Anxiety Management

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It has been an up and down sort of week. We had a lovely time with my husband’s family on Saturday (it always warms my heart when my gluten-free self can eat everything on the table, and it was delicious). Then on Sunday night, I got super sick with a stomach bug out of nowhere. I powered through work for most of the day on Monday (I did end up signing out a little early in the afternoon). Tuesday I took the day off because I had a physical in the morning and I didn’t know how I’d feel after getting poked and prodded, and I also got my flu shot and my covid booster while I was there. I cannot tell you how happy I am to have found this doctor – she is so affirming and pragmatic and it’s such a relief not to have to educate my doctor or be continuously advocating for myself in a medical setting.

This afternoon I have an intake call with a potential new therapist. I’m tentatively hopeful that this will be a good fit and that I’ll be able to get back to working with someone on expanding my toolkit for dealing with anxiety. I also started on blood pressure medication this week, which I am hoping will also help with the anxiety, since anxiety and high blood pressure tend to create a horrible feedback loop (I’m anxious, and my blood pressure is high, which my body interprets as anxiety, etc.). A friend listed out all the things I have going on right now in a text to me this morning, and it really put it into perspective that yes, it does make sense that I’m under some stress and should be utilizing every resource I can to manage it. So that was a good reminder.

I learned yesterday that the university that partners with the seminary I’m starting at next month to do the Spiritual Direction courses is actually discontinuing their Spiritual Direction program, but that it shouldn’t impact my journey – next semester is the last cohort of new students they’re taking for the program. So that’s an additional level of stress that I’m processing. Fingers crossed I’m able to finish all the courses I need to there before the program closes (slated for 2025, so my chances should be pretty good).

Today and tomorrow I’m going to be spending a significant portion of my time between meetings writing performance assessments for my direct reports. I think it’ll actually go pretty smoothly, but getting started is always the hard part with these. I’m grateful for these rockstars and I want them to know they’re doing well, but I also want to give whatever constructive feedback I can to help them continue to grow and excel.

That about does it for this week. As always, here’s your weekly dose of Nova:

Up North

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! There was no blog last Thursday because I was on vacation and attempting to unplug as much as possible. I was pretty successful, and it was an absolutely wonderful time away.

We ended up going up to Duluth a day earlier than originally planned, which made the whole trip much more relaxing than I think it would have been had we tried to cram everything into a day and a half. Nova was a bit anxious the first night, but by day two she was fine – she had a lot of fun making friends with the other dogs on the boardwalk. Taking three days off from work was just what I needed, and I came back feeling much more settled and rested than I’d felt in a while.

I’m going to leave this as a short blog this week – I have an exciting thing in the works right now but I’m not quite ready to share it with the world at large yet. Hopefully in the next week or two I’ll be posting about that here!

Little Moments

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. My brain keeps thinking it’s either Wednesday or Friday; not sure why I seem unable to land on Thursday this week. But here we are, the last day of September (how did that happen?), and I’m staring at the blank space on this screen wondering what to write about.

This week has been good, overall, though there have certainly been stressful pieces. Mostly, though, it’s been a week of noticing the little moments.

On Sunday, we went to a Twins game with my husband’s dad and brother, which was super fun. Their brother decided it would be funny to throw his hat at the end of the national anthem (and again during the 7th inning stretch), and even though the Twins lost, it was still a really fun time. I hadn’t been to a baseball game in quite a while (since well before pandemic times), and I was reminded how much I enjoy baseball, even though I don’t follow it closely. I played softball for many years as a kid, and because of that, baseball is the one sport where I feel like I actually mostly understand what’s happening.

While we were at the baseball game, my dad came and watched Nova for us, which I think they both enjoyed.

On Tuesday evening, Nova and I went for, I think, the longest walk I’ve taken her on so far. It was a really lovely evening, weather-wise, but there weren’t a lot of people out for the first half of it, which was odd but made for a very calm walk. We noticed the trees that are just starting to change color down by the river, which gives me hope that when we go up north next weekend we’ll get to see some pretty leaves.

I leave you with this snuggly picture of Nova that my husband took this morning. Take care of yourselves and each other. There might not be a blog next week, as I’ll be headed up north on Thursday, but we’ll see what happens.

Reset

Hello, dear readers, and welcome once again to Thursday. I’m all out of sorts and confused about what day it is, but according to my phone, it is, in fact, Thursday.

I had a really lovely weekend, but I did not budget my energy well, and I was paying for it by Tuesday morning. Basically, on Saturday afternoon I decided on a whim to take myself to the Renaissance Festival, which was fun (it would have been more fun with a friend, but it was still delightful), but was more time around people than I’ve spent in a long time. And then Sunday evening we went over to my in-laws’ house to hang out with them and some extended family who were in town, which was also delightful, but was something I did not totally register was going to be happening when I decided to go to the Ren Fest (even though it was on the calendar and had been for a few weeks). Monday I was so. tired. And Tuesday morning was a major struggle, to the point that I finally reached out to my boss and asked if I could take that afternoon and all of Wednesday off to reset.

It sort of worked. Tuesday afternoon I napped for a couple hours. Yesterday I finished the second really good book in a really great series. We also took Nova to her first vet visit (which she was great at – the vet gave her an A++).

Nova was a very good girl at the vet!

I was able to make it to my desk on time this morning, which felt like an accomplishment. I’m still not feeling 100%, but a lot of that can probably be blamed on allergies. I’m glad I was able to take the time I needed to recover, and I’m trying not to beat myself up for not doing a better job of taking care of myself in the first place. I’m tired of being tired. I’m also realizing (thanks to a friend pointing it out on Facebook) that it might be a seasonal thing, and I should probably look into getting a sun lamp for my office.

Anyway, that’s it from me this week. I hope you’re all hanging in there. Take care of yourselves and each other.

Anticipation

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I had a bit of a restless night and ended up getting up a bit after 5am this morning. I took a shower, got dressed, and now I’m sprawled on the couch writing this a bit after 6. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean I’m going to crash super early tonight, but I guess we’ll find out.

It’s an exciting week! Tonight after work, I’m getting a real haircut and beard trim for the first time in 18 months. I’ve been doing it myself throughout the pandemic, and while it feels a little weird and extremely indulgent to pay someone else to do it now, I recognize that they will do a better job than I will, and also that it means less cleanup for me at home, which is great.

The other big exciting thing this week is that we’re officially meeting a dog to potentially adopt on Saturday! The last couple of days have involved many emails back and forth with a local rescue about various dogs who we hoped might be a good fit – the first one we emailed about didn’t sound like she was quite right for us, the next two we asked about were already spoken for…but we’re very excited to meet this particular doggo. I’m not going to post any pictures or other details until we know if she’s ours (but if you text or otherwise message me directly, I will share), but suffice it to say she’s very pretty and seems like a great pup. (Evidently her foster was planning to foster-to-adopt, but she’s not getting along with the resident cat.)

The D&D group I am DMing for is getting back into it on Sunday after a couple month hiatus while folks were moving and starting new jobs. I’m nervous but excited about that. I think I have a fun story planned and while I know there are a handful of details I’m still need to plot out, it will hopefully be a good time for everyone. I also might have found a local D&D group to join!

I hope you’re all hanging in there. It’s been a wild week for a lot of folks. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please do that. If you can, get your booster shot. Wear masks indoors and in crowds. Take care of your communities and yourselves – it’s the only way we’re going to get through this.

AnxietyBrain

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It’s a bit of a weird week here. I’m feeling a bit off my game anyway, and my husband is back in Chicago getting our old apartment fully cleaned out and turning in keys to the landlord there, so I’m alone in a new space, which feels a little strange.

The week started out with discovering a handful of fraudulent authorization charges (thankfully for $0, but still from places I have definitely not attempted to spend money) on my debit card. When I called to cancel the card, the customer service rep “ma’am-ed” me at the end of literally every sentence. When they asked if I wanted to order a new card over the phone or go into a branch and get one instantly in person, I said I’d go to a branch (mostly because I wanted to escape the rampant misgendering and because it sounded faster)…only to realize my bank doesn’t have any branches in downtown St. Paul. I texted a few friends to see if anyone could take me to the bank (we don’t have a car yet), and my college bestie came through. We got to the bank, I went in, and was informed that their card machine had gone down and it was a company-wide problem, so I’d have to come back another day. (Thankfully, I was at least able to get coffee with my friend before we headed home, and it was lovely to see her, so the trip wasn’t a total waste of our time.) I’m planning to have an adventure on the light rail train Saturday morning to try again.

I’ve been rather anxious this week, I think largely because I have some projects I’ve been procrastinating on that I can’t procrastinate on any longer, and I’m regretting my procrastination pretty intensely. Anxiety is a tricky thing – sometimes it can be catalyzing and motivating to some degree, but often it’s just paralyzing, which gets you into the feedback loop of “I didn’t get this thing done earlier and now I’m anxious it won’t get done but my anxiety is making me avoid the thing further and now it’s even less likely to get done…” So that’s a thing I’m working my way through.

Last night I got to go out for drinks with one of my oldest friends (the friend I ran into on the street last week), and it was so wonderful. I love having friends I can just jump back into conversation with even though we haven’t really sat down for a chat in years. We ended up hanging out for a couple of hours, and honestly one of the best parts of the whole time together was realizing how far we’ve come in the time that we’ve known each other. We’re both in really good places overall right now, and it was great to be able to celebrate that.

I think that’s it from me this week. I really am loving our new space as we get settled in. I hope your weeks are treating you gently and that you’re all hanging in there.

Resting

Hello, dear readers! I’m a little late posting this today because I have been taking the last couple of days off from work – I got my second dose of the Covid vaccine on Tuesday afternoon, and I wanted to give myself time to recover. So far I’ve been mostly okay – tired, a little feverish here and there, and about 24 hours after getting the shot, the joints in that arm started hurting really bad. But Tylenol and sleep seems to be helping, and I’d much rather be dealing with the vaccine side-effects than the actual disease.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks (more on that soon, hopefully), but things are good. I’ve been using this time off to catch up on some knitting. I finished a stuffed friend for my older nephew, and am slowly chipping away at a blanket for the younger one. (I’ve also been playing a bit of Animal Crossing lately to get myself off my phone/computer screens, which has been fun.)

I’m going to keep this one brief – time for me to have some coffee and make some breakfast now that I’m finally up and moving about. Tomorrow I’m getting color added to my new tattoo, and I am very excited about that! (And very thankful I don’t feel worse post-vaccine, so it should actually be manageable.)

Resilience

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday that I didn’t fully realize was Thursday until I’d been awake for a few hours, despite having looked at my schedule and literally written the word “Thursday” in my planner earlier this morning. The coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, apparently.

I’ve been thinking about resilience lately. Last week, I posted about how frustrated and sad I am about all of the anti-trans legislation that’s being considered across the US right now. I am definitely very frustrated and sad, but I’ve been thinking about how, even a year ago, that might’ve made me feel totally derailed. But I’ve been doing a lot of work in therapy over the past couple of years to build resilience, to increase my capacity to deal with hard emotions, and to be better able to self-regulate. And I’m finding that, despite the frustration and sadness…I’m okay.

I recently worked out a new schedule with the therapist I’ve been working with for a little over two years now. We’d been meeting weekly – we pushed things back to fortnightly for about a month, and now we’re just checking in monthly, because I realized I was consistently showing up to therapy saying, “You know, I’m actually doing really well!” and not having a lot to dig into. And even this week, when I’ve been wrestling with frustration and sadness alongside some general adulting that came up unexpectedly, I am okay with that decision. I’ve checked in with myself a few times over the last week, asking if I needed to text my therapist and schedule a check-in sooner, but really, I just keep coming up with the answer of, “I’ve got this.” I have proven to myself that I can do hard things, and I’m learning to trust myself more.

I’m really proud of the work that I’ve done to get here. I know this work is the work of a lifetime, and it’ll never be done, but that doesn’t overwhelm me like it used to. I’ve finally moved out of being in survival mode 24/7 and into a place where I feel like I’m thriving, even when things are hard or uncomfortable. (I won’t lie, this is thanks not only to a lot of hard work in therapy, but also to the fact that moving into a new job situation a year ago meant a significant increase in pay. It’s a lot easier to feel like you’re thriving when you’re not scraping by paycheck to paycheck and having to watch every penny you spend to avoid overdrawing your checking account.) It’s a welcome change.

February Winding Down

Hello, lovely readers, and welcome to Thursday. Yesterday felt a lot like a Thursday to me, and today feels like a Friday, which means tomorrow will likely be a challenge. I have just been tired this week for no particular reason. Thankfully, the weather in Chicago is turning warmer and sunnier, and that makes things feel a little better (I like cold weather, but my joints have other opinions).

February is winding down. I have 18 songs posted on FAWM and, assuming I can get a song done for class this week, should round out the month with at least 19, which ties for the most songs I’ve ever written in a month (I also wrote 19 songs the first year I did FAWM). I got a bit overwhelmed by it all sometime last week and haven’t been writing or posting or engaging with the site in general as much as I was at the beginning of the month, but it’s still been a major source of joy in my month.

Work has been good, although I feel like I’m behind on a couple of larger projects. In reality I probably didn’t have super realistic expectations at the outset of these things, and I’m trying to be gentle with myself about it. I’m still definitely feeling a fair bit of burnout from being at the computer all the time, and am going to look today at when I can take a little time off next month to reset.

I’ve been quite achy this week, I think in part because I forgot to take my glucosamine supplements over the weekend, and also because of the weather shifting. I think that’s also impacted how much I’ve been writing this week, because it’s hard to really play an instrument very well when your elbows and hands ache. It’s also made knitting harder. Sigh. The good news is that in general I’ve been in a bit less pain in between shifts in weather and the times when I forget my supplements. Unfortunately this is just a really volatile weather time in the Midwest.

I hope you’re all hanging in there, friends. I am looking forward to the day when vaccines are more widely accessible and we can hug each other again. I’m still planning to wear a mask in public for the foreseeable future, but hopefully after we’re all vaccinated, hugs will feel safer.

Making Space

Hello, dear readers – it’s Thursday again. I hope you’re all hanging in there. This past week was a long one as we waited to hear who won the US presidential election. It was a lot. It…continues to be a lot.

I realized over the course of the last few weeks that my anxiety was getting progressively harder to manage. This is pretty understandable, given the state of *gestures vaguely at everything*, but I hit the point early this week where I decided I had to do something. I’ve cut back a little bit on coffee, but that’s not really the direction I want to take – while the caffeine can be unpredictable in how it affects me, I find my morning coffee making ritual pretty steadying. When talking with my therapist on Monday, I finally admitted that I’ve noticed that time I spend on social media directly correlates to exponential spikes in my anxiety.

So, I’m taking a little break this week. I’ve signed out of Facebook on all of my devices and set up a 1 minute time limit in case I do hop back on. I’ve set a 15 minute time limit on Instagram and moved the app to a less convenient place on my phone’s home screen. And I think it’s helping. While I do get a little twitchy sometimes when I start to fall into autopilot and navigate toward Facebook and then realize I can’t do that, for the most part I don’t miss it. We’ll see how I’m feeling by the end of the week – I committed to staying off for a week starting Tuesday, and I’m going to reassess early next week if I want to go longer.

I also had the day off yesterday, for Veterans Day. That was also helpful on the anxiety front – I slept in and was pretty lazy for most of the day, which was (mostly) what I needed (it probably would have been a better long-term decision to work on some housework, but oh well).

So that’s where I’m at this week – trying to create some space so that my anxious brain and body can hopefully relax a little bit. I hope you’re all doing what you need to in order to take care of yourselves and your communities right now.