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?

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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!

Paddle boarding?

I find it funny in a not at all funny but actually kind of depressing way that anxieties can keep people from doing the most random of things. I had been discussing this with a co-worker, specifically in the realm of artistic endeavors. I’ll have an idea, a eureka moment, a flash of brilliance if you will and for a short amount of time I’ll be ecstatic to embark on this new idea and then BAM! that evil little anxiety voice will set in and tell me its garbage. It will list all the ways other people could potentially shit all over this idea and then reassure me that no one will make fun of me for binge watching something on Netflix so I should go do that instead.

My co-worker mentioned that she had the same thing but with sportsy things she wanted to try (yes sportsy, I made up a word and I’m sticking with it). She gave the example of always wanting to try paddle boarding. Despite being only mildly athletic (or not at all athletic, who’s counting?), I got stoked about the idea “Hell yeah, let’s go, let’s do the paddle boarding thing.”

She thought I was joking, or possibly making fun of her. I was not. This seemed to me, from the outside looking in, like a super feasible thing to do, especially since the weather was fantastic. After convincing her that I was dead serious about wasting my Saturday on what she coined as “surfing for pussies” we did a bit of Googling and then booked our paddle board reservation.

The next day I put on my bathing suit and board shorts and went to pick up my co-worker who announced that she had looked up instructions on how to paddle board since the paddle board thing we booked was in French (we’re Montreal it’s always a language coin flip when learning anything new) and we are not the greatest French speakers when it comes to sportsy things – the fact that I call it “sportsy things” in my native tongue should reinforce this point.

She gave me the rundown of how you point the curve of the paddle away from you (counter-intuitive) and all the other finer points travel brochure pictures of paddle boarding leave out. Wasn’t necessary in the end, the instructor dude ended up speaking in both languages, not that there were any super technical terms to worry about.

Anyway, we had a blast, we went with SUP MTL and they were awesome. They took a few minutes on shore to show us how to paddle board. Within a few minutes of being on the water, our glorious group of 8 newbies were off on an hour and half tour. Only 3 people fell off their boards on the course of this tour, I’m glad to say neither I nor my co-worker were one of them. This makes us athletic and validates my using of the term “sportsy.”

Suffice to say I would definitely recommend telling a co-worker to go paddle boarding with you.

Note to reader I keep accidentally calling “paddle boarding” “water boarding” which is really inappropriate. Just be warned that you might make that mistake and be considered a horrible person.

Sorry to say no awesome pictures of us paddle boarding because I don’t have a waterproof camera, if someone wants to give me waterproof camera that would be great. In the meantime here’s a picture I drew of us water boar-I mean paddle boarding on MS paint.

blogboarding

https://www.montrealsup.com/