When life feels like Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree

There are days I struggle. Struggle so hard with depression and anxiety that my life feels like I am on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree spinning round and round but without all the laughing. Days where getting out of bed is a struggle. Where putting my thoughts and words on paper seems impossible. Days where I don’t feel like being funny or cheerful. Where just breathing seems like it is all I can do. Sometimes I just want the ride to make me happy and sometimes I just want to get off.

Lately, the days filled with anxiety seem to be getting more and more frequent which to me is odd or maybe I just didn’t notice them before. Maybe I was content to be quiet and by myself and didn’t seek out situations that forced me to be uncomfortable. My job both as a writer and as a nurse make me step outside that world and learn to be more interactive with people. And let me tell you, it is hard. But you know what? It’s ok. It is ok to feel uneasy and anxious. Meeting people at book signings is so hard. I don’t ever want to let people down because I am awkward and weird and laugh too loud and say inappropriate things like a 12 year old boy. Trust me, you can as my co-workers how many times I have said “That’s what she said” in a meeting. I am the worst.

I was recently told I was intimidating and I laughed. Me? Intimidating? I am the biggest softie around. But then I stopped to think about my RBF and my standoffish attitude sometimes. I could see maybe how that could be misinterpreted as intimidating when in reality, it was me being anxious or unsure of myself. It made me pause and think about how I want to live my life.

There is a sweet spot in my life when I wake up to face my day and the weight of the world has not come crashing down on me. Where it is quiet and I can think about mundane things like what to wear or if I need to pee. It is in that time that I think about how my day will go. Will I let anxiety run me? It is just like the time right before you step on the ride and decide if the ride is going to scare you or be fun.

Let’s decide to make it fun.

Oh yeah. I didn’t die today. I decided to enjoy my spinning out of control life and just live. I am the Fat Girl Running and I LOVE Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. The experiment continues…

Stop the Ride. I Want to Get Off

It is a normal day.  Nothing exciting.  I can feel my heart starting to race.  My breath quickens.  The feeling of dread comes over me.  My chest feels tight.  I start to bounce my leg to alleviate that feeling of wanting to flee.  This is all too familiar and comes on without warning.  I know exactly what is happening and I cannot stop it.  It will control me even if I don’t want it to.  Hello anxiety my old friend.  Thank you for showing up unannounced and bringing your friend panic attack with it.  Anxiety and panic attacks are no stranger to me, unfortunately, but what happened this time around was different.  This time around, I suffered from severe vertigo.  Someone stop the ride.  I want to get off.

I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks since I was a teenager so when I feel that anxiety starting, I just try to use my breathing techniques or a quick walk outside to calm myself down.  But the vertigo?  Where did that come from?  The first time I got it, it was sudden and violent.  I stood up from bed and my whole world spun so quickly that I had to grab the wall to not fall down.  It was terrifying and I was immediately sure I was either having a stroke or I had a tumor.  There could be no other answers.  Also, would the paramedics come in and find me naked on my floor?  All I could think was please let this stop so I could at least not be naked. The vertigo left as soon as it came and I was dumbfounded.  When it happened again the next day at work, I thought maybe it was an inner ear thing.  But when it kept happening? For almost 2 weeks?  That is when I went to the doctor.  Only to be told to go to the ear doctor because of course, there was nothing wrong that my primary doctor could find.  That must mean a tumor.  I was partially convinced I was going to be told I had months to live when I went to the ear doctor.  After a round of some testing, I was told the one thing I was not expecting.  The vertigo was stress and anxiety related. Excuse me?  Wait.  That could not be it.  I left thinking the doctor was full of it.  It had to be a tumor.  There is no way this is stress or anxiety induced.  I was frustrated.  The vertigo disappeared and I was left wondering if it was all in my head.

Then this past weekend, I was sitting at home minding my own business when I started getting texts about work.  The room started spinning.  What the heck?  I was totally fine all day till I started feeling anxious.  I sat there and realized I did not have a tumor.  I had anxiety induced vertigo.  Ugh.  So that is a fun new level to my anxiety.  I thought about what the ear doctor said about lowering my stress and I want to laugh.  Not possible right now but thanks.  So now to monitor these symptoms and see how to handle them. Anxiety and I are old friends and it can show itself in weird ways.  I know I am not alone.

I write about stress and anxiety and panic today because I want you to know if you suffer, you are not alone.  Most of us do not talk about it and we should.  We should tell people how we feel.  We should reach out when we are not ok and get the help we need.  It is ok to tell someone you are sad, depressed, stressed or anxious.  I went through a period in my life that the anxiety was so bad, it cause me to not want to leave the house and going to any social situation was so painful I just could not.  I would throw up before going to work because I had to leave my house. But I would plaster on a smile and nobody knew I was suffering with such debilitating anxiety.  I should have said something.  I should have reached out.  But along with the anxiety came some crippling depression and I felt like I shouldn’t tell anyone.  I want all of you out there to understand something.  IT IS OK TO FEEL LIKE THIS.  This was a hard blog to write, but I am always honest with you and if this can help someone else realize it is ok, then that is the purpose.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Oh yeah.  I didn’t die today.  I almost had to be found naked by paramedics and thought I was having a stroke or a tumor but I didn’t die.  I am Fat Girl with anxiety induced vertigo Running and I am not alone.  The experiment continues…

How Halloween Became My Favorite Holiday

I was in an author’s reader group on Halloween where she asked what our favorite memory of Halloween was and it caused me to think.  I mean, Halloween is my favorite holiday but what about it is my favorite memory?  What made it my favorite holiday?  It took me awhile, because as a kid I hated the big deal about it for most kids.  I hated trick or treating.  Such a weird tradition we have here where we encourage children to go up to stranger’s houses and ask for candy.  Who came up with this idea anyways and how did it catch on?  It was in thinking about this weird tradition of asking strangers for candy, that I remembered what made Halloween my favorite holiday. It was my Dad.

I was such an introverted kid that even then, the thought of going up to stranger’s door, ringing the bell and saying “trick or treat” was too much.  Plus, in my town, there was the tradition of telling a joke before they would give you candy.  An introverts worst nightmare I tell you.  To top it off, I didn’t have siblings to go out with and save me some of the pressure.  BFF told me that was the only reason she would go.  Her brother’s did all the talking and she collected candy.  She said once they stopped going, so did she.  I didn’t have that luxury.  I was an only child until I was 11, so I was stuck going out doing this by myself.  I didn’t have many friends either. Nope.  Hard pass.  I would rather stay at home reading a book.  I loved getting dressed up in costume, however the thought of going door to door caused me anxiety.  To help alleviate this anxiety about trick or treating, my Dad decided to come with me.

Now one thing you have to understand about my Dad is that he is a big kid at heart.  This is where I get it from and I love it.  My Dad also never does anything half-hearted.  This being said, he didn’t just decide to come trick or treating with me.  He also decided to dress up with me and not in a lame store-bought costume.  When I was a child, store bought costumes really were not a thing.  Most people in our town, made their own and the kids came up with all sorts of idea for them, I am sure much to the dismay of their parents who then had to figure out how to implement them.  I remember my Mom making me a Raggedy Ann costume, complete with a mop head dyed red for my hair.  Everyone really went all out in our small Iowa town.  My Dad was no exception.  He decided to dress up as Dracula so a cape was made.  Then a white dress shirt had a Styrofoam “wooden stake” attached over the heart with fake blood all around it (he might have used paint for that).  Then, to take it one step further, my Dad made vampire teeth.  Yes you read that right.  He MADE them.  My Dad was a dental lab technician and made dentures, partials and the like for a living, so he made fangs to go in his mouth. They were the same color as his own teeth and looked so real.  My Mom helped him powder him face white and he even used makeup to make blood dripping down the corner of his mouth.  I was so excited that my Dad took all this trouble to go trick or treating with me.  He could have just come along like a normal parent, but nope.  He even slicked his hair back and tried out his outfit with a few early bird trick or treaters.  Judging by the screams, he knew he had gotten it right.

My Dad and I set out to gather candy from strangers.  The Dracula and the traditional Korean girl (I had a real Korean outfit my Dad had brought back from when he was stationed there and I loved wearing it) walking hand in hand.  Dad actually made me excited to go trick or treating.  He went up to the first few doors with me and parents loved the fact that he was dressed up.  Pretty soon, he would just stand back and watch me go up to the doors, sometimes even by myself.  He even solved the joke problem by carrying a joke book in his back pocket and would let me find one to tell.  When he stood back and let me go up to the doors, he was never far from sight.  Usually standing on the sidewalk or in the yard.  Then he got this brilliant idea.  He would stand under trees and scare the shit out of kids who were walking up to houses.  Parents loved it.  In fact, I started pointing out my Dad when they would ask me if I was by myself so they could see him standing creepily under trees waiting to scare children by turning on his best Dracula voice.  Creeper. It was so awesome.  I might have gotten extra candy for my Dad and filled pillowcases.  And yes…I shared with him.

The next year, I wasn’t so apprehensive to go trick or treating, but you know what?  My Dad still went with me.  He continued to go every year even though I was past that phobia by then.  I didn’t mind.  I would have missed him being there to be honest.  Not everyone’s Dad will get dressed up every year as Dracula and go trick or treating with their kids.  My Dad?  He is awesome like that.  For reals.

Oh yeah.  I didn’t die today.  I did however remember what made me love Halloween as a kid and it was my Dad but I didn’t die.  I am Fat Girl whose Dad dressed up as a creepy Dracula to alleviate my anxiety about trick or treating and in turn made Halloween my favorite holiday Running.  The experiment continues…