do not leave small children unattended

I have the best couch to nap on. It’s comfy, it reclines, the dog fits on the seat next to me. It also, as I have discovered, likes to eat smartphones.

I had fallen asleep, legs up and back fully reclined, dog curled up next to me, and had apparently left my phone sit on the back of the seat. All was well and good until the dog decided he was done with this napping nonsense and got up, shifting the distributed weight and causing the chair to come back to an upright position.

*clunk*

There went the phone, somewhere into the depths of the couch. After some rudimentary poking around, I couldn’t feel it, so I used the Apple Watch’s ping phone feature to see if I could figure out where it was. And it worked! The phone was… in the couch. 

So I crawled under the couch (literally – recliner, remember?), found a pen and a quarter and a ton of dog fur… but no phone. And then I got stuck under the couch because Dakota decided to crawl in after me and blocked me in. When we finally emerged from the couch, I glared at him, and he just tilted his head with the, “Whatcha doin, Momma? Is food?” look on his face. 

I pinged the phone again to see if I could narrow down where in the couch my phone was. I thought I had it, so I reached into the couch… and got my hand stuck between some wood and metal. 

After I freed myself from the couch again, I moved the thing, thinking it was somewhere on the floor that I just couldn’t see with the flashlight. Nope, pinging the phone said it was IN the couch. 

Literally. It got stuck in the fabric backing the couch, and I had to very slowly slide the phone across the back of the couch and maneuver it out the small slit on the side.

I should maybe not mention that this is the third time I’ve used the ping feature to find my phone only to find the phone within two feet of me (the first time it was in my back pocket), but, well…

And people trust me to adult. All by myself. 

ocd and the damn table

Every year, we host a party at our house for that epic football game. So this past Sunday, my husband started cleaning and putting stuff away to get the house ready. At some point, he looked at me and said, “I want to clear off that table and move your knitting stuff downstairs so the kids don’t get all in it.”

Now, let me just point out: this table and my stuff have been there for months. Years. It has never been an issue. But, whatever. My one and only (okay, not only) goal for the week has been to do something about this table.

Today was the day. Table day. And I. Freaked. Out. First of all, it wasn’t enough that I had to find a home for or throw out all the stuff on and around it (what if I need this? What if I move it and forget where I put it? What if this empty box that has sat here for 2 months is important?).  It was in the wrong place. The whole room suddenly made no sense with the table where it was and I had to move it right now. Except then I was overwhelmed with the fear that if I put the table in the wrong spot, the whole party would be a disaster, so what the hell was I going to do with the table?

This was not “the table’s crooked; I have to straighten it”. This was “the table needs to move or something awful is going to happen on Sunday.”

Half an hour of this worrying before I chose a spot. By then I was so worked up I couldn’t do anything and I was so not okay in my head.

Meanwhile, I was chatting back and forth with someone about this table and the world ending, and I’m sure I sounded like a freaking lunatic. You know what they said? “Everything IS ok… your little super bowl party will be just fine if the damn table isn’t 10 feet to the side.”

And you know what? This person is right. Nobody is going to care about anything except the food (I’m still stressing about the food, but that’s a different story) and the game. And whether or not there’s an outlet to charge their phone. 

Fighting OCD thoughts is hard. The thoughts are time consuming, the anxiety is nerve wracking, and the compulsions to neutralize or counteract the obsessive thoughts have to be done or else something bad will happen. This is the mind of an OCD person. 

It took someone yelling at me (well, as much as one can yell via an electronic screen) to come to grips with the fact that I was letting the OCD take over and win, and that I didn’t have to let it win.

But I still moved the damn table.

on why i sing

This will be my ninth year as a singer on my church’s worship team. Nine years. Crazy. 

So why do it? Why invest 26 early hour Sundays and 52 late night Mondays just to sing 4 or 5 songs at the beginning of a church service? Because music is my love language with and through God. It not only heals my spirit, but our worship teams heal the spirits of those we lead, too. I don’t sing for the recognition; in fact I don’t think I’m that great (but that’s a story for a different time). But those times when people approach me afterward and tell me that worship has touched them and made them glad to come to church and that the songs spoke directly to their heart? 

That’s not me. That’s God. 

I am merely his instrument. 

Worship is more than just getting up there and singing or playing an instrument just to look good and draw attention to yourself on the platform. Far from it. It is praise and prayer, healing and adoration for the one who loves us no matter where we are in life. 

He has planted the song in my heart; I just help everyone else to hear it. 

because it’s become an faq: anxiety

What’s the difference between generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder?

Really simplistic answer?

Everybody has experienced anxiety before. GAD causes you to be anxious about everything all the time. It exaggerates what the initial anxiety was about.

Panic disorder is characterized by repeated physically debilitating panic attacks. 

Do you/can you have both?

Yes and yes.

What is it like for you to have a panic attack?

My heart feels like it’s racing and pounding uncontrollably out of my chest. Each heartbeat feels like I’m being stabbed with an ice pick. The blood that comes coursing out of my heart feels like ice water, and I can’t breathe. It’s like suffocating and drowning, but still being able to breathe – just not deep enough. I will eventually start hyperventilating and crying, which does not help the breathing situation. I can’t focus, I can’t hear, and I leave my body. It literally feels like I’m dying.

What can I do to help?

Some of these sound ridiculous, but the key is to distract me and bring me back into my body and into the present:

  1. Help me find a secluded place and stay with me until I am calm again
  2. Run through basic math problems with me
  3. Word association
  4. Asking me random trivia about myself
  5. Repeatedly telling me that I am okay, I am not going to die, and this will not last forever 
  6. Actual physical contact, whether it’s a hand on my back or shoulder or arm, but don’t overcrowd me or I’ll start panicking again.
  7. Get me next to a wall so I can touch it
  8. Get me my meds (I always carry them with me)
  9. Help me breathe. I have an app on my phone that does this. 

How come you never look like you’re panicking or anxious?

Because, as one of my doctors previously put it, I am the calmest looking panicked person he’s ever met. I don’t like people to know how I’m feeling. I only trust very few people to drop the façade.

Will it get better?

Who knows. Hopefully. 

the greater good

One of my friends was recently accused as being a fame-seeking writer for writing an article about what it is like for her to experience bipolar and how she has learned to live with it. Mental illness is not the latest fad to hit the medical community; it is is a legitimate disease that takes many forms and manifests uniquely in each individual. 

This is not to say that there are people out there who write for the self attention, garnering pity, and to exaggerate events to make themselves look like a heroine.

I write with no audience in mind except for myself. I couldn’t care about the volume of my readership. I write because it helps to make sense of the thoughts in my head. And if, along the way, a reader catches a glimpse of their own thoughts or says, “that makes so much more sense now”, awesome. Most of us write to bring awareness to something that typically only gets talked about in broad brush strokes.

Yes, I’ve written and spoken about what I’ve lived through because that is what stigma fighting is. It is not a publicity stunt. It is not story time. It is not a ploy to get more people to pay attention to me. It is writing to be real and to answer questions people ask of me. 

I admire Jenn for writing from her heart, for writing in such a way that the focus is on awareness, not wanting people to pay attention to her. She’s a great woman, and has been published everywhere, and not once has it gotten to her head. 

If you want to write for personal reasons, then write. Your page views and reader count shouldn’t be your motivation. 

the musings of some stranger

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