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Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Tears, Oh My!

crazy pattern 500wOK, I still don’t know what happened to me, but a few weeks ago I began feeling weird at the grocery store to the point that I wanted to abandon my cart full of 29 pints of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream, run out of the store and go home. I felt like I was going to pass out, but at the same time felt horribly scared about it. And do I run and put all the groceries back so they don’t thaw because I’m such a responsible customer? Or do I just bolt out to the car?

Invariably, I squat down and look intently at whatever was on the bottom shelf as if seriously contemplating grabbing another 14 pints of Americone Dream. Hmm, Cherry Garcia or Americone Dream, I just can’t decide, so I’ll just stay down here for a few minutes until I figure it out. Also? What the hell is wrong with me? Go away you scary awful feeling, you. Clearly my plan worked, as no one asked to assist me and I never lost consciousness.

But it kept happening.

But only at the grocery store.

And then it began happening everywhere I went.

And then I couldn’t leave the house.

So when my husband said hey, do you wanna go to the mall—

“NO!” I screamed. “I mean, I think there’s something wrong with me.”

I confessed and suspected that I must have been having panic attacks. Constant 24/7 high anxiety with periodic panic attacks. And heart thumping. Rapid heart thumping.

Why is it always a Friday night when you realize something is wrong enough to go see a doctor? And on Labor Day Weekend for that matter, so it’s even longer before you can see your doctor?

A couple of advice nurse phone calls later led to the suggestion that I try see my doctor on Tuesday morning.

Four highly anxious, try to deep breathe, very long days away.

Apparently either anxiety is a very low priority, or they are not allowed to tell you that you can go to the damn Urgent Care Center and get DRUGS for it. And at that point, I didn’t know you can go to the damn Urgent Care Center and get DRUGS for it.

So, naturally I asked the internet what to do and ended up barely making it to a tea shop and some other place for “alternative” anxiety remedies. I drank lots of passion flower tea and tinctures with very little result. Tried wine a couple of times but I can’t drink more than a glass so it just sort of made me feel….winey.

By then I had lassoed my husband who was not allowed to leave my side for any reason whatsoever. On Saturday, he called the Urgent Care Center who said I could come in but if my racing heart was a concern they’d send me to the ER. If my heart seemed ok, they could give me something for the anxiety. Or I could just go to the ER, but the thought of leaving the house to go somewhere and sit all panicky for 8 hours…I couldn’t make myself move to do it.

But, the Urgent Care Center said they were empty and this is the first time I hear that something can actually be done and be done NOW about the anxiety (as long as I wasn’t having something like a heart attack–you know, one of those five-day-long heart attacks where you can pace the house like a crazy person wondering if you’re having a heart attack.) I was going crazy with the anxiety and would have done ANYTHING for it.

Except leave the house.

Here I was one mile away from relief and I couldn’t bear the thought of going somewhere.

So I sat on the couch clinging to my husband all night trying to distract myself with CNN and other shows that do nothing but talk about death and dying.

The next day, Sunday, I’m gulping down passion flower tea, and swearing off white food, and trying to exercise even though it makes my heart go pitter patter too much, and asking the internet what could possibly be causing this horrible mental state I’m in. The Perimenopause internet Guru says to diet and exercise to help balance your hormones, but Anxiety internet Guru says panic attacks and anxiety come from some childhood trauma and I couldn’t think of anything, unless you count the time some kid hit me in the head with a baseball bat or I fell off the monkey bars but I think they were talking more about psychological trauma.

I’d never been prone to anxiety or panic attacks before which was also supposed to explain my problem.

My husband shook his leash at me and tried to reach the logical part that was left of my brain and said as gently as possible “you are going to be scared here or at the urgent care center, so if they can help you, you may as well be scared there.”

I decided if I could take a shower, I could make it. (Did I also mention that I was getting panicky in the shower too? WTF?) But I couldn’t leave the house looking like a mangy stinky rat with 2 or 3 days worth of bed head.

So, I silently cursed my fear with an F-bomb and took a shower while my husband stood guard.

I then paced the house for a few minutes talking myself into going and said “F^&* it, let’s go!”

At the Urgent Care Center, Ron fills out paper work and I start to cry. This is like the second time Ron has ever seen me cry in his life. I’m like baseball and as you know, there is no crying in baseball.

They call us into a room and asked me what the problem is and I start crying all over again, so Ron had to explain everything. Of course they asked me things like has anything happened in your life recently blah blah blah. No. No. No. My blood pressure is normal, my heart rate is relatively normal. End result: they gave me drugs (generic Ativan) and I felt a million times better within 30 minutes of taking it.

I didn’t feel awesome, but I felt better. And dopey. And much calmer.

I don’t go to the doctor very much and I don’t have a lot of drug experience and I didn’t know you could just walk into a place and say “I need drugs for my anxiety” and boom – you have drugs for your anxiety. (OK, it’s not that easy, but almost…)

That pissed me off. I could have had relief so much sooner! Those days of anxiety are hard to describe other than to say that it’s the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. The fear that I was going crazy and that it would never end, the vulnerability that I couldn’t take care of myself, the racing thoughts of doom and despair. It’s outright paralyzing.

So Tuesday after Labor Day I went to see my doctor who gave me a bunch of tests, so more waiting for results, so more on-again-off-again anxiety, crying, etc., until they decide it’s not hormonal and he prescribes generic Lexapro.

So now I’m waiting for THAT to work. Impatiently waiting. It’s been almost two weeks and I’m in a better mood, I can walk around the block, I can focus on some tasks again, but I still can’t go to the grocery store. The freakin’ grocery store, people!

And if and when this drug takes full effect and I’m all better, I’ll be trying to figure out an exit strategy. Find the root cause of the anxiety and panic attacks so I can ultimately get off the drugs. I mean – no more wine, according to the warning labels – WHAAA?????. Right now my question is, is it perimenopausal? Or did something traumatic happen in my childhood that involved a menacing monster shower head roaming the aisles of the produce section attacking customers like Godzilla that will only reveal itself through regressive hypnotherapy?

White House Dinners and..oh, I Wrote a Book.

Have you ever gone to a Presidential Gala and arrived late, only to discover that the First Couple is no longer greeting people at the end of the reception line and all the salmon biscuits are gone?

OMG – me too!!

But that’s not why I brought you here today. No, today I have a bit of news.

When I contemplated teaching younger folks how to write better, especially when it comes to blogging, I thought, Who in their right mind would buy what I’m selling?

And don’t you have to belong to an elite club or sleep with the right politician, or have an “in” with the Textbook Association of America, or have won a Nobel Peace Prize to get a textbook published and distributed to schools?

Then a homeschooling friend of mine told me that homeschool parents can choose whatever resources they want to teach their kids. And some public school teachers are allowed to provide additional learning tools to complement those “required-by-the-Textbook-Association-of-America textbooks.”

So I wrote a book. And today, I’m launching it, or dropping it, or whatever the cool kids are saying these days.

It’s called Adventures in Blogville: A Creative Writing Guide for Teens.

Blogville book cover 400w170 pages of essay-inducing hilariousness.

I hope.

Teenagers often feel like their voices aren’t heard, and blogging is a great way to validate and empower them.

This book isn’t just for kids, though. I’ve been told that adults can use the book as well because it teaches concepts about how to make your writing and blogging more compelling. It’s got some of the same concepts as my previous book, Sticky Readers, but it’s structured in a lessony-type format with assignments and everything! And it’s family friendly — not one F-bomb or prostitute can be found in its pages.

Oh! And it has awesome and silly illustrations by Quinnzel, whose art was recently displayed by BBC America at Comic-Con in San Diego and was more recently displayed on the Doctor Who World Tour.

I know!

I would tell you how awesome Adventures in Blogville is, but I’ve paid people to tell you instead. Well not so much “paid” as shoved my book down their throats and then shook them by their collars and asked them what they thought about it and you can see what they said on my very own special super exciting book page (I don’t want to give it away, but scroll down to the part that says “Praise for Adventures in Blogville.”)

Anyway, if you happen to know any homeschoolers or educators in your circle of fellow humans, mention Adventures in Blogville! I would appreciate it, and my starving orphan hamster would appreciate it.

More info about the book and where to get it.

Or just go straight to Amazon already!

A Humorous Take on Bullying

Yes, I am perfectly aware of the fact that my blogging has fallen off lately, thank you SO MUCH for mentioning it. The problem is, I’ve gotten my mitts into many other projects that are eating up my life, not the least of which was co-producing, co-directing, and performing in the Sacramento Listen to Your Mother show.

But that was in May, you cry. And I don’t even live in Sacramento, so how the bleepity bleep can I see this “performance” of yours, you continue to whimper?

My, what a drama queen you are. And a whiner.

But! Cry no more, my little nanny goats, as there is now video evidence of said performance and you can see it right now! Yay!

Link to video on YouTube

Heck, you can see the whole darn Sacramento show here.

You can even check out all the other 31 cities for 2014 here.

 

 

 

Of Name Tags and Psychotic Birds

name tagSo I’m at this thing the other day, you know, one of those events where you walk in the door and they check you in and give you a name tag to clip on your person, along with a wine glass, and you feel awkward at first because you arrived alone so the first thing you do is scrape the room for a familiar face so you can immediately cling to him or her while you get your insecure bearings in order? Yeah, one of those.

Anyway, as I’m bouncing from one familiar face to another, tasting wine and bacon-wrapped shrimps on sticks, there are people here who feel important because they were on a guest list and the place which grandly opens the next day is closed to the public.

Now, this other thing that’s about to happen happens all the time and I’ve never thought twice about it, but this time it is obvious and I do indeed think twice about it.

I’m walking through the crowd and I see a guy turn toward me and look at my boob. Well, actually, he’s looking at my name tag, I think. He could have been looking at my boob, I suppose, but usually if someone looks at your boob, they look at both of your boobs, so their eyes are more centered between them and since my name tag was conspicuously dangling off of the edge of my right boob like a “Hello My Name Is” pasty and his eyes were definitely on THAT boob, I assume he’s looking at my name tag. Anyway, not the point — the point is, he was looking at my name tag. Just long enough to read it and know that he doesn’t recognize it. He doesn’t even bother to look at my face. All he cares about is my name and whether I am an important person, which he has immediately decided I am not, because he clearly doesn’t recognize my name and he instantly dismisses me with a turn of his head back to his circle of people.

My first thought was, What a jerk! Because my name tag doesn’t say [insert famous name here], you won’t waste your time introducing yourself so you can “network” with me about whatever the hell it is you do? I’m not important enough to further your career? You can’t even dismiss me with a little direct eye contact? I’m not even worth a quick glance of possible recognition? You ass!

Am I over analyzing this? Should I spend any more time worrying about these weenies who brush me off so quickly and who would probably have been a waste of my precious time to talk to anyway, because this guy was clearly selfish and nothing more than a what-can-you-do-for-me kind of guy?

I’ll have you know that I’m an important person. You should want to get to know me. I am awesome. I have things to offer. I am a person you should totally want to meet, gosh darn it! I know people! I have influence! And if you’re just going to assume I am a nobody, you better think again, Mister. And go to hell, while you’re at it!

I don’t know. Maybe he was looking at my boob.

###

GUIDE to troubled birdsBy the way, while you’re here, I read this book the other day that was hilarious, absurd, and somewhat foul (fowl?) called The Mincing Mocking Bird Guide to Troubled Birds. It’s billed as “an illustrated pocket field guide that enables anyone to quickly identify psychotic, violent or mentally unstable bird species.” It’s very offbeat, profusely illustrated, dark, twisted, and not meant for small children, language wise, but it’s kind of hysterical. Perfect for your bathroom or your kooky friend’s bathroom. Know any bird watchers? I wonder if they’d like it. Do bird watchers have senses of humor? I imagine them to be very serious people who never laugh and subscribe to the Smithsonian and National Geographic magazines which are never ever EVER allowed in the bathroom.

How to Get to 10,000 Steps on Your Fitbit

Hello! And welcome to Exercise is Futile, the program where we show you all the crazy ways to move your body around even though we all know its pointless because you’ll probably get run over by a giant duck wearing a bow tie on his way to the dentist tomorrow anyway, am I right?

I am your host, Suzy Tiptoes, and on today’s program, we’re going to tell you how to get your 10,000 steps in while traveling.

First, fly somewhere. Anywhere. Make sure your flight connects to another one via the Dallas Fort-Worth airport with a five-hour layover.

Second, fly American Airlines because they are the ones who will admit you to the Admiral’s Club just by flashing your Platinum American Express card.

Third, when you land in Dallas, go straight to the Admiral’s Club with visions of sitting on your ass for 5 hours and eating all the free cookies and diet soda you can choke down.

Fourth, when you flash your AMEX card at the guy to get in to this horribly exclusive club lounge, find out from said guy that they no longer accept AMEX as free admission. Instead, what’s accepted is some new top secret black Citibank card that you’ve never heard of.

Fifth, walk dejectedly through the length of the C Terminal back and forth and back while dragging your luggage behind you. Look what happens when you do that:

fitbit 10000 steps cropped

What also happens is you get to do what’s called “seeing the sights” of Texas. For example, who knew that the Lone Star State’s runway models were such big cows?

cows, models, dfw

 

cows, models, dfw

You can also stand outside this store and sing Karaoke at the top of your lungs and test Pee Wee Herman’s theory about what happens when you do that:

deep in the heart of texas rs

If you’re from California, you can stare at this sign all day and wonder how is it, during the current rise of the outrage industry, that nobody has sued this establishment because they were deeply offended by stereotyping:

dfw two podners rs

I can’t decide if this is ironically funny, or one of those “Ellis Island” or “Cake Decorating” type mistakes where someone is ordering the sign over the phone and the guy on the other end of the line was on his first day of the job.

south of gate c6, dfw

Anyway, after you’ve walked the length of the terminal 3 times and gotten your 10,000 steps in and you still have 3 hours to go, peruse the Wall of Thanks and set yourself down a spell in the nearby rocking chairs, because boy howdy, your dogs are tired.

dfw, wall of thanks

That’s all for today’s program. This is Suzy Tiptoes saying, Exercise is Futile, y’all!

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