That Anxiety Thing

Well the tagline of this blog says “Anxiety” so let’s get real – I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder at the age of 17 so it’s been about 10 years since that enlightening news. With some research and help from my mother we realized I’d been showing symptoms since the age of two.

So how broken are you Bianca? Do you wear an aluminum foil hat and refuse to leave the bunker you call a house?

Alas, no I’m not that interesting, and I’m *knock on wood* not agoraphobic. Keeping my mind busy keeps my mind at ease so I have no trouble holding and exceling at a job. Some call it anxiety, my bosses call it “thinking 2 steps ahead” – it’s all marketing really. I fear and loathe driving; someone cutting me off can leave me in tears. Yep, that grown ass woman crying in her car, that’s me. I dread and panic the hours leading up to driving somewhere unfamiliar. Social interactions are filled with my constant worry that people are judging me as harshly as I judge myself. I follow up these interactions with my stressful mental revisiting of everything I said that night and how it could have possibly been interpreted.

I don’t sleep. I’m a night owl who never sleeps in past 8am, so that’s fun.

Today I reached a new milestone, after years of on again off again therapy attendance, my doctor said those loaded four words: “Have you considered medication”.

Ahh! Hit the breaks! Screech! My years of promoting in ending the stigma for mental illness and it all goes out the window; there I was frozen, my pride screaming, “I don’t need medication.” I can tell you, being there in the doctor’s office, you’re not ready to hear those words, because maybe you’re just weird and the anxiety isn’t real and everyone has these thoughts. I told him, “but like I know my problems are just petty” to which he replied “no, no they’re real problems.”

WHHHAAAATTT?????

Having my problems validated isn’t as satisfying as I thought it would be. Having anxiety, I’ve always jumped back and forth on whether I thought it was real or if I was just a pussy. I even stayed in shitty jobs to prove that I wasn’t a pussy, took a while to realize those were situations that normal people wouldn’t sit through.

So, what do I do? As much as I’ve been doing my own little part trying to end the stigma of mental illness and here I am battling that little Gollum voice saying, “meds are for the weak!” and “they’ll just turn you into a zombie or a vegetable”. Then that other voice that’s more like Xena going “think of all the people you know personally who are doing great on anti-anxiety meds!”

I’m probably overthinking this, as before I jump on the medication pony I have some legwork to do. Literally. Along with going to see a brand new shiny psychologist, my doctor also instructed me to get daily cardio.

“Arrrggghhhh nooooooo!” My inner child screams. Flashbacks of horrid gym classes pass before my eyes, barely passing, clumsy four-eyes, uncoordinated, out of breath nerd person. As I hate gyms and have no workout machines this has left me with jogging as the only option. So like a rational adult, I’m taking my fiancé down with me – if I have to be up and at ‘em jogging at 6:30 every morning (because who are we kidding, no one goes jogging after work) so does he! Mister-I-love-fitness has begrudgingly agreed to pull his sorry ass out of bed every morning with me.

So here goes it! A (possibly) new chapter of my anxiety life – how bad can jogging be?

Marriage Advice from an Engaged Person

So being an engaged person, I find myself getting huge heap of unsolicited (but granted welcome) advice from every married person I encounter.  It’s all a mixed bag really but I appreciate any advice that comes my way. Some people give referrals, others advice on how to go about shopping for certain things and my favourite are money saving tips ‘cause weddings be expensive and I’m more than content to be drinking beer on my beer budget.

The one that keeps coming up is to choose my photographer wisely. Here I was thinking I was going to choose everything wisely – I’m a bag of anxiety! Of course, I’m going to research everything ad nauseam and compare to make sure I’m making the right choice.   The reasoning for this repeat advice: because you’re going to have these pictures for the rest of your life. Woooshh let that sink in, deeper, deeper, side-track slightly and stop – I thought I was going to have my glorious fiancé as a husband till death do us part. Where’s the advice on that?

I mean great pictures are nice to have but a great marriage is better. Both my and my fiancé’s parents are divorced, and we both know all to well its not so much the divorce that’s painful, it’s the years living with someone that its just not working out with. Needless to say, we’re both very invested in having a healthy relationship and the advice we’re getting from people around us is seemingly absent. Is it possible that no one has good advice or they just can’t articulate it?

We’ve been together almost 6 and have been living together for 3 of those years. Since moving in together we’ve made it a point to analyze our relationship pretty often; like scientists in a laboratory. We google a lot.

So far, we’ve pinpointed things that cause us to fight: not spending enough time together, having a dirty apartment, leaving laundry where it doesn’t belong, and running late. As the cliché goes “knowing is half the battle”. I don’t believe it’s half, but it certainly helps in knowing and acknowledging what our stressers are.

Next, we both agreed to try to avoid our pre-programmed fighting styles, I come from a family who yells and says hurtful things in a rage, he comes from a family that runs on passive aggressiveness and the silent treatment. A yeller and a mime – our first arguments were fun. We agreed to avoid yelling and passive aggressiveness as proved by our parents were unproductive. THIS WAS NOT EASY. THIS WAS NOT EASY. I REPEAT. THIS WAS NOT EASY. Emotional reactions, and that’s what fights are, emotional reactions, are difficult to control but over the past 3 years we made great strides in communicating effectively during arguments. It’s cheesy but often recommended in leadership work shops and marriage counselling to use the words “I feel” instead of you “You did”.

For example:
Instead of saying: “What the fuck?!?! You’re always late for everything its like you don’t even care!”
You say: “I feel like when you’re late its like you don’t care that my time is being wasted waiting for you.”

In short, explain how the other person’s actions made you feel, rather than taking the accusation stance. It’s a relationship not a witch trial, unless it’s Halloween and you’re into that. The other person will be more likely to empathize instead of being defensive which in theory will lead to a faster, easier resolution with less hurt feelings and less sleeping on the couch.

That’s my inexperienced marriage advice for the other engaged people out there seeking it out. Cheers!

Review of Montreal 77

 

“The scariest moment is always just before you start” – Stephen King

That quote should replace “Fiasco Gal” as the title of my blog. There were many failed attempts at trying to start a blog in which my insecurities blocked me. This week-late blog post is just another reminder of the fear of getting started. So, without further ado, let’s review the Montreal 77 festival.

First let’s rip off the bandaid and get the negatives out of the way. DEEP BREATH. Not enough bathrooms, not enough food trucks, all day concert not allowed to leave and come back, not enough green space/sitting space, no band shirts in lady sizes. RETURN TO NORMAL BREATHING.

Onwards to the glorious. The concert was family friendly, which personally doesn’t affect me much but it was adorable to see wee little punk rockers ready to destroy in the mosh pit they totally weren’t allowed in. These kids’ getups were awesome from the spikey denim vests to the temporary colour in their hair, they made their punk parents proud.

The lineup was stellar, Creepshow, Bouncing Souls, The Vandals, Dropkick Murphys and Rancid. How can you compete with that? Getting to see the Dropkick Murphys play made me lose all sense of cool. I was screaming and jumping up and down like an Oprah audience member on you-get-a-free-car day (or a bingo-winged contestant on the Price is Right). No offence to the other bands, you were great, really, but The Dropkick Murphys owned my little punk rock heart that day.