Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ideas...

So what do you want me to write or blog about?

This is your chance to give me some ideas, feedback or just simply express what you would like to see my write about. You can post ideas in the blog comment section or on Facebook. Inspire me folks…

Friday, January 21, 2011

On writing and Life

Life is unexpected and challenging. I keep thinking that no matter what decisions I make, what road I travel or what ideas turn I turn into words…there has to be a point to all this. Maybe writing will help me find what I’m so desperately looking for.
It’s no secret to many of you that the past few years have been extremely difficult for me. I’ve struggled finding a teaching position because I haven’t been willing to move around the country to find said job. Well, what would you do if you struggled for years, put yourself through school, and finally bought your first brand new home in an area you felt was “home?” How could I leave when I just securely planted my feet? It’s not an easy decision to make. I love our home. We have put so much love and effort into it that I cannot imagine giving that up for something as selfish as my career. Yup…I said it. You might ask, “Why or how could you feel that is selfish?” They didn’t give us any indication that the field of teaching was so saturated back in the good ole’ college days. It’s like three hundred applicants versus me per position if there even is a position. Frankly, it sucks. So I still ponder what to do. I’ve debated moving back to Upper Michigan, but it is just as bad there. I really don’t want to go anywhere else. It’s a complete career conundrum.
From previous blogs posted many of you know how I started struggling with anxiety. I am still trying to figure all that out. I’m considered “stable” for now. Not really liking the medication they gave me since it is NOT an answer or a cure. Plus it has made me quite irritable. You wouldn’t think an antidepressant (which, by the way, is not my choice but it keeps my premature heartbeats at bay) would make you want to rip someone’s face off for hurting your feelings. Well for me it does just that. Right now, money appears to be my biggest stressor. For about two weeks after my husband was laid off I had to deal with those pesky bastards. As soon as the unemployment kicked in and we could pay bills again they disappeared. I feel pretty good now. I feel strong enough to tackle it from the inside. Self examination is not always fun but it beats burying issues like I normally do. I must find happiness in myself. This leads to the next issue…
Back in October we found out we were pregnant. Scared the living daylights out of me but I was so excited. Yet I knew something was wrong. All the medication and instability due to the anxiety made me fear the worst. The worst happened two days after we found out. For the life of me I can’t figure out WHY we had to go through the loss of a child right then. Of all times why? I’m not asking for opinions. I don’t want to hear about God’s plans for me or sometimes it just happens. I really don’t care what people think. If I did I wouldn’t have told anyone. My blog, my thoughts so stop reading if you don’t want to hear this. The point is I have had some bad experiences this year. It’s time to turn those into good experiences for once.
Life is unexpected and challenging…Really? Honestly I assumed I could go through life and get everything handed to me on a silver platter! That was a joke kids. If that was the case no books would ever be written! So I started writing again. I had to. I’ve been through too much to NOT write, especially the last few months. Granted this medication makes me an irritable bitch at times but my mind is still functioning and I am still human. I still have emotion, I’m still vulnerable, I’m still full of ideas and I’m still…me. Sometimes you just have “to get it out.” Obviously that’s the point of this blog entry.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I’ve heard this saying off and on throughout my life. I never gave it a second thought until this week. It seems that if I take a step forward with on this path to be free of anxiety, somewhere along the route I take at least a step back. Sometimes I take two steps. One thing I realized tonight is that no matter what happens it is a learning experience. I’m learning about anxiety and how it affects people. I’m learning how it affects me. I’m learning about my heart, my brain and my body. I’m learning that just because a situation might be stressful, there is no reason why I should let it get to me.

Tonight, for example, I had this troublesome table. For one reason or another their credit/debit card would not go through due to insufficient funds. This man totally flipped out. Thank goodness not on me. But he just kept going on and on about it. He stressed me out. After a bit I came to the conclusion that I just didn’t care. It wasn’t my problem. It was my manager’s issue. I don’t want to hear why the card didn’t work. I don’t care. Just pay your bill! The $64.00 dollar tab was eventually paid, and of course they didn’t tip me. That made me upset too. Again, I told myself it wasn’t a big deal. Whatever. Like my husband says: why get stressed about something you can’t control? Exactly. Now…tell my body that. Within fifteen minutes I felt a few premature beats in my heart. That THUMP I used to feel. All because I let this get to me, even though I kept telling myself it was no reason to get stressed out. I have felt a few more over the last few hours. I don’t feel stressed at all right now. Hmmm…one step forward, one step back.

I guess that is just how life goes. The past month and a half of my life has had some incredibly dark moments in it. Those pesky inner thoughts: am I going to die? Yes, eventually I will one day. Now is not my time. Am I going to have a heart attack? No. Can I die from anxiety? No. Am I driving my friends and family insane with my constant need to talk about this? Probably! My life has also seen some very bright spots. I’ve learned to appreciate life more so than ever before. I’ve learned I can live without alcohol. I’ve grown to appreciate my husband even more since he has put up with me! I’ve watched my mom recover from a major hip surgery and feel great just a month after she had it. I’ve learned to appreciate nature again on my relaxing walks. I really need to start that up again. I stopped back on the 20th of this month because (in my opinion) the blood pressure medicine made my heart flutter. But since I’m off of that I should be ok. I’ve lost a grand total of 22 pounds since the middle of August. I’m almost in a size smaller than I was. That feels great. I feel good about myself. I feel I can overcome this anxiety. I just hope my body agrees!

I’ve decided to look into some more natural aids to help me get through it. I don’t like pills and I’m really not liking this Zoloft. I can’t tell if it is working, if it is not. They say give it 4-6 weeks but I don’t know if I want too. I’m also looking into mediation. That’s the next step. I’ve perfected deep breathing. It actually helps if you do it correctly. Just by writing this blog entry I am helping myself. I feel good about that. Damn good. So on a final note please, please remember that stress is not worth it. I know we can’t float through life like it doesn’t exist, but at least now some of you can see what it can do to you. I was on a dangerous path. Try to stay off of that road. Just because we take a step or two back does not mean we can’t move forward.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Frustration
This single word sums up the last month and a half of my life. Frustration. Granted there are a dozen other words that I could throw into the mix, but this one word really takes the cake. My husband suggested that I write about this ordeal and maybe, just maybe it would help alleviate some stress. I decided to give it a shot.

I hit my breaking point in August. I’m still trying to figure out how I got there. Mental and emotional stress seemed to be driving me to drink more than normal. Of course, I couldn’t have just one a night. Sometimes I had two drinks. Sometimes I got drunk. I realized I was doing it more and more. At first it just seemed like I was drinking when we went out or when we were with friends. Then I started drinking more at home. Drinking six days a week for weeks on end tends to be a bad thing for your body and soul. At some point I realized I was using it as a coping mechanism. I was stressed out and worried about so many different issues. I was starting to get depressed. I imagine that many people get depressed from time to time. Been there done that right? Everyone deals with stress and anxiety in different ways. I chose the bottle. Why I will never know. I could escape. I could relax and I could, for just a bit, not worry.

I just had to choose the one drink that all doctors and health professionals hate: Red Bull and vodka. That was my staple drink. Vodka has always been my drink of choice. Wine is up there too. I love wine. A great wine compliments a great dinner. It got to the point where a great bottle of wine complimented my night. Now for all the liquor reps and distributors, I’m not saying alcohol put me in this horrible position. I did that all on my own. But, I will say that alcohol made my downward spiral much easier to miss.

I don’t know how many of you know just how bad caffeine is for you. If you would have told me three months ago that my caffeine intake would have helped get me here I would have laughed in your face. I love coffee. I love hot tea and iced tea or a cold glass of coke. I loved my Red Bull too. There is nothing better that a mug of hot coffee in the morning. I miss it terribly. My point is it really affects your body; not just your heart, but your whole system. After ten years of drinking Red Bull I never imagined it could help turn my world upside down.

Before I get into that I suppose I should detail my attitude and why my stress levels were so high. (This is the part where I whine a little). The past few years I have had the attitude, especially at work, that I have no need or the tolerance for drama. I’ve learned to stay away from certain situations. I don’t want to get caught in the middle of arguments or be in them for that matter. I want to be friends with everyone. I want to be the person who is on neutral ground. I wanted to be the proverbial duck that lets all the BS slide off her back like pond water. It is obvious to me now that I might have thought that way, but I still let certain circumstances get to me.

I guess I can start off with teaching. It is pretty frustrating that I have a Bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and a teacher’s certificate in Michigan and I cannot get a job for one reason or another. I’m not blaming here. I’m just saying I created a lot of self doubt in myself this year. I had a bad interview that scarred me. I became frustrated and angry at myself for not doing my best. I try my best in all I do. I busted my butt in school and was rewarded with excellent grades and experience. It feels like I have absolutely nothing to show for it. Talk about depressed…it is horrible. Some people deal with rejection by striving full force ahead. I wrapped myself up in a little ball and started to withdraw from myself. That is so not me. So here I am walking on the career tightrope, all dressed up and no place to go. Being the habitual pessimist I decided to try something new. I looked on the bright side. If I didn’t teach I could sleep in…if I didn’t teach I could take a vacation whenever I wanted…if I didn’t teach I could help my husband open up a restaurant. The list goes on and on. I tried to weigh the good and the bad, yet no matter what I did I was depressed. This has been an ongoing issue since I graduated in December 2008.

There is also the usual stress: work, money, car issues, and debt concerns. Again, that list goes on and on. Add a cup of health concerns, another cup of family issues, add a touch of concern for your mom going into a major surgery and top it all off with a pet death and you have the perfect recipe for an anxiety cocktail. Does it sound as lame as it looks on paper? I can handle all this stuff. Mentally I thought I could. When I tell people what got me here I get a lot of strange looks. They look at me like I’m crazy. Who can’t handle stress? Let me tell you one important thing: we all have our breaking point. I had to admit that to myself. I also had to admit that I am not super woman. My mom’s surgery coupled with the death of my new baby kitten did me in. In situations like this is it is very hard to control your thoughts and emotions. Even when you think you’re controlling your thoughts, you’re actually not. Somewhere deep in my mind those dark, depressing thoughts sat there waiting to just burst to the surface.

My husband and I took a week off of work at the end of July. We painted our living room and kitchen. We picked up some new d├ęcor for the house. We went to Shipshewana and generally enjoyed our week together. We finally finished the living room and kitchen. It was a great feeling. After that week we went back to work. Life seemed normal. I started to plan a trip up to my hometown of Manistique in Upper Michigan. I figured September would give me enough time to save up some extra money. The middle of August found us with a new pet. A small, I guess you could say runt, beautiful kitten we named Humphrey. He was a tiny little fellow that seemed to have some health issues. We had him three days; that last morning I found him dead in his kitty bed. I was devastated. Second guess me if you want, but just because we had him three days didn’t mean we didn’t love him or our grieving process would be different if we had him twenty years. I was a slobbering, red-eyed mess. Now I have some issues with death. Sometimes I can handle it, other times I just simply cannot. This was one of those times. Maybe I needed to tap into my spirituality, maybe I need to saturate myself in a religion. Honestly, I’m not going to go there with this post. That is a whole other conversation.

The morning I found Humphrey dead my mom went into hip surgery. I was such a mess I couldn’t process my anxiety over her surgery. I was just this big, sad, depressed shadow of Kate. I haven’t really felt right since. I’ve somewhat dealt with the kitten’s death. My mom is doing fantastic now, but it was a rough road for her. In the days after that dreadful Monday I just simply existed. I drank…a lot. I cried…a lot. I tried to get it all out by talking about my fears and my sadness. It didn’t seem to help. One night I noticed I would get this jumpy feeling in my throat. It seemed to happen either at work or during work. It went on for a few days. The following Saturday we went out for a friend’s birthday. It was the first time we had really been out in months. It was a great night. We had so much fun. I didn’t feel I drank a lot. I was drinking the infamous RB/V. Now as many of you fellow bar hoppers know, you can get drunk much quicker if you make them yourself. You go out to a bar you might have a shot of alcohol and the rest is mixer. Apparently, if my math is correct, I was consuming way above my average amount of Red Bull. Top that off with little sleep, a few cups of coffee in the morning and you have “the incident.”

The Incident

I woke up the next morning feeling like crap. Had some coffee and eventually some McDonald’s because a Big Mac is awesome when you have a hangover. Neither one of us wanted to cook so it sounded like a good idea. I ate my mouth watering Big Mac and fries and sat back on the couch for some vegging. Yeah…not so much. Almost instantly I felt sick. My stomach hurt, my heart started racing, my palms were sweaty, I felt hot and all I wanted to do was sleep or at the very least throw up. I decided to lie down and read thinking it might pass since this was just par for the course of a nasty hangover. The longer I sat there the worse it got. That’s when I felt it. A big BOOM in my chest. The fear that engulfed me was scorching. I was having a heart attack. Oh my God I was going to die. There must have been 10,000 thoughts racing through my mind. It was the most horrible feeling. Then it happened again…and again. I was so scared. I was crying and I knew I was working myself up even more. Eventually it calmed down and I could somewhat rest. I went to bed that night, still scared and nervous, yet I slept soundly.

Over the next week my little heart palpitation made regular appearances, most of the time in the evening. I would get that little jumpy feeling in my throat. Now the palpitations didn’t happen all the time, or every time my heart would beat. It was annoying and made me feel as if I had no control. I dealt with it for a week. I decided I would do whatever I had to do to make myself feel better. I started walking. I quit drinking alcohol and caffeine. I actually started to lose weight. That made me feel good even though I was scared shitless. The following Monday crap really hit the fan. I had another “attack” a few hours before I went to work. My heart rate was so fast and it felt like it was right in my neck. I could not get it to calm down. I went to work a weak pathetic excuse for a server and lost it as soon as I walked in the door. I was damn near hysterical with fear. I’m going to die. I’m going to have a heart attack and I caused this. Needless to say I didn’t end up working that night. My husband came and got me and took me to the emergency room. Enough was enough. If I was going to die, then at least I was going to try to stop it. I wanted to live!

An odd thing happens when you don’t have health insurance. You just don’t go to the doctor unless you absolutely have too. And yes…not having insurance also stressed me out. We are at the point where we need it; it is just too expensive to carry. The big insurance companies can take a long walk off a short pier for all I care! So I really didn’t want to go. I didn’t have a regular doctor. I never needed one. If I was sick I would go to the walk-in clinic. I was not looking forward to a giant ER bill. After a few days I just didn’t care anymore. At least I could hopefully find out what was going on. So away we went to the ER. After a thyroid test, EKG and a nice little pill the called lorazepam I was sent on my merry way. My heart was fine. My blood pressure was high 147/something. I was feeling these premature heart beats that would be the BOOM feeling. I was able to even see them on the EKG. I was under mass anxiety. He wrote me a script for blood pressure medicine and the so-called happy pill lorazepam. I felt better but I was still not convinced it was my heart. I followed up with a doctor in town and he has taken great care of me.

I’m almost 34 years old. Why the heck am I on blood pressure meds? Talk about feeling old and regretful about not taking care of myself. These pills take some time to go into effect. After a few weeks I started to feel better. My new doctor put me on Zoloft to help with the anxiety and depression. The blood pressure pills helped. I wasn’t feeling the premature beats. I thought I could beat it. One night I decided to have a drink. One drink. I don’t even think I put that much alcohol in it. About two o clock in the morning I found my heart racing uncontrollably in my chest and up into my throat. I could not calm down. I was scared all over again. AGAIN!!! I fought it until about six in the morning. Now we are talking about a heart rate over 100 bpm for at least four hours. Draining is not the word. I managed to sleep for maybe an hour. I woke up, took a BP pill on schedule and called the on-call number for my doctor. He actually called me back and walked me through this attack. I finally calmed down and could sleep. It was at this moment that I realized I was suffering from anxiety. It was not my heart and I wasn’t going to die from this. It took me three weeks to realize that. You can’t overcome anxiety if you don’t believe you suffer from it. Everyone deals with it differently. For me, I get heart palpitations and a racing heart beat out of the blue. Other people get sick to their stomach. Still others have multiple symptoms.

The problem is it is incredibly confusing. I don’t feel stressed. I am not worrying about anything. I’m not drinking the triggers: caffeine and alcohol. I’m losing quite a bit of weight. Why am I getting these panic attacks? It is BEYOND FRUSTRATING. I was doing well on the meds for a few weeks when I started to notice my heart rate was gradually going down and staying way down. Last week, in fact, I charted several days of having a heart rate around 39-51 beats per minute. Ask yourself what the “normal” heart rate is…

60-100 beats per minute.

Well, something isn’t right! I was relaxed, calm, and generally feeling good. I was tired. I decided to go in and see my doctor again. I also bought and at home blood pressure monitor. I measured it every day for a week: 116/67, 111/65, 123/70…normal range here people. Why am I on blood pressure pills? I was pretty concerned with my low heart rate. I couldn’t even really get it up if I walked. At my appointment the doctor pulled me off those bad boys. Now after a few days and a few racing heart beat incidents later my pulse seems to be back up in the normal range. They still have me on Zoloft, even though I can’t tell it is doing anything. Tonight I felt that premature beat again. Of course, it was during and after work. Sometimes I feel I just can’t win.

My whole point is this can happen to anyone. I wanted to share my story because I know many of you that have dealt with anxiety. I am not a pill person. I hate taking medicine. Somehow, someway I will find a way to deal with this. I want to beat this. I have immersed myself in literature about anxiety, the heart, stress and panic attacks. I’ve become quite the little expert on what is troubling me. The bad part is I know how I got here; I just don’t know how to stop it inside. A pill cannot fix that. Only I can. I’m looking into meditation and some other options. I will try anything.

I don’t think I could’ve gotten this far without my husband, my family and my friends being so patient and loving to me. They might not understand what is happening to me, but they are still there for me. So XOXO to all of you. Why blog about it? Why not? People blog about stupid crap all the time. This is me and what is happening in my life right now. I’m not ashamed to tell my story or confess on paper my fears about all of this. I needed to get it out. It feels damn good to get it all out too. Thanks baby for suggesting writing about it!

Until next time…

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Oprah and the Tipping Rumor

I am just going to say this. I am at odds with Ms. Oprah.
She has been a big part of my media world for years. I remember coming home after school and my mom would be watching Oprah. The woman speaks and everyone seems to listen. She could rule this damn world if she wanted to. Agree or not, I don't care.

So this past fall, we heard a rumor that one day on her show she told everyone that they should only tip 10% to their servers if they dine out. That way they can save money since the economy is so bad. Are you serious? I'm here to tell you that Ms. Oprah can shove this 10% bullshit up her ass because it is beyond ignorant. I am a server. I have been serving the public for almost 20 years. Of course, I have had my fair share of drama, good tippers and bad. So now, not only am I struggling to find a teaching position, but I am also a college graduate server that has to deal with this. Screw you lady...you messed with the wrong profession.

Do you all know that we only make around $2.00-2.50 an hour? We survive on our tips. That's what pays the bills. Don't get me wrong, if I give you crap service I expect it. In fact, I will tell you to save your money and don't tip me. I did a horrible job for you. I have server balls of steel. I've dealt with everything under the sun. I know how to handle people. I take pride in that. Serving tables this long has enhanced my people skills so much that I can pretty much make anyone happy...or at least smile. I am a damn good server. That might sound silly, but I know I am.

So this whole 10% crap is honestly horse shit. Standard tipping if 15-20%. If you're bill is 100.00 and I bust my butt for you and you leave me $7-10 dollars you can (as I've stated before) screw your dryer. (Thank you Hollis for that fine phrase). You should always take care of your servers. They control your entire dining experience (beside the cooking staff of course). We wait on you hand in foot. Tonight for example, I had a 218.00 tab at one table. They left me $12.00. I almost wanted to give it back to them. 15% would've been $32.00. Are you kidding me? You all might think this is silly but we're talking about my house payment, my car payment, my electric, my gas, food...we are human too. We don't do this because we love it. We do it to pay bills, have a life. Serving got me through college, it has made our home possible. Not many people could deal with the amount of people we do and live to tell about it. Oh...and the stories we have. I once had a table where the infant threw up on my shoes, made a complete mess and I only received $5.00 on a $70.00. Lady...you can stay home. Then there was the one time I waited hand over foot on a family and they left me a nickle and four pennies and a note that said I wasn't worth a dime! That was a long time ago. I'll never forget it. I chased them out of the parking lot yelling and screaming at them and I threw they money at the dad. Oh yeah...I did that. I didn't deserve that. Nor did i get fired or written up :0

So just promise me that next time you go out to eat, think about what you tip. If you have a great server, tip them well. It will make their day a little brighter. And, heaven forbid, you receive crappy service the next time you go to a place where you tip like crap. And you wonder why you get bad service? WE DON'T FORGET FACES...EVER.

Soapbox stand is over. Peace ;)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Why I am a NERD...

Dear World,
Here is my latest confession. I am a total nerd. How do you really define that? Nerd...I love science and science fiction. I love adventure and adventure stories. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (that explains so much). I was, and always will be a dreamer. I am a writer, an avid reader and I love a good story. Did I mention I love technology? I do. I didn't have a lot growing up. Ok...I did if you consider a loving family, friends and a great supply of imagination and books lol! My nose was always stuck in a book. Wuthering Heights and A Catcher in the Rye were my favorites growing up. See...I told you! I love epic movies and I love movie soundtracks and scores (Legends of the Fall ring a bell)?
So what defines being a nerd, or a dork? Seriously people...
I hate stereotypes. They drive me nuts. I am who I am and you can suck my toe if you think otherwise.

I'm done...it's late.
Have a wonderful day, or night, or morning...afternoon. Just enjoy your life.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Steevenson and Roselaure Horne

I'm a proud Auntie. It's my first time. My brother-in-law Brandon and his wife Ambur had been in the process of adopting two children from Haiti. What most jerks don't understand is that they didn't just adopt them after the earthquake a few weeks ago. Some people are just ignorant to the actuality of the situation. I remember the Christmas before last, mom Rosemary said..."We'll have Steenvenson next Christmas." Not the case and another Christmas went by. Roselaure was born this summer, and they were able to get them both, brother and sister. They were in mid-process when this horrible tragedy happened. Good things do come out of circumstances like this. At the moment they have both their children thanks in large part to the Haitian government and the US government granting these kids their right to be with their adopted parents. It has been a trying few weeks for them. Roselaure was, and still is very sick with bacterial meningitis. So today I want to say thanks for all those awesome people out there that has helped our family. You are just fabulous. I'm sick of the negative backlash. No one knows their story. Brandon and Ambur have been all over local and national news. People comment on their news stories in such a negative way. I'm really sick of the BS. "What about the kids here, in the US?" Are you serious? You're taking this one situation and turning it into your bitchfest about what happens "HERE." Go screw your dryer...I don't wanna here it. Write your congressman or woman. Voice your concerns to them. Adopt a child yourself. Do NOT post your issues with our government on a news story about MY family. We have nothing to do with your problem. Yes, all children deserve the right to be taken care of and loved. Of course. Not the place to bitch people. Take your Whiskey Tango White Trash BS to someone who will listen and do something. Brandon, Ambur, Steevenson and Roselaure deserve all the happiness in the world, don't rain on their parade because you can type negative crap on your computer. Did I mention I hate stupidity. So seriously go screw your dryer.
On a great note, I get to see my nephew tomorrow and return Brandon and Ambur's awesome cat Woody. I'm gonna miss his butt. I can't wait to see them! I'm off my soapbox now. Until the next rant, peace out ;)