Sweaty and Worried – Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Hank had to sing an Italian song for his tests.

His music instructor did not believe that he had been practicing two hours a day. When Hank asked his voice teacher to sign off on those hours, his voice teacher still did not believe him.  He had nothing to feel shame about.  “Then why did I?” Hank wondered.  Card in his hand, signed off, Hank resentfully kicked at the rocks covering the path back to administration.

Looking out over mostly empty hard wooden seating in the music hall, Hank slaughtered the song. Even so, it was still the best performance he had ever done.  His father was there in his stained tie and largeness.  His mother in her too many colors, smiled loudly.  She was tone deaf.  Frank’s shame followed him.  He had practiced.

Hank’s older brother dressed in silk shirts, a big gold medallion, a tuft of hair coming out of his barely suppressed neckline.  When they prayed, Hank heard these smacking noises, and thought, “Pray for my nausea,” hoping they would stop kissing.  His brother always had a girlfriend.  The girlfriend was at his recital.  There were noises.

Everyone was scared Hank’s brother would marry too early and maybe marry for the wrong reasons.  His dad was always like, “Wait, wait!” But with Angie, Dad was like, “Get married now!”  Angie was the best in a long line of noisy kissers.

They asked Hank to sing at their wedding.  They insisted.  His brother, his brother’s girlfriend, his parents – they spoke in harmonics all at once.  “Hank!  You sing like Sinatra! Don’t worry so much! You should sing!”

In a rented tuxedo, Hank sang.  The mike didn’t work.  Aunt Augusta told him to sing louder.  Aunt Augusta didn’t hear well, even if there was a mike.  Hank forgot his words and had to start over.  Sweat filled his shirt and he thought about the dry cleaning.

Hank has never had a girlfriend and he is almost twenty-five.  Standing in front of all those people without the song lyrics, the only words that came to him were, “I am like a sweaty doorknob.”  His brother, facing a battle of his own between his ruffled shirt and his manliness, did not help.  Hank thought, “He is probably waiting for prayer so he can start kissing.”

The second year of college, Hank got caught with pornography.  “Hank!” His mother pulled his ear, towing him while she shook the fisted magazine through the house.  He didn’t listen to her words.  He only listened to his memories asking his music instructor for his signature. Was it as bad as the wedding?  Talking to Sarah or walking across the campus greens were bad. He fingered his worries like a beaded necklace.  He worried a lot.  Worry and shame.  He wished he could have a girlfriend but thought that was a hopeless cause.  Hank was already planning on buying a new magazine before Mom had thrown that one in the garbage.

It is so easy to explain away why Hank is the way he is.  We have heard enough to say, his parents, his brother, his isolation, his treatment from teachers.  We can use these to say, “Who wouldn’t be anxious, worried, down, and isolated, when going through these experiences?”  If we did though, we might miss the generalized anxiety disorder, the medical.  Conceptualizing the medical in this way can be so difficult.  We could call it, “the un-reasons why” we feel and do what we do.  So then we don’t have to deny it.  The un-reasons why don’t have to make sense.  They are un-reasons, after all. We don’t have to deny them by our inherent need to point at the cause and effect, or explain into uselessness the reason we are this way.  We don’t have avoid eye contact just because they can’t be seen.

Hank, like so many of us, is included in the statistics that generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is one of the top reasons why we don’t get intimate with others.  The anxiety is distracting.  It isolates us.  It preoccupies our thoughts.  It fills us with self-doubt and develops over time, almost inevitably if not treated, into depression.

Getting by with something as subtle as GAD, or other brain illnesses such as degrees of depression, have potentially devastating effects on what occupies our life-line.  The moments that construct the overall devastation may be explained away by one injustice or another, by what are thought to be personality quirks, or simply by neglect of self. But they could be different. The moments, the otherwise same moments, could be different.  The same rude, distrustful teacher, the rejection from Sarah, the quiet mike – those moments could have been different with the same guy, different only in his brain health.  Brain health makes the sameness different.

As Nancy A. Payne, of New York University (NYU) Silver School of Social Work, wrote about treating brain illness,

“There is tremendous satisfaction gained from facilitating the transition from profound illness to equally profound recovery.”

The life-line takes courage to look at.  It takes courage to believe that the effect of our negative thoughts and distorted perceptions could indeed have that pervasively profound effect.  It takes courage to consider that medical treatment can likewise, profoundly change our quality of life.

Hank tried to take his life with a rope before we met.  I’m so glad he didn’t break his neck or die.  He is now well treated and his disease is in remission.  His life-line has changed.Bo-J0zyIEAA_Y3h

Questions:  What are you brave with?  What do you spend your courage on?  Tell us about it.  We gain so much from community and connection.  Keep on.

Self-Care Tip:  Look also at the un-reasons, at the reasons less apparent, at what isn’t seen – look  into those reasons of why we feel and do.

Turn Toward Something Better

Had a great time at, “Seams of Gold.”  Great example of how community is friendly to “Me.”  Met a wonderful man.

Me:  Hi!  I’m Dr. Quijada!  I’m a psychiatrist.

Him:  I’m Frank.  I’m a recovering Alcoholic.

Got to love love that kind of company.  Thank you to all who participated and volunteered.

images

Found after our evening, was thinking about that darn “justice” ever skirting so much of Me.  The way becoming the victim to abusive treatment drives “Me” into helplessness all around us.  Things like money turn us to blame and ugliness.  In the end, telling our story, we hear from our own selves more about the behavior of the curmudgeon than would ever leave cause/change/control space for an innocent like “Me.”  Yep.  It’s them.

Using the behaviors and emotions of others is never useful to explain/justify the emotions or behaviors of “Me.”  We are as free to choose to be a victim as we are to not.

Programs like, Seams of God, and people like Frank, remind us that turning toward something better is, Way!  It is way, like opening a window to a hot room, like turning the lights on, like biting into a ripe home-grown cherimoya.  Turning toward something good rather than away from “bad” is choosing to be free.

Be free. Everything starts and ends with Me.

 

Keep on, dandies.

your own,

Q

 

Lupita Nyong’o Speech on Beauty – W-O-W! And, thank you.

“…and my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.”

This woman gets us. Friend to yourself. Keep on.

Between You and Me, Interpersonally, Do this

Between you and me

Between you and me (Photo credit: flekotech)

First, allow transparency.

Second, practice the Three C’s – I didn’t Cause this, I can’t Control this/him/her, I’m not responsible to Change it/him/her.

Third, use the Three C’s to practice presence with yourself and within the connection you seek – interpersonal or otherwise.

Fourth, move into pursuit of “Quality of Life” – what increases your quality of life experience.

Be a friend to yourself.  It starts with Me.

Question:  Does any of this feel kind and in the interest of you? and thereby, others?  Please tell us your story.

 

Related:

What Was Missing Was You  2011/01/28

 

Our Wanting Could Make Our Reality A Whole Lot Better

Fantasy Garden Goddess by Tucia

Fantasy Garden Goddess by Tucia (Photo credit: Tucia)

Katalyn was forever bewildered by the contrast between the success of what she called her life and the failure of her relationships.  As the assistant to the director of Polk Hill’s only advertising firm, she knew everyone.  She was a blooming flower, her petals unfurled and her ability to know just where to turn the pitch was like opening to the sun.  She had talent. But more than that, Katalyn was a darn good worker.

Sitting across from me in the couch chair, her long and graceful fingers tapped the chair arm as if they were used to keeping time with her moving thoughts.  “Here it comes,” I said to myself, and tried to relax into the complexity of her story.

“Why am I alone?  Why aren’t I in a relationship?”

Katalyn chewed her lip and blinked a little faster.  “I will not cry!” I could almost hear her mind say.

Time cracked open there into reflection.

We all have this dissonance in our life story.  We make our choices with where we put our hard work.  But we leave our fantasies disconnected from this investment of ourselves.  We think that fantasies, (fantasy as in: contemporary, epic and/or paranormal – not necessarily fish-net hose,)…  We think that fantasies should materialize via magical forces rather than deliberate efforts. Irony, again.  Qualifying accessibility to our fantasies, (or we could say, wants,) this way verses to what we think is real is our own doing.

Reminds me that we treat our loved ones worse than any stranger.  Put our best years and best hours of the day into impersonal labor, we give this way.  We think the least of our own beauty, success and intrigue, and the most in those we know little about.  Then we wonder about the disconnect.

There is something raw and vulnerable about showing our wanting to ourselves.  It is one thing about our wanting in privacy, a place of personal ridicule and shame, and it is another to want in public life-process.

Imagine if Katalyn deliberately allowed herself to relax into her wanting at work as well as in privacy.  What would happen?  How would she do that?  What is the worst that could happen?

Imagine Katalyn as a woman who fantasized as she worked hard.  Would her work experience be different?  What would happen to her quality of life?  What would happen to her perception of reality?

Self-Care Tip:  Let your wanting, (or we could say, fantasies,) out into public.

Questions:  What would be different in your quality of life experience if you deliberately included your wanting into what you perceived was your reality?  What would happen if you worked hard to bring those together?  Have you seen this at work in your life?  Please tell us your story.

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Owning Our Choices Is Self-Care Even When It Feels Painful To Do

Repost.Take that for a grimace

Self-Care Tip – Own your choices, even when they feel painful.

She was leaving after twenty-two years of marriage.  Eva married young and says that about one or two of those years were pleasant.  The rest of the time she disappeared in her service to her husband’s ever-growing list of needs.  Although he was employed, she considered him otherwise disabled by choice and mental illness.  It was the choice angle that hankered  to bleeding in her and she wasn’t going to tolerate it any longer.  Or maybe she would.  Stay, leave, stay leave.  She’d been straddling those for several years although she didn’t realize it until recently.  And that’s when she told him she was done.  But was she?  …They both decided to give it one last try.

How many of us have sabotaged ourselves like this.  The sabotage hides in the bit that says things like,

I’m sorry, but….

Or,

I have to do these things!  If I didn’t he couldn’t function!”

We are naturally self-preserving and it’s not a moral issue when we try to defend ourselves.  It just happens.  However, we are misperceiving what is in our best interest.  We misperceive what is self-reserving.  We misperceive what we need to defend ourselves against.

The self-sabotage Eva was doing came out more clearly when I echoed her, asking if she had chosen to give her marriage one last try.

You’d think the answer would be as easy as, “yes” or, “no.”  But in Eva’s marriage, she was using points of action, outside of herself, to explain her emotions and behaviors.  Eva had the gift of freedom right in front of her, wrapped and unopened.  Her freedom was hers however, whether she chose to take it or not.  Eva’s freedom to self-care is one of the natural laws.  It doesn’t change with her perception of what is real.

I am, but I’m not sure about him!  We’ll see!

I asked her if she heard the barely hidden way she was justifying her current limited engagement in their “last try.”  The “but” behind her emotions and behaviors was sabotaging her friendliness towards herself.  She was stuck, because of it, in her victim role.  This decision to stay or leave was not evidently her choice but rather the choice of her husband, she was saying.

We talked some more about this and when I asked her if it made sense to her, this freedom of owning her choices fully, she slowly and quietly said,

It does, but I’m not sure if I’m willing to do that.

When thinking about Eva’s self-sabotage, it’s reflexive to say that it was because of her ambivalence (i.e. two strongly felt opposing forces.)  Ambivalence may not be helping, but the real damage to herself is done with her victim role.  She is free to choose or not to.

I’m hoping that this discussion will also hanker in her – put up a little fight for space against the other hankering bleeds she’s got flowing.  We’ll go at it again when or if she comes back in to see me.

Questions:  What was it like for you when you started owning choices (any) that felt painful?  How do you see this as self-care?  Please tell me your story.

Victim to Emotions Versus The Friendliness In Accountability

Thin layer chromatography is used to separate ...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s just hard!

It is hard.  Do you feel like a victim?

Yes I do?  It’s hard when they are making you feel this way and no one gets it unless they are here fighting against both sides like I have to.

Juanita’s self-perception and emotions; suffering is special and specific to Me, I am chosen to suffer, I am alone in my suffering and I am helpless, were carried by the air particles through our room.

In 1910, Russian botanist Mikhail Tsvet used water to do this to plant dyes.   The water in the plant dyes carried the pigment, separating them for his needs.  This is now called chromatography and we use it to determine what makes up a particular flavor or scent, to analyze pollutants, to find traces of drugs in urine, and to separate blood proteins.  You might remember doing this yourself as a child in the simple science experiment with a marker, a couple drops of water and a coffee filter.

Juanita’s son also knew about chromatography, I could tell.  He may not have called it that with words, but he did call it out with his body, his eyes and the muscles around his lips told me as I watched that the emotions had made their way over to him and that he was bringing them inside.

Some people call emotions contagious and others may describe them as spreading.  No one thinks they don’t travel.  No one thinks they remain stationary.  In fact, if we were to reduce everything in the known world, living and nonliving matter, and expand our thoughts into a large large amount of time, we’d agree that nothing is stationary.  Furthermore, everything is changed by the influencers in its universe.

Juanita’s son knew this even if he didn’t cognitively piece it together.  He was taking in his mom’s emotions and they were making their changes on him.

What I asked Juanita was if it mattered in the end.  She’s still left with herself, regardless of where things came from.  We’d like to think others should take care of us, at least not do damage to us, but if they don’t or if they do, in the end, we are left with ourselves.  All these perceived degrees of abuse she suffered – what now?

Saying we are left with ourselves, accountable to ourselves and should take care of ourselves is not making any statement about the condition of our connections with the world around us.  It’s just talking about Me.  Sometimes we perceive how others take care of us, sometimes we don’t.  The same goes with feeling alone and so forth.  But that isn’t about accountability to ourselves.

I would have liked to have said the same thing to Juanita’s son but couldn’t.  I hope he learns it from watching his mother.  If he or mom gain insight into this and can act on that insight, wonderful.  If they cannot do one or the other though, I’d bet there’s something biological going on and need to take care of themselves by looking for medical help.

Question:  How do you perceive accountability to yourself being different from where the problems drift towards you from?  Or from how you have been changed by problems?  Please tell me your story.

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