Anxiety & Depression

Posted on 16 May 2017 by Michael Dahl

Panic hits again.

I’m having a panic attack. It started about 20 minutes ago with a shortness of breath accompanied by the sensation that only the tops of my lungs were functioning. And then I felt my brain hardening … not quite brick-like, but definitely a soft cement. And then just a few minutes ago my arms tightened and my wrists’ nerve endings started exuding pain. Now, I can feel my heart racing.

I’ve taken as much in meds as I would find allowable.

I’ve got to think, feel, write, and perhaps meditate myself out of this. read more

Posted on 7 May 2017 by Michael Dahl

I’m feeling vulnerable.

With the US House passage of a new healthcare bill, I’m feeling vulnerable. I know I’m not the only one. From the invective showing up on US Representatives’ Facebook feeds, it’s easy to surmise that millions of Americans are very afraid, very angry, and very vulnerable.

Packaged as a “healthcare bill,” Trumpcare is actually a huge tax break for the rich along with an erosion of things health insurance companies must cover while inflating the cost of coverage for many.

I don’t know how to speak health insurance-speak, so I’m not going to try and get technical here. I just know that people with pre-existing conditions ought to feel vulnerable. A job loss, a change in insurance by your employer (or what that insurer offers), or if you’re already amongst the unemployed or elderly could mean you will be paying dearly to maintain your health … and perhaps even your life. read more

Posted on 22 April 2017 by Michael Dahl

My therapist tells me to live my life according to my values, and know that’s the best I can do.

A few days ago I had a therapy session that’s been long overdue. During the visit I had lumps in my throat several times as I almost burst out crying. The details are not ones I feel comfortable sharing. Just know that if you are reading this, you are not amongst the subjects I was grappling with.

My therapist and I talked about four topics.

First, my brain has spent a goodly part of my life marinating in stress and chaos. Meds will do and have done a lot to reduce the bad chemicals from being released in my brain during such situations. But, like it or not, from early and long-term exposure, my brain has gotten used to stress and chaos, and when given the opportunity will release panic-inducing chemicals. I must continue my meds and practicing cognitive therapy exercises to get ahead of Anxiety from taking over my brain. read more

Posted on 15 April 2017 by Michael Dahl

I no longer hide my medications.

At home, my daily medications sit prominently on my desktop. Any visitor could stop by and see I take a number of pills. If they wanted to rummage a bit, they could easily figure out I take drugs for mental health, blood pressure, and allergies. Less interesting, I guess, would be the Vitamin D pill I take.

My daily meds are arranged in a pill box that has small compartments for morning, mid-morning, afternoon, and bedtime. And the pill boxes sit in a plastic tower, so I only have to worry about sorting meds once a week. (On Sunday nights, my desktop can look like an apothecary table.) read more

Posted on 25 March 2017 by Michael Dahl

The roller coaster called “Life”

Life is a roller coaster, and mental health is complicated. This week — if I hadn’t already known this — would have served as good education.

Yep. I’ve had to deal with a hefty share of Anxiety and periodic depressive thoughts. Per usual, I probably over think things. Had a tough week placed my brain in this place (situational)? Has some trigger been what’s responsible for my difficult bearings? I dunno. Or has the busy week — and resulting forgetting to take my meds a couple times — forced this Anxiety and funk upon me? read more

Posted on 19 March 2017 by Michael Dahl

when I forget to take my meds

As I’ve noted many times before, one of the reasons I post regarding my mental health is to help those who don’t experience it get at least one person’s perspective on Anxiety and Depression. Today’s post fits that category. In other words, I am not currently in the throes of a battle Anxiety would like to wage with me. I am simply recalling a particular experience I had a couple of days ago.

It was Friday; a floating spring break holiday staff get at the University. I was up for an awesome day. I got up a little later than usual (5 am) and took my meds in the usual 2-step process I navigate daily with rarely ever a problem. That being, I took two of my meds to get ahead of any Anxiety attack immediately upon getting up. After I eat a small breakfast I take one other mental health medication. And at night, right before getting into bed, I take my main mental health med — the one that fights off both Anxiety and Depression — along with the two meds I took right away in the morning. read more

Posted on 9 March 2017 by Michael Dahl

About last night … Why now? (Pt 2)

First off, thanks to everyone for the get well wishes and pep talks via Facebook. They are really helpful. Really! The compassion and reminding me of my strengths helped last night not feel so isolating. (Rebecca is on a work trip … in France! So we weren’t able to chat until a couple hours later that night).

So I was talking with Rebecca this morning and thought of a different way to explain the scariness of the type of panic attack that occurred last night.

Last night I described it as Anxiety grabbing ahold of my breath in my lungs and making it painful as it left my body. My throat constricted, and I felt an enduring pain in my throat and chest. This is definitely an accurate description of the physical aspect. read more

Posted on 8 March 2017 by Michael Dahl

Why now?

Tonight a feeling returned. The feeling of Anxiety capturing my breath and turning it into pain. It rose from lungs and took over my throat. If I had tried to talk, it would have been difficult.

Throat constricted; my brain switched from normal to negative with a tick of a clock. I was overcome with fear.

Why? This type of acute attack of Anxiety hasn’t hit me for well over 6 months.

That’s not to say I haven’t experienced an Anxiety attack in the past half of a year. I most certainly have. But this intense, body-felt version rises from what seems like nowhere. Not nowhere because I can’t identify major triggers and stressors in my life. No, I can do that. Instead, It’s out of nowhere because the timing of the onset seems so random. read more

hoping for the best
Posted on 28 January 2017 by Michael Dahl

Have I reached a new mental health “normal?” And a new chapter for Prone to Hope.

Early next week I visit with my mental health med doctor to check in on how I am doing a couple of months since we last talked.

I will note that my mental health is basically in a good, but nuanced place. I am not fully relieved of my Anxiety (although I am of my Depression). But I am so, so much better than I had been before.

Truth is, a little of the Anxiety I used to experience in the morning has returned. Not much. Just about 45 minutes to an hour of nervousness and self-doubt has crept back. It usually passes naturally, making the rest of my day just fine. read more

Posted on 7 January 2017 by Michael Dahl

Man in the Mirror

Earlier this week I was looking into my bathroom mirror. At first it was simply a quick last look at myself before I headed out for the day. And then it became something more.

Something — I don’t know what — held me in place and transported me to another time, about a year and a half ago, when I was looking into a mirror in a Target store as I felt my mind and body stuck in the grip of Anxiety and Depression.

I started comparing the feelings of the two different experiences, peering into the mirrors. The day earlier this week, I wouldn’t say I was happy or sad, anxious or depressed. I felt somber and powerful at the same time. So I just stood there and let the feelings wash over me. I also allowed myself to linger in the memory — but not the feelings — attached to comparison point of a year and a half ago. read more

Posted on 22 December 2016 by Michael Dahl

There are many times I’ve relied on government, and it was there.

(I wrote this post on 14 July 2011.  With the vitriol spewing out these days about government and people being considered for lead positions in parts of government they’d like to destroy, I thought this deserved a repost.)

I value good government and good government services provided on the local, state, and federal level. There are many times I’ve relied on government, and it was there. I am proud to help pay for it so it is also available for others and for me in the future … which as you will read will likely be later today. read more

Posted on 10 December 2016 by Michael Dahl

I wake up an hour before my demon named Anxiety: the daily struggle to keep It sedated.

I take mental health drugs five times a day. Four of the times are required, as one of my drugs works best if divvied up fairly evenly four times throughout the day — early morning, late morning, afternoon, and bedtime. But I’ve learned to and have thankfully gotten into the habit of following a fives-times-a-day schedule.

I’ve posted before that my meds have impacted my sleep schedule. I fall asleep sometime between 8 pm and 9 pm; I often wake up at 4 am.

My demon, Anxiety, usually wakes up at 5 am, but sometimes It chooses to sleep in if I have as well. So, I am often given an hour of natural peace. read more

Posted on 3 December 2016 by Michael Dahl

Triggering daily practices to avert or curtail Anxiety.

I am pretty good at being proactive in averting Anxiety and the onset of depressive thoughts. That said, I pretty much suck at curtailing them if they hit me for one reason or another. For instance, some times I forget to take some of my mental health medications. And some days are just tough, because life is complicated or a zinger hits me out of nowhere.

My therapist and my small library of mental health books provide me with several actions and mantras to help in both situations — starting the day off right as well as how to get yourself out of an anxious or depressive funk. read more

Posted on 19 November 2016 by Michael Dahl

“I hate you, winter.” A poem by Michael Dahl

I hate winter.  Outside hurts.  And as someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder in addition to chronic (treated) Depression, I detest November through February.

The words to the poem below came to me as I was driving Rebecca to work and a jerk was tailgating us on a slippery road.  It was late January 2014 — the year of the Arctic Blast. Our car had not yet warmed up, so my shoulders were scrunched up trying to cover my neck.  The sky was gray.  I was in pure misery.

I submitted this poem to Minnesota Public Radio for a conversation on Minnesotans and their feelings about winter.  They read it, so I was plenty prideful that day. read more

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