If you know me in real life (or maybe even virtually) you will know that I’m a pretty anxious person.  I’ve suffered from anxiety for quite a long time, and for a long time I honestly had no idea what it was.  I used to lay awake at night as a child convinced I was going to die in the next few minutes.  I’d wake my mum up just so I didn’t have to be alone.  And at the time, I’d feel rather sick to my stomach, so I was convinced that it was my stomach that was causing the issues, not my mind.  It was never talked about, only those moments in the dark were the evidence anything was wrong.

I didn’t know it was anxiety until I was 18 when I took a psychology class.

It took until I was in my 30s to discuss it with a medical professional while I was trying to sort out my headache issues.  And while I was more or less dismissed by this person in relation to the headaches, I was listened to about the anxiety.  It took until then to bring it up because throughout my late teens and 20s, I was able to control it relatively well.  The “episodes” flared up under times of stress, like exams.  I knew to expect it then, so I was ready for the shaking, the crying, the tremors, the feeling of imminent demise.

Once I completed my first Master’s degree and started working in education, the anxiety flared up.  I could barely drive to work without having an episode.  I was terribly grateful that I was given medication to help deal with the symptoms and I could at least get out the door without hoping that I’d get in an accident so I didn’t have to go to work (it’s a very long story, but things weren’t good for me and it was heartbreaking all around, but I won’t bore you all with that right now).

And now, ten years later? While I still have medication to help me out, I have to ration it.  So I run.  I just lace up my shoes and run.  And while these days, I’m usually running towards a goal (a race or a personal goal), it’s still the enjoyment of the wind in my hair and the sun (hopefully) on my face that can clear my mind.

While I was trying to deal with all of the grief and issues from losing my parents, I ran.

While I was trying to deal with the multiple times I didn’t think I’d get to finish my PhD, I ran.

While I was trying to get the blasted thing finished and hit any number of roadblocks, I ran.

It doesn’t always solve all my problems, and certainly there are some runs where it just doesn’t help.  But it is a bit better than it used to be.  And that’s all I can ask for.

 

 

 

This post was written for #mentalhealthawarenessweek.  All thoughts are my own.

 

Twas the night before the Viva, when all through the flat,

Not a creature was stirring, not even Bailey the cat.

The chapters were outlined in the thesis with care,

In hopes that the doctorate soon would be theirs.

 

The examiners were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of passing the candidate danced in their heads.

And Bailey on the couch, and I in my bed,

Had just settled down after the thesis had been once again re-read.

 

When out on Twitter there arose such a fuss,

People are still cyberbullying, engaging online with a cuss.

I logged on to my computer, quick as a flash,

Opening the application, not hesitating a dash.

 

The cursor was flashing inside the new message window,

And I certainly was ready to type a message below.

When what to my tired eyes should appear,

Messages of support and love, to some may endear.

 

Understanding exclusion, via Norbert Elias,

In hopes that these marginalising behaviours will soon be behind us.

While the data proclaimed bullying still is an issue,

Teachers need education and training; I tell you this is true.

 

An interesting tidbit; yes here’s a fact.

More young people were traditionally bullied, rather than online without tact.

While this may back up the assertions of Olweus, who may have attempted to detract.

Interviewees illustrated that all forms of bullying had a severe impact.

 

Hopefully the questions will be answered in such a way,

That the examiners will most certainly be swayed.

And hopefully at some point tomorrow,

Cindy will pass with just corrections; otherwise, there will be sorrow.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  Mostly, these thoughts are fleeting worries, like passing ships in the night.  But these thoughts have a theme; transitions.

I’ve gone through several major transitions in life, and I find my thoughts going back to the earliest of transitions for some reason lately.  Perhaps it’s sentiment.  Nostalgia.  I have been listening to a lot of 80’s music.  However, I do feel that it was triggered by the writing of my acknowledgements for my thesis.  I did a lot of thinking about the people in my life and the people who have left a mark on my life at some point. Perhaps they encouraged me.  Or, on a more sinister note, maybe they were a deep rooted and fundamental reason as to why I chose this research topic.

My thoughts find me back to this first transition.  I can feel the crunch of leaves underfoot and there is a scent of Aussie Sprunch spray in the air.  With these reminders, I’m back wandering the halls, head down. It’s like that nightmare that I have when I’ve forgotten my locker combination or my gym clothes. I’ve been out of school for over 20 years and I still have these dreams.  It’s a hard time for me, so alone.  Still, I have the music I enjoy and my treasured favourite old books, and the one person who I could talk to.  This, in turn, drags emotions long repressed and avoided bubbling to the surface and I feel like I’m drowning.  (One would think I’d have moved past this, but I can’t let things go. There was no closure, so. . . ) 

Deep breaths and I’ve moved on to the next transition.  It’s hot and sunny and I’m sitting on the green at Clark University. I tip my head back to look up at the blue sky and I smile broadly.  I’ve done it.  I’m in college on my own.  The absolute joy that I feel at that moment is joined by a twinge of homesickness. I push it off and try to look forward.  I haven’t really met anyone yet, so that excitement is still there.  I have no idea what’s going to happen: those moments before I meet my roommate and my hallmates, long before J. coined the phrase about how I analyse everything like I live in a fishbowl (see my blog tagline), before I met people who changed my life.

I allow myself a few more moments on Clark’s green before I’m in Glasgow, 6 years ago.  It’s sunny and mild and I’m wearing my Ortiz t-shirt (Boston represent!). I have absolutely no idea where I am (grad school has not improved my ability to read a map) and I can’t be bothered to care.  It’s a gorgeous day and the leaves are just starting to change colour and the few that have fallen crunch underfoot. I find myself in Kelvingrove Park and everything seems bright and larger than life.  I treasure this moment, it’s precious. It’s before. . .  .

Now, I’m in the after.  Approaching the end of another chapter of my life and I’m not quite sure how to close the book on it.  There is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in this transition.  And if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s not knowing what’s going to happen.  Right now, I feel like I’m about to jump into the void, feet first, and it’s terrifying.

For now, I’m just trying to breathe.

Two weeks ago I had a chance to attend a book signing/talk that should have inspired me to be a better me.  Instead I left needing time to reflect.  And now, after a few days I feel lower than usual.   I feel at nearly 40, I’m an absolute failure.

 

When I was 16 and working at Filene’s Basement, I worked with a few women who were in their early 20’s and I thought they were so glamorous and lived such exciting lives.  I couldn’t wait to be 21.

When I was 21 I was still an undergrad.  I was still trying to figure out my life.  I certainly wasn’t going out to clubs and bars and having a good time.  I was completely screwed up emotionally.

I wanted more; I wanted stability and love and marriage.  I figured by the time I was 25 I’d have it all wrapped up.

When I was 25 I was dating (someone I now refer to as) “the one who got away.”  I thought he was the one.  I thought we were going to be together.  We had been living together (until he asked me to move out) and I hoped we could reconcile and make it work out.  I wanted to be engaged and married and start a family; we already had 2 cats together.  I figured by the time I was 30, I would have it all figured out.  I’d have a a husband and a career and kids.  I’d have amazing mom friends and a perfect house.

By the time I was 30, I was an absolute mess.  I had ended the relationship with the one who got away and dated and got engaged to someone else.  I spent 4 years trying to fix him, to make him the man I thought he could be.  I was an idiot.  You can’t fix hate that’s been learned (at least I couldn’t do it).

I had gained back all the weight I worked hard to lose.  I was fat (again) and hated myself (still).

I was single, living in my childhood bedroom in my parents house with my cat.  I was single, miserable, and on the verge of bankruptcy.  I didn’t have many friends.  And despite having earned my first Masters degree the year before, I had a crummy job and could hardly support myself.  I figured by the time I was 35, I would have to have it figured out.

By the time I was 35, my life had taken a major turn.  I moved to Scotland to pursue my second Masters degree since I still had been unable to find a full time teaching job.  It was an amazing decision and I don’t regret it, but I was lonely.  I didn’t make any friends, and the stresses of the year were overwhelming.

I was still fat and frustrated and wishing I had made better food choices; I felt like I had let my body down after (cosmetic) surgery.

Right now at 38 and change?  Well, I’m going to be 40 in a little more than a year and I am not happy with my life.  I say I am happy with who I am (and in some ways I am) but I’m sad overall.  I haven’t really made friends here (my own fault), I’ve been single for over a decade.  I haven’t had sex in over a decade and I think it’s starting to get to me (you think?)!

I’ve had a rough few years here in Scotland; I’ve lost both my parents and a beloved pet.  I’ve lost weight, gained weight, had the never ending headache issue.  I’ve struggled with my thesis, with motivation, with getting out of bed.

The PhD has been one issue after another.  I’ve contemplated a break; taking a holiday or leaving flat out.  I am sticking with it right now, but there are days when I want to run away.

And with all of that, I have no idea how I am supposed to go about getting the life I want.  I know what I want for the future and where I want to be when I am done with my PhD.  I am just not sure I will be able to do and go where I want to (live in London and live a glamorous life).  I’ve accepted the fact that I will most likely be alone and will not have a family of my own.  Accepting that has been hard, but it is probably for the best.  I think that the amount of baggage I carry would be a major issue and in regards to having children, time has pretty much run out.  It’s time to accept this.

 

 

Now that the craziness of post season baseball is behind me (I miss baseball!  How many days until P&C?) I have been trying to get organised and on a schedule.  Every night when I go to bed, I tell myself I am going to get up at a reasonable hour (read: before 11 am), go run or go to the gym, come back and get. things. done.  There have been 5 mornings I have tried to do this, and the only day that I got up early was on Saturday because I had to teach a workshop.

Today I managed to get up before 11 (at 10:45 so doesn’t really count) and so far have showered, gone to Boots and Tesco, hoovered the flat, done dishes, and started a load of laundry.  While productive, none of these things are my workout or my actual WORK.  (Debating what I am going to do for a workout today as it is cold (like 35 F/2 C and raining) so if it is not pouring at 5ish I might go to the gym, or I might just put on a workout DVD because lazy. I don’t have warm/dry enough running layers to run today.  Must get on that.)

Obviously, the most obvious way to handle this is to set an alarm.  However, that being said, it may work for some people, but unless I need to actually BE somewhere, I end up just curling back up with Molly and going back to sleep.  Or if I do get up, I find that getting up with an alarm really, really triggers my anxiety.  I used to wonder when I worked full time why I needed anti-anxiety medication EVERY morning.  Getting up and getting going like that somehow really made me very anxious.  And sadly, I don’t have the luxury of having anxiety medication I can take on a daily basis; it’s rationed now at best- but that is another story.

So my goals for the next 2 weeks are to attempt to

  • Get up at a reasonable hour.
  • Workout first.
  • Get 5 hours of work done a day minimum.
  • Cry self to sleep.

Should be totally achievable, right?

Anyone have any suggestions on getting on a schedule?  I know I keep harping on this, but one of these days I may just get it!