These Deadlines, Too, Shall Pass

After lounging around all last weekend with anxiety brain because, as it turns out, I am extremely sensitive to barometric pressure (I am my own weather predictor station?!?), I have been mad busy since Monday getting the documents ready for a building permit application. I didn’t know until Monday that my client wanted the application submitted today, and I found out the previous architect (who I replaced) had missed some pretty critical aspects on the drawings, and there were no utilities shown (or they also weren’t correct) for the site, and…basically working 16 hour days to do the job of 5 people as one person.

In context, it was only a couple of days, lots of people have lots to do, people who need post-hurricane assistance and care are much more important on the Scale of Things and after all, these are only drawings.

Anxiety brain doesn’t give a shit about context or the Scale of Things.

It cares about having to focus for very long periods (or three days straight), it cares about having to juggle responsibilities, it cares that WE VERY MUCH WANT A COMPLETE DAY OFF ON A MONDAY, THANKS, BECAUSE THIS WEEKEND WAS STRESSFUL AND DIDN’T COUNT, it cares about having to work very late and not pay attention to breakfast because that is multitasking and coffee from that food truck makes us happy and somehow doesn’t cause anxiety but we don’t have time to get it because DEADLINE and also WHY ARE NONE OF THESE FILES RIGHT??? It was also pissed that we didn’t feel like yoga.

And that’s it. Anxiety brain doesn’t do context or scale, it blows it all up and says everything is a massive panic, and hard, and too hard and no thanks, I will just lay in bed in the dark and eat pizza (that was last night after finishing for the night and being both tired and hungry).

I am working to not let anxiety brain win. I am gonna reprogram my busted neurons and be able to do what I want, so I kept telling myself CONTEXT. And that these deadlines, too, shall pass. Now time for some self-care and exercise, then on to the next thing.

More Ups & Downs & Post-Storm Anxiety

I didn’t go to church for a bit over a year because I was tired of it, disconnected from it and not interested in the petty politics of it. Not God, to be clear, not my relationship with Jesus, but with a particular brand of church that to my perspective lacked a clear focus on Jesus.

I went back to church on the invitation of the friends I mentioned a couple of posts ago, and have barely missed since. Except today, when church was cancelled because the school we meet in cancelled church because the district cancelled all weekend rentals in case the schools needed to be converted to shelters (presumably).

We have a more or less “singles” group that hangs out and has fun, and several were up for church despite the weather, so I organized a small group meeting at one of the guy’s houses and even though the rain and wind was fairly strong this morning, we had 6 people meet up for “church”. It was exactly what I needed. It was a calm, safe space with genuine friends in the middle of a literal storm. We went to lunch after and hung out for a few hours talking about nothing important.

Now I’m in bed hiding from the world and wondering where on earth that sense of calm went?!? Because right now EVERYTHING CAUSES ME ANXIETY.

Yes, I drove in conditions very similar to those in which I wrecked, but I’ve been through EMDR and I didn’t hydroplane even a little, but maybe my brain still doesn’t like it.

Yes I drank coffee (known to increase my anxiety) and ate a few donut holes (also known to increase my anxiety), but I thought I had tempered that with water and protein.

Yes storm is not that bad here and we are safe from flooding. I hate that so many people are not in that place, and social media is BANANAS right now (these check-ins as “safe” from people who haven’t even had rain today are so dumb! There is life-threatening flooding that is causing a real need for people to know the status of loved ones, don’t make this about you if it’s not.)

Didn’t do yoga but went for a walk and took a warm shower after, which made me feel pretty good (temporarily).

So here I am, glad that so many people are bravely helping strangers and giving what they have to help, but staying in my bed because I don’t want to create a problem and I can take care of myself from here. Outside is not a place I can safely be right now.

This is such a strange experience. I am used to taking care of others, stepping up and helping, taking charge and figuring it out. This whole month in therapy I have been working to understand how to learn to take care of myself, because that is something I don’t do very well. Frankly, it’s easier to ignore my needs because they just annoy me.

Well, here’s my chance.

 

I Just Got My Ass Kicked, And I Deserved It

I made a light-hearted social media post this morning about getting coffee and bagels from a local joint in spite of the “hurricane”, which hasn’t actually hit my area yet with anything bust a bit of rain and wind. I was watching a lot of local businesses say they were going to be closed today out of panic over conditions that weren’t happening, and as a staunch supporter of entrepreneurs and local business I was happy to promote a new coffee truck that had creatively figured out how to keep customers out of the rain and in good supply of coffee and bagels, which happen to be my favorite coffee and bagels ever, THE END.

A friend who is from one of the coastal areas most affected by Hurricane Harvey was upset enough about what I said to tell me what she thought about my insensitive post and relate all the hell her family and friends are going through.

Did I mean it like that? No. Did I make reference to anywhere other than my own town? No. Did I mention harm or coastal areas or make any lame “thoughts and well wishes for those affected” statements? Nope. I told my local friends to not be pussies and go support a local business that couldn’t afford a major hit on a Saturday.

That was not the point. The point is I inadvertently hurt someone with my cavalier statement, and she was friend enough to call me out on it. I was friend enough to not be defensive, but to explain my perspective, acknowledge she was fair in kicking my ass and I immediately changed my post. It didn’t matter that I didn’t mean to, it mattered that what I said upset her and maybe other people. She didn’t call me out publicly, she texted me. We had a sincere dialogue about it, she understood and admitted she may have reacted a bit strongly, and I corrected what I had said wrongly in her eyes. We both walked away in agreement, satisfied and committed to a friendship that has lasted over a decade.

I want that from my friendships, and I want that from myself. I don’t want to get defensive when someone tells me I’ve done wrong, I don’t want to deflect a rebuke, I want to have the maturity and humility to say yes, I am sorry, how can I make that right? I have heard so much refusal to take responsibility lately, and I’m glad I’ve learned from it rather than participate in it. I’m glad I got my ass kicked. I’m glad I have a friend who was willing to kick it.

Weather-Induced Anxiety

My anxiety is skyrocketing with every decline in barometric pressure. I am freaking out.

Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, flash floods, fires – I’ve been through it all. Storms don’t bother me and never have. I’m more likely to walk outside and see what’s happening than sit in front of the tv with concern. That was until PTSD, anyway.

I still don’t get bothered by severe weather. If anything, I prepare out of concern for my own convenience than because I think it’s necessary. I stocked up on groceries before everyone wiped out the grocery stores ahead of Hurricane Harvey just because I didn’t want to wait in long lines and I knew people would go bonkers the next day. I’m planning to stay home if we get the rainfall we are expected to get, and I will skip my social plans.

My brain has a totally different way of dealing with an approaching hurricane. My anxiety is skyrocketing with every decline in barometric pressure. I am freaking out.

I experience anxiety from several sources. Weather-induced anxiety is the weirdest for me because it is so disconnected from how I feel. My brain is flooding with anxiety chemicals as fast as my body can produce them, but I’m not actually scared, just exhausted because SEVERE ANXIETY IS EXHAUSTING.

I had a panic attack driving to an appointment this morning. The major source of PTSD for me was a car wreck on a rainy day, and I have had A LOT of driving-related anxiety. This was the first time that I have ever thought I might pass out and wreck the car. As I was driving I had to stay very conscious of my thoughts so that I didn’t let them wander off to death and destruction as the unavoidable consequence of being on the road. I can barely work today because – and many of you will relate to this – I just can’t.

So I set work aside for later and went for a walk (promptly got soaked through when the skies opened up and dumped rain on me mid-walk), that didn’t work so I took a shower and got into pajamas, that didn’t work so I rested for a bit, that didn’t work and that is why I have meds. I’ll take it easy this weekend, sit out the storm and take care of my anxious brain. I might be medicated all weekend, and I’m fine with that because I am able to differentiate my chemically-flooded brain from what is “normal” for me. I know I wouldn’t normally be anxious, I can call this what it is and I can address it. I am also not going to let it keep me from doing things that sound fun.

Recovered? No. Recovering? Hell yes! Bring it on, Harvey!

A Moment of Acknowledgement

Today I printed the first full-size set of drawings with my firm’s name on them.

Something huge happened today. Not bigly huge or total solar eclipse huge or dinosaur huge, but in its context, and for me, huge.

Today I printed the first full-size set of drawings with my firm’s name on them.

I have designed, permitted and built over half a billion dollars worth of work for other people and under their name. Today was the first day I printed permit drawings with my name on them. My name, my firm, my work, my risk and HELL YES MY REWARD!

 

I Love My Naked Toes

I was struck by, I kid you not, my own feet.

I was on the phone with a longtime friend catching up on life, and at one point I got up to move around and wiggle my bones. I was standing on a floor tile and naturally put my feet together in a way that suddenly struck me as close to the beginning of mountain pose. I looked down and observed my toes as I listened to my friend describe her kickass, boss lady actions at work, and I was struck by, I kid you not, my own feet.

I almost always have painted toenails. Lots of corals, pinks and reds for years. Occasionally blue or purple. I can’t even remember the last time they weren’t painted. I like them painted. Have since I was young. I think I must have taken the polish off the other day and gotten distracted before I got them repainted. That almost never happens either. Which is why it was so weird that I didn’t have painted toenails, and even more weird that I was admiring my naked toes. I don’t typically admire my feet.

I was standing with purpose, with intention, with muscle. I was standing strong. As I leaned over to observe my feet, I could feel the results of working through hours of yoga poses. I have strong feet, feet that can balance and shift and flex and support. I have feet that have worn through three pairs of running shoes since February. I have feet with toes that grip my yoga mat, that steady me as I swing a kettle bell and that pound mile after mile of anxiety and sweat out of me.

I am really proud of these toes. They have carried me through nearly four years of post-traumatic stress, through graduate school, through lifestyle change and job change and habit change and through learning to love my body and what it can do.

I freaking love my naked toes.

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My Naked Toes

Friend Drama(tics) – Dating Gone Bad

You can’t poach a friend’s ex if you want to stay friends…

A few months ago a friend of mine started dating a guy I like. I was in the middle of what turned out to be a stalking situation and I was working through the self-doubt caused by a previous bad relationship, and wasn’t in a place to be open to dating at the time. She also didn’t know I liked him and I wasn’t about to lost a friend over a guy I may or may not have wanted to date, so I kept my thoughts to myself and was supportive and excited for her.

They and to large extent their families put a lot of pressure on them and on the relationship from the start, which I found unnecessary and bizarre. There was also a surprising (to me) lack of maturity and perspective on both their parts, and she broke up with him a few days ago. I was fairly surprised because I thought they were a good fit, but then again I thought from the start that they had set the relationship up to fail. Too many people involved, too serious too soon and too many bizarre expectations. Once again I kept my thoughts to myself, made it clear I am not choosing sides and was supportive and encouraging.

We are all in the same social circle, and things will be somewhat awkward for a while. Also now that she doesn’t have him to keep her busy I have returned to my position as her entertainment of choice, which I don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to be at the moment. I like her a lot, and she is a good friend, but this whole episode has left a bit of a sour taste for me, and since my view of this is neither wanted nor necessary, I don’t have a clear way to alter the situation to fit what I believe to be a healthier take on things. I just get to listen and be present and highlight the positives. And you can’t poach a friend’s ex if you want to stay friends, so I’ll keep those thoughts to myself as well.

I’d prefer this to be a “not my circus, not my monkeys” situation and just stay out of it. I think there’s a solid argument for that approach. After all, their business, not mine, right? But is that the right approach when friends are hurting, when relationships break and when a little perspective could help heal and move forward into something potentially better?

Can I fix people? Nope. Hell I can’t even fix myself. And good intentions don’t count for anything in my book. Do I think they should get back together? Probably not. Will then next month annoy me tremendously as I watch them sort out their post-breakup feelings? Absolutely. But the thing that matters is that they’re my friends, they’re hurting, and thoughtful acts of kindness and compassion mixed with a little bit of ass kicking could alter the course of how this breakup affects us individually and collectively. Not my circus, but they are my monkeys, and my monkeys need a hug.