Friday, February 28, 2014

elevator to the moon

Warning: this is a post about triggers.  If you're worried about triggers, don't read it.  If you are worried, and you still want to read it, I'll mask the triggers themselves.  If none of these apply to you, and you're here by mistake, I apologize, because you're probably gonna be really, really bored.

verb: trigger; 3rd person present: triggers; past tense: triggered; past participle:triggered; gerund or present participle: triggering
1.
cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.
"an allergy can be triggered by stress or overwork"

In the case of anxiety, a trigger is a catalyst that causes the feelings of worry & preoccupation to occur.  For example, hearing about someone you know getting stuck in quicksand might distress you greatly if you have a fear of quicksand.  Also, if you have a fear of quicksand, and you're reading this, I'm happy to know that I have an audience that lives in a 1960's Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

Dude just looks annoyed.  Guess quicksand really would just be an inconvenience when your anatomy is used to diving several stories into gold coins.

Triggers suck.  If you visit a lot of chat rooms & forums, just the mention of certain common triggers can get you booted.  And with good reason; to the average person, hearing about the new Super Flubienza-21B, aka The Chilean Muskrat Flu, on the nightly news isn't that big of a deal.  To someone with anxiety, it can cause you to freak the fuck out, despite the fact that 2 people in a remote village in the southern hemisphere contracted it after eating tainted muskrat meat and your last meal was a Little Thickburger from Hardee's.

Like a lot of things with anxiety, logic is just an afterthought, and triggers are a prime example of such crummy occurrences.

What's amazing is, sometimes we encounter a trigger and it doesn't register with us til quite some time later.

HIGHLIGHT THE SECTION BELOW FOR THE TRIGGER

Recently, an old friend of mine lost her husband to a brain tumor.  He was a young, healthy guy, who was just dealt an awful hand in life.  Left behind two adorable kids and a loving wife due to a disease that was entirely out of their control.  This brave woman posted about it online frequently; coming from a small town, everyone knew them, so everyone wanted to keep up with how he was doing.  I read her posts, too.

I didn't think anything about them until this past week.  Since Monday, I've been having numerous headaches, almost daily.  Tuesday night hit me with one so bad that I'd venture to say that it bordered on being a migraine.

And then the thoughts set it:

What if I have a tumor?  
Is this how it starts?  
Is it too late to do anything about it?
Panic. 

It never turned into a full-blown attack, but it's came close.  And I'm not happy about this.

Here's the thing: this all started Monday.  Can it be traced back to anything?

Monday nights, the girlfriend and I have began hitting up a local sushi place for $3 rolls.  Afterwards, we'll go out & run any errands we need to do for the week.  This week, we hit up Bed, Bath, and Beyond for some new pillows.  A lot of the pain has been stemming from the back of my head.

Do people really look this dignified when they sleep?  I'm pretty sure I look like a heroin addict.

Could there be any connection here?  I don't have any definitive proof, but I'd say a stiff pillow is a far more likely explanation than a cancerous growth inside my skull.

Again, I can't give a 100% certain answer, but part of dealing with anxiety is learning to trust in the logical instead of the catastrophic.  Yes, I know, that's WAY easier said than done.  I still worry that I have ALS when I wake up with my arm asleep, despite the fact that I've been out for 9 hours and my shoulder has lines running through it reminiscent of a first-year art student's shitty art deco project.  Part of the solution is learning to effectively identify triggers.  If something is a trigger once, it's probably gonna be a trigger forever.  I say that, and maybe therapy can help.  I haven't had the chance to tackle that yet.  If so, let me know in the comments.  But it's better to er on the side of caution.  Another part is common sense: stay off of that tiny elevator, and refrain from eating that chicken that's been sitting on the counter for 5 hours.  If your anxiety leans towards certain fears, adjust accordingly, and you'll be exceptionally better off for it.

Also, if you ever encounter a show called "Monsters Inside Me", RUN TO THE GODDAMN HILLS.

I'll leave you with a relaxing song.  Enjoy.





Monday, February 10, 2014

The Cure

I can't tell you how many times I've came across this statement in some shape, form, or fashion:

How do you cure anxiety?

You see it on message boards all the time; poor souls looking for the cure.  The way back to normal.  The magical cocktail of medication & hand holding that will bring you back to your former, better self.  The time before the Satanic panic-demon took you on your first fiery sleigh-ride to Pants-shitting-opolis.  Population: you.

It's the dream that we all have, I suppose.  Getting a few hours to spend again on that day before your initial descent.  I'd gladly go back to mine, all drunk & tan.  I'd probably tell myself to go eat a salad & get some sleep.  Also, I'd tell myself to invest in the Zynga company (FarmVille), cause what's a hypothetical time travel scenario without a bit of system play?  Right now I'd be driving a Maserati through Greece with 4 beautiful supermodels whose names I could only pronounce via burping.  And I'd get a labordoodle.  Rich people love designer dogs.

Well, the truth of the matter is that there is no cure.

I feel that I should say that, if you're reading this and you're new to the wonderful world of anxiety disorders, I'm sorry I ruined your week.  Go look at pictures of labordoodles, you'll feel better afterwards.

People need to feel that they're in control.  We don't like our job?  We get a new one.  Cable provider sucks?  Call em, chew em out, and switch to satellite.  Even with our health, we can run 5 miles a day and foolishly follow the Atkins diet straight into the mouth of a myocardial infraction.  Bacon is pretty amazing.


Don't be fooled by the cuteness; he knows his destiny is to become a BLT.


There are things that we cannot control.  We try to predict the weather, but how many times do we get rain during a trip to the pool?  And that $75 license you bought last month for McAffee Super Spybuster 2014?  It's not always gonna catch that worm, and you're gonna end up with 16 popups per second from LiveJasmine.com.  Hope your children are ready to be seduced... Cyber Seduced.

This is the greatest thing ever captured on film.  And here's a review for it.

When an anxiety disorder first manifests, somewhere in that initial confusion, we begin to look for answers.  That's good, because any progress is better than nothing.  Except that we're asking the wrong questions; we want to get better.  We want to fix the thing that's causing us so much trouble.  And when we hear from those who have been there before us that there isn't a fix?  It's almost too much to bare.

Some people just shut down.  Some refuse to believe it and look for any possible remedy.  Me?  Fuck, I just kept drinking.  I was fairly certain I was dying anyways.  Might as well have fun while I was doing it.

If I was having fun, this man was a living, breathing DZ Discovery Zone.

Yet, we keep on.  Eventually, everyone comes out of the fog.  Whether that fog is twinged with denial, regret, anger, etc., is up to the individual.  Mine was clouded with carelessness.  

And when we do, we can start moving on.  We can learn how to live with this "new normal."  It's gonna have its challenges, like everything, but humans are adaptable, if nothing else.  And, hey, some injuries/diseases even have their perks.  Getting smashed in the face with a broadsword probably hurts like a bitch, but chicks dig scars.  Our scars can't be seen, but they're there when a song reminds you of a particularly anxious night, or when you have to explain to someone why you can't smoke a marijuana cigarette with them anymore.  

Truthfully, I don't know where I was going with that last line.

Someone earlier today posted a thing on AskReddit concerning how others "recovered" from chronic anxiety or depression.  I'll be lazy & paste what I said in response:



"It's not so much a matter of recovering in the sense of being cured as it is a matter of learning to live with it. Anxiety isn't like a broken leg. You can't put it in a cast, take some rest, and BAM! your playing soccer again in 3 months.
Things that affect your mind stay with you. It's a hard truth to swallow, but once you come to terms with it, you can begin to get on with your life.

Now, along with that understanding comes a number of adjustments for healthy living: cut out things that can trigger your anxiety, for starters (alcohol, caffeine, shitty friends, etc.) Take care of yourself; seriously, people don't give exercise & clean eating the praise it deserves. And, most importantly, seek help.

Help can be tricky, because everyone is different. Pills help some people, but they help treat symptoms, not the disease itself. And do NOT self medicate, because that's a cycle that can amplify your problems tremendously. Therapy does wonders. In most cases, that's all you need. And a strong support system. This can be your friends, family, even an online support community.


Anxiety sucks ass, but you don't have to let it define you."









Wednesday, January 22, 2014

passing out pieces

A year ago today, I woke up feeling like my brain was short-circuiting.  I'd come to find out it was an inner ear infection; at the time, I was convinced I was losing all shred of sanity.  It wasn't pretty, and I still have issues from it, but for the most part, normalcy has returned.

Something you guys probably don't know: I am terribly superstitious.  Like, knocking on wood, can't listen to X song on X date, have to eat my food in a specific order to halt Armageddon superstitious.  That being the case, I absolutely dreaded this anniversary.  If something else bad was gonna happen, it would have been today, right?

I slept in, woke up to some Wild! Berry Pop-Tarts, got caught up on Person of Interest, hung with my buddy Bruce, went computer part & guitar shopping, and had some baller Chinese food with the girlfriend.  We watched a documentary on D-Day and dozed off 5 minutes in.  In all reality, it was a pretty damn good day.

Why does "normalcy" seem to entail a certain amount of guilt?  The feeling that you're doing something wrong, and you're gonna be sorry for it?  Not necessarily that I'm being "bad", per se, but that I'm being neglectful of my emotional/mental stability by allowing myself to relax.  If I'm not on my guard at all times, I'm gonna be inflicted with some awful condition and 

bam!  

I'm right back where I was a year ago: balled up on my couch, thinking I was losing my mind, struggling to breathe to a soundtrack of Everybody Loves Raymond.  I lost almost 10 pounds in 2 weeks, convinced that I had a gluten allergy, MS, diabetes, cancer, etc.  2 major, major panic attacks in the span of 5 days, resulting in a retreat back home to camp out with the parents until I got to feeling better.  Less than a month before, I was taking 19 hours in school and working 40+ hours at the hotel.  Now I was figuring out how to pay off my lease so I could prepare to enter an institution.  Because, ya know, I was going fucking crazy.  


210 episodes, 3 plot lines.

Today I couldn't stop thinking about the benefits of a 5-string Fender P-Bass and what kinda seasoning I should pick up for the pork chops I'm cooking on Friday.  And the fact that I've gained 20 pounds since I've been dating B.

The anxious part of my brain refuses to give up the hold it's had on my psyche for the last year.  It tells me that feeling okay is, in fact, not okay.  And that that is where problems come from.

"You are special.  You can't think, act, speak, rationalize, fraternize, or engage like everyone else.  That's a concession your mind made a long time ago.  Deal with it, you silly little man."

I don't know how to turn it off.  Frankly, there's a part of me that doesn't want to turn it off.  Not completely, anyways.  There's an odd comfort in knowing that my brain has its own special safety net hardwired in that will keep the worst parts of me in check.  

It'd be silly to imagine I'm the only person that feels this way.  That I'm the only one fighting the battle between serenity & trepidation.

Also, go see American Hustle. 


Someone, somewhere has, in fact, fapped to this.


  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

mr. fancy pants & his expensive britches

Guys.

I'm sorry.

I haven't wrote anything since Thanksgiving, I believe.

Things have been busy.  In a good way.

But,

I'm getting my computer back, MY computer, so I'll have far more opportunity to write when the mood strikes me.

Until then, enjoy this totally sissy photo of me from Christmas.


HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

i can't be on the last train home

Earlier this week, I heard the news about Ian Watkins, former lead singer for lostprophets.  If you're unaware of the situation, you can read about it here.  Be forewarned: it's not for the squeamish.  At all.

I used to be a massive lostprophets fan.  In high school, I would blare Start Something in my Camry most mornings, along with Switchfoot's The Beautiful Letdown and Finch's What It Is To Burn.  When Liberation Transmission came out, I'm pretty sure I didn't take it out of my CD player for at least 3 months.  I still catch myself singing "Can't Stop, Got a Date with Hate" at random times til this very day.  Truth be told, they've influenced a lot of my heavier songwriting.

So, when the news broke about Watkins, I was stunned.  Then I got sick.  This is a guy who sung some of my all-time favorite songs.  And now he's tarnished forever.  I'm trying to decide of all their music is worthy of the same contempt.  I tried watching the video for "Rooftops" last night and I just could not fucking do it.

As a few days have went by, that sickness as turned into terror.  Not for Watkins or his victims (though there are plenty of emotions there, I assure you), but for the rest of lostprophets.  Honestly, we have no clue at this point if they knew what he was up to.  I genuinely doubt that they were entirely oblivious, but I'm sure we'll find out in time how culpable they are.  Apparently he'd distanced himself from the rest of the band years ago, and there were many instances throughout his career where fans, girlfriends, etc., warned authorities about his tendencies.  It's not like this came as a complete shock to anyone involved.  How could it?

The reason this scares me is this: one man's actions has potentially ruined the careers of a number of highly talented individuals.  As a musician, this scares the living piss out of me.  You join a band with your friends, sometimes people you've just met, and you set out to play kick-ass music and take over the world.  If you're good, you can do it for a living.  These guys, their livelihood depended on lostprophets.  And now that name is forever trashed.  How do you come back from that?  They'll always be known as "those guys from lostprophets".  Even if they really had no clue Watkins was a sick bastard, they're always gonna carry around that stigma.  Is that fair?  Hell no.

We often see cases where individuals with significant power step down from organizations in response to scandals & other jacked up situations, regardless of whether or not they had anything to do with it.  They might move on to other things, but they'll always wear that scarlet letter.  Same with lostprophets.  They'll go out, start other projects, may even be successful.  But in the back of everyones' minds, they're gonna be a bit weary.

I hope, beyond all hope, that I never place a similar plight.  It sucks majorly that one of my favorite childhood bands is, for all intents and purposes, dead.  And my heart goes out to anyone who has been hurt by Watkins.  But I can't help but feel like his bandmates are entirely overlooked victims of his crimes.  They'll suffer in silent, and hopefully keep on doing what they're good at.  What else can they do?

Oh well.  At least we still have one badass band from the U.K. that can do no wrong.

This makes me wanna throw out my back attempting a spinkick.



Thursday, November 14, 2013

GHUN GHUN

I can't write at the moment.  I wan't to, but honest to God, I can NOT pull myself away from watching Law & Order: SVU.  What the hell is it with this show?  It doesn't help that USA plays it 31 hours a day.

Nope.  No sleep tonight.  You gotta find out who cut that Russian hooker's fingers off.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bigger Things

Today has been a garbage day.  I need about $200 that I do NOT have, and there's no way I can get it until next weekend.  On top of that, I've twerked my neck again (no, not that kind of twerked), and I'm on a constant regimen of ibuprofen and pathetic whining.

BUT I've decided that I'm not gonna complain about all that.  This blog has made such a negative turn since I first started.  Therefore, I want to write something... nice.

It's hard sometimes.

My anxiety has subsided considerably lately.  Thank God.  But when it acts up, there are a number of things I like to do to calm myself down.  I'm certain everyone has their own methods.  So, here's my top ten:

-Take a long, long shower.  One with atmosphere, not just an awkward session in a bathroom.  Lord knows I had enough of those when I was a teenager.  That's a lie; I had my own bedroom.  Hiyo!  I'll light a candle, turn the overhead lights out, play some Zero 7 on Pandora, and plop down in the bottom of the tub.  Give me 45 minutes to an hour and I'm usually right as rain.  And don't call it gay.  It's totally not gay.  Also, that's the only gay joke you'll ever hear out of me.

-Music.  I can't do happy, poppy stuff when I'm freaking out, contrary to what people have advised me to do for years.  I tend to go for instrumental, chill stuff.  The Album Leaf (who I've written about on here before), Jon Hopkins, B. Fleischmann, Caia, This Will Destroy You, FC Kahuna, Telepopmusik, Air, Saxon Shore, Boards of Canada, etc.  Sometimes I'll be lazy and just turn on some Christian radio.  I prefer stuff without lyrics, but it's so damn happy, it's kinda hard not to enjoy it.

-Drive.  Particularly late at night.  If I'm really pent up, I'll just hop in my Tahoe (edit: tank) and go.  I've lost hours listening to talk radio while trying to find new ways to get from point A to B.  Be warned on the talk radio, however: if you listen to the wrong thing, you're gonna have a bad time.  I once almost ran my truck into the back of an ice cream truck because of Sean Hannity's soul-crushing right-wing radio dribble.  I do this even when I'm not anxious; it's just a great way to get out and collect your thoughts.  And I feel terrible for those poor people that have issues operating a vehicle with their anxiety.  Being cooped up inside drives me nuts.  Leading to...

-Shopping.  Yeah, it's weird.  But if I'm keyed up, I'll head to the mall.  Most people feel worse surrounded by people.  I'm the opposite.  I lived alone for a while, and I wasn't crazy about it at all.  I get lost in all the smells and sounds, looking at things that I have no business buying.  And how can you feel bad in the presence of Auntie Anne's?  I'm pretty sure that place smells like an angel baby's hair.  Also, if I start to absolutely lose my shit and pass out (oh god oh god oh god), someone will surely help me out, right?

-Cook.  You'd be hard pressed to find a distraction that encompasses so many senses.  Focusing on a recipe while cutting and measuring and simmering, getting to smell something awesome and hear the sizzle of a pan, what's not to like?  Obviously, I can't do anything too terribly complicated, because I'll end up making some monstrosity dinner that sends me directly to the bathroom floor, and that's doesn't help matters at all.  The only real drawback to this is, I lose my appetite when I'm anxious, so eating is something of a chore.  That's why they invented Tupperware.

-Sex.  Heh.

-Video games.  Honestly, I'm picky about this one.  If you give me something like Call of Duty when I'm anxious, I'll tell you to piss off.  Small, simply puzzle games work wonders, however.  Or anything on my cell phone.  I logged days worth of time in Real Racing 3 on my Galaxy, until they revamped the whole system in an attempt to pull in ridiculous money from its users.  Also, Hamster Ball.

This poor guy's entire life is a panic-driven nightmare.

-Call my parents.  If you keep up with this blog, you probably know that my folks aren't too aware of my ongoing issues.  In a lot of ways, that sucks.  When I'm feeling bad, however, it can be kinda awesome.  When I give them a call, it's like I'm speaking to someone in an alternate universe; one where I'm not some sad, anxious kid, but a normal ass son.  We have normal ass conversations, and things seem right with the world, for a bit.  And it really makes me appreciate how awesome it is to be close to your family.

-Chamomile tea.  Dude.  I've you've never tried chamomile to calm your nerves, you are missing out.  Last week, my girlfriend called me, saying she wasn't feeling all the great (she's been dealing with a considerable amount of bullshit at her job.)  I told her to take a long shower and drink a cup of tea.  The next day, she called and said, "Thanks for warning me about that chamomile.  I thought it'd chill me out, not knock me out like a bullmoose."  Whoops.

I'll remember that the next time you try making me watch "Hocus Pocus."  Fuck everything about that movie.

-Sleep.  I mean, have you been to sleep before?  Do you know how glorious it is?  It's time allotted every single day where people get to rest & don't have to worry about being bored.  We can dream crazy shit about turning into Batman, but we still look the same, and saving that checkout guy at IGA from a burning taco truck but he turns into a large piece of PVC pipe and I'm suddenly a dog.  That happens every single night.  And we question the existence of God?  Why wouldn't this blessed period come from a divine being that loves us?  When anxiety is involved, it's essentially a "get out of jail free" card.  11 pm and you're head feels funny?  Fuck you, panic, I'm gonna go turn into a helicopter and have sex with cabbage, and it will make sense.  I've told people before that one of the only advantages to having panic attacks is that, after having a particularly bad day, you will sleep like a Roman chariot champion upon a bed of goose feathers and double-D boobs.  Tell me I'm not right.

And that's it.  What about you guys?  Anything in particular that you do to combat the demons?

For the love of God, someone please leave a comment.