Anxiety

All existential again

Alternately titled: GAWD ROLLERGIRAFFE, JUST GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER ALREADY.

My brain is such an asshole sometimes. I went to the cultural capital of the entire universe (New York City), narrowly escaped the storm of a lifetime, a major election happened, we moved our bees, and I had a traveling salesman come to my door selling art in a goddamned snowstorm. But may brain is all “we got nothing.” “No blogs up here, my friend.” Brain: you are a dick.

I made a muppet y’all. And it looked like it was being asphyxiated in my hotel room for 5 days, and my brain STILL DIDN’T WANT TO BLOG ABOUT IT.

They look like they’re dying. That is bloody comedy!

Why?

Good question. I don’t know really. When I posted about my rut a while ago, and all went fucksticks crazy on my blog for a few weeks, it felt like I was on a roll. But that’s not necessarily reality for someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, and is the mayor of peanut butter. The reality is that I spend my days stealing the kids’ Halloween candy and being sad, or at least vaguely dissatisfied. I have some reasons for this, but not nearly enough to justify the depth of it.

Cathy at Large Self posted this quote a few weeks ago that struck a nerve with me.

“If we can get to the place where we show up as our genuine selves and let each other see who we really are, the awe-inspiring ripple effect will change the world.”

—  Terrie M. Williams

This has been rolling around in my head for weeks. It was just one of those timely quotes that has embedded itself in my head and I can’t let it go. I haven’t really been my genuine self. Not that I haven’t been genuine with you all, just that I haven’t been the person that I really want to be. Or taken the time to really figure that out. And all that I really want out of life is to rock the shit out of it. I want to find a way to make those ripples, I just don’t really know how right now.

So here is my genuine self, right now:

I feel untethered. I am worried about everything. I am not feeling good about myself and where I am headed right now. I feel lonely; so unbearably, crushingly lonely (you are not the only one Creative Liar). I also feel like I am not enough for myself or for anyone around me. I know part of this is the disease of depression, but part of it is the circumstance of having let myself go.

Are you coming with me?

But these are also things that I am confident can be fixed. In a strange way, I feel like I am moving toward some unidentified future that will fulfill me. Or maybe it’s just delusion blind hope. Hell, maybe I am just drunk (thank you, Joyce Winery, your San Benito Pedregal something something is totally whateversszzzzsfzsdsdddfffffffffffffzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz).

So in the spirit of me wanting to look forward and move toward something better, look for posts in the weeks ahead about people and things that inspire me. The world is good out there, I just need to find my way into it again.

And because I don’t like being serious: FUCKBALLS.

October 6th: Ruination Day

So. It’s been exactly one year since I came home expecting a nice hot bath and found my ceiling on my goddamn floor. That turned out to be the high point of the last 366 days (Leap year! One bonus extra day of misery!); at least we were giddy and insane with grief at that point. The ensuing incompetence, maliciousness, and random bad luck that followed aged and embittered us enough to fill therapists pockets for years to come. But it’s been a year. The acceptable period of grief is over. The unfortunate legal battles and insurance bullshit is not, but there comes a point where we either get sucked under by it or we move on with our lives.

But I am still sad. And unmotivated. I have terrible first world problems like hating our house. Every little detail from the reno represents some sort of loud discussion compromise or hasty decision we had to make. We keep trying to divert our attention to fun things, but you can only go to so many amusement parks before you figure out that amusement parks are creepy and contribute to malaise. My hobbies are emotional eating and insomnia. Basically, I am in a giant rut. And this time I don’t have any cow bones or a spirited little partner to help me out of it.

But the time for that is over too. I need a goddamn plan. Although I mostly feel like laying down most of the day, I am tired of feeling that way. Being the proactive beast I am, I drank a bottle of a very small quantity of wine for inspiration (and perhaps a whole lot of a teeny amount of Balvenie Double Wood.. heh, insert adolescent sex joke here) and concocted one.

A Rollergiraffe’s 7 Point Plan for the Future

1. Get a damn job. I need to use my brain again and earn some money. This is likely going to be in the industry I worked in pre-kids, without the benefit of the last four years of training, networking and general career trajectory. And I would have to go to interviews which make me sweat and self-deprecate. I am still a little traumatized from getting laid off by voicemail from my last job, and I have no filters left that will allow me to function in an office setting. I might try to give my co-workers time outs when they disagree with me. Ok, so this might not work out in a hurry.

2. Do charity work. In the absence of a paying job, I should be giving back to the community. I am pretty sure I have a lot to offer in this regard, with my environmental experience and all. Right? It doesn’t matter that the only journal I read in the last four years is US Weekly, right? People are dying for celebrity news, aren’t they? And I would need to pay for child care to do charity work which .. or I could do it in the evenings, right? After the kids go to bed and the house is somewhat restored from the garbage dump look we’ve adopted through the day? Ok, so this one’s out too for now.

3. Exact revenge on the contractor fuckstick weasel who wrecked our house and tried to ruin our lives. This one is just a fantasy. He’s already sitting on a heap of debt, both karmic and financial. And I am an adult who is able to control their emotions (totally not true except for the legal adult part). Plus, I am way too lazy to do a good job, so I’d just basically annoy him a little and then end up on Canada’s Stupidest Criminals, if such a show exists.

4. Become a domestic goddess. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Nope.

5. I am still laughing over the domestic goddess thing. Mount Washmore is so goddamn high, you guys.

6. Spend time preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I am on Love and Lunchmeat’s Zombie apocalypse team (even if I can’t figure out how to put badges on my blog. Fuckballs, I am hopeless at the internets), so I am sure this would be a worthwhile endeavor. If it’s not the zombies, it’s going to be something. Except all that canning I did totally went to waste and my shoulder is ruined from carrying twins around all day so I am not sure improving my marksmanship is really a good idea. And every time I think about the apocalypse I think about The Road, and I am not sure at this point in my life I would be the one who filled the bathtub when the loud noises were heard. My survival instinct is kind of dull right now, is what I am saying.

I was only ever good at shooting quarters anyway.

7. Have another baby. Because less sleep is totally the answer.

So obviously I have no plan. Tell me, gentle readers, have you ever been stuck in a rut before? How did you get out? Do you think I should keep my hair short? Why does Mitt Romney want to fire Big Bird? What is your favourite snack? Why isn’t anyone talking about the Higgs Boson anymore? Is it because they accidentally made themselves a big black hole? Answer any of these questions below in the comments.

P.S. If you read the Ringmistress’ blog, Laments and Lullabies, a 35 year old having a mid-life crisis will sound disturbingly familiar to you. I totally drunken plagiarized her, and then apologized, but she laughed at me and told me to post it anyway because she’s amazing that way. And lots of other ways too.

I am about to get all existential on y’all. Bear with me.

I haven’t blogged in a while because, well, because my life fell apart for a bit there. It’s not quite back on track yet, but we’re getting there. I’ll do a little haiku for you to catch up:

My house flooded and

We got a contractor who

Was fucking awful

Awful doesn’t really do it justice, but I can’t really talk about it until the lawsuits go away. Seriously. Anyway, in the midst of everything we are also coping with a lot of family stuff and our dog died and our insurance company was convinced (by our contractor; he’s a fucking gem of a human being) that we were ripping them off, etc. etc. etc. And I moved back in with my parents at the age of 34 with my 2 kids and that just really isn’t uplifting for anyone at any age.

I have always suffered from anxiety. Crippling, panic attack inducing, heart racing, insomnia, life force stealing anxiety. It’s a cruel self-perpetuating mental health problem that will always plague me. Add  in the kind of crazy we’ve been experiencing the last 6 months and basically I got into a rabbit hole that I never thought I would get out of. The scariest part of it was that I was so worn out and exhausted that I wasn’t even anxious anymore after a while; I would just mentally shut down whenever any tiny amount of conflict arose (eleventy bajillion times a day). That’s called burnout and adrenal fatigue, bitches, and it ain’t good.

Fortunately for me, one of my best friends had this type of break down already, right down to having her house flood too. It was watching her be open to everything from counselling to shamanism fuelled with a lot of wine in between stops that gave me a road map to recovery. Now that she is finally better and I am at my worst I can look to her as a beacon of hope that one day I’ll be ok too. That’s what friends are for; making road maps with spirit animals on the sign posts.

The big key is to stop struggling. Once I just accepted that all these fuckstick crazy things were just happening to me and I could only deal with the things I had energy for it got easier. And then I started to take control. I started to go to a counsellor and I stopped second guessing all the decisions I was making. I stopped letting people drain my energy and started taking more naps.

And mostly, I just repeat:

I am here. Right now.

I am here… I am not in a bunch of different places at once dividing my energy for diminishing returns. I am here, devoting my energy to what I am able to do. I deserve happiness, love and respect. And because I am here, I have a responsibility to dole those things out to others around me. I am present and available for those who need me and for myself. Because I am here, I am capable of dealing with my present circumstances and influencing my future.

Right now… there is a whole bunch of things I will change when I finish that goddamn time machine, but until then I can’t do anything about the past. Crazy and random things have happened to us and will continue to happen, but I can’t speculate about what they will be. I am strong and capable of dealing with whatever comes my way so there is no point in worrying.

When my mind starts to wander to thoughts of toxic waste, cancer, death and dismemberment on an hourly basis I just remind myself that “I am here. Right now.” It calms me to remember that in this very moment I am healthy, I have two healthy happy kids who are ok, and therefore everything is fine.

And I am going to the shaman too. I’ll let you know what my spirit animal is, unless it’s something terrible like a vole. In which case I’ll just make up something rad like a pronghorn antelope, although they seem to thrive off of large contiguous areas of native prairie which is disappearing at a rapid rate, and thinking about that makes me anxious so maybe I’ll pick something more adaptable. I’ll get back to you.

Internet Hypochondria

I have this ^^^^.

Last night I became delerious with worry about my latest disease. My husband was suspicious because I kept making excuses to come upstairs and he found me checking on the computer every time.  I think he thought I was e-mailing a secret lover for a rendezvous or something.  In truth, I was just indulging my anxiety about botulism. A few weeks ago a friend casually mentioned that she was always afraid of jarred tomatoes growing up because they could be contaminated with botulism. I tried to dismiss this but like a botulism spore, the idea spread in my sleep deprived brain. Last night as I was making cabbage rolls one of my tomato jars was a little hard to open and while I am confident it was sealed properly, I started to unravel. Before I knew it I was googling like a crazy person about food borne illness in home canned food. And guess what! My fears are perfectly valid. Most of the cases of botulism come from home canning. One page specifically said that dipping your finger into a jar to taste was enough to kill you… which is exactly what I did. I was sure that my face was numb before I even finished the sentence.  

It makes me wonder about the internet. There are plenty of pages dedicated to combatting botulism in canned tomatoes.  Statistically, I am much more likely to die in a car accident, or from cancer or heart disease (maybe a combination of all three… this scenario features heavily in my night time freak outs), yet here I am, on google finding validation in my fears about botulism. And here are the facts; something like 180 cases of botulism are reported in the US every year, only 18 or so in Canada. While it’s true that some of these are from home canned food, very few (one site reported that tomatoes were responsible for only 1 case of botulism in 116 outbreaks reported) are related to acidic foods.

The fear of preparing food at home is especially rampant among the baby set. There is one site (which I won’t name because it’s an otherwise excellent site) which has a whole page dedicated to scaring the shit out of you about blue baby syndrome;  poisoning your infant with nitrogen. It goes on to say that THERE IS NO ACTUAL RISK THAT THIS CAN HAPPEN TO YOUR BABY. Babies develop the gut flora to kill nitrogen producing bacteria before they can even eat solid food. So why? WHY even say it? Information for the sake of information is dangerous to someone like me. I am still terrified to feed my kids half the things on the list of nitrogen rich foods and they’re 18 months old. And they eat shit off the floor. One of them licked a shopping cart the other day. Whatever the hell was on that shopping cart has to be way scarier than some miniscule threat from blue baby syndrome.  

I am a huge advocate for growing and preparing your own food. So why does the internet have to make it so goddamn scary? Do we really trust science and industry to make a safe food supply? Because it doesn’t seem like they’re doing a very good job of that. When properly prepared, my pesticide free, lycopene rich tomatoes are probably as safe as anything on the market. Even more so… have you seen food headlines recently? We have to be terrified of our mass produced meat and eggs. Vegetables aren’t even safe… a friend of mine got salmonella from eating frigging CARROTS. Like, c’mon. And you better believe that I practice good kitchen hygiene and follow canning recipes to the letter.

So, I am pretty convinced I don’t have botulism. But I’ll keep you posted. If you don’t hear from me in the next couple of weeks, you know why. I have to go now and rescue my twin lemmings from jumping off the couch again. Head injuries are a real concern.