awkward topic for me. My anxiety problem, I mean. When I meet people and they want to hang out somewhere I’m unfamiliar with or that’s out of my comfort zone for driving and I have to tell them I can’t go because of my anxiety, they always give me this funny look. Like I’m a weirdo or something. Of course, they’re always quick to give me a sympathetic smile and an “Oh, that’s alright, we’ll do something else sometime.” Most of them never ask to hang out with me again, but the rare few (who I consider to be real friends because of their actions) do.

I’m bringing this topic up again (read my first post about my anxiety here) despite my awkwardness for it, because today I started a new therapy. It’s called EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, therapy. It originally started out as treatment specifically for patients and people who have suffered from trauma (things like bad car accidents or PTSD for soldiers and civilians alike), but because of its effectiveness, it’s becoming a broader treatment for things like anxiety and depression, too. In a way, however it is that it works precisely, it helps you to reprocess memories that may have been processed by the emotional side of your brain rather than the rational side during long-term memory processing.

I LOVE this photo! XD

Here’s a bit of a blurb from the EMDR Institute‘s website: “[It’s a form of] psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

It’s an interesting concept to say the least. “There has been so much research on EMDR that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy. Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years.” -EMDR Inst.

All that fancy lingo and information aside, I definitely have to say that my experience with my first treatment today was far from what I expected. To be honest, I don’t know how it works really, only that I ended up sobbing like a little kid about 10 minutes in and going over memories I didn’t even know still bothered me. Somehow, though, I think they’re all related.

Adverse effects? Sure! Every treatment has them. My counselor made a point to tell me at the end of our session today that because EMDR helps memories and emotions that rouse my anxiety and subconsciously affect me so that I end up doing OCD habits, that I may continue to feel “distress during the day, more distressing and unresolved memories could emerge as the processing of incidents and materials may continue, and other dreams, memories, feelings, etc., may emerge.” –EMDR Inst. (but basically she said the same thing. I just like how they wrote it, that’s why I quoted them again. Haha!)

I’m not really sure why I’m writing this and I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable admitting it to you and the rest of the world, but I do feel like I should document this treatment process. I feel like it might not only help me, but can also be used as a learning and teaching experience for you (my readers) and (I hope) give hope to those who suffer from forms of distress-caused anxiety and OCD like me.

Other than that (sobbing for an entire hour pretty much in the middle of the day with my counselor, I mean) my day was pretty swell!

Look for my words again soon!

-Soleil

What It Feels Like To Be Me

I have found the past two weeks of my life have been difficult. Why is that? I know why but I hate to admit the reason. Admitting it feels like I’m giving up, like I’m a failure, and that hurts.

When I was in sixth grade, my Memere was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer. She underwent chemo-therapy and surgery to remove it and then she was fine. But it came back. By the time I was in high school, it had returned at least three times. The summer I finished my Junior year and was waiting to begin my Senior year in the fall, the cancer had been back and had spread to her brain. She had surgery again that August to take out what they could in her brain, but they couldn’t take it all. From that date on, I watched her deteriorate before my eyes.

My mother and I went to my Memere and Pepere’s house every day to help take care of her. These were my mother’s parents and my mom wanted to be there to help not only Memere, but to give Pepere time to himself, too. By the time I started school, she decided to stop with all of her chemo-therapy and radiation treatments. As I watched her get worse, I began to have panic attacks in school. Suddenly, while in classes, I would feel like I couldn’t breathe and I’d ask to go to the nurse’s office, and she would let me call my mom, begging her to come and get me so we couldn’t go and see Memere until she could talk to me enough to calm me down and finish out my school day. By Christmas she was in a wheelchair, weighed as much as I did at that time, and had trouble swallowing her medicine and food. One week later, she couldn’t even get out of bed, then she had trouble understanding, and by the second week of January, she was gone.

I remember so clearly, the Friday before she passed away. My high school was gearing up for our annual Relay for Life event and we had a meeting for the whole school in the auditorium. It was a sort of review meeting, to go over what we had done last year and to see videos, and to explain to the Freshmen and new students of that year what Relay for Life was and why we did it. I stood up when one of the teacher’s giving a speech asked who had family members and friends close to them with cancer and then sat back down and when that same teacher started to talk about her own experience, well, I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I was sitting in the very last row of the auditorium, in the very middle. With friends on either side, I suddenly felt so trapped. I knew I wasn’t going to make it if I tried to squeeze past all of them to get out to the aisle, so I got up on my seat and jumped over it to the floor behind me. I ran out the doors. In the foyer outside, one of the substitute teachers was waiting for the meeting to be over, I guess I must have looked terrible because she asked me what was wrong and the next thing I knew I was sobbing in her arms telling her all of the horrible things I’d been living through for six years and how it’d just gotten so much worse in the past six months and that I didn’t know what to do anymore. How I just wanted to go home and see my Memere. How she was dying and there was nothing I could do about it.

To be honest, I’m not sure where I would have run to if she hadn’t caught me and expressed her concern. I probably would have ended up crying alone in the bathroom, stuck in my own misery until someone found me.

And then, my worst fear came true. I told my substitute teacher on Friday that my Memere was dying and that Sunday she passed away. That was probably the worst day of my life so far. I cried so much. I still do. It’s hard, losing someone you love. I’m not sure that you ever really do get over it. You keep loving them even though their gone, and that is okay. But I felt so lost after that. I became so tired of forcing myself to smile and pretending to be alright. When we went on our Senior Trip to Walt Disney World in Florida five months later, that was the first time I actually smiled and laughed and it wasn’t forced. I meant it.

And life seemed to get better after that. I graduated and was sad about it, but it was okay. I started college and for my second semester I went to work at Walt Disney World in Florida as a part of their Disney College Program. I made a new friend and he became my best friend. But when I came home, I don’t know why, but my panic attacks came back. Slowly at first, so I just thought that the OCD habits I was picking up were normal. But when I went back to do a second DCP the following year and the habits became excessive and the panic attacks became so frequent that I was calling my mother and crying to her every day, begging her to come home even though I had a month of my program left to complete, I knew something was wrong.

But I finished my program and my dad and younger brother picked me up and brought me back home. And I was okay again. The panic attacks subsided and the OCD dwindled to being barely noticeable. And then it was back again, so much worse than before. This time the OCD controlled me. I couldn’t do anything without doing it as a habit of so many counted steps, so many taps of my fingers, so many buttoning of the same button, or zippering of the same zipper, over and over and over again until I felt as though I was insane. And I often did question my sanity during this time. I swore I was going mental, that I’d have to be handled with extreme medical treatment. I was terrified!

And the panic attacks became paralyzing. I couldn’t speak or move or even think when I had one. Just the same flash of fear that I was going to die consumed me until suddenly my mother or brother came to my rescue, pulling me out of my stuck state, forcing me to interact with them, to talk to them, to explain what was wrong and what I was feeling.

By Christmas, after roughly eight months of going through this uncontrollable torture, of jeopardizing my job and school attendance because I couldn’t get out of the house in time because I was doing habits, of not going at all because I was having a breakdown, I told my parents I wanted to see a doctor. I ended up with a psychologist. He met me every week and spoke with me, gave me things to do to try and control my anxiety and OCD. And he recommended medication. But I’m stubborn. Medication was my largest concern of the whole thing. It was my worst nightmare coming true. I needed medical help and that was the last thing I wanted. Because, accepting medication as the answer meant that I wasn’t normal. That I couldn’t cope like every other normal human being could. That I was different and was going to be different for a very long time. In my eyes, it meant defeat, that I had let these anxieties and OCD habits take over my life, and I had lost.

It took a year for my psychologist and parents to convince me to even try taking medication. I was prescribed an SSRI (or a Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor), which helps to regulate the serotonin levels in your brain. And when I did, I felt sick for weeks. I didn’t go to school and I failed all of my classes from lack of attendance alone. I literally spent days dragging myself out of bed only to curl up in a ball on the couch and watch things to keep me happy and not focused on myself. Mostly, it was the Disney Channel.

And then, suddenly, I began to feel “normal” again. After taking the medicine for an entire year, I actually felt like my old, “normal” self again. Two years after taking it and I felt completely alright and expressed to my doctor that I wanted to ween off of the medication to see how I did without it now that I felt cured. They agreed and the process began. Originally up to 20mg of the SSRI, I dropped to a 10mg for 30 days and then 5mg for the following 30 days.

And now we’re back at present time. Precisely two weeks ago, I stopped taking my SSRI. Since then I have had two panic attacks. Both have been cope-able. The first was more tolerable than the one I had today. And it was today I realized that without the medication, they’re just going to get worse again. I can’t be a normal person without the medication. I can’t feel like a normal person taking the medication.

I feel so defeated.

I see my counselor about all of this tomorrow. I will start taking my SSRI medication again so that I can be myself, but what frustrates me the most is that I wasn’t like this when I was younger. My panic attacks didn’t begin until my Senior year of high school. My OCD didn’t start showing up with the panic attacks until two years after that. So why can’t I just be normal like when I was younger? The answer: I can’t. I will most likely be on this medication for the rest of my life and that’s disappointing. But if that means I can feel like my old self again with the help of the medication, then I have to learn to live with it.

That’s my update. Sorry it’s so long and deep and boring.

Look for my words again soon!

-Soleil