‘But It Is One Thing To Read About Dragons And Another To Meet them.’ Ursula K. Le Guin

I have Panic Disorder What is Panic Disorder?

From my very first panic attack to my most recent this morning

They all share the same premise

My fear is that I’m going to go crazy

Which to me looks like

Being stuck in a permanent state of panic attack

Where my breath is not deep enough

Everything sounds too far away

I feel nauseous and queasy

My mind is racing

My heart beating too fast

My tears won’t stop coming

I feel afraid

I feel discouraged

And I feel like it’s all never going to end

I know people say shit like this all the time

But I truly wouldn’t wish this on anyone

It’s such an overwhelming feeling and sensation

That it just takes over every part of your life

Life becomes all about navigating panic attacks

What can I do to avoid them?

What triggers them?

What makes me feel better when I have one?

When will they stop?

Why me?

I won’t lie

I get really stuck in the last two

I’ve been thinking the same thing since I was 18

What the fuck did I do so badly that I had to get stuck with this?

Negotiating on what I can do better to make them stop

Its actually kinda funny that between MS and Panic attacks

I’d actually rather have MS

I’ve never thought about that before

Even writing it out sounds preposterous

But it’s the truth

MS with all its pain, difficulties, uncertainties and tribulations

I’d rather be stuck with you

Then experience even one more panic attack

I’m sure to people who’ve had the good fortune to never have had a panic attack

That sounds silly

But here’s the thing

While MS certainly fucks with your vision, your mobility and so much more

It does not trick you into believing your worst nightmare

It doesn’t dupe you into thinking you’re dying

It simply is what it is

Your immune system attacking your myelin

It’s as scientific as it is shitty

It’s not curable but it’s explainable (altho the exact reason why it occurs is still a mystery)

Panic disorder on the other hand

Is a lying, manipulative, twisted motherfucker

Who will do whatever it takes to fuck with you

Yeah maybe that’s giving it too much power

But how can I not when it’s been responsible for so much negativity in my life?

In my own father’s life?

Growing up I saw the hold it had on my dad

I saw how much he tried to resist it

How he couldn’t

How he still can’t

Sure people tell me I’m not like him

My doctor included

But we have this huge struggle in common

The one he couldn’t defeat

The one that feels like it’s defeating me

The one that feels like it has a chokehold on us

Maybe our stories are linked

If he defeats it

Then I can too

Or maybe one has no bearing on the other

But I promise

If I can slay this dragon

It’ll be for us both

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‘…In A World Of Ordinary Mortals, You Are A Wonder Woman.’ Queen Hippolyta (Wonder Woman’s Mom)

Struggling to get through today

Hour by hour

Minute by minute

Each second more excruciating than the last

Skin crawling

Head pounding

Eyes straining

This is the part in the movie where the poor guy reaches for his drug of choice

Where the sad woman guzzles her beloved bottle

It’s the climax in a novel

Where emotions soar to dizzying heights

Where nothing can possibly survive at such intensity

Like a car reaching peak speed

Like an addict reaching the height of their high

The moment is suspended in time

When the audience knows a turning point is coming

Watching for the pivotal scene in which the hero sheds his old skin

Where the heroine finally emerges

That’s what happens in movies and books

In real time nothing is ever quite so profound

The moment goes on and on

Stretching uncomfortably long

The hero remains sheathed in weary skin

The heroine hides in her shadows

There’s no audience waiting with bated breath

Rooting for the breakthrough moment

Instead

There’s only a woman looking at herself through a mirror

Waiting

Watching

Begging for a glimpse of the heroine to change the narrative of this story

From another unhappy ending

To one in which she finally gains her superpowers

Project Take Down Paxil 👊

I feel like I should apologize for being MIA lately

But I’m not really sorry

Because it’s for a good reason

It’s for me

Last Wednesday I dropped my Paxil dosage from 40mg to 30mg

I won’t pretend I was totally cool with it

I had a lot of reservations

But I also really wanted to do it

There were some shitty days obviously

Two days when my anxiety spiked to an uncomfortable level and I needed to take more Ativan

Several days where I had dizzy spells that came and went

But I survived

I can tell the following things helped:

Writing affirmations daily

Trying to stay busy

Doing a lot of introspection over the root of my anxiety

Now today I went down to 20mg

Last nite I was really starting to psych myself out of doing this

I kept thinking ‘woah 20 is a big drop from 40’

Then J. reminded me that I was going from 40mg to 20mg

I’ve been on 30mg and am stable there

Now I’m dropping 10mg again

Which I successfully did last week

I needed to hear that

It helped ease my fear

I made him write it out so I could print it

I’ve already reread it a few times

Along with some other affirmations

I need to keep reminding myself that I’ve already dropped 10mg and while unpleasant

I survived it

I’m still safe

I’m still here

And most of all

If I did it once

I CAN most certainly do it again

Changing the narrative helps

Taking the unknown and making it something familiar

Removes the fear

For anyone else out there struggling with anxiety

If I’ve got this

You’ve got this

Hard and uncomfortable as it is

We have what makes people into warriors

I’m going to remember all of the difficult things I’ve been through in my life

I’m scrappy

I am a fighter

Think of everything you’ve survived

I hope you keep fighting

Because I will too

That’s what warriors do

The Odds

I find myself thinking in terms of:

When I get better

For example

When I get better, I’ll change my Paxil

Or

When I get better, I won’t feel so down

Or

When I get better, I’ll finish my degree

The list goes on and on

Sometimes it’s things exciting like travel

More often than not

It’s simple things

Like

When I get better, I’ll go for walks with Joey and my dogs

Ultimately

It always ends with me waiting for a time when I’ll feel better

Always waiting for a time that may never come

Then I think to myself

What if this is as good as it gets?

I mean

Really

And what if it is?

Does that mean I throw in the towel?

Give up

Admit defeat

And then what?

So I started thinking tonight…

And bear with me

This is wild

….

What if I just stop waiting?

…..

Dun dun dun

What if I stop waiting for a future that might never come?

What if I just start living like this is as good as its ever gonna get?

There is something so incredibly freeing about that

It’s difficult when the people around you encourage you to think of how much better things can get

As well intentioned as it is

It just doesn’t help

I’m so fucking sick and tired of waiting

I’m so tired of hoping

Fuck waiting and hoping and wishing

Maybe it’s time that I just start living

For today

I mean…Yeah maybe things will get better

But I just don’t want to waste my time waiting for something that is only possible (What is possible )

I like the odds of probable (What is probable)

It is probable (because there is evidence to support it) that tomorrow I will wake up

And feel as shitty as I do right now

But instead of going back to bed and waiting for a better day

I’ll just keep going

I’ll step out into the world and I’ll still feel shitty

But at least I will have fucking done something

And maybe for this to stick

I’ll have to keep reminding myself every day

That my life deserves a fighting chance

Doesn’t it?

That in order to really live

I need to remove both feet from inside of the grave

Any other way

And it’s just not probable

Radical Self Acceptance

(This was from my MS support group I chaired last week)

Fighting reality only creates suffering. While pain is inevitable in life, suffering is optional. “And suffering is what happens when we refuse to accept the pain in our lives,”

Close your eyes and think about being diagnosed with MS

Think about the difficulties you encountered

Think about the hurt, pain and suffering you’ve experienced because of it

Think about all the medications and treatments you’ve tried

Think about how many times you’ve gotten your hope up for some miracle cure only to be let down

Think about all the time you’ve been angry, depressed or lost because of having MS

Now open your eyes.

Look around

You still have MS

So does everyone else in this room

Nothing has changed

simply because you deny it exists.

It is still there, waiting for you to deal with it.

“When you open yourself up to accepting the present moment precisely as it is, with no judgments, you are free to look at all of those puzzle pieces of the present moment and start to piece them together. “

What if instead of having all of that, you simply decided to radically accept your reality that is having MS?

Acceptance isn’t giving up

It isn’t resigning yourself to the illness

It is simply accepting that whatever is happening is happening

Acceptance is about letting go of the person you thought you were and the life you thought you had and making the most of the one you actually have

Some helpful strategies to practice radical self acceptance:

Acknowledge and learn how to cope with negative thoughts and feelings

Rewrite your story

Find activities that you enjoy

Spend time with the people you love and that make you happy

Note:

I’m not even close to being there yet…but I want to be

‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?’ Winnie the Pooh

Some days the light is so bright that all I can do is immerse myself in it

The pain I usually feel is overwhelmed by the natural beauty the light bestows

Upon me

And all I can do is worship at its sight

Like a pilgrimage to a holy site

I sit in bask in what can only be described as incandescent

The way it heats my face and my body is a reminder of how alive I am in this moment

When I turn away

I am reminded how fleeting beauty can be

And how this moment may not last forever

And there might be a time when I can no longer see the beauty right in front of me

But memories fade and I want proof that this moment existed

I take a picture and write a poem

And hope that something gets imprinted onto my heart

So that I may be able to conjure up these feelings on the days when I just can’t find the light no matter how hard I try

It only looks hopeless when you can’t see an alternative

No matter how hard you try

Even trying on a different perspective for size

Still the hopelessness persists

This is what scares me

I remember during the height of my worst moments with anxiety

Thinking to myself that the rest of my life would be filled with days of panic attacks and days where I waited for the panic to attack

It would never end

That thought still haunts me

Part of the crux of my anxiety is the feeling of being trapped

Not necessarily in the physical sense of the word

But even where situations feel like I cannot control the outcome

Where I cannot extricate myself

Like a panic attack itself

Or being drunk

Or high

Apparently my depression isn’t much different

The darkest cloud hovers when I cannot see a way out of an empty thought, moment or situation

What starts as a fleeting worry morphs

And I begin to think in terms of ‘always’ and ‘forever’

It’s frightening because it feels like even the sanest part of your brain cannot conjure up a tidbit of hope to tide you over

Not even a little breadcrumb for you to follow towards hope

Life is funny that way

It gives you this stadium of life

And throws these curveballs at you

But it doesn’t provide you with the bat, the helmet or protective gear

Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder how some people win

I question the authenticity

Maybe they cheated

And everyone knows

That the games been rigged in their favour

And I’m just not in on the secret