Author: Michael

Posted on 5 January 2016 by Michael

A little Anxiety Assessment in prep for doc visit

Next week I check in with my mental health med doctor after a couple of months of my responsibility to stay stable and tweak my augmentation meds as needed. I figure now is a good time to do a little assessment, consider recommendations I’d like to make, and put on my radar aspects of my Anxiety management I want to be aware of in this week before the visit.

First off, the big thing is that I do seem to be able to manage my Anxiety better than I was able to several months ago. And, while I had a particularly difficult — situationally-related — stress-filled month a little over a month ago, things are better now. read more

Posted on 27 December 2015 by Michael

Anxiety & Depression make 2015 complicated year.

It’s hard to say I’d wish away a year of my life when I reached a weight I’ve been trying to reach since my mid-twenties. This year I lost 21 pounds; the year before, another 21; and for several years before that I slowly shed the 18 pounds that once had me at 200 pounds. I’m now at 140 pounds … a pretty ideal weight for me, and a weight where I can see muscle that blubber’s been covering for years.

It’s difficult to feel bad about a year I made so many friends via social media. Some expanded my gardening horizons, others had civil disagreements with me about politics and culture — I love civil disagreements about politics and culture. read more

Posted on 2 December 2015 by Michael

I hate my bully, Anxiety. Surprise panic attack hits.

Yesterday I sat in my car, idling in park for 15 minutes. Some of the time I was crying; some of the time I was just staring blankly into space trying to calm my mind.

About an hour earlier I had experienced a full-blown panic attack in the company of others. I’m pretty sure I tempered my outward presentation, so people just knew “I wasn’t in a good place.” I don’t think anybody had an understanding of how incredibly bad off I was.

Funny — not funny — thing is, for the past several days I’ve been toying with writing a post about how incredibly better I am … and I am incredibly better: read more

Posted on 1 December 2015 by Michael

find the right doctor and therapist

A mental health doctor who prescribes medications tries to find the right med (or med cocktail) that allows your moods to fit the situations you are in, not find a med (mix) that elates or numbs you regardless of the life circumstance. And my educated (and experiential) guess about mental health therapy is that it’s a mix of empathy, professional knowledge, and straight talk.

With this as a starting point, let me say, I’ve had the fortune for the past dozen plus years of having good mental health med doctors and mental health therapists. They’ve helped me find meds that help me be mood-appropriate (or approaching that). For most of the past several years — this year is an exception — my moods have not ruled me. And my therapists have empathized with my situation (e.g. built a rapport) and then gave me straight talk advice about things I needed to work on to take responsibility for managing my moods when the meds needed me to put in a little (or a lot) of effort. read more

Posted on 24 November 2015 by Michael

Gratitude reduces anxiety, improves mood, deepens friendships.

It’s the week of Thanksgiving: a holiday that reminds us to express gratitude, to give thanks. I actually see Thanksgiving not as a simple reminder. I see it as a commandment of sorts.

With all that is mean and wrong and difficult in this world, we would all be better if we found more time to give thanks. And hopefully that time would not come solely when the calendar reminds us. Hopefully, we would express gratitude when the person, moment, or thing shows its worth, and we were there to witness it. read more

Posted on 18 November 2015 by Michael

“Surprise!” screams a Panic Attack.

I have had a string of really good days. Let’s get that out of the way first.

To begin with I believe the augmentation drug my doctor prescribed me is working. Generally — NOT FRICKIN’ RIGHT NOW — but generally my Anxiety levels have been lessening over the past couple weeks. And I think I’ve been on the additional medication for a few weeks. So, how I’m feeling generally is a good thing and likely attributable to the new med. Plus — awesome-sauce — the rare (potential) side effects never hit me. I’m not more jittery. I’m not gaining weight. I am feeling better. My mornings especially are feeling pretty super compared to where things were just a few weeks ago. read more

Posted on 8 November 2015 by Michael

another tactic to outwit Anxiety

A little over a week ago I posted eight somewhat-successful tactics (for me) to outwit Anxiety. The tactics ranged from going on the offense by beginning the day with exercise to get endorphins — chemicals that both help fight pain and trigger feelings of awesomeness — swimming through my body … all the way to calling in sick to work when you’ve lost the day’s battle with the brain-bully.

Looking back, I find the post kind of funny, because only two days before I (alone) wasn’t able to use any of the tactics leading up to “calling in sick” — even though I was at work as a panic attack had slowly been approaching me. And yet, I managed to defeat the bully and stay at my office. read more

Posted on 31 October 2015 by Michael

a handful tactics to outwit Anxiety

I’ll admit it. I find a post about tactics to outwit Anxiety a bit awkward. To the ignorant ear, such techniques may make it sound like you can simply “snap out of” your mental illness. That would be a terrible impression for me to make. Just as you can’t will away cancer and you can’t laugh a broken leg into mending itself faster, you can’t “simply” think calm and happy thoughts to rid yourself of Anxiety.

However, just as people must find a way to live with and address the symptoms of other chronic diseases / illness (e.g. arthritis, asthma, diabetes), someone who suffers from chronic Anxiety can do things to face their symptoms successfully. read more

Posted on 31 October 2015 by Michael

doctor surprises me with a med tweak

Today, I’m writing two posts about dealing with Anxiety.  This one is about a little surprise my mental health doctor recommended two days ago.  She suggested we augment my current mental health medication to test whether I can lessen the Anxiety that still bullies me daily.

A little later I will also share a post on my expanding toolbox of Anxiety-management techniques I currently use to try to outwit Anxiety or at least temper / shorten Its daily haunting.

But first this post, about that surprise from my doc … I’ve haven’t made it a secret: I have a bully — a demon — and Its name is Anxiety. My current mental health medication helped me make it through a major bout with Depression and is keeping that Depression at bay. That medication also likely helped reduce the impact Anxiety has on me. But as has become obvious over the last several months, the drugs have not been able to completely erase those anxious impacts. In fact, I had been told by both my doc and therapist to be prepared to accept that I was simply “an anxious guy” and Anxiety-management was going to be a constant part of my future. read more

Posted on 9 October 2015 by Michael

the day after an anxiety-filled day

My head hurts.  My muscles hurt.  And nearly all my nerve endings feel like nubs experiencing something between fatigue and pain.

Yesterday was one of those days.  Yesterday, Anxiety followed me everywhere.  Okay, actually, It fully occupied my brain and body … everywhere.  And a couple times it slam danced vigorously and turned into an unconfined panic attack that spilled out into agitations, actions, and tremblings others had to see and wonder, “What’s going on with Michael?”

Today, I wanted to be writing about something … well, not hopeful.  But I wanted to write about my creative process, and how some of it begins with a mess of tortured feelings … an inability to communicate a truly beautiful vision for the future I can see … through to an articulated vision that:  (1) if simply a personal vision, I can make happen, or (2) if a justice-related strategy, a vision that slowly gains converts and then becomes a super snazzy process. read more

Posted on 30 September 2015 by Michael

not feeling too generous with myself today

Yesterday I had another very helpful but very painful visit with my therapist.

“I mean, do I need to put a rubber band around my wrist and start snapping it every time I start to feel anxious?” I asked.

The question was only partially rhetorical.  Yes, telling an anxious person to “snap out of it” is one of the worst things you can do.  However, an anxious person often has to come up with brain tricks for him/herself to reset their brain.  Yogic breathing exercises, tapping your wrist, counting shades of green in your surroundings, holding an ice cube, sniffing lavender, even pinching yourself are all methods some anxiety-ridden people use to force their mind to leave the scary (irrationally-thought-about) future and get into the present moment.  The action — e.g. pinching yourself — is simply physical thing or truly “sense”-ational thing to get your mind to feel the right now as it is and stop imagining the future as it likely will not be. read more

Posted on 24 September 2015 by Michael

anxiety currently robs me of snazziness

Sad to say:

I have not yet figured out how to feel the level of joy I once felt … before my most recent epic battle with Anxiety and Depression.

I’ve covered extensively how I have a new relationship with my bully, Anxiety.  Now, It is an ever-present (feels-like) entity; rather than what had been before …. a bully that liked to sneak up on my frequently, now and again.  This new relationship has changed me dramatically … again, in ways that I’ve written about before.

Today, I’d like to share something rather sad and surprising I’ve discovered about Anxiety and me in the past couple weeks.  Anxiety doesn’t just latch on to or create irrational fears about my future when I am feeling stressed.  It has also found ways to latch on to the positive energy I often experience.  It is quite successful in seeing energy simply as energy — positive or negative — and It does jujitsu to turn the positive to a negative before I can do my own jujitsu back. read more

Posted on 17 September 2015 by Michael

head full of doubts

If I swore, I’d be cussing up a storm.  If I believed in a god, I’d be looking skyward and yelling.

But my yells wouldn’t be loud, angry screams.  They’d be sobbing words that would be barely audible or understandable, “Why me?  I am getting better.  I thought I was getting better!”

And I may be getting better.  But I don’t want to delude myself.  Perhaps I am not getting better.  I really have no clue what’s going on.

This post follows no visit with my doctor; it’s no preparation for a visit with my therapist … two common reasons for me to give a report or assess where I am at. read more

Posted on 13 September 2015 by Michael

depression, anxiety, and the changed self

Stay with me here.  This post’s intent is to share a bit about how a severe bout with anxiety and depression can change a person — like change their brain.  And in doing so, coming out / recovering on the other side, a person feels like a different “self.”

I’m going to use myself as an example, because I cam currently in the process of figuring out who the “new Michael” is after a serious and multi-month battle with these two disorders.

As I’ve noted in recent posts, I don’t currently like this “new Michael.”  I am actively trying to learn more about the new me, and how I can successfully navigate the world in the new self.  As my therapist says, if I can do that … if I can accept the loss of the past self and learn to enjoy the new one … I will be much better off.  It takes work (which I am very willing to do and actively doing).  But it’s a process, and sometimes a long one. read more

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