Monday, September 30, 2019

For once not 3:00 am anxiety, coffee, and workouts

This morning I awoke with a start from a bad dream. A trauma dream.

Usually if I'm going to wake up and fret, it's 3:00 am. This is a *thing* and I'm not the only one. There's something evil about the 3:00 in the morning hour.

But lo, it was 5:00 am, and Nick was already gone. I stretched and considered going back to sleep.

And then my brain started to whirl. It pulled up a decades old memory and immediately launched me into anxiety.

I don't know about your snuggled in bed anxiety, but one of my favorites is to review things I said wrong, choices I should've made differently, and really any and all minor and major missteps and faux pas I've committed.

So this morning, being that it was the fine hour of FIVE and not three, I said fuck it and got up.

I did.

I put on my workout clothes, although it is true that I am not a morning person and as such, I am less coordinated first thing in the antemeridian time frame.

This has been true forever. Back when I had a fabulous yellow Sport Walkman, when I ran in the morning I used to regularly trip and my tape and batteries would go flying in all directions. I still have scars.

In any case, I put on my workout clothes, and by 7:00 am I'd worked out, gotten dressed, and made coffee.

My coffee now is almost entirely decaf, and I think I'm better for it. I got a fancy coffee maker, and then it was like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie kind of thing. I got the coffee maker, and then I had to get a grinder. And then if I was going to get a grinder I should get a weigher. Which I guess is also called a scale.

So now we weigh our beans and grind then and then brew them.

When I first got this fancy setup I drank so much delicious coffee that I think I was kind of insane for months.

Now, because I carefully pour the beans into a glass every morning, I do mostly decaf and a little regular and so I don't even know what percentages but I'm mostly decaf and that is good.

The workout quashed my anxiety for the day and also, uh, I worked out.


What do you do when you have anxiety?

Friday, September 27, 2019

This one goes to 11

Dear Nick,

Today is our eleventh wedding anniversary. We remembered on Monday that the 25th, which fell on a Wednesday this year, was the day we legally married, and that Friday would be our wedding anniversary.

And then on Wednesday we both forgot, and yesterday we exchanged happy anniversaries. And this morning we almost forgot, except that you'd put it into Outlook.

Which is not to say it's not a milestone or unimportant.

Tonight we're celebrating with me going to a 5th grade parent social and you feeding the kids dinner and putting them to bed.

I can't believe we have a kid in 5th grade. It's the age I was when we moved to the States. It's simultaneously so old and so young.


I can't imagine why I ever objected to your gold jacket. I love that jacket.

Why was I so uptight?


When I stopped to think about which year it was, I was going to say 10, but then I remembered that in fact we got married in 2008 and so this would be 11.

We talked about this last night and I said that we just need to add a year to whatever age Jordan is and that's how many years we've been married.

This year marked 10 years since, in chronological order: my dad died; we bought our house; and our son was born.

2009 is the year that stands out in my mind.


You started rowing a year and a half ago. Now you get up at 4:30 every morning and head off to practice.

I knew you were an athlete growing up, and I knew, as a team sport person and an extrovert, that you needed a team.

You and I are so different in this way. I want to exercise alone, in my own head. 

But team sports are fairly hard to find as an adult, particularly as one who has no time. It turns out 5:00 am is a perfect time for you, and for you, rowing is a perfect sport.

You're so much happier, fitter, and kinder now that you exercise every day.

And you'll be rowing in the Head of the Charles in October. I wish we could be there to see. I'm so proud of you and all the work you've put in to improve to this point.


When I was thinking about this past year, one of the things that struck me was that we're arguing less, and talking more.

We've gotten better at voicing what we hear, and listening to each other without telling the other person they're wrong.

Because you're never wrong about how you feel, or what you think you heard, even if what you heard wasn't what the other person intended.

I also think we're both less emotionally burdened by traumas in our respective childhoods. 

Also, you've stopped using "Lisa's anxiety" as a way to explain or dismiss things. I appreciate this, because it always made my head melt and then nothing went well after that.

I feel like this is immense progress.


At this point, I can't even remember whose indictment you asked me to Google. But I spelled it "endeightment" and came up with nothing.

And then you asked me how I'd spelled indictment. And then you laughed, but not unkindly. And I had to laugh too.

But at the time I was also kind of like, look, I'm not a lawyer and it's not like I read or spell indictment every day. (I mean, OK, maybe now I do. But at that point I'd never spelled it in my life.)

And do you know that I always thought albeit was pronounced Al-bait?

Now you do.


While it's true that I don't trust women who never admit to wanting to stab their husbands, I also see it's true that it hurts your feelings when I joke about it.

So I've pretty much stopped doing so publicly.
I guess what I'm saying is, I feel like you grew a lot in the past year. Maybe I did, too.

I'd marry you tomorrow all over again.

I love you love you love you,


Thursday, September 19, 2019

I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain

The thing about fall is that it can really sneak up on a person.

I imagine this does not happen further north, where the leaves turn beautiful colors and suddenly  there's a nip in the air and it's all just rather obvious.

We were in Maine in late August and one morning it was very fresh and our last two nights were actually really cold. I mean, we were colder than we might otherwise have been, because we were sleeping in a TENT and I have more to say about this.

When you don't write for weeks and weeks on end but keep living your life forward you wind up with a lot of things undescribed and unexamined. So I have lots to say about a ton of things but then where to you even begin?

And what I think I'm best at his here and now.

So here and now, today has a slight chill but it's the first day. Normal people are probably not wearing fleece yet.

We went swimming on Monday because it was so hot and humid. It's supposed to be 90 on Sunday.

This is not the heat of fall. 

Which, I guess it's technically still summer, up to the equinox, right? But in terms of light, it's fall. It's darker earlier and earlier. And the light is not winter thin, but the quality has shifted.

I know to be vigilant in winter, because winter is not my friend. And fall makes me nervous, because it's the gateway to winter.

But it's been so hot and we've been doing summer-ish things after school, that I hadn't yet gotten in an Aikido frame of mind for fall.

And then all of a sudden I realized that everything was hard and I basically hated everyone. Not you, of course. Everyone else.

Because people are really annoying.

We had back to school night and they were asking for room parents. Our class had one room parent--a truly lovely woman--and they needed another one. I didn't raise my hand but I did feel like I ought to.

So afterward I asked Nick if he thought I should volunteer and he said, "I don't mean this unkindly, but do you think you have the temperament for it?"

And I was like, "You mean because I'm ill tempered and hate people?"

Which was, in fact, precisely what he meant.

Then a friend who has been a room parent multiple years was like, "Just do it. You don't have to be nice."

So now I'm a room parent.

But back to the issue at hand, which is, basically, how to not careen headlong into a dysfunctional pit of despair.

I don't even look depressed, do I? That photo is from Monday. Whee!

Once it struck me that: 1. it was essentially fall; and 2. I was not dealing well with life; and 3. my sugar and carb consumption had skyrocketed, I called my psychiatrist's office. I have an appointment for next week.

Frankly, I kind of hate taking an antidepressant. And at this point, it's not about the stigma. It's that they all have side effects. I could list the ones I've tried and what they did. One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small. (And the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all.)

There is something that sucks, largely or minorly, about each and every one I've tried.

But let's also be candid about this: my genes are not so great in this area. And maybe I'm just a person who needs some help with the selective inhibition of serotonin reuptake.

I work out practically every day. I get myself out in the sunshine. I take a probiotic, and eat fiber, which is supposedly what our guts need. I barely ever drink anymore. My sleep isn't great, and I do feel like that would help.

But honestly. So much honestly.

And what I've begun wondering is, what if my problem is anxiety more than depression? I had a panic attack this summer. I was crying. And hyperventilating. I couldn't calm down and I couldn't breathe.

This had never happened before, not like that. Not even when I was dealing with my dad disappearing, or when he died.

I know I'm an anxious person. God knows I FRET. I believe there's a 50% chance of dying with every flight. I save voice mails in case loved ones die on a plane or get hit by a bus. I have to make things right before we say goodbye or good night in case it's the last time. Even if it's for, like, 8 hours.

But I'd never had anxiety symptoms, like heart racing or sweaty palms or the other physical symptoms they list, and because no professional had ever suggested it, I hadn't considered it.

And then my friend Jo posted a list of anxiety symptoms that resonated, and are not all the physical symptoms. Like irritation, lack of concentration, avoidance.

So I said to Nick, "Hey, maybe anxiety is my problem. What if it's been anxiety all along, and not depression?"

He said, "What if it's not one or the other? What if it's not red or blue, but rather purple?"


So this is what I'm going to say next week. This is where I am and it's not all that great, and I don't  know what it is or isn't, but what if it's purple?