8:30 AM

How much did I sleep last night? Maybe an hour… tops.

I just can’t calm down. I’m not sure what’s going on. That’s a lie. I know what’s going on there’s just nothing that I can do to fix it right now. Sometimes shit hits the fan and you just have to wait for the storm to pass.

I’ve been working for two hours already and I’m exhausted. I feel like a zombie. There is not enough coffee in this world to get me through this week.

It’s going to be another long day. If I make it through this week I’m going to hibernate for the summer.

1:10 AM

I’ve been having panic attacks on and off for the past three hours.

I haven’t slept for three days. Not really. I’ve has small naps here and there but I haven’t been able to physically lay down and shut my eyes for any considerable length of time (longer than an hour).

The toll of not sleeping is deep. My mind is exhausted, my body is aching and I have this overarching pit in my stomach that is making it difficult for me to consume food.

I need to be up for work in five hours. Am I going to sleep tonight? I doubt it. Am I going to lay here anxiously trying to slow my brain down and massage my achy muscles for the next five hours? Well at least for the next four.

I don’t know what to do.

I really don’t.

Nothing is working.

I lay down with every intention of sleeping and life… it just fucking has other plans. I’m literally running myself ragged.

Guest post: The monster that is anxiety

The following is a guest post written by Tiffany from the blog Ethereal Empathy.


When I was little I made friends with a monster.  She kept me company wherever I went, stayed with me as I grew, and often showed up when I needed a friend the most.  Even though she validated my feelings, was reliable, and was always there for me… it wasn’t healthy.  The truth of the matter was, this monster wanted to keep me for herself.  The only feelings she confirmed were those of fear, and her company never made me feel good about myself.

My monster friend kept me awake at night with her chatter, and convinced me to stay home when other friends invited me out.  She stripped me of my self-worth and confidence, and reminded me of how different I was from everyone else.  In that loneliness I accepted this monster, which we refer to as Anxiety.  After all, she appeared to know me so well. 

Perhaps I clung to Anxiety because she was familiar, or maybe it was because she wasn’t all bad, all the time.  This little monster helped me see potential threats and kept me aware.  The deep understanding of fear, that I had developed, helped me to relate with individuals who suffered similar stress. Still, I had become a prisoner of fear with no boundaries to keep my monster at bay.

“Without darkness nothing comes to birth, as without light nothing flowers.” – May Sarton

It was in my self-doubt that Anxiety held me captive.  I had trained my brain to jump to worse case scenarios and to see the prospective negatives of any given situation. Overwhelmed by uncertainty, and my lack of ability to concentrate, relax, or find calm, I struggled with each day.

My body had turned on me, with symptoms of illness, without ever having been truly sick.  Unexplainable pains and tension would come and go as they pleased.  There was no balance or predictability in the waves that rose and fell, and often times came upon me with no warning or explanation. 

Having a panic attack is much like swimming in deep waters during a storm.  It takes everything you are to keep your head above water, and sometime you get hit by the turbulent ocean which pulls you under.  It is a fight for air, for continued existence. 

I could not see what it looked like to thrive when my constant state of panic made basic survival a challenge.  The very thought of working as a productive member of society seemed impossible.  I looked into the dark chasm of the unknown, unable to find the light.  I saw consequence of failure instead of the potential growth that comes with experience.

Instead of trusting in my own capabilities I sought out healers and trusted individuals to fix me, but there was no cure for this.  No instant solution to repair the broken parts of myself.  Medication only numbed my soul, taking more away without giving enough of myself back.  Therapists were a constant reminder that to be whole I needed to dig deep to find answers within. 

How could I mend the fragmented pieces of me when I was incapable of believing in my own worth?  I couldn’t.  My monster never lied, exactly.  We all have a balance of light and dark inside of ourselves.  Where there is the potential for disaster there is also the potential for success.  What I hadn’t been able to see was the strength in both.

I would be naïve to believe that there are those out there without flaws. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time.  When dark times are upon us, and it feels as if they might destroy everything, we find that we are more resilient than we might think.  Living in the shadows of fear makes it hard to see.  Feeling as if we are alone is an illusion.     

Turns out the cost of not taking risks, and not believing in our own natural gifts, is much higher than the upward climb of facing the monster.  If the choice is to succumb to a life of worry and suffer a stagnant existence, or to battle a life gripped by fear for the chance of actually living…  I choose to face the unknown. 

Anxiety is not a true friend, but it is not my enemy either.  This alter ego, my anxious self, is debilitating but only has power if I give it.  I can use it as a crutch or I can learn her moods and motives, triggers and tastes, in order to respond appropriately.  What is so easy to forget is that we have the power to change the world, starting with our own being.

So I learned to consistently make course corrections along an unpredictable path.  Staying ahead of the waves when possible and bringing along a life preserve just in case the waters get the best of me.  Most importantly I discovered the importance of second guessing my own self-doubt. 

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

The path is hard.  There are times I slip and fall, get scraped up along the way, have setbacks and face detours… but I keep moving forward.  That steep cliff edge that I started on has gotten easier, the journey less rocky.  Somewhere along the way I learned to trust myself and accept that I am capable and deserving of so much more.

Anxiety is still with me, she is my twin who is just looking out for my well-being and here to protect me.  Although misguided her intentions are good.  I accept her for what she is even though she cannot see the error of her ways.  It is my job to not let her define me or keep me from the life I deserve.

It is through this understanding that the light began to seep through and point me in a direction of confidence.  I found my balance and overcame obstacles I never thought possible before.  Instead of struggling each day to survive I learned how to thrive, to have a life that is mine, and meet my fears wisely. 

Anxiety is a sheep in wolf’s clothing, an innocent wearing the mask of a monster.  Although frightening she doesn’t decide your fate.  Her power over you is limited and only exasperated by your own insecurity.  Believe in yourself, trust your own intuition, and the gray clouds looming over will clear. 

There is hope, I am proof of that. 

“On particularly rough days, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that’s pretty good.”  – Unknown


Thank you to Tiffany from Ethereal Empathy for contributing such a thoughtful and honest post to #MillennialLifeCrisis. If you have the opportunity, I strongly recommend checking out Tiffany’s Blog. She is a ray of kindness and honesty in this crazy world and she brings a unique perspective to the blogging community that is the truest definition of one-of-a-kind.

This is not a holiday

I need to rant. This might be all over the place but I just want it said. It’s okay to be upset, or angry or mad about what’s going on in the world. It’s also okay to not care, if you don’t want to.

I’ve seen this meme floating around the internet (as of late) that says ‘If you don’t use this time to teach yourself something new, you didn’t lack time you lacked discipline’. I cannot even begin to explain how frustrating I find this mentality.

This is a pandemic. This is not a holiday. This isn’t ‘free time’ so to speak. This is ‘stay the fuck home so that you save your’s and each other’s lives in the process’ time. This isn’t fun. And it’s not supposed to be.

You can drag me all you want. You can tell me that I’m looking at this from a negative perspective, but the truth is, I’m looking at this from a realistic perspective. This is a traumatic experience for a lot of people, if not for everyone.

To the lucky few who are able to work from home, you’re now navigating a whole new territory that involves learning how live/work in the same place. An environment without the help of your coworkers, or office technology, or any of the office luxuries you’ve grown accustomed to over the years. And, while you’re plugging away on that laptop, quite literally flying by the seat of your pants to try and maintain some form of functionality amid the chaos, there’s news stories saying work won’t resume until fall, there’s kids or partners or dogs in the background making a lot of noise and a world that just won’t seem to give you a break. And to the doctors and nurses, health care workers and hospital staff, care aids and everyone who is helping on the front line and working essential jobs (at grocery stores, etc..) there is no breaks. There’s no days off. There’s no reprieve from the painful struggle that is trying to keep the general public healthy.

To the unlucky rest, there’s no work. And there’s no way to find work. Postings for a cashier position in a grocery store in a small town in Northern BC are attracting 3,100 resumes/applications. I can’t even imagine how much higher the competition is to be a cashier in a metropolitan area. People want to work. They want to provide for themselves and their family members and they can’t. They’re at home worried about how their bills are going to be paid, how long the food in the cupboard will last and whether or not a guardian angel is going to drop dinner from the sky. And, while they’re worrying about money, mortgages and the basic necessities of survival, there’s news stories saying that they could be off work until the fall, or even early next year, and kids or partners or dogs in the background making a lot of noise and a world that just won’t seem to give a break.

To the really unlucky folk, work might have been the only time during the day that they had to escape their toxic home environment. It might have just been the only time they had away from their abusers. Now, not only are they being thrown into a stressful home environment that already existed for that much longer each day, but there’s the added financial and economic stresses of life adding to tensions in the household. And, while they’re worrying about how to make it through the day without having their body, mind or soul quite literally beat up on, there’s news stories saying that they could be stuck at home until the fall, or even later, trying their best to tip toe around the abuse and limit the things that might set off abusers.

And let’s not forget about the kids in this. The kids we’re trying to keep from being kids, because it’s their second-nature to hang out with their friends and ride their bikes or play basketball. These kids who’ve had their lives turned upside down who may, or may not, understand what’s going on right now.

EVERYONE has been impacted in this.

This is not the power hour. People don’t need to be made to feel guilty for staying in their pajamas, or sleeping in, or binge watching Netflix rather than cleaning their house. What we need to make each other feel less alone for the very real fear, frustration and panic we’re all facing. Every situation might be different but we need to show each other compassion and appreciation for the very basic struggle it takes to just be a functioning human at this point in time.

Do what you have to do to make yourself feel better. Do what you have to do to give yourself some grace. And encourage other’s to do that as well.

If you’re someone who wants to teach yourself something new, great. Teach yourself something new. Learn that stuff, whatever it is. Go hard! But also, recognize this is your means of coping. This is not how everyone copes and you do not have the right to make someone else feel bad if they’re not doing the same as you.

The more ‘Productive things you can do from home’ lists and videos I view, the more I think people really don’t understand the concept of productivity guilt. There’s a big difference between choosing to be productive yourself and choosing to make other’s feel bad for not doing what you do. Nobody needs to be made to feel guilty because of how they’re acting, or reacting, to the present state of the world.

Some people cope by sleeping in. Some people cope by not getting dressed. Some people copy by eating four pieces of cheesecake in one sitting and they do not need to be made to feel ashamed for any amount of weight that might be put on because they’re not going to the gym right now. Home workouts aren’t for everyone. The very long winded point that I am trying to make right now is that everyone copes differently.

However you’re handling this pandemic, this social isolation, this extremely unstable time in history, give yourself grace. Give others grace. Check in on people. See how they’re holding up.If you need to cry, cry. Cry with each other. Be vulnerable. Or don’t. Just remember that we might all be going through this together, but we all deserve the right to cope/handle this how we want.

Quitting cold turkey

I’ve decided that I’m not going to take anxiety medication anymore. It’s just too tough on my body. And honestly, the withdrawals are even harder for my body to deal with when I don’t have them then the side effects are when I do. If I’m being totally honest with myself, I’ve been using them to hide from the sheer misery that is my life… and instead of hiding from it, I really need to learn to cope. This is my life, after all.

Addition after the fact: After reading some of the comments on this post, I am feeling a need to clarify. My decision to stop with medication is entirely related to my struggles with medication itself. I am a huge advocate for taking medication if it is right for you and if it helps you. I am not now, nor will I ever, judge anyone for taking medication. In my personal case, it’s reached a point where it is doing more harm than anything else and I need to make a change. I hope that you can understand.

I haven’t been sleeping lately. I doze off for twenty or thirty minute periods two-to-three times in the night, but for the most part, I just end up laying there. Perhaps it’s stress. Perhaps I’m just wired different. Either way, the nights give me a long time to think. I have been taking supplements to help me sleep but the supplements aren’t working anymore so there’s no point in continuing to take it.

Self quarantine has also given me a lot of time to think. Frankly, I’m not too happy with myself. I’m also not really happy with the people who’ve been taking advantage of me for far too long now. People take advantage of my kindness and it’s time I stand up for myself. I saw a quote that said “you can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no” and I realized that’s who I need to be.

Story time – Anxiety is not a made up construct.

I’ve had anxiety since long before I ever knew what it was. I remember being a teen and pre-teen and suffering from full blown panic attacks for reasons I couldn’t even understand. My brain was convinced there was going to be an earthquake and that I’d die in my sleep. Or I’d be at school and was convinced that there would be a mercury spill in the science lab and we’d become violently ill.

Nothing made sense, but I had these fears and if I ever told anyone about them they’d laugh, or tell me I was being dramatic or tell me to not worry about it.

I have very distinct memories of sitting in a ball in the corner of dark classrooms to wait out my panic attacks while at school. I think the first full-blown panic attack I ever had was in fourth grade. And I continued to have them all throughout elementary and high school. I didn’t know they were panic attacks at the time, but I knew I couldn’t be around people. At home, I would go for hours, days (if allowed) on end without even leaving my room. I was afraid of going for a walk and someone trying to kidnap me. It really didn’t matter where I was, I was always on high alert. I could walk into a room and would scan for exits, memorize faces, know what I could use to protect myself. I was anxious. I was always anxious.

In my mind, something was going to go wrong. Always. I was on high alert and prepared for the next disaster to happen.

Another side effect of my anxiety, that I didn’t realize at the time (probably due to my lack of knowledge about anxiety) was sleep. My parents used to yell and scream and me that I needed to go to sleep. They thought I was purposefully laying awake until 2 or 3 or even 4 in the morning just to be a troublesome child. I didn’t want to lay awake worrying. That’s just what happened. Any time I told anyone what was really happening they’d laugh it off or just tell me to not worry anymore.

Because clearly, the solution was that simple.

There was one point, I do recall, going to the doctor for annual check-ups, my mother told the Doctor that I was not sleeping. The Doctor told my mother that I was either acting out, or that I was consuming too much sugar/caffeine. As a fifth grader, I wasn’t consuming caffeine. So in her mind, the problem was sugar. She didn’t let me have sugar for MONTHS! It was probably close to a year. She’d specifically take my siblings and I out for ice cream and tell me that I wasn’t allowed any treats until I proved to her that I was willing to sleep when it was bed time. As you can imagine, this made fifth grade me extremely angry. She was treating it like it was something I could control. And, when I didn’t have any sugar in my life and I still couldn’t sleep at night, she’d convinced herself that I was sneaking sugar and lying to her about it.

During the few hours a night that I actually did sleep, I was grinding my teeth in my sleep. Every time I went to the dentist he’d tell me I was ruining my teeth. He convinced my parents, on three separate occasions, to get expensive ($500 or more) mouth guards for me to wear when I slept. They never worked. They fell out, or they’d break, or they just caused me to struggle even more so with my sleep. I was asleep and grinding my teeth. I couldn’t control it.

Many a conversation were had in which my parents discussed there frustrations with me not properly wearing my $500 mouth guard so the teeth grinding woke them up. They were both angry that I was ruining my teeth and felt as though they couldn’t wake me up because I slept so little.

All of this… and I mean ALL OF THIS was symptoms of my anxiety. My parents, while good people for the most part, openly acknowledge that they believe anxiety and depression are a made up construct.

I moved away from home. I went to University, got a job, built a life for myself and, for almost a decade, things were really good. I learned what anxiety was, as per my own research, and learned how I could cope with it on my own. I found great friends, and I was managing the anxiety I had, after finally learning what it was. I got into a good sleep rhythm and, the teeth grinding stopped.

Last year, when everything fell apart the anxiety and panic attacks hit me like a ton of bricks. I was experiencing it in ways that I hadn’t since I was a teenager. Knight and I came to see my mom right after her second surgery and I remember her telling me she could hear me grinding my teeth so loudly that it woke her up.

I sought out medication to help me cope with the sheer weight I was carrying in my brain and I cannot tell you what a difference it made in my life. No one in my family knows that I take this medication. My family frowns on medications of any sort. And, since they believe that mental illness is a made up construct, it just didn’t make sense to try and pick a fight with them about it. I wish I could tell them. But, maybe it’s just something for me to teach the next generation about.

I think it’s so important to note that that mental illness is not a made up construct. I also think it’s extremely important to acknowledge that mental illness does discriminate based on age. When I hear people say ‘No she’s too young for that’ or ‘No, he’s way too young to experience that’, there’s a little voice screaming in my brain ‘YOU’RE WRONG, YOU’RE NAIVE, DO BETTER’.

Who knows what would have happened had I known what anxiety was when it started affecting me. I could have found/gotten help and learned how to cope ten years before I actually did.

I think it’s so important to talk about the subject of mental health and well being with kids. I would never look at a kid and think ‘No, they’re too young’. I look at kids and think ‘Perhaps we could help them thrive a lot more as humans if we have these difficult discussions rather than avoiding them’.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone tell me they’ve had anxiety since before they knew what it was, I’d be rich. I’d be a fucking millionaire.

My only hope is that the present generation of kids, the kids of Millennials and Gen Xers, are being taught about this because their parents can speak from experience.

The doctor was convinced that I was consuming too much sugar. The dentist was convinced that I needed a $500 plastic mold to stop me from moving my teeth in my sleep. A teacher who saw me having a panic attack in his classroom just told me that I needed to ‘man up’. My parents were convinced I was just trying to be a troublesome child.

And all I really needed was someone to teach me what anxiety was.

Letter to an unconfident soul

Dear Self ,

It’s okay to not be okay.

It’s okay to be a mess.

It’s okay to not have to a plan. To not know what’s next. To not know how to fix your problems.

Newsflash: EVERYONE has problems. Everyone has struggles. Not everyone knows how to deal with them. That’s not shameful, or embarassing, nor does it make you stupid. It makes you normal.

What matters is that you continue to make an effort. What matters is that you don’t give up. What matters is that you just keep going, regardless of what the universe throws at you.

You can take it.

I promise you that you can take it. You can conquer it. You can defeat the demons, slay the beasts, defy on the odds and come through this with your head held high.

No one escapes struggles in life. So please, stop thinking that you’re alone in this and realize that people can and want to help. Likewise, people need help themselves and you can be an ally. Be an ally.

As much as you might not believe it, there is a reason for everything in life. If you’re being tested right now, you’re being tested for a reason. If things aren’t falling into place, no matter how much work you put forth, no matter how much progress you feel you’re making, there’s a reason for that.

Buckle in. Be ready for the fight to continue. Until the tables turn, until it’s your time for the limelight, until things fall into place, you need to keep going. You cannot give up.

No matter how messy it gets, no matter how much you doubt yourself, I beg of you, please don’t give up.

Sincerely, Me

Letter to a struggling soul

Dear Self,

The struggle is real.

It really doesn’t matter what others might say or think about what you’re going through, what matters is what you say and think. And truth be told, they’re not you so expecting them to understand what is happening is, in itself, a bit of a lost cause.

Remember that age old wisdom that says ‘Don’t fix a temporary problem with rash decisions’? Listen to that. You know it’s right. You know that quick thinking, or perhaps even no thinking, isn’t going to fix this for you.

The universe is testing you. And let me tell you IT SUCKS. I know it sucks. Every second of it. But, how you react, here and now, to what is happening, this will have a ripple effect throughout the rest of your life. Act wisely. Accept help where you can, give help where you can and keep going, always.

The hardest part of being in this time and place is that you don’t know when this test will end, when things will fix themselves, when things will be normal. Will they ever be normal? There’s no crystal ball to tell you for certain, all you can use for a guide is hard work and hope. Hope for a better world for you and everyone else who lives in it.

When you really stop to think about it, it’s important to be thankful for the things that you do have. You’re not starving. You’re not on the street somewhere, struggling to stay warm. You have a lot of blessings in your life that are very easy to overlook if you allow yourself to. So just remember, as bad as it might seem, you are one of the lucky ones. Because you are.

Remember how far you’ve come. Remember that this is all for a purpose. And, when it’s over, remember that you’re going to be stronger because of it. Scratch that, you already are stronger because of it. Silver linings, self, you need to remember them more often. Struggle teaches us just how strong we are. Struggle teaches us just how far we can bend without breaking. And last time I checked you were still standing, in one piece and all.

Hold on, self. I promise you better is coming. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can feel it. Better is coming. I need you to believe that. This struggle won’t last forever. It can’t. You’re stronger than it.

Sincerely,
Me