Working on Us, Week 8

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

On her blog, Beckie of Beckie’s Mental Mess has introduced a set of prompts that touches on mental illness. Each week she offers up 2 prompts for bloggers to use in a nonfiction, fiction, or poetry piece. You can respond to either prompt, or both. For more information, click here. This week, I am responding to Prompt 1.

It’s my pleasure to introduce this week’s topic for Week #8 “Working on Us” by

Success Stories of overcoming (an anxiety/panic attack, manic bipolar episode, whatever.)

Prompt #1  Write a narrative of what works for you when in the midst of a crisis, such as, anxiety/panic attack or a manic episode.  Please give an example of what happened, and how you broke free from it.

Example: Coping skills, talking to a family member or a friend, and/or therapy, mediations… (Just to name a few).

I’m getting better at not panicking or freaking out when something unexpected happens. For example, if I find a bug in the bathtub, and my husband isn’t home to deal with it, I just walk away without having an anxiety attack and, if not forget about it, put it in the back of my mind. Knowing that I was able to do that in a situation in which I would normally panic, I can handle it (provided that it’s a small bug, not some huge monster). I know this is a small example, but it’s what comes to mind at the moment. I can handle it.

This phrase is from the book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers. I’ve read it a couple of times because the beginning chapters give you plenty of strategies regarding fear. I’ve incorporated some of them in my life, like the 5 Truths About Fear:

  1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow!

  2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and . . . do it!

  3. The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and . . . do it!

  4. Not only are you afraid when facing the unknown, so is everyone else!

  5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness!

No, I don’t always think of these when something happens, but I’m trying. As difficult as it is to do, #3 helps a lot. Curiosity trumps anxiety, I guess. And #5 is a motivator, because I don’t want to feel helpless.








Print Books or E-Books?

Kindle vs Print
Photo credit: MegMoggington on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC

There seems to be 2 camps when it comes to books: those who prefer books in print, and those who prefer a digital version, or e-book (Kindle device/app, et al). And I’m sure there are some who like both, or even Audible, which doesn’t require you to read at all! Technically.

I like e-books better because they’re more portable. The reason I first bought my Kindle device, however, is because my husband and I had so many books that we were running out of book shelves, and places to put said shelves. My Kindle has approximately 600 books with very few, if any, duplicates in print. This is in addition to the shelved books that we own. It amazes me that my little device holds more than the number of books on my shelves! But if I wanted to, I could take all my e-books with me and go.

Needless to say, I’m an avid reader. I’m almost always in the middle of reading a book. Sometimes I finish it overnight; other times it takes like 3 weeks. I like to read fiction, nonfiction (mostly memoirs), and short story collections. I used to devour poetry, but I haven’t read a book of poems in maybe 10 years.

Also, I like always having a book with me, especially for times when I have to wait: waiting for an appointment, waiting for a prescription, waiting for my hair to process while getting it colored. I have the Kindle app on my phone (so technically, you don’t even  need the device), so I don’t even have to pack the Kindle in my purse. If I didn’t have my phone with me, I would be climbing the walls because I hate waiting. I get bored and then antsy. And I would hate being unable to communicate with anyone if I had to. When was the last time you saw a payphone? Lol

What about you?

Do you prefer e-books or print books? Or Audible?

3 Things to Do More Often

I have a lot of bad habits, but I’m trying to establish good ones. Here are some things that I can do more often:

  1. EXERCISE: Well, I exercise nearly every single day by walking on the treadmill and doing one exercise, like jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, lunges, or squats. The former, I do for 10 minutes. The latter, according to that particular fitness challenge, I’m supposed to do 3 of the above exercises a day. I only do one because I can’t do all 3 one after the other yet.
    I can’t walk for more than 10 minutes because it is so frickin’ boring, even though I always read a book — which helps. Plus, it’s challenging for me right now. I went from doing zero exercises to what I do today. I can increase the length of time or the speed in which I walk, slowly. I feel that I can increase the exercises, but in very small increments. My therapist says that any movement is good.
  2. DIET: I feel that I can eat better than I do, like eat more salads because they aren’t as calorie dense as say, a cheese quesadilla. The problem is I don’t like salads. It’s not that I don’t like vegetables — I hate trying to spear the pieces of lettuce with my fork. It’s unsatisfying not to get a nice mouthful of food. I do occasionally eat — and enjoy eating — a salad, and I can choose salad more often when we eat out.
  3. READ: I haven’t been reading anywhere near as much as I used to. Part of the reason is I don’t have enough time. Another is because the last few books I read have bored me.
    I’m currently reading Educated by Tara Westover. It’s a memoir about how the author grew up in a survivalist family. That is, the dad was convinced that the End of Days were near and made sure his family would be protected. He also didn’t believe in the government, so some of the kids didn’t have birth certificates or drivers licenses.
    It’s interesting and I like it so far. But it’s not the kind of book I can’t put down and finish in a day.

So these are 3 areas of my life that I want to improve: slowly increase the number of exercises that I do; eat more salads/make healthier food choices; and make time to read every day, not just while I’m on the treadmill.

Is there anything you would like to improve?

“My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward” by Mark Lukach

Photo from HarperCollins

NOTE: This is not a book review; these are just my thoughts–which may wander.

This book’s rating is 4.08 of 5 stars on Goodreads, so I guess people really liked it. I gave it a 3. It was just okay.

While the author is a great storyteller/narrator, what really killed it for me is that so much of the story is unbelievable. Anyone who’s ever been in a psych ward would know that.

At one point Lukach describes how he and other family visitors were allowed to hang out in the wife’s hospital room during a holiday. Are you kidding me? That would never be allowed in real life.

In a real psych ward, visitors are welcome to hang out in the visiting room with the patient; nowhere else. They enforce that rule. But in all the time I’ve spent in psych wards, I’ve never seen anyone try to break it.

Who’s “they,” you might be wondering. “They” are nurses and mental health workers. The latter are, in my experience, mostly male, strong, and probably worked security in the past. But that’s just a guess.

Anyway, there were many other unbelievable scenes in the book, none of which I remember of course, thanks to ECT. Well, and it’s been a few months since I read it; I’m only now writing down my thoughts.

Have you read My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward? What are your thoughts?

Savannah, Georgia

“Little Gracie” – Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia; photo provided by the author

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband and I flew to Savannah for a vacation in March. I’m a big fan of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, both the book (the Book) and the movie (the Movie), and ever since I read/watched the (true) story, I wanted to visit the places John Berendt, the author, did. In fact, we got to do that because we went on a walking tour that was specifically about the Book/Movie. We even visited the house in which the main character lived, and which was used for filming the Movie.

Bird Girl by Sylvia Shaw Judson – Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia; photo provided by author

An image of the Bird Girl, a sculpture created by Sylvia Shaw Judson, graces the Book’s cover. The photo gained immense popularity. So many people visited the statue in the cemetery where it was placed, that the family who commissioned the sculpture had it moved to the Telfair Museums, a small group of art museums, where it stands today. I didn’t do the sculpture justice, but this was the best picture I could take.

2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Savannah, Georgia; photo provided by author

Before our trip, we learned that Savannah has the second largest St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the United States. (Boston is number one.) Neither of us are huge party animals, but there were plenty! We were fortunate that the hotel where we stayed had a semi-private balcony, which is where we watched the obligatory St. Paddy’s Day parade.

These are just a few of the highlights from our trip. We did many things–ate at delicious restaurants, went for plenty of walks on the cobble-stoned streets, went on a boat to sightsee dolphins. We absolutely loved it there!