Although I didn't always have a name for how I felt, I have always struggled with anxiety. When looking at a new situation some people say, "What's the worst thing that can happen?" Never say that to a person with anxiety, but they can tell you. (a.) A sinkhole could open up and swallow us all. (b.) We could be involved in a freak accident and we could get severely injured. (c.) Our house could be on fire right now. (d.) Maybe there was a problem with the insurance claim and we'll loose everything. Whew, deeeeeeep breath, calm.
Now, let me address something that really gets under my skin. When I express my struggles with anxiety, some people throw out a well-meaning "I Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety (cares) on him because he cares for you." I get it. I really do. I do give my anxieties to God. I don't dwell on them and obsesses over these thoughts doubting his care, love, or protection. But they pop up like a demented Jack-in-the-box without warning and they pop up often. I'll be just be having a normal morning then BOOM I think about a drunk driving incident that happened as I'm sending Logan off to school with the neighbors. I pray he'll be okay then move on. Walk in the door and BOOM I remember a post I saw about a perfectly healthy person dying from a heart attack. My body releases an adrenaline rush, then I pray and move on. I get a text and I'm not sure what to say back. Afraid of saying the wrong thing, I say nothing. More praying. For those of you who get frustrated that people with anxiety don't just give it all to God, consider this: I do give it all to God, but all that giving is exhausting. Think of it this way. An average person may get some large packages of stress delivered occasionally and then then remove them by giving them over to God through prayer and dedication. My brain is always dropping off little packages. Multiple times an hour my brain finds something to deliver. It says, "Hey! You haven't thought about the AIDS crisis in Africa lately." or "What are you going to get Jason for Christmas?" (Note: It's currently April.) It slows me down because I have to deal with each new crazy thought before moving on with my day. (Often, I just push them aside then because I have so many undealt with things I get depressed.)
Now that I've let you into my head a little, I'll tell you about a pattern I noticed in my dealings with anxiety. After several years away from skiing due to some health problems and the fact that I'm a terrible skier, I went skiing again this winter. After moving through all stages listed below I had a good time and the second time we skied this season I went through the stages much quicker. (I still went through them all.) If you struggle with anxiety, my friend, continue to struggle. Don't let the "what ifs" win. Get out there and push yourself. If you are not anxious, but have an anxious loved one, maybe reading this will help you understand the struggle and why your person is so tired after something that gives others energy.
For sake of demonstration I'm going to use this winter's ski trip to demonstrate these stages. The quotations are what I say out loud to my group or to myself. They italicized words are what I hear in my head.
1. Anticipation - "Yay! We're going skiing. I haven't don that in years." You might get hurt. You just got back into running and now you're going to risk skiing? "I'll be fine. It will be fun."
2. Denial - "Look at the weather. Maybe we won't be able to drive up to the ski hill. We probably won't actually go. I have a tickle in my throat. Maybe I should just stay home."
3. Terror - "We're HERE!?! I'm not ready. I can't do this." You'll probably fall and get hurt. Where's the nearest hospital? Let's think about all your friends who tore up their knees while skiing.
4. Self-loathing - "What is wrong with me? Look at all these brave people doing this thing that thousands of people do every day during the winter. Why can't I just pull it together and do it?" Look at all these other people. They are a much better than you. You're just broken in the head. What an embarrassment.
5. Anger - "Why are we doing this? I don't want to be here. I don't like skiing and I don't know how I got talked into being here. It's cold. Why do we willingly go out in this cold?" Could anyone love you and allow you to feel so bad. Your group probably doesn't even care.
6. Acceptance - "Ha! I made it down without falling! I survived. This coat is shockingly warm. I'm actually sweating. I'm going to go down this hill and I will do exactly what I've been taught . . ." Nailed it! Wow, maybe I should not hate everyone who brought me here. Maybe I'm seeing why they love this so much.
7. Enjoyment - "I did it! I didn't fall. I rode the chair lift and swished across the hill with confidence. I STOPPED!" I'm a terrible person for being so mean. This is pretty fun. I can't wait to do this again!
If you're overwhelmed with all the back and forth, I don't blame you. I feel that way too and this is ALWAYS in my head. One more thought to consider about anxiety and activity. Some people participate in activities like skiing or ride roller coasters to get an adrenaline rush. Anxiety sufferers feel an adrenaline rush from normal activities like grocery shopping or getting ready in the morning. The flood of adrenaline I feel while doing something like skiing or riding a roller coaster can make me physically sick.
So, this is me. Part crazy. Part adventurous. All my own unique person. I hope that you can celebrate who you were made to be too!
Okay, not really. "Gamer" would probably be the last word to ever describe me, but I do love one game that might surprise you. It's WWE. Yup. I love to play a video game version of WWE. The Hulk, Andre the Giant, Big Show, Macho Man Randy Savage, The Rock. Love them. Not live though. I don't watch wrestling in real life. And I don't like to play with the female wrestlers. I literally couldn't list one female wrestler. My knowledge of wrestling comes mostly from guest spots the Hulk did on TV shows in the 80s and 90s and from watching specials about Andre the Giant. (Fascinating.) As far as the video game goes, I really can't explain this other than to say there is something very freeing about setting aside your knitting and pummeling your child/spouse/friend via a game console all while enjoying a beautiful fire and wearing your pink heart pajamas. I don't really have any skills. I most just push buttons and try to inflict maxim damage.
So this is me. Come by some time. I will destroy you.
I know that being on time is important. I know that being late is rude. I've read statements like, “Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you.” (Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club). These statements always hurt because I really don't think my time is more valuable than anyone else's. Here's what usually happens.
First and second, I am terrible at judging how long it takes me to do something and I lose stuff. "I've got 5 minutes before I need to leave. I'll just do these dishes in the sink." In reality, there were 10 minutes worth of dish washing. Then I realize, "I forgot to grab my wedding ring," so I run back upstairs to grab that. "Ugh, where are my shoes. I swear they were right here!" I wish I could say that this is a rare occasion, but nope, this is every day. I've actually improved over the years if that is any indication to you of how things are for me. Now I keep my keys and wallet in my purse which is always in the same place. This has helped tremendously, but sometimes my phone gets lost and I have to remember where I put that. Sometimes it's in my pocket while I'm frantically searching. (This is why I say a possible title for the story of my life is Have You Seen My Keys?. If you've spent time with me, I'm sure you've helped me search for something.)
My third issue with being punctual is I feel like I'm wasting time when I'm just sitting. I always have to be reading, or writing, or working, or something. I just hate that feeling of getting somewhere early then having nothing to do. I carry my Kindle with me everywhere so I never have to feel like I've got nothing to do. I love this quote, “Punctuality is the virtue of the bored.” (Evelyn Waugh) Maybe it's not a virtue, but I am definitely never bored. I feel especially nervous in crowds where I don't know anybody so I want to spend as little time as possible just sitting and waiting for an event to start. If I get somewhere and I see pockets of people visiting and talking and I'm alone, an intense feeling of loneliness comes over me and I'm overwhelmed. I rarely feel comfortable enough to go up and start talking to people on my own. This may seem silly or weird, but I cope by planning to be just on time, but combined with the issues in the above paragraph it usually means I'm late.
Every morning I try to have my clothes ready to go, my lunch packed, and everything ready. I never mean to be disrespectful. I want to leave the house all perky and prepared. But I don't. I usually leave the house in a mad dash for the car, feeling my coffee splash down my outfit , staining it before I even leave the house. By the time I'm in the car, I'm a nervous wreck because I HATE being late. I don't like being rude or unreliable.
At this point in my life, I am the most punctual I've ever been and I'm still working to improve. I know that's perfect, but let's get real, it's the best I can do.
Often people say to me, "You're so organized." He's the truth. I'm not. They probably say this because I know how to SOUND organized. I have a bullet journal and planner stickers and check boxes and magnetic clips and all the fun organization stuff. I am a Moleskine girl through and through. BUT I sometimes totally fail to check my boxes off and make sure I'm following up. I get overwhelmed with e-mails coming in and keeping the activities I'm part of straight.
Here's what I am though. I have ideas. I am a great idea person. I've got big ideas, grand ideas, magnificent ideas. I've got so many great ideas that my brain can't keep up with my idea machine. The problem is that I often attempt to see these ideas come into real things all at the same time. This leaves me with a lot of half-finished projects that I'm working on all at the same time. Then I get project ADD and can't decide what to do next so I start something new. I have so many great ideas for writing and sharing, but I've been so overwhelmed by projects that I haven't posted any of them. Sigh.
I'm trying hard to stop taking on new projects and to be realistic about expectations knowing myself and my big idea tendencies. I thought that by now I would be all done with this maturing thing. Looks like I've got a long way to go. Thankfully, God still loves me and patiently guides me as I seek to put Him first. I know that by seeking first the kingdom of God the other things I do will fall into place where they should go.
This looks like extreme organization, but really I love to write and doodle. Bullet journaling is relaxing and fun for me. Any other bullet journalers out there?
I like history. You might be saying, "Come on, Edy. You're supposed to really open up here. That's just a preference or something you're into." No, you guys. I REALLY like history. I get super pumped about historical sites and get unbelievably excited about studying the past. I'm not a crier during most movies, and I cry during documentaries about the writing of the Constitution, the Civil War, World War I, and so on. The stories move me and fill my imagination because they really happened. They are true!!! I once gave a tour at the National Archives while vacationing with my mom. I've scared tour guides because I was so excited to be at their museum. I've fangirled over Daniel Burnham and the building of the White City IN the Burnham Library at the Rookery Building in Chicago. The lady thought my fellow history loving friend and I were nuts. When you scare people who talk about history for a living, the affection for a topic is pretty deep. I could hold this in or downplay my passion, but why? Nope, I will proudly love history and scour it for fantastic characters and stories as long as I live.
I'm standing in front of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison's workshop. How can I not jump for joy?!
I love going to book stores. Used book shops have a marvelous smell and ambiance about them. I feel as though I'm sifting through the collected works of humanity which makes me more connected with the past. New book stores have an energy and drive about them that invigorate me intellectually. I love wandering through bookshops and noting how many of the books I have read. I also love noting how many more still want my reading attention.
All of this loving bookstores means I usually end up purchasing at least one book per visit. How do you leave a book store without buying anything? Impossible. Unfortunately though, my time is limited and that means I have so much more to read than I currently have time available. There was a brief time when I was available to sub, but not yet getting jobs and we had not yet moved into our house. That left me with lots of reading time and I flew through several books. Lately, I've slowed down, but I'm still plodding along. Nevertheless, I still have a giant to-read pile, including three boxes stacked in a closet. I have boxes and shelves of books to-read. I also occasionally take books that have been strongly recommended to me, especially from students. I also visit book stores and add to my pile. I also have several books on my Kindle. So there you have it. This is me.
I bought this at a used bookstore at our library. I find it perplexing that this story was adapted into a children's book and was curious as to how the violence was handled. I still don't know because I haven't read it yet.
My Favorite Bookstores
I don't mind sorting laundry. I love my washing machine and dryer. Literally, I was close to tears when they were installed. The delivery men found my enthusiasm unnerving, but there's a tiny washing machine under the big washing machine. How cool is that!?! I enjoy folding laundry. I always fold it out of the machine to prevent wrinkles. If I don't get to it right when the cycle is done, I re-tumble the load to remove wrinkles. Sorted, washed, dried, and folded. Not a problem. Putting it away. LOATHE. I don't know why. I even like ironing. Usually, I love sorting and organizing. I just hate putting away laundry. So there you have it. This is me.
This is me. Real and unfiltered.
We all dream big and do our best, but putting ourselves out there can be uniting because we realize that we are not alone in our struggles and emotions. This isn't a page where I seek answers, but rather I seek to connect with others and show that we are all works in progress.