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Anxiety Woman’s reading list: a prescription for wellbeing

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I remember being in the middle of a conversation with a fellow actor in San Francisco. After yammering on as we actors do, he stopped, looked me in the eye and said, “I can’t afford to be around negative people anymore.” Then he walked away. I laugh large laughs in my head today because his conversations about making it big and investing in his latest project remind me of a certain current president of a formerly much admired nation. If you can’t deal with negativity then perhaps you might need an ego reboot.

Sure, I’m a bit negative when it comes to assuaging men’s egos. I also have a tendency to underrate my own cooking but this is a self protective move. If I tell people the brownies are a bit undercooked and have too much salmon extract in them, that means there are more for me.

I’ve been noticing my stress level is creeping up lately. I can’t sleep until 3 am. My dominant forearm is aching while I type this. I’m getting charlie horses at night and now I have “Trigger thumb” where my thumb becomes dislocated as I sleep due to high tension and over use during the day. How do you overuse a thumb? By yanking up one’s pants too many times, securing wheelchairs, pushing wheelchairs, giving a thumbs down to bad movies, riding a bike in winter  desperately trying to get the brakes to work and by cross country skiing.

I am taking a break from the skiing and the biking and decided to catch up on my reading.  My reading choices reflect an inability to move forward with my life. It would take a disaster of great proportions to uproot me from my safety net of friends and activities so that’s what I read about. Besides there is nothing like a disaster book to make you feel like anxiety is a good thing.

I read this one last year when there was very little snow in Alaska. The weather was getting me down but reading this put an end to my complaints.

I just finished reading this. If a recurring reference to a pail of human eyeballs doesn’t put you off then you might enjoy the rest which is equally gory but historically accurate.  There are no big plot surprises as you can see the trajectory right on the cover. And to think I am wary about moving back to the Northeast because of ticks.

Here’s one I got at the library book sale on Friday night, haven’t started it but it was on the shelf marked. “Disasters” so how could I go wrong?

I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I have a difficult time resisting non-fiction with the word, “terrifying” in the sub-title. I hope someday there will be a Trump era history with that word in the title. I find myself feeling much more at home in a Trump presidency than many of my friends who don’t court disaster as doggedly as I do. I, who am oft  the outlier in terms of neuroticism, now appear closer to the mean or average. This is a lucky break for me.

A man named Lance Panzer, no relation to the tank, reviewed it on Amazon.com with the headline, “Makes the Perfect Storm look like a picnic”

Just in case I needed a different sort of input, I made my way over to Title Wave to  cash out my credit before the March 15th deadline. Look what I found!

Product Details

They have two more copies if you want one!

This is how I put my life in perspective. I may have no direction. The leader of my  country may be inherently unstable but at least I am not on a plane with snakes.  If you have any film or reading recommendations, please leave them in the comments.

 

 

How serious is your Donald Trump Anxiety Disorder?

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crazy

Don’t loll around in de Nile. Just because a fear is realistic doesn’t mean it can’t be destructive and take control of your life! Take this easy quiz to see how ill you have become and find out what other people are doing about their diagnosis.

  1. How many Facebook posts have you written pleading for people to elect a female president? ( 1 point for each post)
  2.  Are you still considering voting for Bernie Sanders? (5 points)
  3. If Trump appears on the TV while you are on the treadmill at the gym, does the treadmill turn off automatically due to unsafe heart rate? (5 points)
  4. Have you used the words “Nazi” or “Hitler” within two syllables of the word “Donald” or the word “Trump.” in the last week? (5 points) Within the last hour (10 points)
  5. Have you avoided playing cards so you won’t have to say the “t” word?  (5 points)
  6. Have you thought about protesting at the Republican convention? (5 points) If you have already bought your airline or bus ticket (10 points)
  7. Have you considered moving to Canada? (1 point as Canada is pretty cool) Mexico (2 points), England (5 points)
  8. Do you ever lose sleep thinking about the election then get up and diminish your sorrow with bonbons and bread products? (5 points)
  9. Do you think you are smarter than most Americans (2 points)
  10. If you had a choice between eating a live rat and voting for Donald Trump, would you choose the rat? (2 points)

 

If you have 9 points or less you are probably a very psychologically healthy Republican.

If you have 10-20 points you are borderline obsessed with Trump

If you have 21 to 45 points you have a real problem and should consider some of the following options.

  1. Join the Communist party. Everyone probably thinks you are one anyway. Vote for their candidate. That way you won’t have to worry about your candidate losing because they always do.
  2. Consider opening a bakery or a bar. People always eat more sweets and drink more when things are going badly.
  3. Remind yourself that you are not in control of the outcome of this election. You only have one vote and the more you try to convince Trump voters that they are wrong the more they actually are right because you are annoying them with your liberal agenda. Even when you try to get people to vote for Hilary, people may vote for someone else just to spite you for spewing your anxiety at them. Feel free to register voters but remember that  if you do this fairly and legally, some of them will vote for Trump.
  4. It’s only 8 years maximum, unless he is really Hitler.
  5. If you live in Alaska, calm down! The state is already run like a Trump hotel.

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Crazy things I must do in order to keep alive

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  1.  Find joy in life even though it is not fair and I have been given much more time and gifts than I possibly deserve.

2. DO NOT read the news everyday.  Make small talk or change the topic with  people who dwell on catastrophe and politics.  I can never correct all the damage done by my people and my culture but I can make my own personal amends. I do not need to be sold on the right path. Remember that this path is not likely to be approved by my family, workplace or any major sponsor!

2. Dance everyday even though I am a terrible dancer. This includes the cage dance I was invited to do at the playground downtown. Thank you, Schatzie Schaeffer I had almost gotten to  9 pm without a healthy pole dance.

3. Remember to let my glasses fall into the port-a-potty once in awhile. I did this at The Three Baron’s Faire and immediately plucked them out. I should have let them sit there a bit and taken a photo.

4. Don’t expect my roommate not to eat my ice cream when he gets up with the munchies. Don’t expect him to replace it either. It is a losing battle and not that important but I can buy ridiculous flavors which might gross him out like mango-turnip crunch with chia.

5.  Do write, to keep in touch with friends and to let out my hopes and fears which as the song says are “baked into a beautiful pie.”

 

6.  Keep on riding the unicycle even though I bruised my rib and can still feel it when I go to bed. I may be a sensitive person. I cry easily and I want people to like me but I am not giving up yet. As one of my therapists told me, “don’t fire yourself, let them fire you.”

7. Wear the clown nose when I am driving, except when I have to sneeze.

8.  Always stop for unicorns.

unicorn.png

Anxiety woman rides again!

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This time I was riding my unicycle. It’s not a really high one, but I fell off it anyway and in a spectacular heap on the concrete at work in front of a crowd. But that is the reason anxiety woman has a unicycle, to confront humiliation and injury with a laugh and a scab. It was only the next day that I realized I had done something to my rib, on the opposite side. This was probably the result of me panicking, torqueing my body so that I did not impact just one bone but spread the misery to many. Now I can breathe but I can not sneeze or fart without a little Brutus reminding me of my folly.

I haven’t been writing lately because of my obsession with the unicycle. According to the internet it take 10 hours to establish some agility with the beast. Being just over 55 I might have allowed a few more hours. I took unicycle classes in my 30’s and thought it might come back to me quicker but I was wrong. I also willed myself to disaster by volunteering to unicycle for clown day at work knowing I had only a month to prepare. I did manage to stilt walk through the nursing home  with only a little hesitation getting in and off the elevator.

Was I anxious? Yes! Did I die? No! Did I injure myself just like the nurses feared? Yes I did, but they did not have to tend to me because I hid it rather well and then self diagnosed on the internet rather than let them lord it over me. I have been treating myself with naps, ibuprofen, reduced exercise and plenty of sugary sweets. I also bought the Sunday New York  Times.

Meanwhile Anchorage is green and breezy. There is a moose down the street lazily munching in the brush where I think the neighbors secretly planted marijuana. Some crazy desperate couple robbed all the mailboxes on the street today. Do I care? I have no checks coming in the mail.  I  also have no idea what I am doing with my life so I am keeping it simple. Eat, sleep, go to work, get outside, throw things away, talk to friends. The trouble is I am always looking for some purpose or  adulation to shore me up until the next event like a trip or a show to perform in. All  my friends who are in relationships are perhaps not regularly nourished with daily love snacks but not having a loved one at home, I have become a forager. The emotional dumpster diver, I stink of the fear of rejection.

Tomorrow I will go to work and beg off going to the fancy cocktail celebration I invited myself to. Both my co-workers were going but I had not been invited so I volunteered my presence. Why would anyone invite themselves to a work event that they didn’t have to attend? I guess I wanted to be invited and this seemed like the next best thing instead of  what I now see is the world’s worst idea.

It would have been much easier to fly off the unicycle and crunch a rib by myself than in front of a crowd at work. This kind of stunt doesn’t earn one an invite to a evening dress party. Instead I can be an invisible presence at the party. Not one of the movers and shakers but someone who can be talked about for their faux pas!  People can notice I am not there or better yet I could celebrate not looking for their approval by having my own cocktail party wearing a fleece and shorts. I had a cocktail the other night at a lovely wedding reception and felt so adult for a minute and a half.  I was wearing a fleece, the informal uniform of all Alaskans. I was not the only one. There was one other woman ,        ( single), drinking a cocktail and one man who was wearing a fleece.  I am not alone in my desire for comfort and belonging. Fleece is also easier to clean than silk after climbing out of the emotional dumpster.

So instead of going to the party I will have some cold milk soup with raisins in it. That makes my roommates laugh. We threw away all the old roommates food and everything that had expired in the fridge so cold milk soup with flakes and raisins it is.   I will eventually post of photo of me on the unicycle as I am still planning on riding it in the 4th of July parade! Either that or a photo of me with a cast, wearing a cone of shame.

Anxiety woman survives another Anchorage “winter”

I use the term “winter” quite loosely as it has been an unheard of 40 degrees F most everyday this week.  The Fur Rondy sled dog races were abbreviated from 30 miles to 3 as the dogs are mushing through slush brought in from the local snow dump. I biked to the fireworks tonight. I have done this before bundled up like a blimp but today I wore fingerless gloves and a light jacket. Note the lack of hats on these festival goers.

hats

You would think we Alaskans would rejoice in the warmth and lack of snow but instead we are MISERABLE!  It is darker when there is no snow to reflect the small amount of light we get. Also there is no skiing of any sort and now the skating is also impossible. Biking with studs and running with cleats are my fallbacks.

So here is how I got through this pseudo winter.

  1.  I paid no attention to the presidential campaign.  Sure, I laughed at some Trump memes on facebook. Especially the one my friend Luke posted of the entire library staff wearing a familiar hairdo.

2.    I didn’t force myself to blog, as I would have bored you to death with my petty problems and horrible anxiety about my new job. It is a pretty good job by the way but like most people I feel I am doing a horrible job when I start something new. Unlike most people, my mind exaggerates it to a life and death struggle and I accumulate as many stress related diseases I can manage to contract at one time.

3.   I did a play. It was an awesome opportunity as I only was onstage for two minutes so I had plenty of time to either be anxious or remind myself that I was having fun. One way I have fun is trying on hats. There’s no better place than a theater for outrageous hats.

fluff

Is this not one of the best hats ever? My costume was pretty cool too. I was playing a dead alcoholic in heaven. The play was Kurt Vonnegut’s Happy Birthday Wanda June. You can’t find it on the internet because he hated the film but the play is hysterical.  Here’s another winning hat:

viking

I realize this is not for everyday wear but Easter is coming up.

By the way, this particular theater, Cyrano’s in Anchorage, has a lovely anti-anxiety poster backstage.

nix

When I catch myself thinking just how bad I could screw up, I remind myself that Richard Nixon just made things worse for himself by being all tense. Must have been very difficult to deal with getting impeached. If I lost my job or got kicked out of a show at least it wouldn’t be the biggest story of its day.

Here is some lovely headgear I wore today.

hairn

I am working at a nursing home. My costume was a 60’s waitress uniform. Our African American history celebration fell to me as the sole activity staff working on Saturdays. I came up with a successful theme – The Integration Cafe ( like a much nicer place than the Woolworth’s where the black students were not served.) Since we had already used up our entire budget for the month, all we needed were pies and a bit of ingenuity.  Everyone was encouraged to sit by someone they didn’t know well, I served pie and ice cream shakes ( we already had the ice cream and the milk!). We watched an excellent film on the music of the civil rights movement, followed by  someone who had prepared a solo and a spontaneous sing-a-long of songs from the movement. I had library books on The Harlem Renaissance, The Tuskegee Airmen and such on the cafe tables and photocopies of famous and not so famous African American pioneers.  Can you tell I am proud! I’ve come a long way from hating myself completely! The singing helps. Also the family members and friends of the residents who helped out. I feel like I am part of a team now.

So I have to remind myself that I can always try on a hat. There are many people to help out if I only ask. There is always chocolate and I don’t have to beat myself up for eating it when I’m anxious and depressed because very soon I will have A DENTAL PLAN!!!!

 

 

Awkward party moments made fun!

I was raised to be the life of the party and I can do it without alcohol, drugs or a game board. The trick is I enjoy a good awkward situation.  Since New Year’s Eve is here I’m sharing some party pointers with you anxious party avoiders. Have a zinger ready when you have exhausted yourself preparing to entertain and then panic when people arrive. Look at each crash and burn moment as a chance to light up the sky with flames of even more awkwardness. Give them a line they won’t  forget or that will at least  make them as uncomfortable as you are.  Here are some lines that have worked for me.

1. You can’t remember the person’s name at introduction time. Try some of these:

“This is my other wife, no, not my ex, I have two, you didn’t know? Wow, excuse me, gotta go.”

“Oh my God, (Hug, Kiss, cry) Look who’s here! Everyone, can I have your attention..On the count of 3 say hello. 123 Hello………….Don’t you remember his name. What kind of people are you?”

” Hi this is a person who  bakes delicious food and I believe you are someone who likes to eat delicious food, am I right? Make yourselves at home.”

” I have to introduce you two by code names because you are both so attractive I don’t want you to stalk each other.”

“I believe these are the droids you are looking for.”

 

2. Someone asks how you know the host or a guest and it’s not something you wish to share, as in you met them in a support group, you are the hired help, or you just crashed the party.

” We met in a church parking lot. We were both looking for a support group and couldn’t find it so we said f*# it and went out for coffee.  What support group was it anyway, do you remember?  Women who hate too much? Snickers anonymous?”

” Oh, I’m being paid to attend this party, aren’t you? I think everyone else is. Sorry, maybe you’ll get paid next time.”

” We went to X-Men school together.”

” We were supposed to be looking for these two droids and the rest is history”

regrets1

3. Someone asks an intrusive question like “Do you own this place?” “How much do you pay a month?” “How do you all share one bathroom?” “Do you mind if I clean up the place a bit?” “What do you do for a living?” ” Do you have any kids?” “Is that your natural hair color?”

“Jeez, I really don’t know the answer to that question. Shall we Google it?”

” Just a moment, let me get my liar, I mean my lawyer. He knows that kind of stuff right off the top of his head.”

” How about those droids you were looking for?

droidsposter

Now get out there and have some fun!

 

 

 

 

Murder in the Cathedral

Notre Dame – photo taken Friday Nov. 13, 2015nd

If you’ve visited Paris, even virtually, you’ve seen the cathedrals. They buzz with tourists who aren’t aware that people still pray.   Cathedrals remind me of  War of The Worlds where both the priest and the church are destroyed by  aliens who possess greater technology and less sentimentality.  The message I got was, why pray? Who are you praying to?

France shook the spirits out of the church in 1789.   So these cathedrals are now more like monuments.  Filled with such monuments, the city of Paris has become one of the great cathedrals of Western culture. People from all parts visit to experience the heart of art, fashion, food, wine and architecture. Even more arrive in Paris seeking work, shelter or medical assistance, as they do in all the great capitals of the world. It is not a simple city. It has its gargoyles. Just look at any school building.  Note the plaque commemorating the number of Jewish children deported from this location.

In Murder in the Cathedral, the play about Saint Thomas Beckett, soldiers kill the brazen Beckett in a sacred space in order to bring down the church, only to have him made into a Saint. As in War of the Worlds, nothing is sacred, nothing ever was. Murder is a reminder of that. But we continue to be woken up to the sacred even through terror. With the recent terrorism in Paris this has become even more clear to me.

I was in Paris on the day of the murders. I don’t have much of a story to tell as I was safe inside. The only terror  I experienced happened the day after, at Charles De Gaulle airport.  I was foolish. They said my flight was operating so I showed up and was amazed at how ill  equipped we all were. Staff was minimal, army and police were busy elsewhere.  Yet all the idiots like myself reported to their planes. Not to beat myself up, it’s human nature to need time to adjust to tragedy.  It was my first experience in a mob which swept me off my feet. Someone made the error of forming several lines of over a thousand people who converged at one door. The man at the door was under pressure to admit very few people as there were a thousand more people waiting to be screened upstairs. There was shoving, people cutting in line, yelling, threatening the attendant. I’m glad you didn’t see this on the internet. It was embarrassing.  It did calm down as the day wore on.

I did not react well. I didn’t scream or hurt anyone.  I did use my upper class privilege to find a way out of the chaos. I would not listen to my sister who encouraged me to go home with her to Belleville and try again another day. I could not bear being defeated nor imagine coming back to this living hell.  I  had missed my flight because of the mess, so I got on my phone and booked another one for a few hours later.  I flew out through Istanbul, which my family thought outrageous, but if there’s any place that’s prepared for terror it’s the Middle East.  You don’t enter the airport without a screening, nor do you enter a hotel.  It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from.

I abandoned Paris and my sister with it. I’m ashamed, but I understand that I am imperfect being who is unlikely to be the last person left in the path of a hurricane or a pogram.   Parisians and the rest of us  will be making similar choices.  One of the important questions is how much terror can you take?  We often don’t figure out until we are tested. What if my reaction had been instead to remain and purchase flowers to give to each person in line or those I met along the street?

I apologize and I have reorganized my psyche. Most everyone who was not intimately involved with the killings will do so and even those who have lost the most may change in ways that we may not anticipate. Murder closes a door and opens several others. Which open door will we choose? Or will we sit by our grief for a bit longer and contemplate?

One can subdue a culture but I don’t think Paris will be subdued for long. They are a self-confident even brazen city, like New York  but with a longer history of both beauty and terror. They will find a way. But will the rest of us? I  worry about the young people, and the migrants, some of whom have been deprived of sanctuary and others of their lives. It isn’t healthy to have no where to turn.  Nowhere is safe where people feel unsafe. I make stupid choices when I am impatient and lack perspective. This fuels further persecution of the Syrian refugees.  Both the guillotine and The Nazi Occupation must inform our decisions. Terror manages to convince us to trade our neighbors in to save our own skin.  Terror also engenders martyrdom. As Dickens said, “It is a far, far better thing I do….” Is it really?

I notice that fanatical groups, who encourage martyrdom for their own glory, create martyrs for “our side” as well.   Is this a primitive form of communication? Be like us. Feel our loss. Fight like we do. You are us.  Resistance is futile because resistance is what we want? Even more terrible, they want our children.  The Hitler Youth like conscription of naive teenagers and the criminally inclined to a powerful cause is an old ploy.  New fighters are  seduced by marketing, by the feeding of delusions of power and fame which professional creators of chaos target. I think of our own army recruiters and wonder about the nature of coercion.

Rats  are collapsing their bones to enter our homes. We become them and crank out even more soldiers, learn more dangerous ways to extract information. This should not surprise me as my country, the United States, is the world’s vender of security on an increasing anxious planet .

We have a new plague but we can no longer believe it is caused by witches. It is caused by that human infirmity we share with our enemy, the idea that we are, without question, Read the rest of this entry