Coming and going

Coming and going

In response to The Daily Post.

My anxiety attacks are as like the tide. Everything starts with a flow that builds up for what seems to be a painful long time. The quiet murmering of the waves turns into a terrifying roar as they race towards the coast. When they reach the shore, they come down with a loud crash, destroying everything on their way down. Then, all of a sudden, every little bit of energy is lost. The body of water lingers around limply until the ebb sucks it back into the ocean of my feelings. But as surely as the ebb is followed by the flow, it will rise again.

Warning Signs

Warning Signs

In response to The Daily Post.

It took me years to notice the many warning signs my body and soul give me before I find myself in a situation I can’t handle anymore.

First, I become agitated. My fingers start tapping on the table or I hold on my purse for dear life. My feet move on the floor, even when I am sitting down. My back becomes rigid. In short, my whole body tells me to get out and take a break.

When I ignore these early warnings signs, my soul joins the chorus. Anxiety bubbles up from deep inside until I am unable to focus anymore. My eyes start searching for a way to leave the room – where is the door, how far away is it?

I learned the hard way that this is the last point where I can control the situation. Often excusing myself for a short bathroom break helps. After a few steps the adrenaline is going down and I start to relax. If possible I try to stay in the moment and notice as many things as I can: The cooler air outside the crowded room, the smell of detergent in the toilets, how the cold water feels on my wrists. When I come back, everything is back to normal. And nobody will be the wiser.

If I push myself further and don’t react to these warning signs, everything goes to hell and I have to go through a full-blown anxiety attack. This is something I can’t hide from those around me.

At first, I felt like I was literally taking the easy way out when taking a short break. But now I think dealing with it the way I do is rather smart: Ignoring warning signs leads to escalation, reacting to them to de-escalation. So my advice would be to listen to yourself and coming up with a coping mechanism that works for you.


Reaching out

Reaching out

In response to The Daily Post : Branch

During winter, when most trees are without leaves, you can see how many branches a single tree has. It surprises me every time. When spring comes, everything will again be covered in various shades of green. The whole tree is hidden beneath it, until you come close, you can only guess what the structure of the tree really is like.

The branches form the appearance of a tree. They can be long or short, some are sturdy, some are delicate. But they belong to the same tree.
Branches point away from the tree. They reach out into the world.

I think humans are a lot like trees. We too have a trunk, our body. From our body, we reach out into the world in many ways, like the branches. Our branches are thoughts and feelings. Often they are hidden behind our appearance and looks, like branches in the summer.

But sometimes, we can’t hold up our appearances, when bad things happen, when we are hurt or sad. And we lose our mask and shudder in the cold. But we are still beautiful, just in another way. And then, suddenly, there are buds on our naked branches, they slowly give way to leaves and we are back to normal again. Be patient, winter will pass. It always does.

There are times, where a branch is met with resistance, a wall, or another tree, and can’t continue to grow in an certain direction. This is when we are confronted with the fact, that not everything we long for comes true. But we have so many other branches that help us to explore the world.

We can learn so much from trees. They may stop becoming taller, but the trunk continues to get broader, and new branches keep developing from the trunk. When you can’t reach your original goal, find other possibilities to grow. And who knows, maybe the fence that prevented you from growing is gone tomorrow, and you can grow in the direction you wanted at a later point in life.

Be like a tree: Continue to grow, and don’t stop making new branches that reach out into the world!

Wednesday evenings

Wednesday evenings

In response to The Daily Post.

When I was in my twenties, I never missed an episode of The X-Files. I was a shipper, meaning I was focussed on the relationship between Mulder and Scully. And of course there was this wonderful dialogue in “Amor fati”:

Mulder: Scully, I was like you once. I didn’t know who to trust. Then I… I chose another path… another life, another fate, where I found my sister. The end of my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same. You were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant. My touchstone.

Scully: And you are mine.

When it was decided there would be new episodes on TV, I was thrilled. I enjoyed the two X-Files movies, but sitting in our living room with my  husband and watching Mulder and Scully bickering on TV brings back the feeling of twenty years ago. So much has changed since I watched the first episode. I never was completely out of touch with the fandom, there was always wonderful fan fiction to read.

In Germany, we are a little bit late and season 11 will be aired in March. So please do not disturb us on Wednesday evenings, while we are glued to our TV and feel young again!


Decisions, decisions…

Decisions, decisions…

In response to The Daily Post: tend.

I tend to take my time when big dicisions lie ahead.

It is not that I don’t trust my subconscious: Pondering on the first thoughts and feelings plays an important part in coming to a conclusion.

It is not that I can’t be spontaneous: It can be so much fun to act on impulses, but not where severe consequences are to be expected.

But I like to make informed decisions. Gathering information by talking to other people or consulting the internet helps me to see aspects I otherwise wouldn’t have been aware of. I listen to everybody, but I have the final say.

Sometimes thinking things through makes me change my mind, and I end up doing something different from my initial thoughts.

Sometimes my train of thoughts takes me back to the beginning, and it is like I never spend time wondering what to do.

But taking the time to see an issue from all sides is never in vain. It helps me to calmly accept whatever comes after the decision has been made. Because I know I made the best decision possible, and this is all I can ask for.

Why daily routines are good for my mental health

Why daily routines are good for my mental health

In response to The Daily Post: Creature

I have to admit it, I am a creature of habit. Not extremely so, it is not like task A has to be completed at time B. But sticking to some points of orientation helps a lot.

I suffer from major depression and anxiety disorder to the point where everything can become a real challenge. Quitting work also robbed my of my daily structure. This is a blessing, because I am not overwhelmed by the daily events anymore. It is also a curse, because I have to make up my own daily routine now.

I forget things easily, so every new appointment is written in my calendar app asap. My mobile phone is always nearby, so this is the best solution. The kind of app I use syncs automatically with my laptop and tablet, so whatever device I use I know I am always up to date. Before I go to bed, I check the appointments for the next day and set the alarm clock if necessary. This gives me the opportunity to start the day as early as needed, so I don’t feel rushed or anxious.

After waking up, I take my meds and have breakfast. After that I try to do chores, it makes me feel better to know I did something productive. If possible, I try to schedule my therapy and doctors appointments in the late morning, because this is my best time. Later, when my husband comes home from work, I cook dinner. While I am up and about, I try again to squeeze some chores in, like washing the dishes, so I have the good feeling of having accomplished something.

After that, I take a nap, get online or whatever I want to do. My husband usually goes to bed around 10 p.m. and I usually take this as my sign to take my night meds, brush my teeth, check my appointments for the next day and join him. So I take my meds at the same time every evening and have regular sleep schedule.

This are many small things that make me feel like I have some control over my life, and it does wonders for my mood. In hectic times when sticking to my schedule is not possible, I feel more stressed and sad.

So I think I will remain a creature of habit 😉

When even your doctor doesn’t know why

When even your doctor doesn’t know why

In response to  The Daily Post  : Inkling

It was the day after I had surgery on my left leg to beat melanoma. A wide excision of the tumor and a sentinel lymph note biopsy had been performed. The surgeon came to me and we talked. First he told me that everything went according to plan, and that he was very sure that nothing of the melanoma was left. So I didn’t need further treatments like chemotherapy or radiation for now. He had a look at the incision and said, that it was healing well. But I still had questions.

“Do you have any idea how long ago the melanoma started to grow?” I asked. He hesistated and replied: “It’s difficult to say, but my guess would be about a year.”

I nodded. Everything made sense now. The tiredness, the ear infection that didn’t heal.

He went on: “We found dead cells in the tumor, that means your body started attacking it.”

I let this sink in for a while. My body had been fighting cancer all the time. But there was one more thing I wanted to know. I rarely got sunburnt in my childhood, I do not have many birthmarks or freckles, we rarely had been to southern Europe in the summer, I used sunscreen, so…

“Why did this happen?” I asked.

“I don’t have an inkling.” he answered, got up and left.


No time to waste

No time to waste

In response to The Daily Post: Tardy.

Of course there are situations where being late is inevitable. I am not talking about getting stuck in traffic, feeling sick or family emergencies. I am also capable of waiting patiently in my doctor’s waiting room because other patients need to be seen urgently, or at the checkout line because the cashier just started her job and needs more time. These things happen. Period.

Since I stopped working, some people treat me as my time is less valuable than their time. Of course I let my friend or family member chose time and place of our meeting. I have more time on my hands now, after all. And I want the other person to enjoy our date as much as possible. I try to be as flexible as I can.

But what I do not tolerate is being tardy without reason. Please don’t make me wait, because you think I have nothing better to do with my life than waiting for you. I may have more time, but I also have other appointments. Leaving my home to meet you is not as easy as it used to be. I have to use a  walker now, I will need more time to reach our meeting point. And as much as I am looking forward to having fun with you, it is more exhausting than it used to be. I want to make the most of our meeting, too, I don’t want to waste my energy on waiting.

And by the way, my time is as precious as anyone else’s time. Because it is my time, and it is limited. And I do not want to spend it waiting, because somebody else decides this is how I have to spend it. So please don’t waste my time, I promise I won’t waste yours!





Too much entertainment

Too much entertainment

In response to The Daily Post.

Sometimes it seems all of you are busy going to concerts, visiting art exhibitions or hanging around at a new fancy restaurant. I am happy for you, but this lifestyle contains too much stress for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no hermit and I enjoy spending time with you, the people I love. And I enjoy going out, but not that often. But I need lots of quiet time, too, or I feel overstimulated, become hectic and start losing sleep. It is a good thing we moved to the countryside, about 15 kilometers away from the next small town and about 20 kilometers away from the next really big town. So I have a choice: I can easily participate in all kind of cultural activities, or I can relax in a peaceful atmosphere at home.

I grew up in a big town. When I decided to move to this sleepy place, you, my parents and friends, wondered if I would end up feeling bored. You worried that I could miss the many ways a city can entertain its inhabitants. The truth is, this didn’t happen. I found a new inner peace instead. And if I look around, many neighbors say the same. If we would have chosen the urban lifestyle, there wouldn’t have been room for our beloved furry companions, two rescue dogs and a cat that loves to roam outside.

You see, there is no reason to pity me. And you all love the peaceful atmosphere here, when you visit us in the summer for our local barbecue. We just talk and eat, but everybody is happy, without any additional entertainment. It’s true, less can be more, even entertainment.