Anxiety & Depression

Posted on 21 November 2017 by Michael Dahl

Tiredness versus intense pain. I’ll take the tiredness any day.

Readers of this blog know that I often get annoyed with the tiredness — sometimes fatigue or lethargy — I feel because of the medications I take to tame my demons. The demons’ names are Anxiety and Depression.

The other day, I decided to look back at the physical manifestations of their presence. What’s the tangible “felt” trade off to not have them around? I know / knew there was no contest, that I would take the tiredness any day. But sometimes it’s worth reminding myself about what things were like before — one great reason for me keeping this blog, I must admit read more

Posted on 19 November 2017 by Michael Dahl

Prone to hope turns 100.

Just the other day I realized that Prone to Hope hit a milestone. I have posted 100 entries regarding Depression and Anxiety since the blog began with the post “Through the panic” on March 28, 2015 (written three days after the actual experience).

While the marker provides me an opportunity to reflect on my hard work to make progress on my mental health, I’m also trying to figure out how to improve what I have always reported are this site’s aims:

  • One of the worst feelings when you are experiencing Anxiety and / or Depression is that you feel so alone, so isolated. You even convince yourself that no one understands or even wants to know what you are going through. I share my experience because I’ve been told that my sharing has helped others not feel so alone and isolated.
  • I want to fight the stigma attached to mental illnesses. Some people still have backward thoughts about people who suffer from mood disorders. Some think of us as weak; but it takes incredible strength to live with a mental illness. Some think of us as people who can’t contribute to the rest of society. There may be times when it’s hard to contribute; but it doesn’t mean we don’t try and often succeed despite the odds against us.
  • I want people who don’t suffer from Anxiety and Depression to know at least one perspective about what it’s like. Also, I’ve been told that my writing has helped others who have friends, family, and / or colleagues who suffer from Anxiety and / or Depression understand what is still an issue closeted in some segments of society.
  • Writing about my Anxiety and Depression is therapeutic to me. And, writing about my Anxiety while I am experiencing it is turbo therapeutic at helping me get through the panic.

For this blog’s followers I have a request: if you can think of anything, comment, email, or private message me on Facebook ways to improve this site’s usefulness: read more

Posted on 29 October 2017 by Michael Dahl

A Nicety and a Transparent and Anxious Guy.

I love it when people wish me a “Happy (fill in the day).” It’s fun when someone greets me with something like, “What do you think?” or “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done this week?” And while I can never remember what happens on my weekends, I appreciate the Monday greeting question, “What were you up to this weekend?”

Such greetings are either well wishes or actual questions asking for actual answers and perhaps a conversation.

As a transparent guy who suffers with Anxiety that still plays an acceptable yet significant role in my life, I hate the greeting, “How you doin’?” It’s an empty question which is, with good etiquette, answered with “Good” or “I’m alright.” The flippant answer, let’s admit it, is also frequently a lie. read more

Posted on 24 October 2017 by Michael Dahl

To be alert and anxious or calm and tired all the time.

I’m stuck. I’m stuck in a situation many people who take medications for Anxiety find themselves in: to be alert and anxious or calm and tired. (As my mental health med doctor says, “It’s all a cost-benefit analysis.”)

A little over a week ago I reported that I had tinkered with a medication I take (doctor approved) to see if I could make myself less tired and more alert. The experiment resulted in the desired impact; however, it also led me to starting my day with low- to mid-level Anxiety, unpegged to triggers or daily circumstances. By the end of one week, I decided to go back to my regular med usage — tired, but calm. read more

Posted on 13 October 2017 by Michael Dahl

Med experiment begins with success, ends with partial failure.

Perpetual tiredness and less than sharp reactions to stimuli have become part of my norm. This is the trade-off I’m saddled with to get to experience less Anxiety on a regular basis. That said, for the past several months there’s been less ambient stress in my life.

So I decided to do a one week experiment. With my mental health med doctor’s approval, I am allowed to tinker with one of my meds — I take several — based on how I’m feeling. For even more months than the reduction in ambient stress, I’ve been on a consistent med mix that has allowed me to start most of my days in a decent place — that being no- to low-Anxiety. read more

Posted on 17 August 2017 by Michael Dahl

What would you tell a friend to do?

This is an unfortunate follow-up from this morning’s blog post.

Let me offer a two-sentence recap: This morning I had a longer bout with Anxiety than usual. Writing (and a bit of yoga) helped calm me down somewhat, so I could start my workday.

That accomplished, I successfully got a major project out of the way as well as several minor tasks.

However, as afternoon approached I felt Anxiety working its way back to my consciousness. Tasks became reasons for alarm; more project work became impossible as my brain began to feel hardened, not quite cement-like-feeling, but close. And then, the worst feeling of all hit: I felt as if every nerve in my body became frayed, buzzing, and in pain. read more

Posted on 17 August 2017 by Michael Dahl

The best thing I can do right now is write.

One of the pieces of advice that my therapist gave me for dealing with Anxiety is simply to acknowledge It exists. But the thing is to not see It as in you, but imagine It’s beside you. I try to do this — sometimes successfully — but usually the best thing I can do is write about It as something other than me.

This morning is one of those mornings. You see, on most mornings I must deal with a little Anxiety pointed at the day ahead, but without much effort on my part — so it’s probably my meds — the Anxiety drifts away. For the past few weeks, this has been my interplay with Anxiety. And while it’s wrong to say I like it that way, it is a tolerable existence. read more

Posted on 25 July 2017 by Michael Dahl

Michael’s “normal” but really wishes he could be better.

Yesterday, my mental health med doctor and I arrived at the conclusion that at least for the next six months how I am normally is how I’ll be until we check in again in January. My med cocktail will stay the same. I am encouraged to continue seeing my therapist as needed. And, how I feel on a daily basis is (hopefully) not going to change much.

I say this with some hesitation. I still suffer on a regular basis from Anxiety. It does not feel good to have a panic attack (and all the emotional and physical pain that accompanies it) every couple of weeks … to say nothing of the daily (for the most part short-lived and predictable) anxious moments when I fear the day ahead or I internalize “how stupid Michael was” each night as I spend a few minutes blowing everything out of proportion. read more

Posted on 5 July 2017 by Michael Dahl

Marking a milestone in my bouts with Depression and Anxiety.

I once heard of a Minnesota legislator who said during a committee hearing that he didn’t believe in mental illnesses.  After all, there weren’t blood tests for them.  My blood, I can tell you, began to boil.

As someone who has struggled for most of my life with the mental illnesses of Depression, Anxiety, and OCD (until my Anxiety started getting treated), this “leader” was discounting my experience.  As a policymaker, this man had a say in what services would be available to those in need.  Scary! read more

Posted on 15 June 2017 by Michael Dahl

On Feeling Alone

One of the most painful aspects of living with Anxiety and Depression is how alone you can feel when the symptoms attack. Of course, we all know there are stats telling us how prevalent both mental illnesses are — we are certainly not alone. But during the struggle, it’s so easy to recede into the most vulnerable parts of your brain and feel the illness is yours — and yours alone — to deal with.

Of course, sometimes you are lucky and can be open about your situation. You are in the company of someone who understands and can help talk you through your feelings. Or, someone has agreed to be your standby.  They are ready to take your phone call whenever you need them. read more

Posted on 10 June 2017 by Michael Dahl

“Mikey Dahl for 3 years old like a good boy” and other pick me ups during a difficult week.

This morning I woke up with my lip quivering, the border between crying and just feeling overwhelmed. It’s been a difficult week mental health wise, and my spirit and mind just feel taxed.

I won’t recount the difficulties, but feel free to read about one of my encounters with Anxiety this week, if you’d like to read what an attack can feel like and / or what I sometimes do to overcome It.

Instead of recounting the negatives, I’d like to express my gratitude and appreciation.

Many of you know about (and Facebook “like”) my posting of photos that help me see beauty in the world or remind me of a good time. These daily postings are amazing ways for me to start each day with personal expressions of gratitude for the good in the world. This picture in particular was a treasure for my week. read more

Posted on 8 June 2017 by Michael Dahl

Anxiety strikes again.

This morning my demon named Anxiety pounced on me as I was headed out on my walk to work. Instead of the tension first building in my chest and lungs and working up to restrict my throat, the beast went straight to my head. I felt like thousands of bees were whirring around my brain forcing any positive thoughts to be BLENDED AND SHREADED as I tried to think them.

Earlier in the morning I had thought of other things I wanted to think about on my walk to work. Any attempt to make that happen were immediately destroyed — BLEND AND SHREAD this, BLEND AND SHREAD that. Anxiety had other things in mind for me, and none of it was good, or constructive, or calming. read more

Posted on 21 May 2017 by Michael Dahl

Suicide is not the answer. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.

I remember hearing the news that Robin William had committed suicide almost three years ago. It hit me pretty hard. I was actually in the midst of a bout with Depression, so that probably contributed to the feeling of deep sadness. I wasn’t really a Williams fan. Still, I remember mourning because I knew he was a good and personable man who used his celebrity for causes. And, of course, he had his struggles.

Last week’s suicide of Chris Cornell hit me somewhat similarly.

I don’t want to speculate anything about what led to Cornell’s suicide. I do want to say that while I wasn’t a follower of him, my love of Pearl Jam music meant at times I’d hear the stories of Cornell’s trailblazing the grunge sound and the Seattle scene. He was a music pioneer who helped define music of the 1990’s and a style of music I continue to enjoy today. read more

Posted on 18 May 2017 by Michael Dahl

I should have taken a mental illness day and lessons about my Anxiety.

Two mornings ago I had a panic attack. While I was able to get myself out of the panic mode — through meditation, isometric exercises, and writing time — I was unable to bring myself to a semblance of health. I continued to suffer from high levels of stress, which kept my body tense and in pain. Plus, while I accomplished some at work, I was much less focused and reflective as I usually am.

I couldn’t have called in sick; I was already at work. I should have just gone home, called it a day.

The lesson from two days ago, as I’ve pointed out in a previous post, some days you don’t win and conceding is alright. read more

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