I’m writing this whilst in a mentally unsound state of being, for a bit of cathartic release at 1am. Anxiety and panic attacks have been plaguing me for months. I had a full blown panic attack yesterday, the sort where I collapse onto the floor and heave, and wail, and scream my lungs out, not caring if the neighbours hear me.
Because that’s how it feels like inside my head. And it’s been bubbling, bubbling, bubbling for months. My daily antidepressants – vortioxetine and escitalopram – are already maxed out. They’ve helped to dig the well of tolerance a little deeper, but just barely. They have stopped the suicidal ideations though, so that’s something, I guess.
Xanax, the Great Slayer of Panic Attacks
Did I tell you that I love my xanax? No, I don’t take it daily. Not even for weeks on end at times. And no, I’m not an addict. (If you have a problem with medications for mental disorders, go educate yourself – on the right channels.) It’s a short term medication to control anxiety and panic attacks. And when I’m having one of those, xanax really kills their engines. I don’t even get high, I just get calm. Not even calm like post flotation therapy or yoga calm. But calm as in ‘I feel normal again and can function without that jittery bug fluttering all over my brain and heart and body’. It feels so good to be normal. Just normal.
Disappointment After Disappointment
I guess you could say it’s been disappointment after disappointment. In myself, in my business, in my family relationships, in my health, in the way I manage or don’t manage my health.
I’ve been panting all day today, and had another anxiety attack. The xanax snapped me back into myself again. And I needed absolute darkness and silence. Even the soft sounds from my friend’s phone had to be plugged into earphones, because even that tingled and taunted the edges of my brain. It isn’t ‘irritation’ in its simple form, but one that carries pulses of electrical anxiety via the nerves of my brain. The pulses turn into currents, and the currents into a gushing flood. They carry these little anxiety ‘bugs’ that burrow into that soft space of my brain, sucking serenity out of me, transferring their waste into me. Then finally, it culminates and bleeds and explodes. That sort of ‘irritation’.
Half my body was tingling and numb. It was frightful. I catastrophized as usual, and I have every right to. Worst things have happened within hours, even minutes. That absolute silence. That absolute darkness. It is something I can’t get at home. There is no compromise without a backlash of sorts. So I swallow, and swallow, and swallow, and burst. And swallow some more.
There is a Big Difference Between ‘Producing’ & ‘Productivity’
I honestly didn’t think that I’d start my entry for the linkup this way. In fact, I wasn’t even motivated to write it, because I have 101 things on my todo list. 101 maybe not-all-important things but need-to-do want-to-do things.
I admit. I am addicted to productivity. There is a difference between ‘producing’ and ‘productivity’, though. What I think I’m doing: producing. What people think I’m busy with: productivity. What I’m actually doing: producing without prioritising and self-care and therefore, the exact opposite concept of productivity.
Pin to Your Productivity & Perspective Boards:
The Addiction to Achievement
I also read this book this month, and the very first character in the list was ‘Achiever’, which caught my full attention because it felt like they were describing me to a T. I read all the other characters in the book, and found one or two more I could semi-relate to, but nothing like the ‘Achiever’ one. I am not a perfectionist, but I do like a good quality, tangible result. Here are some of the statements that I could totally relate to:
“You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by ‘every day’ you mean every single day – workdays, weekends, vacations.”
“After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits.”
“Remember to build celebration and recognition into your life. Achievers tend to move on to their next challenge without acknowledging their successes.”
“Count personal achievements in your scoring ‘system’. This will help you direct your Achiever talents toward family and friends as well as toward work.”
Strengthen What You’re Already Good At to Go Further
As I read through each character profile, I could imagine various friends, but of course, not a 100% fit but a mélange. Nobody is a 100%, I would think, even if a trait is dominant. The book is interesting in the sense that it believes in strengthening your strengths, as opposed to continuous ‘improvement’ on your weaknesses, and the struggle that comes along with something that isn’t inherently natural. To sum it up from the book:
“From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to our shortcomings than our strengths. This is quite apparent in the way we create icons out of people who struggle to overcome a lack of natural talent.”
“The inspirational nature of this story actually masks a significant problem: Overcoming deficits is an essential part of the fabric of our culture.” (Does the word ‘ableism’ sound familiar here?)
“You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.”
It was quite eye-opening, and the book was a quick, easy read:
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So, I Suppose Imposter Syndrome is a Real Thing
I’ve been working on my business site which seems to go on and on to no end. Tweaking endlessly to get it perfect, knowing I might not even get any business when it launches. Fear of not being a ‘real’ expert with all the solutions to every problem a client may have. I have this thing where I feel I need to be a real ‘expert’ before I offer my services for money. But really, we all learn along the way, and I do have sufficient knowledge to provide these services. I never really believed in imposter syndrome, but maybe, this is what it actually is.
Killing It on My 101 Todo List of Nothingness
I haven’t been producing any new blog posts of my own. I have no motivation, and it feels like the blog is dying a slow death. I don’t know. I had plans to expand on Antiphospholipid Syndrome knowledge, things I’ve learned the hard way, the long way after 20 years, since I was a tween. But I haven’t even gotten around to that since January. Talk about procrastination. With the 101 todo list of nothingness.
I’ve been producing so much. Problem is, if you ask me what I’ve been really producing, I can’t even remember anything of significance, or any major milestones. Maybe my mind is in a block right now, and I am simply too exhausted to even think. I have been flaring for weeks, and can’t even lie down properly to get enough sleep. I haven’t slept in two days, so I guess that contributed to the meltdown. A small, final trigger was all it took to cause that explosion. And all it takes is a few mean words. Or the tone in speech. Thinking about it now makes me feel a tad embarrassed. Because it seemed like nothing major to cause such a reactive, emotional outburst.
Digital Marketing & Online Business Reads
I’ve been acquiring lots of new tidbits of information in digital marketing, SEO, and online business. Through a Digital Marketing Strategist course I took to become certified, and through reading a number of new books and articles. If there’s one thing I’m happy about, it’s that I seem to have formed a morning reading routine, because I actually want to learn more, and my appetite for this knowledge is voracious. I’m curious. It’s helpful information. It will help my business. It’s fascinating all at once. These are the books I’ve read or am currently reading, and would recommend, should you be interested, too:
Five Figure Funnels: How To Sell Marketing Funnel Services To Your Customers For Five Figures In Any Market, No Matter Your Experience
A Scotch Whisky Name for a Scottish Dog
I’ve also acquired, if you could call it that, a little shetland sheepdog pup whom I named long before I got him. COVID-19 has made even pets difficult to acquire, so I’ve been stalking all the dog pages for months every day. The last time I booked an appointment to view some sheltie pups the following day after they arrived was a no go; the pups were sold out within two hours from their pics being posted.
Talisker, a brand of whisky that I quite enjoy (Ardbeg comes first ❤). Perfect name I think, for a Scottish dog. I love him and his name, although I hadn’t imagined that people have difficulty pronouncing his name here. Haha. My parents have already given him different nicknames. He’s only two months old, tinier than he actually looks in pictures, still needs 18 hours of rest a day, and yes – I’m happy to wait for him to take his time to grow up, and savour every bit of it.
Switching from Baby to Adult Foods & What I’ve Learned
I’ve been panting (how unfit) just running after him cleaning up, playing, feeding, and so on. I think it’s good training or to get a taste of what it feels like to have an actual human baby. For the future. I’ll start with the dog. I’m totally green to this whole dog caring thing though, and already keep worrying when he shows signs of lethargy, or rash, or something else. I’m worried about the finances involved as well, as I need to wait for another two months before I can buy him insurance. I don’t know how or what to feed him yet, and am just sticking to what the pet shop has fed him thus far, and switching him slowly to a variety of foods.
But I know I’ll learn, just like with my birds. It was so scary syringe-feeding something tinier than your thumb, but now I can feed a batch of six chicks within 5 – 10 minutes. Going back to my business – that really should be the approach I should take. Learn along the way. Enjoy the learning process. Learn from the mistakes (thankfully nobody is going to die when it comes to work, as compared to caring for newborn animals). Move on, and gain experience like that. I need to break free of that rigidity, but it’s ingrained in my personality, partially embedded as the eldest kid from young, so it can be a bit of a struggle. But I’ll have to try.
Forming Lovely Friendships on CISP That Goes Beyond Moderating
I’ve been forming such lovely relationships with my moderators over at CISP (Chronic Illness Social Pod). The group chat has evolved from moderating the share threads, to daily check ins on each other, virtual support, and a close-knit group where we talk about everything under the sun. From politics and COVID-19 where we live, to social media Q&As, and more. What makes it even more interesting is that we’re all from different countries – Singapore, UK, USA and India respectively. So there’s four global perspectives right there, and I really really love that. (Read: World Arthritis Day ‘COVID-19 Time Capsule’ with Sheryl from Singapore)
We’ve also started an Instagram account where we’re featuring spoonies, their medical conditions, stories and accounts. Anyone is welcome to be featured, whether they’re part of our Facebook Group or not. Get in touch with all of us on Instagram here, and if you want to be featured too, drop us an email at: [email protected] (We might take a while to respond and get your post up because we’re chronically ill too, just like you 😉 )
Competition Amongst the Chronically Ill is Ridiculous
We’re big on community, reciprocation, fairness and advocacy. It’s wonderful to have a team who lift each other up, where we can share about a bad day, and the good. It really is such a blessing for me, and I’m so happy to have these lovely people in my life. If there’s one thing I don’t want in CISP as it continues to slowly grow and expand, it is competition amongst each other.
I believe that competition amongst spoonies is ridiculous. We’re outnumbered as it is, and need to respect each other’s perspectives, believe in each other’s pain, and not become the society whom we claim is ableist and abusive. To sum that up with a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche:
“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”.
Pin to Your Friendship & Support Boards:
An Everlasting Bond Requires Cultivation
And whilst we’re on the topic of forming, of course I have to add that I hope to form a bond with Talisker that is everlasting and unbreakable. A timeless, unspoken love. One that I will work on cultivating, together with him.
And yes, also with my cute little cockatiels who are my fluffy little supporters. Speaking of which, one of the contributors to the meltdown was that I discovered dozens of bugs crawling on Stella (mummy bird) in the nest box, and freaked out. We had to throw the nestbox away, along with all their wooden stands and toys, disinfect the cages, spray the birds with bug spray, and fumigate my room late into the night. It didn’t help that I had had three appointments at the hospital earlier that day, and was already completely bushed from barely sleeping the night before.
Months of Little Panic Attacks Stewing in a Giant Pot
Adrenaline got me going, and I was sweating like a pig in the humid heat of Singapore. As my room was fumigated, I had to sleep on the couch for the night, and the small table fan didn’t do much to relieve the heat. Combined with the aches and pain all over my body, I obviously didn’t sleep much at all, and the morning sun might have triggered my Lupus a little bit more as well.
And whilst I thought that I could rest up the next day, a string of unpredictable events meant that I had to push through once again. So when those few mean words were uttered at night, I couldn’t handle anything anymore. Months of little panic attacks were stirred into a giant pot and exploded, splattering its ugliness everywhere.
Whilst a kind stranger on a Cockatiel FB Group in Singapore took Stella’s eggs in for incubation as she didn’t want to sit on them anymore, only one egg survived. I will probably keep it, and call it ‘Bug’. Just kidding. Let’s just hope it’s healthy when it hatches.
Someone Please Switch My Brain Off
I can’t remember what I wanted to talk about with the ‘switching’ prompt originally. It’d be nice though, if I could just switch my brain off for a couple hours. Total nothingness. Total bliss. No anxiety, no panic attacks, no depression, no worries, no pain.
I actually really enjoy going under general anaesthesia. I love it when the anaesthetist puts that mask over my nose and mouth and asks me to count down from 10. That quick disappearance into nothingness; I love blacking out like that.
Of course, I don’t enjoy waking up to post-surgery pain and nausea. That’s the obvious drawback. And NO. I don’t want to undergo GA anytime soon, because that means surgery, and surgery means pain, and hospital stays. Things that I now have developed phobias of. I will do anything to stay out of the hospital. Once they’ve figured out what the problem is, I am always begging the doctor to let me go home, and to let me monitor my condition and recover from home, if it’s juuuust stable enough to do so. I hate hospital stays. End of conversation on that one.
Self-Soothing Bites You in the Ass in the Long Run
I guess something else that I need to switch is my lifestyle. It isn’t healthy I admit, even for a healthy person. Late nights, stress from everywhere – often self-inflicted – not the best diet, lack of exercise, cigarettes…the list goes on. Perhaps some of these I use to self-soothe, but I also know that it’s a vicious cycle that bites you in the ass in the end, yet I still go there for the immediate relief, even if brief. I guess I do need to switch things up slowly. But I have no motivation to do so, not much at least.
Lockdown vs Locked in Physically & Mentally
I feel that as long as I’m living with my parents 24/7 in lockdown and lock in mode for now, I’m trapped. Mostly inside my head. Which affects everything else. Corrodes every other aspect of my life. Once again I’d like to emphasise, I don’t hate my parents. We get on mostly okay, although my way of thinking is so different from theirs that it’s impossible to share any real thoughts without getting lectured. So it’s all surface talk. So when I had that breakdown, even though they were both there beside me, I had to call a friend and beg him to help save me. I’m not sure how to describe it, but there it is.
I need space. Lots of it. I need darkness. I need pure silence. I need nothing. I need so much nothing right now.
*Note: This article is meant for educational purposes and is based on the author’s personal experiences. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding any new treatment protocols.
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