O.

One Year Since Anxiety Struck & What I Have Learned

I can’t believe it has been one year!

I must say, when I think of ‘365 days’ it seems quite overwhelming; but, the beauty is that I didn’t think like that while getting to this point, I honestly took it one day at a time.  And here I find myself, one year later, better.

The past year has definitely been a work in progress.  And while I am not 100% yet, I feel so much better than I did back when it first happened.  There were struggles, yes, but they were all tests of how far I have come and grown.  The beauty of it all was that I learned to control my anxiety so that if I felt an attack come on, I could just calm myself and nip it in the bud.

One of my hardest times dealing with anxiety during the past year, I must admit, was last week.

Being Your Own Worst Enemy
To be honest, I have been living anxiety-free for a couple of weeks, actually, and it wasn’t until last week, when I realized that my ‘one year’ was coming up, that I started to panic.  I kept thinking believing that the attack was going to anniversary itself.  It was as if the world was going to end and I, only I, knew it.  It just built this giant fear inside of me and I knew I was being overtaken by it.

While on my way home last Thursday, I almost lost it on the train again.  My mentality and way of thinking was “This is too good to be true, I have been able to fight the anxiety for almost a year and it is just going to come back and slap me in the face, I know it.”  So, naturally, thinking like this had me a bit paranoid for the whole week because I was just waiting for it to happen.  It was as if I wanted it to be a one-year anniversary.  But that was the thing: why was I waiting for it again?  Why was I putting myself in this prison that it will happen again?  Because if we think like that then, chances are, you will find yourself making it happen… again. Read more

L.

Learning To Fall and Get Back Up – Literally

Ah, bike riding.

It was something I grew up doing and absolutely loved.  I always looked forward to the summer time because it meant my family and I whipped out our bikes and headed to the park for a long day of riding.  Many years later, the excitement and joy still rang true.

Last summer, my husband bought me a new bicycle and I couldn’t wait to ride it (I really couldn’t).  As soon as we walked out of the store with it I turned to him and said, “Can you drive home… alone?  I’m going to ride my bike and meet you there!”  And, so, that’s what we did:

newbikeI was so happy that day; it was the perfect way to kick off the summer.  I then thought about it when I got home and thought, “Hm, I can ride my bike during the summer to the train station during the work week; what a great way to be active!  But, first, I need a helmet for that!”  So we went back to the store and bought a helmet – I even got a little mirror, too! 🙂

helmet

And that was it.  I was set.

When the weekend was over, I did as I said I would and took my bicycle out and decided to ride it to my train to get to work.  So I hopped on and went on my merry way.

As I started peddling along the right side of the street (being as cautious as possible), I noticed that there was a car that came from behind me and went into my mini ‘bike lane’.  It was about 40 feet straight ahead of me and then it started to make a right turn into a parking garage.  Figuring it would keep going, I kept peddling.  I timed myself well (I was a long-time rider, after all!).  But I was wrong. So wrong.

The driver decided to stop his car (now perpendicular to me) with its butt sticking out into my lane and the other half on the sidewalk.  I needed to either slow down or change lanes.  So I looked into my mirror and tried to see if I could merge into oncoming traffic for just a little bit.  But there it was, a yellow school bus, coming too close to me at a velocity that didn’t fit into my calculations.  So I freaked and panicked.  Knowing that I was either going to (a) get hit by a bus or (b) crash into the butt of the SUV that was trying to get into the parking garage, I did what I knew best: STOP.  I reached for my breaks, but being in such a panic mode, I undoubtedly made a big mistake: I hit the front brake instead of the back and, you guessed it, I went flying.

bikefall

My bicycle flipped under a car and I was flipped in the air.  I thank God that I had on my helmet (SO IMPORTANT!) because my head hit that concrete floor three times.. bang, bang, bang.  I felt dizzy, my palms were scraped and bleeding, and I was waiting for someone to come to my aide.  But wouldn’t you know it, no one saw what happened.  Not the random pedestrian walking by, not the car pulling into the garage, nor the bus that zipped on by.  I was SO scared and just SO grateful that I didn’t get run over by a random passing car or anything.  I immediately got up and snapped the above picture with my phone.  I sent it to my boss and team in a text message and said “Guys, I will be in late.  Just had a bike accident. See you soon!”

And wouldn’t you know it, I got up (limping and all), walked my bike to the train, got on the train, and headed to work.

I didn’t think much of the fall.  I tried to play it off like it was nothing, like I was stronger than it.  I called my husband soon after it happened, crying just a little, and he urged me to go back home, but I didn’t.  I wanted to be seen in the best light from the views of others: I wanted to be a strong girl.

A few days later I started to notice my legs and, yup, they were a little bruised and boy were my legs so sore from the impact:
ouchies

But, I was still ‘strong’; I didn’t show weakness to others. It was more of “Check out my bruises!  Cool, huh?!” than anything else.

To others I was ‘strong’, but deep inside, I was weak.  No one was there to console me when the accident happened.  I didn’t know what to do.  I worried about having a concussion or having fractured something.  All I knew was that I didn’t want to get back up on that bike.

And I didn’t.  I spent a year letting it collect dust and I was OK with that, because I didn’t want anymore accidents.  I wanted to be ‘safe’.

This was three weeks before my giant panic attack last year.  Who would have known…

Getting Back On
With all of the hard work I have been putting in within the last year to control my anxiety and just let it go, I finally started to feel stronger.  So, the other day, I went into the storage room, looked at my bike, wiped off the dust, took it off the rack and told my husband, “Let’s go to the park… for a bike ride.”

When it was finally time for me to get on that bike, I broke down.  I was so afraid.  I didn’t want an accident.  I didn’t want to relive the pain.  Because I do think that me falling off the bike and how that whole situation went down gave some fire to me panicking on the train last year, because it was, yet again, something I was suppressing.  It was something I needed to just say “okay, move on with life, it’s over.” But it wasn’t.

I would ride the bike for a few spins of the wheel and then I would stop, freeze, and cry.  It was too much for me.  Not to mention that I forgot my helmet.  I just felt so susceptible and prone to another accident.  I didn’t know how to keep my balance, I would fall off trying to make a simple turn, and I just kept envisioning myself flipping forward, because that’s exactly how I got off of it last time: I flew and tumbled forward in the air.

My husband took the phone and captured my struggle:
bike 1yr later

It’s a picture that I am both not proud and, yet, proud of at the same time.  I’m not proud because it’s not exactly the most flattering picture I have and it’s a time of my weakness. But, I’m proud of it because here I am, at one of my weakest points, and I’m sharing it. And I’m doing so because I want to share that struggles do exist and they could be anything to anyone.  And you know what? Pushing through this moment was absolutely not what I imagined.  I didn’t want to cry.  I didn’t want to freeze.  But I did.  I listened to my mind and in order to grow, it was telling me to just let the feelings go.

It was me, no one else, that took the initiative to rebuild my confidence in riding a bike at this point.  I felt ready after a year.  It was my idea to go out and try it.  It was my time to do this for myself.

And wouldn’t you know it?  I had such a great time after jumping over the anxiety hurdles.  I rode that bike like I used to when I was a kid.  I mean, yes, I was still a little hesitant, but I grew confident and started to enjoy every moment of it again.

Moral of the Story
Yes, you may fall off of a bike or fail at something somewhere at sometime.  But the important thing to do is to make sure that you take care of yourself, first and foremost.  Don’t try to pretend to be something you aren’t for others.  Make sure that you give yourself forgiveness and remind yourself that you aren’t perfect, that you may fail, but that it’s part of being human.  Just remember that when you do fall, give yourself time.  Don’t rush.  And if it takes a year for you to ‘get back up on that horse’ (or bicycle, in my case), then so what?  Let it be.  Only you know when you’re ready.  Don’t let others force you.  And if you face a moment of déjà-vu, know that no two times in life are ever the same.  You are always are given the chance to do different, to lead different, to act different.

Get back on that bike, even if it’s for a short ride, because even the smallest of tries is the best of tries that will get you closer to where you want to be.  So today, I went for a short ride and enjoyed it.  I’m getting closer to where I want to be.

yaybikeride Loren.

3.

3 Fears I Conquered at the Beach

Happy 4th of July, everyone!  I hope everyone has started to enjoy their holiday weekend!  I know that I definitely started to enjoy mine, and it’s all because of conquering the below three fears yesterday at the beach.  Here we go:

1. Wearing a bikini
I have so many of them in my closet, but I never really wear them out because, well, I don’t feel comfortable in them.  I buy them from time to time because I think “one day I will be comfortable, and when I am, I will be so happy frolicking around in one,”  but that day didn’t really seem to come.  Yet, it wasn’t until yesterday that I made that day come.  I said to myself, “You know what, if you’re waiting for that day that you will be stick thin, or a day you don’t feel bloated, or a day you finally won’t be subconscious, it probably will never come.  And if it does, will that day be in the dead of winter where, surprise, surprise, you can’t wear it because the beach is closed?  What are you hiding from?”  And it was with this in mind that I said enough is enough, put on my bikini, and headed to the beach.  Was I subconscious about my appearance, yes, a little.  But I didn’t let it ruin my day.  I didn’t let it ruin my fun.  I let go and let live.  And you know what?  No regrets.

2. Swimming in a beach… with seaweed.
A few years ago, I went out to the beach with my husband and we were swimming around just fine until I felt something wrap itself around my leg and pull at me. I started to freak out and panic.  My husband, so afraid that it was perhaps an aquatic animal (read: shark) or something, helped me up on his shoulders from the water and quickly checked my leg.  What did he find?  Seaweed.  He started to laugh about it and let me back down into the water, but I, oh, I just went into a crazy panic mode where I screamed, cried, and started having anxiety in the middle of the ocean (the shore was a little swim away).  I clawed up his shoulders, making sure I stayed there until we got back to the shore.  And ever since that day, I swore to only swimming in clear waters where I can see what’s under the ocean and never went into a NYC beach ever again.

However, yesterday was a different day and I, tired of wanting to feel that water and just afraid of doing so, decided to give it another chance.  I thank my husband for holding my hand as we walked into the ocean, seaweed and all, and made me move past my comfort zone. I’m not going to lie, as we walked I felt pinches on my feet (seashells (I’m hoping)) and I jumped and started to freak out again, but we went back in and gave it another shot.  In the end, I was standing in the water, seaweed around me (eep), but I was comfortable with it.  When I tuned it out of my mind, I really started to enjoy the touch of the cooling water up on my body, which was standing in the beating hot sun, and I smiled.  It had been years since I last swam in a beach with seaweed, but there I was, soaking up the ‘here and now’.

seaweed & beach!
Me holding a piece of seaweed 😡

3. Being buried in the sand.
There were just too many instances as a child of evil people burying you and leaving you behind.  I can recall those instances.  Yes, to them it was probably ‘funny,’ but as a child, it is actually quite psychologically damaging!  It was why I volunteered myself to go into this giant hole, that was dug up between my family and myself, and be buried.  Was it still scary?  Um, yes.  Especially since no one else wanted to do it because they, too, had childhood traumas!  But, it was a shame to see that hole go to waste and it was more of a shame to see an opportunity to let go of a fear go to waste.  So in I went.  And while I felt a little, well, claustrophobic, I was actually okay in that hole.  Yes, people kind of started to walk away, but I was mentally ready.  Because I knew that they actually wouldn’t leave me there.  I was sure of the love they had for me; which is probably why my family laughed as they walked away when I was buried in the sand as a child, because they knew that they actually weren’t going to just leave me there.  They would be there to help me out.  And through the years, I’ve learned to understand that I am loved and that no one wants to see me hurt; therefore; no one will leave me there.  Alone.  To suffer.  So why should I be scared?  I shouldn’t.  And from this experience, I grew.  And it was fun. (I actually am laughing and yelling “Nooo” in the below picture- haha!)

stuck in sand

So take this weekend to get over a little fear you have, whatever it may be.  If it’s at the beach like mine was, then cool.  Don’t like sand in between your toes?  It will wash off.  Afraid of being buried?  Ask to be buried, you will come out.  Afraid to wear that swimsuit, or hey, even a swimsuit at all?  Just go for it.  Do what makes you happy and don’t live life always holding back.  Only you know when you’re ready.  If you’re not, seek out something else that you think you may be ready for.  And only when you feel like you kind of are ready, then great, take the plunge, just do it.  You won’t regret overcoming some of your fears – even if it’s just one.  Go on, be brave, you won’t regret growing.  At least, I didn’t :).

Loren.

H.

Hello Again – Coming Back!

Why has life been so busy lately?!

I guess that’s just the way things go. I honestly have been SO bummed that I haven’t had the chance to sit and write about what’s been going on in my life lately; it is something I absolutely love doing, look forward to, and think about every week! Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to come on here and write.. but I’m hoping that all changes sooner rather than later.  (I have, though, been active on my Instagram account (that counts, right? :)), so please check it out! ———>)

walking

I know my posts are usually a long read; but between work, family, and so many activities going on, I can’t seem to find the time to sit and write out everything in one long post lately.  In my mind, if it wasn’t a long post, then it meant that it shouldn’t even be a post. But, honestly, I’m having decision remorse… because there are days I just want to share my struggles, my happiness, my successes and they may only be a few sentences long!

So! I have decided that, from now on, I will write and pay no mind to if my posts are long, short, or in-between! I definitely want to keep recording and sharing my journey, because that’s the reason I started this blog in the first place!

On the anxiety end of things: I am still dealing with it and have had many moments of ‘almost there’ panic attacks, but definitely have felt that I have been able to control them – which is great! (continue to think ‘Why is this happening? There is no reason!  I have food, shelter, and am loved! I’m good. I’m being silly right now.’)  And I hope to continue sharing how I get through them and what my life has been as of lately!  I’ve been working on a few things that I am happy to record and share with you in the next coming weeks – so stay tuned! 😉

Bringing things back up to speed… here we go!

Loren.

A.

Anxiety and Childhood: The Power of Educating

If I see him again I will introduce myself.

That’s what I tell myself about the four-year old boy I saw on the train the other day. He was in a stroller on the station platform, being handled by his father, and I was in close proximity. The child was laughing and having a grand old time. All of a sudden, the train pulled up to the station, platformed in front of us, and his dad pushed the stroller into the train car. In an instant, that child went from innocent laughter to petrified screams. “Get me out of here, I want to get out! I don’t like it in here, I want to be outside!” he kept yelling.

The father wasn’t speaking to him much. All he was telling him was to calm down, that he was bothering everyone on the train, and how they would arrive to their destination ‘soon’ (the next stop was twelve minutes away). The little boy probably heard him, but he continued to scream at the top of his lungs and cry. He was absolutely afraid. And I could feel his fear. Hadn’t the train been so packed full of people, I would have gone over to him and introduced myself (with permission of the parent, of course). I would have told the kid that I, too, didn’t like trains, but that they are how we get to new, fun places. I wanted to tell him that many people take the train everyday and that there is nothing to be scared of. He has his daddy there that loves him very much and no one was going to hurt him; he was safe. But, I didn’t have the chance to tell him that; he was too far. As soon as the train platformed at Penn Station, I ran out to look for them, but had no success; they were lost at sea amongst the waves of morning commuters. And just like that, they were gone.

The Pain of a Stranger; A Child
That twelve-minute commute will be one that I will never forget. All throughout the trip there was a child crying and screaming non-stop. It was the commute where I felt a seemingly close connection and I started to cry. And I cried because I knew this little boy’s pain. I was terrified of trains a few months ago and the feeling was just absolutely awful. I could only imagine what he was going through! And yet, this little boy he was just told to hush down and no one was explaining to him why he shouldn’t be afraid. He had to bury this uncertainty within himself and just take orders. Which then made me think. It made me think about how, perhaps, this boy will grow up to be an adult and have a fear of trains (or closed spaces) and not know why.

I hope someone can explain it to him next time. I know the father wanted to help; he picked up his child and hugged him, but didn’t know that while hugging may help him feel a little better, that speaking to him would make so much more of an impact.  I hope that one day the kid really gets to learn. And I hope that he starts to ask questions. He may only be about four years old, but little kids have the ability to process what you say, connect the dots, and learn, too.

But then, there it was: an odd moment, right when I was crying, of a sudden flashback to my childhood that I must have buried so deep inside myself that I finally recalled it – almost twenty years later. And it was then that my fear of doctors and my feeling of being helpless came into fruition. It was at this time that I finally knew where part of my subconscious feeling of anxiety stemmed from…

Anxiety Stemming From Childhood – Uncovered
I suddenly went back in time and saw myself at about age six or seven. I was at my primary physician’s office (AKA the doctor) and was told that I needed a shot on my arm. I was so afraid of shots. Probably because whenever I asked why I needed them, I was given a mean look and was told “because.” It was kind of sad that no one ever took the time to explain that yes, while a shot would hurt for a very brief moment, it meant less runny noses, less coughing, less fevers and more time to play outside in the beautiful weather. So when the doctor started to rub alcohol on my arm, and it came time for my shot, I started to panic.  There was a need for both the doctor and my mother to pin me down to try to get it done. I was that petrified.

train

Very much like the little boy on the train, I cried and screamed- a lot. Figuring that I just needed a moment to relax and calm down, they took me off the chair and put me down on the floor. And that’s when I RAN [away]. I ran towards the door leading outside… and then I heard over the PA “we need all available doctors NOW.”

Next thing I knew, I was grabbed by four doctors, taken to a room, and was, yet again, pinned down to the chair. Each doctor had a limb to hold: legs, arms – even my hips were pressed down!

My eyes were absolutely blurry from all of the tears just balancing over my eyeballs and my vocal chords, oh my vocal chords, they were just calling it quits from so much screaming. 

That Moment of Helplessness
I remember looking at my mom and seeing such a nervous, sad, and worried look on her face. I was her baby, after all! Realizing that I was in a great mode of panic, she started to approach me.  As she reached out her hand to me, it was quickly stopped by a doctor saying, “No, mommy.  Stop and stand back. Don’t come any closer.” And just like that, I was shown that not even my own mother could help me.

Shortly after, I felt a big, painful pinch on my arm. And that was it… the deed was done. I walked away with two things: some medicine in my body and a mental scar of the moment that I was vulnerable and helpless.

Dealing With It Today
Think about it: if I was educated on just what this shot was going to do for me, if I was just given some time and a little explanation, I wouldn’t have had this thing stick around for so long.  Yet, it is all starting to make sense, now, why I feel afraid and vulnerable at times. Why I, and many people with anxiety, are always worrying about being safe and are making sure that we aren’t caught off-guard. We want to know everything about anything before it happens, and stress out about things being ‘perfect’, because we cannot deal with anything less.  We can’t deal with not being in ‘control’.  It’s a fear we live with and it all stemmed from somewhere.

There may be a link between anxiety and childhood, especially if you are dealing with it as an adult. Many life experiences attribute to who we are today and, to be honest, I am glad that the one I described above surfaced back, because it helped me see what was hidden and buried deep inside of me. And you know what? I now understand better. And that’s what counts. I analyzed the situation, learned that yes, it was unfortunate, but that I shouldn’t live my life based on what happened in the past. It’s time to move forward. We are in charge of our tomorrows and we are the ones to create our own futures.

Even though the boy’s experience was heartbreaking and unfortunate, I was actually at the right place at the right time. The situation opened up my eyes, heart, and mind to understanding something that I felt was beyond my control. When I told my husband all about the experience, I was in tears and kept telling him that I want to be better for our future children. I don’t want my children to go through what I am going through, and will encourage them to ask questions.

There’s no need to look back and blame my mother.  And there is no way that I am going out there and blaming that kid’s father.  They are parenting the best way they know how and, unfortunately, things happen. But it’s knowing that if you come across someone who asks for your explanation, or is in need of one (especially a child), to take the time to talk to them. Even if it’s another adult; take the time to explain to them what it is that they are seeking. You never know how much just one moment of educating and letting the other person understand can help shape their future and confidence. As for feeling anxious, I don’t need to seek for answers from my mom. I know what happened and I, being confident in myself, can take that experience and build on it. On my journey to recovery, I am realizing that it is a lot of taking the past as the past and working on myself in the present. In doing so, the anxiousness of worrying slowly slips away and I live a better, happier, and more stable life.

If I see the little boy again, I will introduce myself.
Loren.