Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I'm Always the Last to Know I'm Having a Nervous Breakdown.

I feel like this cat, but to be honest, the clutter in this picture is stressing me out.

I've never been very good at being in touch with my feelings. My feelings are a nebulous dark world that resides somewhere deep inside me. My feelings are supposed to stay buried there like good little obedient feelings that don't get the hose again.

I have been very busy lately just like everyone else is OMG so busy, I know. I'm not a special snowflake, I swear. In fact, I am so un-special that I my mantra is, "You're getting everything done so nothing is wrong!"

I tend to tamp things down. I tend to downplay. Yes, I am super busy just like everyone else. I'm meeting my deadlines. I'm turning in my papers. I'm writing this memoir. My children are bathed and clothed and fed. So all systems, go, right?

Except I'm clenching my jaw. Like constantly. So much so that my jaw aches.

And I have a permanent pain right under my shoulder blade. And I can't move my neck all the way to the right. And okay, maybe my right shoulder is higher than my left shoulder. So maybe I twitch occasionally and talk to myself.

But I'm getting everything done so everything is fine.

I also feel like biting everyone's heads off.

But I swear, everything's cool.

Until my therapist says, "But you don't look alright."

Realizing I am not alright is a slow dawning. There are several steps, a planning commission, strategy meetings and a full blown campaign before I decide that yes, in fact, I am not okay.

In fact, I might be a little stressed out. But just a little in the, "I think I'm going to grind my own teeth down to my jaw and snap my neck" kind of way.

So what do I do now that I realize I'm not okay?

I'm not quite sure. I need to figure out a way to exercise. I haven't exercised since I started taking a grad class. That is not okay. It affects me mentally. Maybe I just need to go run for 30 minutes? Even that would blow some steam off.

I gotta do something.

I've got that Xanax I'm always joking about but I never take it. I think it's like a talisman of sorts. I just like knowing it's there. Maybe I'll start carrying it around in my pocket and take it out and shake it or stroke it when I'm upset? Maybe I can whisper sweet nothings to it. When nobody's looking, of course.

I know all the carbo-loading I've been doing probably isn't going to help the stress. Eating my feelings has never worked out in the past. Or shoving my feelings down even deeper into the dark pit of my soul. Yeah. That doesn't work either.

Maybe I just need to go for a run or go work out? At least it's a step in the right direction. Because with the full-time job, the kids, the manuscript, the grad class ... I mean, I hate to say it, but it might not all be okay right at this exact minute. I know my M.O. is to insist that everything is fine. But maybe it's not.

I'll figure it out.

I always do.

But right now, at this moment, I haven't got it all figured out. And maybe that's okay too?



"Sun Arise" by Phosphorescent.

35 comments:

  1. I think engaging in something cathartic always helps in this situation. It sounds like you're holding a lot of stress in. Most of us do that. What is your release? What do you engage in that makes you feel happy and free? For me it's Mother Nature or animals. Something to raise the endorphins. For others it's comedy (laughter really is great medicine). I'm just brainstorming here :)

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    1. Exercise. I love it. I love the endorphins. I gotta make time for it. It's true!

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  2. It is totally okay to not figure things out, but writing about it's a start. My suggestion? No pills. They're a crutch and mask the issue. Go for a walk--without your phone--put the manuscript at the bottom of the list and do only what needs to be done for a bit. Easier said than done, but obviously it's family and work, school and then anything extra.

    However, you need that self-care time to recoup. It's not selfish, it's self-care. Start with a walk. Unplug. Go from there, wherever that is.

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    1. The manuscript is #1 on the list.

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    2. Ooh. See? I didn't know that it was such a priority, so my apologies. For me right now I have to consider my "outside work" writing/blogging, etc. as down on the ladder because I need the job for financial stability. I forget that not everyone is in my situation or that you're banking on that for your future, happiness, etc. (I mean that sincerely and not sarcastically.)

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    3. Ha! I know you were being sincere. :-) I don't read you as a sarcastic person.

      Oddly enough, the manuscript is the self-care. Maybe even graduate school is too. The 8-5 job is not self-care. It is not making me happy. I didn't start to feel happy again until I started working on the manuscript in earnest and looking for alternate careers that may require a graduate degree. So yeah. Right now I'm stuck in the kind of icky in-between stage but at least I know I'm not stuck here forever. That kind of feeling is depressing.

      I feel like I'm moving in the right direction, even if it is a little overwhelming for the moment.

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  3. I like your last line. My daughter - who is deep into yoga and meditation - offered up this to me about a month ago: "this moment, right here and right now, is inevitable." Part of me rebels at the idea but another part embraces it. Making that acknowledgement mentally kind of removes some of the angst of it all, I think. Which is why your last line resonated with me.

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    1. I love that.

      This moment is inevitable and that is okay. I will sit with it.

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  4. You know I'm the queen of jaw clenching with that crazy trip to the ER in August. But I thought I was the only person who did this: "I've got that Xanax I'm always joking about but I never take it. I think it's like a talisman of sorts. I just like knowing it's there." Glad to hear I'm not alone!

    Hang in there. Recognizing that you're in that place is half the battle (So cliché, but very true.).

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    1. Haha. I totally forgot about your jaw clenching. You are the queen.

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  5. Might be the cat is searching for something :)

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  6. No wonder you're stressed. You're doing it all, and then you're doing more. You have too much on your plate, and something has to go.

    Priorities: Abby has the right idea. Family & work come first. That is enough for most people during the growing up years. Then education IF you can fit it in without getting over-stressed. Or not - maybe you put it off for a few more years. Or take fewer classes. Maybe the writing gets put on the back burner for a few years, or maybe you slow down and do it only for two hours every Sunday.

    Good luck. You'll feel better when you cut back.

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    1. I'm going to disagree with your idea of my priorities. Right now all of these things are on my plate and right there they shall stay. The manuscript is #1. It is a matter of survival for me. But it will work out just fine. I just need to work in a little exercise time and I'll be fine!

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  7. Girl. You are doing too much. You are amazing and it's truly insane what you're able to accomplish on a daily basis, but just reading about everything you've been working on in the last several months stresses me out. I know I'm not being helpful and you can't just slice various duties out of your life now that you've committed to them ... but maybe once the book is done or the class is over? Make sure you've got some time each day when you can just relax or do whatever you'd like to do. Unscheduled time. xo

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    1. The long-term plan is that the book and the classes will lead to a different career. Being a published author with a grad degree will hopefully lead me to the life I want to live!

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  8. I have to wear a $300 night guard now to keep from clenching my teeth until they disappear.

    What works for me is exercise in the morning, no matter how busy I am. Either I walk for two miles or I go to a water aerobics class. It's not optional any more. And the endorphins get going and I get out of my head and I feel better.

    I also get a massage now and then. You deserve it. A trained therapist will be able to get your shoulder back.

    Do these things.

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    1. You are totally right about working out in the morning. I just need to drag myself out of bed and I will thank myself for it!

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  9. Thinking it through is a good thing. I'm always astounded at how much can be let go of and no one notices. Including me.

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    1. Being aware of being stressed out is helpful. Then maybe I can take some steps to reduce the stress. Working out does that for me. I think I forgot to make it a priority.

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  10. I had this feeling last semester in the spring. Shortly after we met up in fact. I was going more than half crazy and at least looking at myself in the mirror and figuring out I was stretching myself too thin was at least a start. At least I knew to blame my schedule and not start poking holes in my friendships and acquaintances to blow off steam. Opps, well no I did that too. My bad.

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  11. Oooh I know EXACTLY what you mean about having the Xanax there...but not taking it. I have a bottle of Adderall stashed away too "just in case".

    Exercise sounds like the remedy for you. I can't imagine how you're doing all of this!?! Working, school, wifery, mommying AND writing? Girl, do you sleep?

    Take care of yourself, Mandy!

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    1. God, that came across as shrewish. Not how I meant it!

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    2. It didn't come off as shrewish at all! Ha!

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  12. I had been running to blow off steam. But I seem to have injured my knee so I probably should get back into the gym. I don't know if this would help you, but the best stress relief I have ever tried involved wrist-wraps, bag gloves, and a punching bag. I actually have several different style bags and when I am really wound up I work them all. I know this isn't something I often see women at the gym doing, but I can tell you, when you feel like exploding you can really tear into a punching bag and feel amazingly better. Just make sure you keep your wrists straight or you'll sprain them. I hope this helps. I know I'm usually a smart-ass, but I'm not kidding this time. Give it a try. You'll feel a lot better. Just be careful of your wrists.

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  13. I so feel you on this. I was in fullblown meltdown mode a few months ago. Running helps. Sex helps. And the hardest thing I did that helped was to ask for help. I'm not sure if that applies in your case - and I know how hard it is to do, but it really makes a difference. I think you're also onto something with music. I found that listening to some 80s tunes and dancing around the kitchen was really therapeutic. I hope you find your magic bullet. That feeling of overwhelm sucks. If you ever want a free coaching session you know where to find me.

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  14. How about running and dictating your manuscript at the same time.. Or you can always stroke the furry walls.

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  15. I exercise WITH G when things get super crazy. It's called quality time rolled into mom needs to be a little homicidal right now. There's family yoga videos, we go for a hike, if I really need to get my sweat on I get the back pack that's the size of a stroller strap her in and walk up my ridiculously steep .5 mile driveway. It works.

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    1. Ok freudian slip, a little LESS homicidal right now. Awkward. I don't take my kid on killing sprees. Even when I want to. Wal.mart I'm looking at you.

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