The Joy of Panic Attacks

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On the heels of my first really hardcore panic attack in months, I feel the need to write it out. A lot goes through my mind in a short amount of time, and not a lot of it is great. In fact, most of it is scary, negative, and full of regret.

If you've never had a panic attack, let me break it down a little bit for you. Basically, your body goes into panic overdrive--adrenaline rush, fight or flight against yourself, and you have nowhere to go. Your heart pounds, your body tingles, you shake uncontrollably, you fight nausea, you have this overwhelming sense of doom, and your mind goes nuts thinking that your body is about to die. And if your body dies, what happens to your mind? Even falling asleep is scary because your body feels like it's slipping away from your mind, but sleep is exactly what I need most of the time a panic attack hits.

Maybe that doesn't sound too horrible, and right now, separated from the feelings, I can tell myself a thousand different things I could have done better. But in the middle of a panic attack, it's so hard to tell your body to calm itself, that nothing is wrong, because I just can't trust my body anymore to tell me if it's actually something serious or if I'm just essentially faking it because I'm stressed.

It's a scary situation to find yourself in. If you can't trust your body to tell you what's going on, what can you do?

I suppose I can trust my body. So far, the record is panic attacks 100%, other serious illnesses 0%. I know most of my triggers, so I try my best to take care of those things throughout the day so I don't purposely put myself in harm's way. But sometimes we get comfortable. Sometimes I learn a new trigger. Things happen and change and evolve, and I just have to go with the flow. Unfortunately, change seems to be a trigger, so I need to tread that water carefully.

The problem with last night's panic attack is that my whole body went into 'what if the depression comes back' mode and started to fight that, which only recreated the emotions and physical sensations I felt last summer when I went through that whole debacle. For a half hour or so, maybe longer, last night, I was panicking over the possibility of the depression returning because I could feel it wrapping its tight grip around my bones. It was terrifying.

The depression strips me of ME. And it leaves the new me angry, sad, with no way out of my skin to find the rest of ME. The overwhelmingly uncomfortable feeling of not caring enough about life to want to stay here (because what's it all for anyway?) creeps in while ME is still in there and threatens to take over. ME doesn't feel strong enough to fight that, even after months of happiness or no panic. Because that doesn't matter. The imbalance hits no matter what's going on in life.

But that can be prevented through eating right and exercising, both things I haven't really been holding up my on end of the deal. Of course I'm still vegan, but I haven't been eating nearly enough fruit these days. Mostly rice and beans. Not enough water, and definitely NOT enough exercise. I've been working through new scheduling processes for work, so I am finding more and more time for myself, which is awesome. But in that free time, I want to write, relax, or snuggle puppies. I don't want to run or lift weights or do anything where my heart starts pumping too fast because that's a trigger (since that's part of a panic attack's symptoms).

However, I NEED to take better care of myself. If I want to be here for a good, long while, I need to eat right, de-stress, exercise, get some sun, sleep enough, and breathe. I need to stop worrying so much about a future that isn't guaranteed. I need to be in a better place mentally, spiritually, physically. But I need to take it one day at a time. It's all I have, so it's all I can conquer.

Taking a few deep breaths this morning to honor the journey. <3

#MeatlessMonday - Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Monday, July 28, 2014

Today's recipe was a hit at the vegan BBQ we went to yesterday. We ate carrot hot dogs, lentil burgers, corn, quinoa salad, hummus, grilled potatoes/mushrooms/sweet potatoes/asparagus, brownies, pie, cookies, and more.



I didn't take a photo of the potato salad, but I promise it's as good as it sounds. Yum yum yum. Let me know if you try it!!

Loaded Baked Potato Salad


Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed into bite-size pieces
  • ¾ cup soy-free Vegenaise
  • ¾ cup Tofutti sour cream
  • 1 bag of Beyond Meat grilled 'chicken' strips, chopped into small pieces and lightly pan fried to make a little crisp with some oil, sea salt, and black pepper
  • 5-6 oz. Daiya cheddar style shreds (the bag is 8 oz. use a little less than the full bag)
  • ⅓ cup chopped scallions (green onion)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the potato pieces to cool water. TIP: When boiling potatoes, don't add the potato to already boiling water or the outside will cook through before the inside is cooked. Add a little sea salt and a splash of vinegar. Vinegar helps to prevent the potato pieces from falling apart as they cook. 
  2. Bring to a boil and cook until cooked through, but still firm. Usually about approx. 10 minutes after they start to boil. Pull out one piece and test when you think it's getting close.
  3. Strain the potatoes and add to a large enough mixing bowl. 
  4. Add in the other ingredients and mix thoroughly but gently as to not smash the potato pieces.

Works great served hot or cold. Enjoy!

Anxiety!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I'm entering territory I haven't explored before--a scheduled day off. My plan (because I just can't help it) is to have my phone and laptop turned off, go see a movie with my husband, and binge-watch Supernatural or some other movies on Netflix. Let me tell you...I cannot wait.

I'm so excited for a day where I don't have anything to do that my anxiety is in overdrive. Holy shit, y'all. I am so terrified that I'm going to die before Saturday comes around! That's what my anxiety does. We just ate dinner, and now I'm full and a bit thirsty, so I'm obviously going to die from food poisoning from something in the food and dehydration. My head is a little achy from everything I've done these last few days and being in the car with my glasses on, so I obviously have a brain tumor. And then these thoughts cause my heart rate to increase, so I'm obviously having a heart attack.

UGH.

I don't know how to turn it off. It sounds so irrational, but my fear of dying before fill in the blank (I finish this manuscript, I get a day off to enjoy for myself, my dinner plans with friends in two weeks, etc.) takes over sometimes and I just can't shake it.

Most of the time, I just tell myself that there isn't anything I can do about it if I'm about to die. I can't stop it now. So then I wonder if there is something I can do in the future to avoid feeling this shaken up or letting my thoughts run so far ahead of themselves. I have to eat. I have to work. And I can't stop thinking. It's all hard for me to balance.

Then I get stressed out with my dogs. I love them so hard, but G needs way more attention than she did five months ago when we got her because she's healthier now. I schedule really packed, full days, so I don't have the time to throw her ball for fifteen minutes eight times a day. I'd love to, but that's not how it works around here right now. And then we're still working on her overprotective behavior around food, so I have to keep an eye on them when they eat. It's overwhelming for me.

But she's cute and hard to resist. :) 

All of those toys and she needs me to throw them all day... LOL.

So I breathe deep, shake it out, talk it out with my husband, and wish the stomach pains away (since the stress causes that too sometimes). Mostly, I know that this means that I need more time to myself. I need to schedule less work so I can have more me time, more time to spend with my dogs and husband, more time to write these books floating around in my head, etc. I have so much I want to do, but I do everything for everyone else. So these new scheduling policies have really helped, and Tiffany has been an incredible addition to my life. I'm super thankful for everyone who's worked with me to make these changes so that some time off is not so exciting that I'm scared I'll pass away before it comes around. Haha!

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love editing and working with my authors. They all rock SO hard, and I wouldn't be working at home, able to complain about having to throw my dog's ball all the time if it weren't for them. I just worry about EVERYTHING. And I don't want to die any time soon. That's all it boils down to. Haha!

I feel better now that I got a lot of that out. I still have some stuff I want to do tonight so that I can spend some of tomorrow doing absolutely nothing too. Although that's bound to give me some anxiety too. So stay tuned. LOL! <3


The Birth Control Debate

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I try really hard to stay positive and upbeat all the time, but I cannot turn a blind eye to this birth control debate. As much as I want to, since it really doesn't concern  me, I just can't sit back and keep quiet.

Honestly, this doesn't have much to do with the Hobby Lobby ruling and all that. I haven't truly kept up with much of it, so I won't lie there. My understanding is that the Supreme Court is allowing Hobby Lobby to not cover Plan B pills for their employees. Whether or not this is okay (in anyone's opinion) is not at all the point of my blog post. Birth control itself is at the center.

First, I'll say that this isn't about Plan B. I've never taken it, so I have no idea about it. And if you haven't yet read my blog posts from last year when I was going through detox of birth control pills, specifically Yaz, you can catch up here and here if you'd like. The first one is "my story" and the second one is right before it when I could barely even talk about it. But to sum it all up, I lived through one of the worst summers of my entire life. I went through things I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies (although, from me, that isn't saying much because I wouldn't wish a hangnail on anyone either, but you get my point). I lost so much hair, went through horrible depression for weeks, suffered from (and continue to deal with) anxiety and panic attacks, etc. All from stopping my birth control pills.

And you know what? Doctors didn't help me.

They shoved MORE pills at me, not bothering to treat the source of anything, just wanting to cover up the symptoms. Some thought I probably needed to eat meat because I was a vegan. One even suggested that I just go back on the pill. Right, because I was so pleased with what it had done to me that I wanted to get back on it only to perhaps go through the terrible detox again? Okay.

When I first started experiencing the symptoms, I was beyond terrified that I was going to die. Everything felt that serious. But when I Googled it, I found that so many other people were going or had gone through the same thing I was after stopping Yaz, and a lot of them hadn't taken it as long as I had. That really scared me.

Not to mention, I'm sure we've all seen the commercials on TV about Yaz, Yazmin, and Ocella birth control pills and the lawsuits against them. I'm one of those who needed their gallbladder removed while on the pill, and even with everyone who filed against them, they denied that there was enough medical correlation to pay out on those cases. Y'all, I had an organ removed from my body. Now, I didn't exactly eat the best, but I don't find it to be a coincidence.

My point is that I see all of this fighting about whether or not Obamacare, the US, and employers should provide healthcare coverage for birth control pills for their employees and citizens when we should actually be questioning whether or not we should be taking them in the first place. Seriously. Do some research. Look into what you want so badly to take so you don't have a baby, don't get acne, or don't gain weight. We need to take some responsibility for our health and sexual lives instead of relying on a pill that's wreaking havoc on our bodies and calling it 'freedom.'

I was on your side before. I thought I was doing the right thing. But I wasn't. I made the wrong choice and paid greatly for it. My life will never be the same because of it. A year later, I'm STILL working around the effects of the pill I took for years without question. I got off of them because I started acting accountable for my own health. I suggest everyone start doing the same.

Please stop fighting over whether or not we have to provide this pill to young women. Start looking into whether or not we as young women should be taking that pill at all.

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