Archive for August 2013

Why I'm Stressed...But Dancing in the Kitchen Helps

I am stressed.

I won’t go into all the reasons.  But there are lots of reasons.
Besides being bipolar, I also have generalized anxiety disorder.  Usually the bipolar disorder takes center stage, but sometimes the anxiety jumps into the spotlight.  Like now.

It’s just been one thing after another.  A few things that I’ve taken personally.  A few things that have simply been irritating.  In the end, lots of few things that have caused me to be rather irritable and snappy.  I’ve called Andy a few names.  (I never mean it.  I always apologize.  I love you, Andy.)  The dogs barking at every blessed thing out the window doesn’t help. The “MOMMY!”  “MOMMY!”  “MOMMY!”  doesn’t help.  I’ve been uptight.  


A basket case.

There are just so many things on my mind right now…mostly dealing with the future.  And fear.  It really boils down to fear.  What if things don’t work out the way I’m envisioning them?  What if all this work is for nothing?  What will people think?
Right now I am probably in a mixed state.  This has been going on for the past few days.  It’s like I’m restless with this neverending energy, yet at the same time, I’m exhausted.  It’s weird.  It’s anxiety.

So what do I do?  

I try to sort out my brain…go through one problem at a time and attempt to resolve it.  When I try to organize everything into compartments, I feel better.  Better than when it’s a giant, jumbly mess in my head.

I take deep breaths.  I inhale deeply and exhale for a long time.  I look around and appreciate the pretty trees and the fresh air I’m breathing.

I spend time in the garden.  I pick tomatoes and just take in the scent – of the dirt, the leaves, the tomatoes.  I love it.
 I take bike rides and listen to my music and sing and dance.  (I can’t really get my whole body into it, but I can do some intense shoulder dancing.  The cornfields don’t judge.)  I love the breeze blowing through my hair and grazing my face as I ride.  I love the serene surroundings I’m taking in, the sun coming up, old barns (my favorite), wildflowers along the side of the road.  This all helps to melt my stress away, if only temporarily.

I play with my kids.  We snuggle when watch movies like Dumbo and talk about the animals and the sad parts.  We read books.  We play with blocks and color with sidewalk chalk.  We bake brownies or cookies or muffins.  We paint.  We color.  We take bike rides.  We dance in the kitchen.  I love it when we dance.

Playing with my kids is the best stress reliever.

It really is.  I forget about everything else.  And looking at them, I realize all the issues on my mind are really not that important.  Kids don’t have a care in the world.  They’re happy-go-lucky and just want to play.  Have fun.  And that’s what I should focus on more.

My worries aren’t the end of the world.  It will all be okay.  Life is just too short!  I have to remind myself of that more often.  Maybe I’ll tattoo it on my body.  Hmmm…for real!

The point is, yeah, I’m stressed out right now, but I have to let it go.  I have to focus on all the amazing blessings in my life.  We will encounter challenges and obstacles in life.  Things that will test our patience and sanity.  We just have to be strong enough to pass these tests and realize that everything will be okay.  

When the perfect song comes on while I’m riding my bike, when I take in a beautiful sunrise, when I draw hearts and stars on the sidewalk with my children, I’m not thinking about my stress.  I’m thinking that everything will be okay.  And it will.  I know it will.

In the end, everything will be okay.

Dear 17-Year-Old Self

I am 34 years old.  Looking back, I’ve done a lot of dumb stuff.  

Made mistakes.  Collected regrets.  

Live and learn.  

But if I could, what would I tell my 17-year-old self, now that I am twice that age?

Dear 17-Year-Old Self,

Stop worrying about how you look.  You look great.  You will come to accept your nose (most days) and you will learn to love your body (most days), even after you’ve used it to grow two babies.  Even though it might not look as good as “before” kids, just knowing what it’s been through, especially when you look at your children, will make you love it even more.  Eventually looks will become less important, and it’s liberating when that starts to happen.  How you look is not nearly as important as how you act, treat others, and treat yourself.

Don’t freak out over not knowing what you want to be when you grow up.  Everything will fall into place, even though you will become very impatient.  Just keep persevering and try to have a positive attitude, even though that doesn’t come naturally to you.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  You’ll get there.
Don’t get a credit card.  Ever.  

Even though you are completely turned off by the idea of marriage and children, somewhere down the road the idea of both will appeal to you.  Try not to become too jaded before this happens.  Keep an open mind when it comes to these things.  That way, when the opportunity presents itself, you won’t run for the hills.  You will hang around to see what happens.  When you find your gut telling you, ‘This is the one!’ don’t talk yourself out of it or convince yourself this can’t possibly be the right man for you because marriage isn’t for you.  Don’t push him away or break his heart.  He is the one.  Let him love you.

Don’t use a tanning bed.  Ever. 

Don’t beat yourself up too badly after every night of blacked-out binge drinking.  At the time, it will always feel like the end of the world.  And sometimes you’ll think it really is.  But trust me, this will all happen for a reason.  If you don’t go through all this and finally hit rock bottom, you won’t end up with a story to tell.  And a book deal.  And in the end, you will have both.

Don’t smoke.  Ever.

Stop being so afraid to face what you know deep down is true.  You know something’s not quite “right” with you.  You know you get unusually depressed for no apparent reason, and you know you become too happy sometimes.  And it doesn’t make sense.  You’ve felt this way for as long as you can remember, and you think maybe it’s just your personality.  Except it gets worse and worse…more and more intense…more obvious.  You’re just not ready to face it.  You’re not comfortable or confident enough in yourself yet to admit this.  Going to a psychiatrist at this age seems unfathomable.  You think everyone will think you’re crazy.  Forget about what they think.  Help yourself as soon as you can.  Because you definitely won’t care what they think in a few years anyway.
Break up with that douchebag you date in college long before 3 ½ years of your life go by.

Use protection.  Except for the time when you get pregnant with Adele, because she will turn out to be the best thing to happen to you in life up until that point.  So go ahead and play with fire there.  But otherwise, use protection.

You’ve always wanted to live in a big city – New York, to be exact – but don’t get too bummed out if this dream never manifests.  In the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  You might end up worlds away from NYC, but you might also end up happier than you could ever possibly imagine.  You will surprise yourself.  Right now you can’t picture finding any solace being surrounded by cornfields…
Life has a funny way of working out.  

Break it off with that other douchebag who strings you along for far too long.  It hurts; it really hurts, but he doesn’t care about you.  Another 3 ½ years of your life you’ll never get back.
When it comes to friends, you are a very trusting person.  You trust people until they give you a reason not to.  It sucks, but don’t be so trusting.  Be a little guarded.  You don’t need to throw everything out there to everyone.  There will always be people who use it against you.  People who you thought were friends.  You’ll go through a lot of pretty horrible situations.  But you will come out stronger on the other side.  And you’ll learn something.
In general, don’t stress out.  Try to relax.  Let go.  Enjoy life.  Appreciate the moment.  Dance more.  Sing in the shower more.  Be crazy.  Don’t care about what they think.  Have more confidence.  Be open to love.

And for God’s sake, don’t get that piercing.  Or that other one.

A Humbling Experience at Dollar General

I’m pretty sure the rock bottom of my life just occurred when my check was declined at Dollar General.  

I had a plethora of items, some I was pretty excited about, like energy drinks and air freshener.  (It doesn’t take much for me.)  So I was in line to pay, got up there and gave her my check.  Declined.  What?  I just used a check there like a week ago.  She tried it again.  Declined.  Again.  Declined.  I used one of Andy’s checks he’d given me (he’s a brave man) and it was also declined.  Now by this point, a long line of people had formed behind me, some impatiently tapping their feet, uncomfortably shifting their items in their arms, giving me the death stare.  My face was as red as what I would soon need the Tampax for that I was attempting to buy.  (Oh, get over it.  Women have periods.  Grow up.)  

So in my mind, if their little check machine thingamajig was declining checks from two different banks, wouldn’t you assume that it’s the machine’s fault and not the check’s fault?  Well, I would.  But Dollar General employees would not.  So my bags full of wonderful finds and a few necessities sat at the register, and I asked if they could hold them for a while, thinking I’d go home and get cash from my doting, understanding husband.  The Dollar General lady said they could hold the stuff for basically an hour.  How generous of them.  At this point, another DG employee swept in and abruptly told me she had to cancel my transaction and use the register for other customers.  I weaved my way through the line of ready-to-pay customers, my face bright red, feeling their eyeballs burning into me, judging me.  I pushed my cart away and got the hell out of there where I could breathe again.

I felt humiliated, disappointed, pissed…I called Andy, who got way more pissed than I was.  He dropped several f-bombs and said he was going to go to Dollar General and “talk to them.”  I begged him not to.  Still, he ranted and raved about it the whole night.
I went to two stores after that and used checks with no problem.  This angered me even more.  I wanted to stop back in Dollar General with my purchases from Chief and Family Dollar and, like a low-budget redneck version of Pretty Woman, show them I’d spent my money elsewhere.  But instead I drove home and wistfully wondered what might have been had I been able to purchase that Sunflowers and Sunshine air freshener from Dollar General.

At the time of the “incident,” I felt like taking all of my aggression out on my punching bag.  By the time I got home, though, I was pretty much over it.  I wanted to take a walk.  The kids were at my parents’, so Andy and I took a long walk and talked.  He, as I said, was not over it, and angrily spouted off about it for a while until I reassured him that it was not the end of the world.  Things like that happen to everyone once in a while.  It was a humbling experience.  I survived.  I won’t shop there anymore, but I survived.  I actually find it quite funny now.  So a bunch of people in line at Dollar General think I’m poor white trash who can’t afford to buy my Tampax.  Well, it’s true.  So what?  It’s funny.  Life is funny.  This gave me another story to tell.  It’s all good.

Although…I did send a nastygram to Dollar General…and felt a whole lot better.  

I Have Nothing.

Writer’s block.

I hate when it happens.  I don’t know why it happens.  I’m trying to find the cure.

There is not a creative spark in my being.  Nothing inspires me.  I have to write.  I have to.  But nothing.  I have nothing.

I pace around the house, desperately hoping something will come to me, something will fly into my brain and trigger an amazing idea, but…nothing.


I’m not particularly depressed, I’m just blank.  Completely blank.  I have no ideas, no creativity.  How do I get it back?

I go for a bike ride, thinking the release of endorphins or scenery along the way will produce at least a thought that I can turn into a piece of writing.  I love the feeling of the breeze on my face, of the smell of the cornfields and freshly cut grass.  I gaze at the spacious farm houses surrounded by so much open land, and dream of living there one day.  I stare at the wildflowers along the road, in hues of purple, yellow, and white, visited by the occasional butterfly.  I love the open road, and looking up at the cloud formations in the sky.  I feel at peace.  I am at peace, but still…


I still have no writing ideas.

I come home and listen to some music, thinking maybe a song or lyric might grab me in some way and inspire me to write.  No.  I am still blank.  I’m starting to get frustrated.  Why am I not inspired?  Where is that spark that I so need in order to do what I was meant to do?  Sometimes it’s there, and it’s there in a big way, in a way I can’t even keep up with.  And other times, like now, it’s nowhere to be found.  It’s hiding.  Where, I don’t know…and how to get it back…that’s the question.

I’m pretty sure every writer experiences this.  I know I’m not alone here.  I’d like to know how other writers get themselves out of this, if there are any tricks or methods that I haven’t tried yet.  I’ve tried a lot.  I’ve Googled and tried everything the articles said to do.  I’m wondering if it’s just, like a wave of depression, something you have to ride out.  It will pass.  I’ll still work on it and try to figure it out, but I have confidence in knowing that I will feel that spark once again soon.

If you go through this, I want to know what you do to fix it.  I’d love to hear about it.  I can’t wait to be inspired again.  Because now, I am inspired by…


But, wait.  Nothing is what this blog entry is about, so I guess that’s something, right?  I’m writing about writer’s block, but I’m still writing.  Plus…I went to the psychiatrist today and asked if I can interview her for my blog.  She said yes!  So I already have a new blog topic lined up.  I also told her about the blank feeling, and she made some an adjustment with one of my prescriptions.  So I’m hopeful that the creative spark will come back.  So what am I worried about?


About Me

I have an MA in literature from Eastern Michigan University and I write a couple of regular columns for The Delphos Herald. I am the mother of two young girls, and the wife of a firefighter. I am also bipolar (with generalized anxiety disorder) which somewhat accounts for my occupied mind. I rely on sarcasm the way others rely on oxygen.
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