My Body, Myself

I love the bird tattoo just below my shoulder on my chest.

The tattoo I have on my left arm, a bird on a typewriter, makes me feel so sexy. And strong.

I love the Phoenix on my back that reminds me that I will always rise.

The Hebrew on my side tells the story of Ruth, the first convert, and reminds me why I’m Jewish.

I love the color of my eyes, green with a bit of brown circling my pupils. Green eyes are rare, and I enjoy being rare.

I love my curly, wild hair, because it never looks the same from one day to another.

I love my boobs, which I had surgically reduced and that’s OK. I acknowledge and appreciate that they fed and nourished both my babies.

I love my legs, which are shapely and sexy.

Sadly, I don’t love all of me. I look at my stomach in the mirror and frown. It’s swollen and puffy from weight gain and eating poorly since the pandemic started. I tell myself that I’ve carried two babies and try to appreciate my womb as much as I appreciate other parts of my body.

I ignore the guilty feeling that’s spurred when my thighs uncomfortably touch when I walk.

I also try to ignore my chins when I take a selfie and the fact that I probably “need” Botox.

I avoid jeans and opt for leggings or sweats. I pick sweatshirts and baggy shirts to hide my insecurities, but I’m pretty sure my uncertain gait gives me away.

I try to give myself some grace. Be kind and do my best but I’ve been in autopilot for months, attempting to fill whatever void I feel at the moment. It never works. It’s always there and unless I do some real, hard work it will continue to be there.

My progress is not linear; some days are better than others. But I want to love all of me.

I think I’m pretty amazing (most of the time). I fight depression, anxiety, an eating disorder and a personality disorder every single day. I’ve suffered a mental break, having to go to a psychiatric hospital for six weeks. I do ECT treatments, shock therapy, every six to eight weeks just so I can feel OK and get by. And I do it all for my family. And me, of course. I am a fighter, a survivor and advocate.

My heart, my strong yet tender heart, swells with pride when I think about it all. And how I’m setting an example to my kids by taking care of my mental health and making myself a priority. They’ll see my perseverance and resilience. They’ll also see my flaws and I’m OK with that. They need to see them, see me.

I want them to see how much I love and appreciate my body and self and I’ll continue to work on that. Even though I’m almost 40. It’s never too late to try. To love yourself.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

8 Reasons I Have Anxiety On Any Given Day

Everybody has anxiety, but there are those who experience anxiety for prolonged periods of time and every day. Unfortunately, I fall into that category.

For the most part, my anxiety is controlled through medication and relaxation techniques. Mostly medication, though. Therapy also helps.

Some days I’m completely fine, but others are marred by anxiety and panic. When I start to experience anxiety, it starts small, like with a feeling that I forgot something or that something bad is going to happen. Then comes the obsessive thoughts, “What am I forgetting? What if a loved one is mad at me? Why did I say that stupid thing yesterday?” I might start to catastrophize or have intrusive thoughts that I’m going to die or my loved ones are going to die. My heart races and pounds. There are butterflies in my chest. If I can’t quell these thoughts, I have a panic attack where it’s hard to breathe. Thankfully, I haven’t had a panic attack in awhile, but the obsessive and intrusive thoughts are still there and can be difficult to manage. The thoughts are constant and almost every day.

I know anxiety affects people differently; this is only my experience, but I wanted to share a list of what gives me anxiety on a daily basis. Also, I wanted to point out that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder in the U.S., affecting up to 40 million people. That’s huge.

OK, here’s my list:

  1. Loud noises — It doesn’t matter what it is — my kids being loud, a pan being dropped, the TV volume — loud noises always put me on edge. So do repetitive noises. My anxiety not only manifests with obsessive thinking and physical symptoms, but also it makes me very irritable. I start to raise my voice when I shouldn’t or I snap at my husband or the kids. Sometimes I feel the urge to chunk something against the wall.
  2. I’m out of routine — I thrive in routine. Nothing makes me happier than doing the same thing everyday and doing it the same way. It helps prevent my anxiety, because I know exactly what’s coming up and what I need to do. Of course, it’s not very realistic to do the same thing the same way every single day. There are always kinks, and I deal with those but they usually put me on edge.
  3. Stress — This is kind of a no-brainer, but if something stressful is going on (like moving to a new house or the holidays ), I start to get irritable and panic.
  4. Interrupted or not enough sleep — I’m one of those people who just needs nine to 10 hours of sleep a night. Of course, I don’t get that, but it feels like I’m running on empty if I’m operating on fewer than seven hours. When I’m interrupted (which I often am), my anxiety flares up because then I start to think about not getting back to sleep or not getting enough sleep.
  5. Too much caffeine — I’m really bad about drinking too many Diet Cokes, as I often do when I don’t get enough sleep (Eli is on a 5 a.m. wake up call these days). I chug and chug until I feel some energy, but then my anxiety goes into overdrive.
  6. Conflict — I do not like conflict. I guess most people don’t, but I stress out so badly if I have to confront someone or if there’s any discord. The obsessive thoughts start to cycle and my thoughts race. Thoughts like, “Maybe I should say this? I wonder if they don’t like me now. Am I being mean?” I’ll play conversations over and over in my head, and the stress just mounts up.
  7. Not enough alone time — I need alone time. When I have quality alone time, I feel recharged. During this sacred time, I don’t want anyone touching me, because I’m touched out usually by the kids. I don’t even let the cats on me during alone time. I do things that I enjoy, whether it’s take a hot shower or bath, watch TV, read, etc. When I don’t get alone time, I get so short-fused. See a theme?
  8. Uncertainty — I’m sure this is a trigger for many, many people. Because I thrive on routine and structure, I’m not good with uncertainty. Take the pandemic, for example. When we were doing the quarantine at home, I was so stressed. I worried about the kids falling behind in school, our financial situation, whether we were going to get sick, when I was ever going to be alone again, among many other things. I know I’m not alone in this. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our collective mental health, but thankfully, there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines becoming available.

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the most common triggers I have. I hope that if you have a loved one who suffers with an anxiety disorder, you have a little more insight with this blog. Please treat anyone who has an anxiety disorder with respect and never downplay their symptoms and feelings.

If you have anxiety, I recommend getting a weighted blanket. When I’m starting to panic, I get my blanket and put most of the weight on my chest. It instantly makes me feel a bit better and I feel safe. I prefer this to meditating or breathing exercises.

Any questions? Drop them in the comments.

Stay in the light, my friends.