Monday, March 23, 2015

Disneyland and Missing Aaron Carter!

Hey you guys!

So as I promised, a real post! Wow! Great job! Pat on the back! :P

My posts are a lot less scheduled than I would like them to be, but that's because our life is not really consistent! So to avoid posting boring things, like what I had for dinner and which television show I watched 11 episodes of today, I normally just don't post anything...

Except for stuff you guys don't care about. Like anxiety and Barbies (coming soon). Oops.

ANYWAY, here we go!

Patrick and I left for the Anaheim area around 1am on Sunday morning. This is always our routine so that we can beat traffic, get to the area and have breakfast, and hit the park for a while.

Because Patrick has work in Pasadena this week, I not only got to go with him, but in our free time we can head to the park (which is about two hours away in traffic, so we will probably only be going to the park on 3/22, 3/26 for a dinner with Patrick's boss and his wife, and 3/28 after we check out of the hotel and before we head home). So since we couldn't check in for the hotel super early and we wanted to miss the daytime traffic trying to get here, we headed to the park for a few hours before we made our way to the hotel!

It was the perfect day for Disneyland, seriously! It was overcast and a little chilly (for Californians-- I, the Michigander accustomed to 40 degree weather right about now, walked around in yoga capris and a muscle T and I was completely fine... even warm enough at one point to have to put my hair up) which meant that not a lot of people were in either of the parks. In addition, it was also a Sunday which is an unpopular weekend day. The end result was that we basically walked on to any of the rides/attractions we tried to go on!

I'm not sure if you can tell, but the roof on the castle is made of "diamonds," part of the park's special decorations in honor of its 60TH ANNIVERSARY-- The Diamond Anniversary! I hope they keep the roof up-- it really is beautiful.

The first thing we did after shopping around was head over to meet Anna and Elsa. Even though Patrick is sick of Frozen (aren't we all?), we really did have to have the experience. Because of their popularity, Anna and Elsa have been moved to DCA (Disney California Adventure) and you must get a FastPass to go see them.

For those who don't know, when you get a FastPass you are basically reserving your spot in line for a later time. You get a ticket that tells when you can come back, preventing you from having to stand in line for hours. This is true of most Disney rides, but sometimes the rides are so popular that your FastPass won't be until really late at night, which sometimes makes the entire notion inconvenient and not worth the hassle. It also means that you are put on a schedule. If you're hungry at 6:30pm but your FastPass is for 6:45pm, you'll have to choose between dinner and going on the ride you've waited all day for. Patrick normally feels that they're more trouble than they're worth-- and I would have to agree.

In the past, Anna and Elsa were in Disneyland. When Frozen first came out and they were introduced to the park, the line to see the girls was literally hours long-- before the attraction even opened. Disney got smart about it after a few months and introduced FastPasses for the attraction.

It would seem that because the girls were very, very recently moved to DCA, not too many people knew that they were there. So even though we didn't get into the park right when it opened and we went shopping for about 30 minutes before we even got to the FastPass stand, we still got Anna and Elsa FastPasses for only about 25 minutes from the time we got them. Not bad at ALL!

We met Anna and Elsa, and I have to say it was an experience. You normally don't get to meet two face characters at the same time. For example, we've met Baymax and Hiro in the past, but only Hiro speaks to you because he is the face character. Therefore, talking to two of them at the same time is a little overwhelming! Patrick and I both agreed that we much preferred Anna over Elsa (personality-wise). Maybe Elsa was still feeling a little under the weather! Although, she is socially awkward from spending so many years isolated from everyone, so that could also be the case.

I had realized that I'd never taken a photo here, so here we go. 

Next, we did a little bit more browsing in the shops and then we made our way to a couple of rides-- Jungle Cruise (which I'd never been on before), Haunted Mansion, and Small World. We waited no more than 2 or 3 minutes to board these rides, all of which normally have crazy long lines! This is why we love crappy weather in Disneyland-- the people stay home and the park is less busy. If there hadn't been a cheerleading competition in the area and all of the cheerleaders hadn't been in the park (I literally mean hundreds of cheerleaders), the park would have been even more glorious!

Jungle Cruise was actually really fantastic. I loved it, and there are very few rides in the parks that I will go on. The jokes (as old as the ride itself) were hilarious and cheesy and our boat's captain was dorky and fabulous. I'm so glad I finally got to experience it. Next time I'll have to see it when it's all decked out for Christmas!

Heading over to Jungle Cruise in Adventureland

The following seven photos are of The Jungle Cruise ride:  

Patrick was excited because we got "his" boat. Can you see it?

Guests walking right up to the boats on Small World.

Inside Small World at the end. These are giant post cards!

Lastly, we had some snacks (Pineapple Dole Whip from Adventureland and a Garlic Cheddar Bagel Twist from Fantasy Faire, which we shared with the ducks because that is my favorite part about Disneyland) and we headed back to the car-- just as most of the guests were arriving for the day! I love it when we can avoid the mobs of people and just relax during our park trip.

In line for Dole Whip

Yum! A little taste of home-- it sure makes me miss my job at the Han D Dip!

We're actually staying in Glendale at a really nice Hilton. When we got here, they upgraded our room because Patrick is a Diamond Member! Our suite has a full living room, dining table, wet bar (no alcohol, but there is a sink for coffee and such), and also a 1/2 bath. The closed off master bedroom has a full bathroom attached, complete with not only a stand up shower but also a separate bath tub for soaking and a toilet room (so a person could do their business in privacy while another person gets ready or showers). We checked in and I took a nap while Patrick went to the store. Later, we headed downstairs for a bite to eat.

Are you ready for the most bummer part of the day? If any of you know me at all, you will know that my inner nine year old is still desperately in love with Aaron Carter, who is making a comeback as an artist. I had the pleasure and honor of seeing him at one of his very first comeback shows two years ago (almost to the day-- I saw him on 3/21/13) in Ferndale, MI at The Magic Bag. Sick as a dog and alone because no one would go with me, I drove to Ferndale by myself and bought a ticket & Meet-N-Greet pass to see him. I got to meet the very first love of my life and see him perform for the third time! I suffered through a headache the entire show, my feet were killing me from the stupid boots I was wearing because I am in no way accustomed to high heels, I was partially deaf in my left ear because of the ear infection/cold that I had, I cried like a little girl from excitement, and my phone died fifteen minutes into the show. It was the best experience of my life and I will never forget a second of it.

Meet-N-Greet with the one and only King Carter, March 21, 2012.

I haven't gone to any of the shows in the Bay Area for personal reasons-- specifically, I know someone who will go to every single Bay Area show that I never want to meet in real life, so that is definitely me being a chicken and 100% completely my fault.

He plays shows in the Anaheim/LA area (I know that he has played two HOB shows in Downtown Disney in the past), and I know that he has an upcoming show featuring Drake Bell this weekend, which I will be unable to attend. So all week leading up to this trip, I kept expressing my hopes to Patrick that he would be in the park this week and maybe I would get to run into him.

We left the park around 12-1pm , and after all day of stalking the Disneyland Celebrity Sighting Instagram account that I follow, Aaron Carter was no where to be found-- but Chris Rock was there while we were leaving, it's too bad we missed him!

Imagine my shock and dismay when I looked on Instagram later that night and found that he is in DTD (along with Drake Bell, although I'm not sure if they're hanging out together) and that they are playing another show at the HOB-- a show that I probably could have made it to had I known about it in advance.

To say that I am bummed out is a complete understatement. Devastated isn't even a strong enough word.

Some day we will meet again, Aaron Carter. I will not give up hope.

Altogether we had a really great day. Winter/early spring days in Disneyland are a gift because they are so much less busy (bonus points if it rains!) and they really give a person a chance to relax and enjoy the park without battling the crowds. I hope it's like that again on Saturday when we get to go again! I'll update you all later on how it goes :)

I hope you guys enjoyed! Thanks for sticking with me all this time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

ANXIETY: What Makes Me Anxious, How I Deal With It, and How it Affects YOU (Plus pictures of my cat)

Hey you guys! Today I'm bringing a topic to you that is very personal. It goes hand in hand with my anxiety blog from back in January, but it is slightly different. Instead of telling you what anxiety feels like to both me and others who experience it, I'd like to share with you what anxiety looks like on me when I'm experiencing it and how anxiety affects certain decisions that I make. If nothing else, my hope is that it will help others to understand who I am as a person because of my anxiety and why I do some of the things I do. I'm not really excited about this post being yet another "all about me" post (I always feel really bad when I post things with no pictures and nothing exciting to read!), but it's a subject that is definitely very relevant in my life right now. You should also know that this will probably be a long post. But I promise I'll get to some more interesting stuff soon! So let's get started!

Please enjoy this picture of my cat, Marble, as a token of my appreciation for you having decided to read this very long, pictureless-- and possibly very boring-- post.

The reason I feel that this post and my other anxiety posts are so important is because the more people talk about it and the more people with anxiety that come out of the wood work, the better the world will begin to understand it and empathize with those who experience it. Even when I write to you guys and talk about myself, I learn things and put together things that I didn't realize were related. As I get older and spend more time analyzing myself, pieces of the puzzle are revealed and I am able to put so much more together so that I can further understand my issues and that I can work on them. I'll admit that I have a long way to go down this road. Some days are just fine and some days are awful, but the key for me is to analyze what happened during those days so that I can understand what sets me off, what is good for me, and how to deal with those things when they aren't in my favor.

I've said it before and I'll say it until I'm blue in the face-- anxiety is such a severely misunderstood mental disorder. Those who study it understand it the best they can without actually having it. Those who have it understand it... if they make the effort. Those who only see it and don't have it can sort of understand. But there are also some people who just simply do not understand it and completely discount it, responding with things like "get over it" or "that's not real, grow up." Even your own friends and family members can feel that what you're experiencing is not real, and that makes communication extremely difficult. I have people in my life that I know do not understand my disorder and do not believe it is real or believe that I am pretending that it is much worse than it is... So when I'm feeling anxious, I try to hide it from them (which sometimes backfires, like in the situation this past week when I ended up going to Sacramento). I actually start to feel bad that I'm feeling anxious, like I'm doing something wrong and I will be chastised for it.

Please enjoy this picture of my cat inspecting my face.

Compare it to the feeling of doing something but having no proof. Did your dog eat your homework? No one will believe you because everyone else has their homework and you don't. Couldn't you have stopped the dog from eating it? You should have put it someplace that the dog couldn't have gotten to it. Do you even have a dog? Where is the evidence? You have no proof that you did your homework. That is the oldest excuse in the book, therefore it isn't a valid one. Enough of your excuses, I'll see you in detention after school!

I also realize that there are many people out there who have never been diagnosed with anxiety and use it as an excuse for things. For example, OCD is very similar. Many people complain about "having" OCD without having it at all. It is too common of a term that is used by uneducated people who want a reason to get their way or a reason to explain things. Does that make sense? Possibly not, but the point is that the more people who pretend to have a disorder but actually do not are "crying wolf" for the people who do. It becomes less believable. Of course there are people who actually have these disorders, but not actually having them and throwing them around is counter productive for those who do suffer from them.

I do want to throw a disclaimer out there stating that I know these are my issues and my issues only, and my issues specifically stem from fear that I am unable to control and sometimes unable to pinpoint. Not everyone that does the same things that I do has anxiety. For example, I shake my legs when I am concentrating or deeply engaged in something, but I also shake them when I am subconsciously anxious. Some people simply have habits and they have nothing to do with anxiety at all. Additionally, people who have anxiety do not all have the same habits. Lastly, not all people who have anxiety are set off by the things that upset me personally. Anxiety is a very wide umbrella and can cover almost every aspect of life.

Please enjoy this picture of my cat and her fabulous manicure (ask me about why you shouldn't declaw and what you can do to prevent your cats from tearing up your furniture!)

So let's talk about my anxieties. Here is a short (yes, this is short!) list of things that really set me off and will cause me to exhibit some of my anxious habits. Underneath, I will give an example of this anxiety and then explain how I try to cope with it. That's right-- I'm calling myself out on my own bullsh*t. Now you'll be able to spot my anxieties, but my hope is that it will help people to better understand that I'm not just being a crappy person when I do some of the things I do-- I'm just trying to cope in the only ways I know how.
*These are in no particular order.

1. Personal social situations with people I do not know very well

Example: You invited me to go out to lunch with you, but I have only known you for two years. I feel that I have not known you for enough time, and I will be concerned that there will be awkward silences or that something I say will be offensive. This anxiety stems from a fear of being a disappointment and being unable to get out of an uncomfortable situation. If you know me, you know I like having a car with me. I do not like being a passenger and relying on another person to get me home, because my situation relies on them and I may not be able to escape a situation without making someone leave someplace that they are not willing to leave just then, therefore inconveniencing them. Therefore, given the opportunity, I will always drive.

Anxiety Relief: I will often just turn you down. I am constantly worried about offending people. I am also worried about how my anxiety will be that day, and I will turn someone down on the basis that I may have to cancel anyway and cause them inconvenience. I will also say no because I have such terrible headaches so often that I am always afraid I will get one and have to cancel. This is terrible, and I make up a lot of excuses to avoid putting myself in these situations. You could offer to take me to my favorite singer's sold out concert and I would still probably turn you down and play it off like I don't like that singer enough to go to the concert. Why do I do this? Remember how I said before that people don't always understand anxiety and I feel very self conscious when I admit to people that the reason I don't want to do something is because of my anxiety? Well, here you go. My excuses are my way of satisfying someone's curiosity of "Why?" (because a simple "No" is apparently never a good enough answer for any situation) and, at the same time, relieving my fear of having to tell someone that I'm feeling anxious about something. I also try not to use the anxiety explanation often, because if I used that explanation every single time it was true, people would either think I was a basket case, that I was lying to them about having so much anxiety and my anxiety itself may seem to become an "excuse," or a person will get real sick and tired of me and my anxiety and dump me as a friend completely because I am an inconvenience to them (which has happened many times). I would rather be labeled as flaky than crazy.

2. Being alone in social situations (having no one to "fall back on" if I get caught in a situation that I cannot handle)

Example: I rarely go anywhere without Patrick, or at least a close friend whom I feel comfortable with that I can latch onto. This anxiety stems from a fear of being a disappointment and being unable to get out of an uncomfortable situation

Anxiety Relief: In a way, Patrick is my saving grace, but I also use him as a crutch. Let's just say that if there is a social gathering, I won't be going if he isn't going, and if he and I are both there, I will follow behind him if he decides to leave the room. I rely on him a lot to carry the conversation so that I can just interject at random intervals. This way, I feel like I am a part of the conversation, but the focus doesn't have to be on me. Plus, since he knows me so well and knows what makes me anxious, he can steer conversations in a different direction without my having to say so and he can spot when I need a break and take me aside if need be. Although this can be bad more than good, it is actually helping me learn how to be more social because it is teaching me my social limits and also it forces me out of my comfort zone; if it were up to me I would probably never go to a social gathering ever.

3. Committing to things, especially social situations.

Example: Have you ever noticed that I never RSVP for anything unless I absolutely have to? This is because of my fear of disappointment. I would rather take the heat and get yelled at for not letting someone know I will be somewhere/ that I won't be attending an event than let someone know I will be attending something... And then get anxious about it or have another perfectly reasonable explanation and back out at the last second, frustrating people even more. This anxiety stems from a fear of being a disappointment and being unable to get out of an uncomfortable situation

Anxiety Relief:  Let me first start off by saying I'M SORRY THAT I DO THIS. I KNOW IT IS FRUSTRATING. This entire situation revolves around anxiety. Here's how my brain goes:
1. Someone has invited me to do a thing. I really would like to do the thing, so I can't say no, because what if I'm able to do the thing that day?
2. But what if I'm feeling anxious that day or I have a headache and I can't do the thing?
3. I can't commit to doing the thing if I'm not sure I will be able to do the thing.
4. If I say yes to doing the thing and I'm unable to do the thing, people will be angry at me for dropping out at the last second.
5. I can't admit to someone that the reason I can't say yes or no is because of my anxiety. What if they don't believe me or put any stock into how real my anxiety is?
6. I think I just won't say yes OR no. I'd rather be vague about it than disappoint people later when I can't do the thing.


1. Someone has invited me to do a thing. I'm feeling brave. I will say yes to the thing.
2. In the weeks/days/hours leading up to the event, I start to feel anxious about the meeting because of an aforementioned anxiety (personal social situations with people I do not know very well)
3. I have to cancel at the last second and upset someone because I have convinced myself that the situation will be a disaster somehow and now my anxiety is through the roof and I can't even brush my hair to get ready to go out without panicking.

And this is how it goes. I don't RSVP for stuff and I am so sorry about it. Truly, I am. This is one of my biggest struggles and I have been working on it for years. Believe it or not, it has gotten slightly better.

4. Stuff on my skin, my skin not feeling normal, or things that constrict my body

This is a very all-encompassing issue. Here are examples of the "problems." I have no idea what this fear is or where it comes from.
  • When my skin is too dry or too greasy, especially my hands or face
  • When my clothing is too tight
  • There is some sort of abnormality on my skin (rough heels or uneven skin on the inside of my cheeks)
Anxiety Relief: If my hands feel dry, they actually feel dirty and I will wash them. Which makes them drier. So I carry lotion with me at all times... But it has to be a specific lotion. One that fully soaks in and doesn't make my hands greasy, but also doesn't have a lot of drying, alcohol-based fragrance. I also wear extremely loose and comfortable clothing most of the time. I have a hard time wearing belts, heavily padded bras, tight shirts, or tight pants. I also have a hard time wearing makeup and I can usually only wear it if I am doing something engaging that will prevent me from thinking about it. As soon as I'm no longer moving or doing something, I feel the need to tear my face off to get the makeup off (for this reason I often carry around baby wipes or I will go as far as washing my makeup off in a public restroom). I also carry oil blotting papers at all times. I'm terrified of antiperspirant because it makes the skin feel dry and I am afraid to touch it, so I either go without or wear non-antiperspirant deodorant. I'm just a mess when it comes to this issue.

5. When someone I am close to is ill, in danger, or if two persons I am close to are arguing. 

This one is also self explanatory, and it is a source of anxiety for most people, but I felt I should include it because it does include some terrible side effects, which I will get to down below. There is also not really a "thing" I can to do treat this anxiety other than the situation resolving itself, because I am often not directly involved and you can't just make people do what you want. This stems from the fear of losing someone or change.

6. When a thing changes abruptly or I am not given enough time to adjust to the thing.

Example: When I was in the 5th grade, I had a teacher named Mr. Smith (yes that is his real name). Although I loved Mr. Smith very dearly and I thought he was the coolest teacher, I did recognize that he wasn't the best teacher. His methods were disorganized and he had no lesson plan, and when he thought of something great he would do it without warning. One day he announced that we would be doing projects on an animal of our choosing "eventually." He said no more about it for probably a month, and he was super vague about it from the very beginning.

Everyone had eventually forgotten about the animal project, but one day Mr. Smith announced that we would be starting the project that very day and he handed us a very vague syllabus. The entire project was just that-- vague. As a ten year old child, this was way too much freedom for me. I needed structure. I needed him to tell me what exactly he wanted us to do with the project. I needed him to have let us know a couple of days in advance exactly what we would be doing for this project (because it was such a big project) and what was expected of us to receive a good grade. So what did I do?

I refused to do the project. For days, I wouldn't pick an animal. I wouldn't talk to Mr. Smith. He actually had to call my mom and talk to her to understand what was going on. Even she didn't understand, but she was able to get me to talk about it, and through heavy tears I explained that I felt that the project was sprung on us and that I felt that I did not understand the requirements but I was expected to, therefore I was afraid of 1. Not understanding what was expected of me because the project was so abruptly given to us, 2. Being afraid to ask what was expected of me because I felt that asking would make me look stupid, because all of the other kids seemed to get it and were able to start with no problem, and 3. Ultimately failing to do the project because I didn't know what to do and I was afraid to ask. I am the type of person who won't even try if it means failure, and so I shut down and wouldn't do the project. Eventually, I picked the Polar Bear and I partnered up with Conner Jelonek, a classmate of mine, and it all turned out fine and dandy, but someone had to walk me through it. I'm not good with freedom. I need requirements. If you expect something from me, tell me what you expect, otherwise I will fail.

Another example is when my parents went to pick out their last car (mini van). I felt that I was not given any time at all to adjust to the situation. One day, we just went to the car dealer and got a new car. Things changed without any time for adjustment and I cried the entire way home in that big, ugly silver van. I'm sure I just have residual feelings from the situation, but I still hate that van. These issues stem from the fear of abrupt change, feeling unprepared, feeling out of control of a situation, and being a disappointment.

Anxiety Relief: As seen above, if something is sprung on me or if I feel I am not given enough time to prepare, I will completely shut down. I won't know how to express my feelings or explain that I am feeling anxious or why, and I will turn off from the world. This is actually really debilitating in the work place because policies change all the time without notice and I will rebel against them until the thing is changed back or someone puts their foot down with me and my fear of losing my job becomes worse than my fear of the thing changing.

7. Not being able to breathe

Example(s): I bought a steel-boned corset a few months back to try waist training, but I found that it would restrict my breathing too much. I could stand it for about an hour-- maybe two-- until suddenly, I was either trying to tear it off of myself or yelling (yes, yelling) for Patrick to come help me out of it. I decided that waist training was not for me.

Yesterday, Patrick picked me up and flung me over his shoulder, but my own body weight was putting pressure on my stomach/chest against his back/shoulder. I immediately started flailing and trying to grab at something-- anything-- to put myself upright so that I could breathe.

My showers only last 5-10 minutes (really, as short as I can get them to be while still doing everything I need to get done as fast as I possibly can-- I have taken three minute showers before). The water cannot be too hot, the fan must be on, and if the shower gets too steamy, I will have to open the curtain and let the cold air rush in so that I can breathe clean, cool air again.

I cannot swim underwater without plugging my nose because my urge to breathe is too strong, so I just avoid swimming because water freaks me out anyway.

Panic attacks are particularly terrifying for me because the lack of the ability to breathe normally terrifies me and makes me panic even more and then my breathing becomes even worse, which makes me panic even more. It is a never ending cycle of badness. Obviously this is the fear of asphyxiation, which is my absolute number one biggest fear.

Anxiety Relief: Being very particular about where I am and what situations I put myself in. I don't swim often. I take short, warm-- not hot-- showers.

7. Phone calls TO someone or phone calls WITH someone that I don't know

Example: If I have to call someone-- even if I know them-- I will have anxiety because I don't know who will pick up and I cannot rely on facial cues and body language to let me know how this person is responding to our conversation. This is especially terrifying when I am calling land lines, because most people have personal cell phones that are rarely answered by another person. As for phone calls with people I don't know, let me explain: If I have to speak to someone at a doctor's office and they are the ones calling me, it doesn't matter. I will still have anxiety through the roof. This is normally more in personal situations, therefore I can be trained in a work environment to make or take phone calls-- but it takes me a long time to be comfortable with them and I need a lot of training and practice to make this a thing that doesn't make me want to vomit just thinking about it. This comes from the fear of being a disappointment and being unable to control a situation.

Anxiety Relief: I am constantly trying to challenge myself on this one because we really will never live in a world without verbal communication. I challenge myself by offering to call offices for Patrick if he is on the road, verbally calling in prescriptions instead of using their automated system, or making phone calls to family members even if I'm not feeling talkative. If I have to call any one (be it a person I do or do not know) and we have a lot to discuss and many points to cover, I will actually open up a Word Document and type out my thoughts, rehearse them so that I don't sound like I'm reading during the phone call, and have my computer open during the phone call so I can consult my notes, make notes of the conversation, or look up any information that I am asked but do not readily know the answer to. However, whenever possible I email people (not text people). Text messaging is hard because it implies that you check your phone often and a response is expected in a timely manner. If you don't respond in a timely manner, an excuse needs to be provided. However, email is checked much less frequently and no response is needed, plus you can email from a computer where all of your thoughts are ready in front of you on a nice, large screen, and you can edit your message as many times as you want/need until what you have to say is perfect. Trust me, I edit my blogs at least three times AND have Patrick proofread them every single time before I post them... And then after I post a new one on Facebook, I will read it one last time while you guys are reading it and change any last minute typos, thoughts, grammar issues, etc.

8. Going to sleep/no longer being awake *AT NIGHT ONLY*

Example: Every night I stay up later and later. This is because I push the boundaries and will only go to sleep if I am absolutely exhausted. I have no issues like this when it comes to napping, which I do often because my sleep schedule is so messed up. I also have no idea why I am so anxious about going to sleep. I don't experience the anxiety every single night, but I would say it happens about three out of every five nights, possibly more. I just don't want to go to sleep. It's not insomnia. I get exhausted and then I will fall asleep and sleep really well. I very rarely wake up in the middle of the night unless there is a loud noise or I have to pee. I truly don't know where this comes from and I would love some insight if anyone has any ideas. Even with the help of this article, which explains that sleep anxiety is not all that rare, I still can't figure out what mine is caused by.

Anxiety Relief: As previously stated, I push the boundaries. I will only go to sleep at night when I am exhausted. I have also trained my brain to respond positively to a certain perfume that I have, so when I put it on and smell it, I feel more at ease, although I do try to reserve this for really bad nights because I also use it to calm down during the day and I don't want to back-train my mind into thinking that the perfume is a smell I recognize when I'm anxious. However, this helps most nights (and in many situations during the day, too), and if I put it on before the anxiety gets too bad, I will be able to go to bed at a time similar to the night before and not 30, 40, or 50+ minutes later. Right now my "bed time" is around 4am and it keeps getting later.

Please enjoy this picture of my cat being really unimpressed by our selfies and my ridiculous kissy face.

Now that we've gone through some of the worst things that cause me anxiety, let's talk about what my anxiety looks like. We've already discussed how I will avoid social situations or other situations that could cause me anxiety, but once I'm already in those situations and I cannot get out, what do I do?
  • I fidget. Anxiety is not always the reason I fidget, but often I fidget because I am feeling anxiety on the inside that I don't realize I'm feeling. For example, just because I've stopped thinking about a thing does not mean my brain is not subconsciously thinking about the thing. My most common fidgets are chewing on the insides of my cheeks/lips, playing with my phone, or shaking my legs. As I am writing this, I just realized that I am shaking my leg, and I know that the reason is because one of my family members is ill and in the hospital. My cheeks/lips are also particularly raw today for the same reason. I know these drive people nuts, especially the leg shaking thing because often others can feel the shaking or seeing it makes them feel anxious, but I do not mean to do these things on purpose. I don't even realize I'm doing them. I have to make a very strained, conscious effort to stop doing these things, and I only every notice if someone points it out. 
  • I go hide. If I'm feeling anxious, I'll leave a situation and go regroup, often in my car or a bathroom or wherever I can get to to take a deep breath. No, it doesn't take me that long to pee. I just need to calm down.
  • I stop talking. I often can't think of anything to say in a social situation, and that in itself causes me anxiety, but then because I can't think of anything to say I will shut down, and that makes the awkward silence that is causing me anxiety even worse. 
  • I talk about what is making me anxious (possibly too much talking) but not explain that I am talking about it because I am feeling anxious about it. For example, I will often talk about how something I am eating is super unhealthy for me, because I am afraid I am being judged for eating the thing (especially because I am not, nor have I ever been, a skinny gal who should be able to eat anything she wants), but I am acknowledging that I know the thing is unhealthy, and then I keep talking about it and I won't shut up and I try really hard to justify my actions. 
Please enjoy this picture of my cat, who is real pissed that I gave her a bath.

So, that's it for this edition of HOW BROOK'S ANXIETY CHANGES HER PERSONALITY AND HER LIFE. If you got through to the end, I hope you guys enjoyed this post or at the very least learned something! I know it was a really long post about a subject that not everyone finds interesting (me). Again, I'm always open for questions and comments and I love feedback from you guys, so don't be shy!

I will say that this specific blog post is important in opening up a seemingly unrelated topic that I want to discuss with you guys pretty soon. I mentioned having a blog "planned" in my very last post, and the one that I'm talking about now is the same one that I was talking about then. I'll get to it soon, I swear! 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lucky Friday the 13th! (Phone Trouble and The Great Ring Fiasco of 2015)

Hey guys! I got some really great news today and I thought it would share it with you all. Normally most people consider Friday the 13th to me extremely unlucky, but I have always had nothing but great luck on Friday the 13th, especially since high school and beyond. Today was no different, and how cool is it that we got to have two Friday the 13th's in a row? Gotta love a 28 day month!

Today, Patrick and I went on an early, mid-day date to go see the new Cinderella (it was really great and is definitely worth seeing-- the costumes are to die for!). Since the movie theater is in the mall and I was expecting my wedding rings to come back in today, this was super convenient. When we got out of the movie, we headed to Kay Jewelers just down the corridor to go pick up my rings.

After over a month of struggling with Kay Jewelers to get my engagement ring and wedding band soldered together correctly, everything is finally perfect!

Patrick and I had not been planning on getting married before May, so we were not prepared with my wedding band when we got married in October and ended up ordering it for Christmas. Because my rings are so specifically shaped, the engagement ring and the wedding band have to sit a certain way together in order for them to look correct. Anytime someone would ask to see my ring, I had to adjust and turn them before I could hold out my hand and let them look. I was really looking forward to the day I would have them soldered together, and because of the every-six-months maintenance package we have on my rings, I wanted to wait until February until I got the two rings soldered together because that was when I would have needed to have them sent in anyways to have the rhodium plating re-done.

My engagement ring on the day Patrick proposed, February 15, 2014.

Let me tell you, it was a disaster from the beginning.

When you spend weeks picking out a ring, lots of money on it, and get very emotionally attached to it because of its significance, you always want and expect for it to be perfect. A bride has this mental picture of the perfect ring and never expects it to be anything less than exactly what they wanted, especially when you are dealing with a company like Kay Jewelers who have jewelers who deal with similar jewelry every day and know how it is supposed to look and know that the job is to be done flawlessly (or so you would think).

A screenshot from the Kay Jewelers website of how my rings are supposed to fit together. I would show you a current picture, but it's dark outside and the lighting in our house is not great for photos... Plus my nails look like crap. Maybe I'll insert a photo later.

I sent my rings out on my birthday, February 7th, and they were expected to be back in two weeks. Luckily they came back a little bit early, so I went to pick them up while Patrick was out of town... Only to find that they had been soldered together wrong. Like I said before, the rings have to sit a very specific way for them to look correct (as you can see from the photo), but that doesn't mean they don't fit together in other ways. In addition, they originally did a pretty cruddy job at re-sizing my engagement ring when I had that done in August (the back of the ring was "wavy" or crooked) but I had planned on having them fix that the next time I sent it in because I didn't want to send it back again and be without it for longer. So not only were they soldered together the wrong way, but they also made no effort to fix the crooked part of the ring, and so there was a gap between the two of them on the palm side of the rings and uneven soldering. So I calmly had them send it back again with a photo of how the rings are supposed to look together and I patiently waited another two weeks.

When I got my rings back, they looked even worse.

At first I didn't even notice it very much, but it looked like they had literally clipped a piece of my ring off and then soldered it back on. It was especially noticeable from the bottom, but you could definitely see the shoddy job they did from the visible chips on the side... And AGAIN they didn't bother to fix the crooked part of my engagement ring, so there was still a huge, uneven gap between the rings on the palm side. I barely noticed these things at first, but when we got home I definitely saw them and I was so upset that I started to cry out of frustration, anger, sadness, and definitely fear. My ring looked so far gone that I was afraid they would never be able to make it look like new (and like it was supposed to).

Patrick took us straight back to the store and handled the entire situation beautifully. The woman we had been dealing with was wonderful. She was always so kind and had been in the store every time we had gone in, so she knew the situation and knew exactly what the problems were and could even spot the flaws in the jewelry herself.

This time, she wrote a very detailed note to the jeweler about exactly what needed to be fixed, expressed that this was a top priority since there had been so many issues and it had taken such a long time already, and and she put a rush on it to have it back within seven days.

Today we got it back and it is finally perfect. The wedding band that was so butchered looks brand new, there is no uneven gap between my rings, and there is a small, very even spot where they soldered them together. They look exactly how I would expect from a job done by a professional jeweler. After all of our trouble, we've decided to name this ordeal The Great Ring Fiasco of 2015.

I had been without my rings for over a month for a job that should have taken two weeks, and as much as I adore my grandmother's vintage wedding rings that she gave me for my 21st birthday (which I wear in situations like this when I need to send my rings in for maintenance... No one ever notices that they're different, but they're a little big so I worry about losing them), I was really bummed to be without them for so long.

After we left the mall, we did a bit of shopping for a few groceries and a new cat tent for Marble because the washing machine ate her last one. We ran a couple of other quick errands and then headed back home to relax.

Here's the part where you learn about the other great thing that happened to me today, other than having an overall good day and getting my rings back. A few months ago I rooted my phone. For those of you don't know, this basically means you download a software onto your phone that "opens up" all of the things that you weren't previously able to have access to. Do you have a pre-loaded application on your phone that drives you nuts but you can't delete it? When you root your phone, you are able to delete the things that bother you, change the things you don't like, and load on software that you would like on your phone (plus a whole lot more, but this does void any warranty on your phone and sometimes does end up ruining your phone, so this must be done with caution by someone who knows what they're doing). However, recently Samsung came out with a software update for the phone and I could not find a way to turn off the notification for the update, plus with a rooted phone you are unable to update the software. This meant that I was getting a notification (I kid you not) every time I left my fingers off of my screen for more than five seconds while the screen was awake, plus it would pop up any time I would unlock the phone to use it. I cannot remember the last time I was so annoyed by something so trivial, but I use my phone so frequently (like a tablet or a laptop) that it was something I was dealing with constantly.

So last month (silly me) I thought that factory resetting my phone would fix the problem. I backed up all of my files and reset it, and then painstakingly had to re-download all of my apps, change all of my settings, and adjust my phone to the way it was previously. This, apparently, did not do the trick. I so was worried that I would have to reset it again when I finally un-rooted it that I dealt with the problem until I really couldn't take it anymore because I didn't feel like re-doing everything again. Last night, I actually looked up how to un-root it, downloaded the software to do so, and waited for over an hour for the processes to be over. Thankfully I didn't have to factory reset my phone again. When it was done, my phone tried to update again... and it FAILED. All day I was dealing with that stupid notification again, and I told myself that maybe I did need to factory reset my phone and that I would do it when we got home from running errands today. When I actually sat down to do it, I decided to try to update the phone one last time before I reset it once again...


Thank goodness, because I was truly ready to chuck the phone out of a moving vehicle. My phone is now finally back to normal, and my annoyances are at a much lower level.

Maybe this was a long, rambling post that no one cares about, and maybe I sound like an absolute brat about my rings, but when you spend that much money on something and it means that much to you, you expect it to be excellent. Plus, dealing with the phone thing was much like dealing with a pop up advertisement on your laptop or phone, and I go to great lengths to get rid of those little buggers.

Regardless, I'm finally happy with my rings and the most constant irritation in my life has finally gone away. Rejoice with me, friends. I don't have to throw a temper tantrum any time soon.

**Another quick update on how I'm feeling: Today was not so great. I dealt with a migraine all day. The headache itself wasn't so terrible after I took Excedrin, but the other symptoms (dizziness, inability to focus or form thoughts, exhaustion, nausea after eating) were very present all day and I felt very out of it-- you should have seen me trying to navigate through the store. I definitely feel that this has to do with our travelling this past week finally catching up with me, so I hope I can kick it with a hot bath and a good night's sleep tonight! Thank you all for all of your kind thoughts and good vibes <3

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Quick Update (I'm not dead!)

Hey guys!

I know that it's been almost an entire month since my last blog post! Trust me, it eats at me every day that I haven't updated you all, especially because I have at least two blog posts floating around in my brain that I want to get done, including one that I "promised' to someone within a week... And it's been like three weeks since I said that. Nichole, I'm getting to it, I swear!

I just want to reassure you all that I'm not dead or missing! I have been feeling really under the weather lately. Last month I got pretty sick with just your basic cold/flu, and since then I really just have not been up to par. I'm not getting very much sleep (or, well, I am but my body thinks I'm not) so I'm exhausted, I'm often nauseated and have very little appetite (I've been living off of a lot of string cheese, tangerines, and chicken broth-- which is terrible, I know, but there are now more days where I am completely fine and can eat some full meals with no problem) and I have a headache every single day.

All of these seemingly basic symptoms appeared to just be really random-- until about a week ago, when I leaned over to pick something up off of the ground and a ton of clear fluid gushed out of one side of my nose. It absolutely scared the bejeezus out of me. I immediately asked Patrick if it was possible for your brain to leak out of your nose, and then I ignored him and started Googling and found that it actually IS possible for cerebral fluid to leak out of the nasal passage, and every one of the random (or so I thought) symptoms fit the scenario. This condition is called a Spontaneous CSF Leak, and even though I'm probably just being a hypochondriac, hearing this really scared me and I had a panic attack in the middle of Patrick teaching a class. He actually had to pause for a moment so he could make sure I was okay and calm me down because he could hear me gasping for breath from in his office. I can't remember the last time I was so absolutely terrified. I was shaking, sobbing, and I could not regulate my breathing. Unfortunately, the very first article I read on the subject was about a really severe case that ended in surgery, which is in my top five or so fears, and my anxiety shot through the roof. I really thought I was going to pass out from the panic attack. Eventually I ran out of energy and I stopped physically panicking, even though my brain was still going a thousand miles an hour, and I was able to keep reading up on the subject.

With a little bit more research, I found that is not super common but it is possible for you to experience a tear in the nasal cavity, especially after trauma to the head or face or even after having a severe cold (especially after taking a lot of cold medication and allowing the nasal passages to dry out, much like your skin would crack when it lacks moisture during the winter, combined with a lot of nose blowing-- which is something that I normally don't have an issue with when I have colds, but this one was really severe and I was blowing my nose constantly). This tear can cause cerebral fluid to leak out of the nose in short gushes when you bend over, and the frequency of this event is really what determines its severity. The tear itself is not much of a risk, but the outside access to the area surrounding the brain makes infection a concern-- but that's only if the tear doesn't heal, and judging from the amount of fluid that I experienced (I'm so sorry if this is TMI) combined with the fact that I only experienced this phenomenon once, I feel extremely confident that this will clear up on its own-- if that is even what's going on. Because I don't have health insurance (for a number of reasons that I would rather not get into), I'm doing everything I can to just take it easy. If the issue happens again, I will definitely seek medical assistance, but I would rather not spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for them to shove a camera up my nose just tell me that I need to rest.

I know that this is absolutely not confirmed, but I have not found a single alternative explanation for the sudden rush of fluid from my nose (it was definitely not a runny nose-- this is something I am 100% sure about), and all of the symptoms I've been having-- such as headaches that get worse throughout the day but feel better when you lay down, exhaustion, lack of appetite, and nausea-- are all explained by this issue. The interesting thing is that my symptoms were present for about two weeks before the leaky nose thing even happened, so it feels good to have a possible explanation for why I've been feeling like such crap. The best news is that this issue most often resolves itself with bed rest and staying hydrated, so that is what I've been trying to do.

I'm constantly exhausted. I actually have a new thing going on-- terrible dark circles under my eyes. I can't tell if this is because I'm getting older and my genetics are ganging up on me (my mom has terrible dark circles and has since her 20s), my allergies are going berserk (and allergens here in the Bay Area are pretty terrible right now), or if it's because of the above mentioned brain leaking issue and my lack of energy. If anyone has any tips or suggestions, please let me know! On a good day, I look sick. On a bad day, I look like a corpse with rosy cheeks. It's not pretty, and it's something that I'm struggling to battle with new makeup techniques, healthy foods, and proper hydration.

The other issue I've been having is that my anxiety is at an all-time high. I can't tell if this is because I'm just generally not feeling well and my body is out of whack or for other unknown reasons, but it seems like everything causes me pretty bad anxiety lately.

For example, Patrick was going to be in Sacramento for work this week (about 1.5 hours from our house), and it did not make sense at all for me to go so we decided I would stay home. Ever since we made the decision for me to stay home, I had a really nervous feeling about being alone and not being with Patrick, even though it was just a Monday afternoon through Thursday evening trip. I could not put my finger on why I was feeling this way (and I still can't), but I tried to swallow the feeling and just convince myself that going with him would be ridiculous and it would be much better if I stayed home. My hope was that the feeling would go away once he actually left.

My plan of "ignoring the problem until it goes away" did not work. As Patrick was loading his things into the car to leave, I called him panicking, absolutely freaking out, and unable to calm down. This is the hard part about anxiety. It's feeling that something terrible is about to happen and having no idea why you are feeling that way and knowing no way to fix it. It's watching a meteor come straight at the earth and having nothing to do but run around in circles and cry because life as you know it is about to end, which may seem like an exaggeration but to someone who has such severe anxiety, it is a very realistic scenario to compare the feeling to. When I was younger, I chalked it up to having somewhat of a "6th sense." If you've been friends with me for a long time, you may remember seeing texts or Facebook posts from me in the past asking for confirmation that you are alright, because I was absolutely convinced that these "bad feelings" were legitimate and that someone I knew was in grave peril. Now, I understand that it is just uncontrollable anxiety and no one is actually in danger (most likely). But I couldn't shake this feeling.

And so I am writing to you from Sacramento.

I don't know how I got so lucky, but I have a husband who is incredible when it comes to dealing with me and my anxiety. He doesn't quite understand it, and so he does get frustrated sometimes (understandably so, especially when it affects his plans-- specifically work plans that have little to no wiggle room), but he is always there to walk me through it and do whatever it takes to work with me-- even if it means dragging me with him on a business trip that I had no reason to go on and delaying him from getting on the road for about 45 minutes, which I know really stresses him out.

So anywho, this post is not to receive sympathy or well wishes-- I know anyone who is actually reading this cares about me and my well being, and as always I care about you all so so much. I know I am probably over reacting about the brain leakage and it's probably something completely explainable, but better safe than sorry. I just wanted to let you all know what's going on and why I've been a little but MIA lately so that no one worries. This also goes for people who I've recently had very little contact with on a regular basis. I'm sorry! I haven't forgotten anyone! Most of the time I'm just sitting in my PJs on the couch, sipping ice water and watching TV, trying to rest. Patrick and I will be in Pasadena at the end(ish) of the month, and we're fortunate enough to definitely have time to hit Disneyland and DCA, so at least expect a post about that in the near future! I hope everyone is keeping well!