Tag Archives: anxiety

Graduation day

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Today is High School Graduation Day for my Large Fry. Her school has its ceremony at an event hall in Washington, DC. We flew in her 10 years older sister from Chicago. It’s supposed to be a big deal day. But it isn’t.

Yesterday, the senior class had rehearsal in their gym. Hundreds of kids, in an unairconditioned gym, doing what kids do best, being loud and rowdy.

For Lg Fry, crowds and noise are her Kryptonite. Anxiety took a great big hold and said NOPE, no graduation ceremony for you.

I thanked her counselor who helped her not have a complete freak out. We went home and I grabbed the 4 graduation tickets we had and brought them back to school so that they could be used by another family. Those things are like gold. I probably could have scalped them outside the hall today…

Her Dad is disappointed; I can tell. He understands though, like I do, that having her try to do the actual ceremony where a panic attack would be in full view of a couple thousand people is not in anyone’s best interest. Also, she still graduates, she just isn’t walking across a stage to shake the hand of a principal she’ll likely never see again.

Anxiety is a terrible horrible thing that takes you away from people and places and makes life difficult for you and the people who love you. But it is a thing. A real thing. No amount of cajoling will make it go away.

Lg Fry likes to say that sometimes she feels like she has made Anxiety her bitch. That didn’t happen this time and that is OK.

 

Sarcasm Must Be Genetic

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My youngest is 16. She was diagnosed with anxiety in 1st grade and could have been as a toddler if we’d known to look for it. She’s also a smart bunny and a good kid.

Monday afternoon she was going through her binder, rearranging things due to the change of the order of classes in her second semester of 11th grade. She pulled out a paper and said “My creative writing teacher told me this was funny. He said I should write sarcastic essays but I felt like he was laughing at my anxiety.”

“Well, did you write in a sarcastic way? If so, that makes it funny and you can’t complain that someone thinks it is. Can I read it?”

“Don’t laugh at me, ” she says as she hands it over.

I was laughing out loud within a paragraph. I finished it, after several breaks to explain what I specifically found funny.

“You should have a blog. This is great stuff.”

“I’d be too anxious about the people reading it to be able to write anything.”

“What do you think that the Bloggess does? She writes even though she has anxiety and she makes it OK to laugh at things that shouldn’t be funny like rapists on the other side of the door and panic attacks and dead animals.”

I think my Large Fry has captured some sarcasm from me and some writing ability from Jennifer Lawson. This must be what happens when you let your then 12 year old read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.

(The assignment was to write about an accomplishment or something you were proud of.)

Disconnected Venting

I can’t think of what to write. Well, no. I can think of what to write, but nothing’s going well. I get about a paragraph in and I want to delete the whole damn thing. My brain’s fried after winter break and a gratuitous amount of time spent playing video games. So I guess what I’m proud of is being able to write anything at all.

I’m just exhausted. After a nice, relaxing break, we’re slugged in the face by the imminent exams. That’s not what I want after a vacation. Final projects, deadlines, worries over passing, all of these are culminating into one giant mound of stress. Fortunately, the pressure hasn’t really gotten to me yet.

I thought of the concept of “blood raptors” and while this sounds cool, I have no idea what I can write about it. Raptors made of blood? Vampire dinosaurs? Hell if I know. I’ve got ideas and I can’t use them.

I’ve got background stress from my quantitative literacy final project. Basically, we’re figuring out living on our own, based on income from randomly picked jobs. I make less than $2,000 a month as a bus driver, apparently, and I don’t think I can buy a car with that money and still have enough to live. Unfortunately, I can’t live on my bus. Or with my parents.

In game development, the class has been split into two teams to work on making a game. We’re getting half a school quarter to do it. I’m sorry, but organizing these people into various tasks like coding or designing levels sounds impossible. It’ll be like herding cats, and the cats are blind and deaf.

Right now, I just want to lay on a couch and sleep/read, or play video games. School’s important, yes, but so is my willingness to even do anything.

This class is fine. I just utterly loathe the idea of reading my creations out to a classroom full of people I don’t even know. The poems, the stories, those are all mine. I don’t want complete goddamn strangers judging them, and don’t say something like “Oh don’t worry about it!” because worrying is an inherent quality for me. That, and social anxiety amplifies stage fright to result in me having a breakdown at my seat.

There are people who are nice to me, but I’m worried they’re not being genuine and just use me to get help on assignments. Maybe they’re being genuine, but it’s a trope and my anxiety is no help.

I need to check that I’m registered for the Accuplacer, and I’m scared I’ll forget to check, or that I won’t find the people I’m supposed to talk to.

My mind is a mess. All these worries and fears are, unfortunately, burning me out. I can’t wait for finals to be over.

Honestly, I’m proud of this because I wrote and I vented.

The above is from the brain of my kidlet, MFS. Copyright 2016.

 

Felicia Day – You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost)

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I bought Felicia Day’s book You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) while in Chicago while we were visiting our Big Kid. She and I were in a bookstore where I picked up 2 copies and she said “Oh, just let me have yours when you’re done.”

I bought 2 copies.

1

I’m not sure how I became aware of Felicia. I’ve followed her on Twitter for years and I’m pretty sure I knew who she was when the Sears ads came out way long ago. Like, I saw them and was all “Oh, I know that red-haired girl.” but now I haven’t a clue as to why. I know I did appreciate her adorable cameo in the book trailer for Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.

See, adorable.

So, I had to wait a couple of weeks to read her book because I was finishing a couple of other series first. I’m a voracious reader but I prefer reading one book at a time. I’m the type of person who bought the Harry Potter books the morning of release day and said “Mom will be busy for the next few hours, kids, don’t kill each other” and by early afternoon I’d have the book ready to hand off to a kidlet. Yes, I made my kids wait to read the books til I was done.

After starting the book, I realized I didn’t want to inhale it all in one sitting so I only read it while I ate breakfast and lunch so I read about 2 chapters a day. I’m really glad I stretched it out. It’s a great read but it deals with heavy stuff at times.

Along the lines of Jenny’s book, Felicia’s delves into the world of anxiety and social phobia. Both my daughters have anxiety – Big Kid wasn’t diagnosed until she was in high school but Large Fry (she was Small Fry when she was teeny but has asked for 2 size upgrades in her 16 years) would have been diagnosed as a toddler if that had been possible. She’s super bright but not comfortable with crowds and noise. And people in person in general. She wears noise reducing headphones in school so that she doesn’t lose her mind on a daily basis.

As I read Felicia’s book, I saw my daughters. I saw me as well. I wasn’t homeschooled but when you graduate from a school where “…School for the Intellectually Gifted” is on your diploma, you know you belong to a select group of people.

Every day, I’d find things that were a common factor or that caused squeeable moments. Some are below. I don’t think they can be considered spoilers.

  • Perry Mason, although I never read the books, I just liked black and white Raymond Burr.*
  • Mention of a collection of pottery books. I have some, too. Plus some on glass and kitchenware. Vintage dinnerware has basically made me its bitch. Thankful that I sell on eBay & Etsy as otherwise I might end up on an episode of Hoarders.
  • Ultima reminds me of Small Fry who though not a social bunny in public has a group of kids she plays with in assorted online games. She spends a great deal of time in front of her computer but as she’s in the Tech track at school, studying video game design with a desire to study that in college, I don’t complain too much.
  • The talk of a 4.0 in College. Through a string of circumstances,  I became a college Freshman at 45. I wasn’t a math person in high school so knowing that I had to take Statistics = EEK. Then I started getting A’s in my other classes. And then I got an A in Stats class and got on the Dean’s list that semester. I went into it thinking I’d be a mediocre student and then I kicked butt. So, I’m currently a sophomore, in the Honor Society and working hard to keep that 4.0.
  • World of Warcraft. I’m not a gamer per se. I’ve always played quick puzzle games online but then a few years ago I started playing Farmville on Facebook. I got to the point where I’d created to additional FB accounts for our dogs so that I could have other farms to work on. When I realized that I was easily spending hours at a time doing certain “missions”, I stopped cold turkey, deleted all game info from the profiles and blocked the application. Fortunately, I never spent real money on the game, although I did take a ton of surveys…
  • A mention of Trixie Belden, my first book series as a teeny peep. We had 2 of the books that I read over and over again and then I can remember finding and slowly buying the paperbacks that came out in the late 1970’s. I still have the whole set – all 39 books – and find it impossible to not buy any vintage hardcovers that I find. My initial reaction to Felicia’s discussion was to tweet to her that there’s no need for Anne of Green Gables to be a whore. Instead I called the mention a squeeable moment and then another Trixie fan backed me up.

  • Compulsive craftiness. I’m typing this from our sunroom which is also my office. To my right is an IKEA Expedit that is filled with jewelry making supplies, yarn and other assorted stuff. On the other side of that are shelves filled with paper, stamps, dies etc for cardmaking. In the diagonal corner are all the scarves that I stock in my Etsy shop. If Felicia ever finds herself in my part of the USA, she could totally come over and we could get our crafty on.
  • Sleepless in Seattle. One of my favorite movies – I have an original video release poster hanging in my office that I’m looking at as I type. My husband still brings up the awkwardness of the scene where she’s in the road and then the car honks and then she’s back in Baltimore, talking to her friend. I say it’s fine and my husband says it’s a horrible cut.

Moral of the story. Felicia Day has written a wonderful book with something for nearly everyone. You don’t have to be an actor or a gamer to get something positive out of it. Wonder what anxiety can do to a person? This book can help explain it. Do you like a book that will make you laugh and make you cry? Here you go. Do you want to understand what happens when people get attacked by trolls online? Be prepared to get mad. (In the words of Wil Wheaton – “Don’t be a dick.”)

It was a great read for Big Kid who read it immediately. It was a great read for me and I’m sure it will be a great read for Large Fry who I’m handing it off to, for borrowing purposes only. That covers the mid 20’s, mid 40’s and mid teens demographics.

Buy the book, read the book and discover that Felicia is a cooler than you realize chiquita. Follow her on Twitter and subscribe to Geek & Sundry.

*Still waiting to find out how many copies of “The Case of the Singing Skirt” Felicia has received because if she hasn’t received any, I’m totally going to add it to my books that I’m looking for list.

The Bloggess on Anxiety

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This blog post was written by Jenny Lawson / The Bloggess and originally appeared on Oprah.com.

Amelia & Me

When I was young, my family didn’t go on outings to the circus or trips to Disneyland. We couldn’t afford them. Instead, we stayed in our small rural West Texas town, and my parents took us to cemeteries. My sister Lisa and I would run through the sun-scorched lawns, hiding behind the tombstones and marking the largest ones as “safe” or “poison.” We brought out reams of butcher paper and crayons and made rubbings of the tombstones.’ ‘We were dark back before it was cool, basking in a sort of poverty-induced pre-puberty Goth period.

Later—after we’d run out of energy—we’d walk through the graveyard and try to piece together stories. We’d start at the largest, most prominent tombstone (usually a mayor or a town founder) and work our way out, piecing together the lives and deaths of the people who’d once made the town come alive, and from there we’d embellish.

For example: Samuels was a town founder who’d gone through three wives in his long life, but in the end, he was buried next to his first wife, Georgina, whom he’d been married to only a few short years before she died at 22. Her tombstone was larger than those of the other women, with a weeping angel standing watch, and a spot at the top was dark, as if charred.

“Or,” my mom said knowingly, “as if a man had laid his hand there many times over his past 60 years.” “Or,” my father added, “as if hobos used it as an ashtray.”

We walked on to the Smith family plot, about which we made up long and complicated stories filled with imagined scandal and laughter and heartache. In our minds, the oldest son had been an incurable dreamer who died young while attempting to create an early (and painfully unsuccessful) jetpack. The Smith plots were overgrown, though, and it seemed as if the family line had died out—and the only stories still told about them were the ones told by people like us: poor amateur detectives with strong imaginations and no access to cable.

Inevitably, we always ended up with at least one tombstone that didn’t quite fit with the rest. Set off from the others, it bore a last name that didn’t seem to match anyone else’s. There were no special engravings, no “beloved child” or “She is not dead. She only rests.” Instead, there was just a name and, possibly, a date. Those markers always made me the saddest, probably because I identified most with them.

Even at age 10, I already knew that I was different from most people. My anxiety disorder was still years from being diagnosed, but it affected me quite deeply. I was too afraid to speak out in class, too nervous to make real friends. It was always the single, lonely grave that I’d stop at to pull out the weeds and leave wildflowers. In a way, I suppose, I was mourning for myself, for the outgoing, friend-to-all person I would never be. At that young age, I already felt as if I’d always fade into the background. I was terrified of slumber parties, let alone leaving the house. I couldn’t give a book report and, instead, would stand in front of the class laughing nervously without ever uttering a word.

It was during one of our long walks through a cemetery that I found the grave of a girl named Amelia. Her tombstone stood at the edge of the cemetery, apart from any of the others, as if purposely hanging back. She had died in her 30s, and the lettering of her tenure here on earth was worn by 70 years of rain. “Perhaps,” I whispered to myself, “she does have a story. Maybe one so incredible that no one would ever be able to capture it on a simple tombstone. Perhaps she stands out of the way because no one ever came near enough to understanding her. “Perhaps” I said a little louder, “she was a traveling tightrope artist with tattoos that told stories and a throat that spit fire. Perhaps she retired after she fell from the high wire, only to retire here and live quietly. Perhaps she died from a lonely heart, her name on the lips of a dozen men who never had the courage to speak to her. Perhaps she was attacked by vampire cougar who still roams these parts after being improperly beheaded.”

Lisa came to stand behind me. “More likely she was just some girl who died of dysentery,” she said. My sister had played too much Oregon Trail as a child.

“Possibly,” I replied. “But I prefer my story.”

And then I took a deep breath and walked purposefully into the story of my own life—finishing school, growing up, having my daughter. Even though—more than 20 years later—I still struggle with anxiety. I still deal with the fear, and it still limits me. But when I feel like I can’t possibly survive one more day in the real world, I think back to Amelia. I think of all the things that Amelia might never have had the chance to do, and of all of the amazing, ridiculous things she accomplished in my imagination. I think of the fact that I still haven’t seen the view from the top of the tightrope and that I never will if I don’t push myself to fight my anxiety and confront the terrifying task of living.

Then I grit my teeth and make myself do the very things that scare me so much. I force myself to talk to the bafflingly perfect-looking moms at my daughter’s school (almost all implausibly named Heather or Tiffany) whose shoes cost more than my car. When I walk past tattoo parlors, I no longer say, “Oh, hell no!” Now I say, “Maybe.” Or “Soon.”

Some people think it’s strange to have a hero who is just a gravestone in a cemetery, but even today, believe it or not, Amelia is more responsible for getting me out of the house than my husband. She taught me that we all have stories in our lives worth passing down, stories that may or may not involve surviving brutal vampire-cougar attacks but that can make a lonely child—or adult—feel so much less alone.