i was making myself jump through a lot of hoops

anonymous asked:

Thanks Helen Matthews & Magnetman33 knew I could count on you to sign . This needs to stop now , we all know MM will not stop , she's so delusional & a mental case , making bucks from our BRF . If PC does not step up and end this ASAP the future of RF is on the line . Rupert Murdoch will destroy it . JD & Felix you would of had over 1.5 mill hits by now . Anons who have followed from the beginning please sign . Thanks again x

It’s a personal decision for everyone, I received over 1.5 million myself.  I think the monarchy is stronger than that.  This will never happen, MME needs Prince Charles approval, the Queens, and parliament. Lots of hoops to jump through.

Thanks anon

DEAR AUTNIE MJ: DEALING WITH ANXIETY

A number of questions just turned up in my ask box that dealt with anxiety. Rather than just pulling one of them, I decided to answer all of them. Because the basic question was: “I have anxiety. Have you had it and what did you do?”

I have had anxiety. I suffered a serious bout of in 2010, specifically. It hit me like a bolt out of the blue and stuck with me for a while. Why it happened isn’t clear, though it very likely relates to the medical condition that has knocked me down recently and has been (and had been—I didn’t know about it at the time) dogging me for years. Whatever the case, it came one day.

A few things about what I am about to write—this answer is going to deal with anxiety obviously, and if you have anxiety you may know that reading about anxiety usually makes more anxiety. When I had anxiety, I could not read about anxiety without getting anxiety, and yet I read about it pretty compulsively, looking for answers. I was looking for something that told me there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I am letting you know that this answer has that light. It has the whole damn sunrise. I know that matters. Trust me. Hold my hand as we go, if you want to go with me. This is the piece I wanted to read when I had it. And this is true—I had it, and it ended.


Anxiety bouts can end. They end all the time. Never give up hope that yours can and will end. I am not a mental health professional, and if you are suffering from severe anxiety I strongly, strongly suggest seeing one. You may already be doing so. Also, what I write about here is what happened to me. We are all different and mileage may vary. Anxiety has a lot of causes and pathways. There is no one way to deal with it—which is good. There are a LOT of ways. Millions—billions?—of people deal with anxiety. Almost all of us deal with one form of mental infirmity at one point or another in our lives. You’re not only not alone, you’re in the majority.

I want you to know that people can have it and do lots of stuff and actually be happy. I want you to know that exists.

I want you to know it is not all bad. I swear I am not making this up. I want you to know the bout of anxiety that I thought would crush me may have been one of the very best things that ever happened to me. It can be useful.

Now I’ll just tell you my story, and if it is of use to you, then I am happy.

So what happened was that things were going pretty well for me when the anxiety hit. Before it hit, I thought I knew what anxiety was. I thought it was that feeling I’d had before tests, or in certain situations. I thought it was just that nervous feeling. I soon learned that anxiety was a very weird beast.

It came on first as some weird sensations—pounding in the chest, things that felt like electrical shocks going down my arms. At the time, I was working a lot. I thought nothing of sitting at my desk until midnight or later, pounding away. My brain was going and going like a train, and then these shocks would come on. It really felt like I had been hit with a bolt of juice right out of a power socket. Then came the panic attacks in the night, where I would wake up with my heart racing, feeling like I couldn’t breathe. They got more and more frequent. Then I was often up at five am, pacing around. And then one day I had one of those that didn’t shut off when I woke up. My body was racing. What was most disturbing was that suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was in control of my thoughts. It was like I had always been in the driver’s seat of my brain, and then one morning it was hijacked. I was shoved to the passenger’s seat. I could see where we were going, but I couldn’t steer. It was like I was watching myself think. I was filled with dread and energy and I had no idea why. My brain was veering around all over the place.

This all happened on a beautiful summer’s day. I was supposed to meet two friends to write (they were Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman, and I mention them because they were champions that day). I got myself dressed and went out. I called my mother (who is a nurse) and spoke to her. I was teary and shaking. I tried to work, but the words were moving around on the page in front of me. I told Scott and Robin what was going on, and they were very helpful. I felt like I had to walk. They walked with me for a few hours, and then Robin got in a cab with me and took me to the doctor. (The doctor had already checked me over for the symptoms I’d been having. He had concluded I had anxiety.)

I was given Ativan that night. My mother came up to stay with me—I was in that much of a state of distress. I took the pill. My system slowed down a bit for the night, and kicked up again the next day. This was the start of months of this. I won’t go through the bad stuff and all the thoughts I had, because you probably already know them if you have been through it. I did wonder a lot about how I was going to do anything, how I was going to live my life and do my job. I wondered how I was going to go to bed, and then what would happen when I woke up. This is the kind of funtimes anxiety gives you. It’s a jerk. During that summer, I was writing The Name of the Star. Writing was hard. I couldn’t focus very well. Then I got pissed and I attacked it. I attacked it with EVERYTHING I COULD FIND. I said, “I have decided this anxiety is a signal that I need to do something, so I am going to do it.”

So let me tell you what I learned and WHAT I DID ABOUT IT, because that is what matters.

First, the anxiety is not you. It’s drifting around you, but it’s not you. I like to imagine anxiety as the big red monster from Bugs Bunny. Like this:

There it is. Outside of you. Kind of ridiculous looking now that you can see it. The anxiety may be with you now, but it can just as easily go away. It is not a permanent part of you, no matter how it seems. And look! It’s scared! OF A MANICURE! That brings me to the…

Second thing: you know how depression lies? Well, anxiety is dumb. I did not just say people with anxiety are dumb. No, no. I mean that anxiety itself is stupid. If you asked anxiety what two plus two is, anxiety will think very hard and then say “triangle” or  “a bag of Fritos” or “a commemorative stamp.” Because anxiety doesn’t know what anything is. It will try to convince you that things that are totally fine are worthy of dread. That summer, when it was bad, it didn’t matter what I looked at or engaged in at first, the anxiety monster was scared of it. It was scared of busy situations, accidents, spiders, sleeping, being awake, my sneakers, the wall… I caught on to the stupidity thing the day I broke down and watched the most boring nature show I could possibly find, just to slow my mind down. It was just pretty pictures of mountains and trees. An anxiety attack came on as I was watching, and I said to it, “You are totally stupid. Nothing this stupid can defeat me. You’re going down, you idiotic monster. I AM RULER HERE!”

I started to think of it as being very, very small, like a child in an oversized labcoat who was trying to order me around. “You’re adorable, kid,” I said. “Now let’s go find your parents. Or maybe put you in an orphanage.” *

With that realization, anxiety was genuinely put on notice.

Third: I looked around at my life and situation. I saw a few things clearly for the first time. For a start, I had no boundaries between work and life. I had no time limits. I would stay online until all hours and let my brain drink in the electricity. There is a lot of research (so much I can’t just link here) that indicates this is not super good for our brains. I started to put up limits. I stopped work at certain hours, no matter what. If the anxiety had made it hard to write during the day, I didn’t try again at night. I stopped.

I slowed down everything. I put myself on a more gentle mental diet and I didn’t care who knew it. If it was slow and boring and something that would be enjoyed in a nursing home, then it was for me. I adopted what I called the Grandma Lifestyle and I’ve never looked back. This idea that we have to be Doing! Things! All! The! Time! is bullshit. That’s television talking to you, or articles, or the persistent but false impression that literally everyone is out accomplishing more and doing more and loving it all ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TIME!!! Lies. People do some things using various units of time and under all kinds of conditions. This is not a competition and there is no metric.

I walked slowly. I went out and looked at whatever there was to see. A tree. A duck. Storefronts. Other people. I dialed it all back and stopped judging what I had to be reading/doing/thinking/appreciated and suddenly realized I had a lot of weird ideas about what I “had” to do. I’d been knocking myself around and making myself jump through hoops to accomplish things that had no discernible benefit. I didn’t learn this in one day. It took a few months. My thoughts began to clear and I was able to do more and more. And a major part of the way I got there was through meditation.

That’s four: meditation. And it is a BIG ONE. I know. It’s in magazines at Whole Foods and it’s everywhere and trendy but you know what? It changed my life and I do it every day. Again, plenty of science out there you can easily find online. You need to be consistent. This is the key. You don’t just do it once and then you’re changed. It is like exercise. I tell you true I know it changed my way of thinking, and has probably physically changed my brain. It is part of my life to this day and will remain so.** 

Five: I got help. I went to the doctor and got a medication that I was on for about a year and a half, and I did cognitive behavioral therapy, which helped me break down my thought patterns. I also had a more serious look at WHY I was so burned out and exhausted and found the medical problem that was really at the root of all of this. Which was a good thing. I mean, it’s annoying but it’s good to know because I can do something about it.

Six: I exercised. I started going to yoga classes a lot. Which, again, seems like a cliché but does in fact work. I walked. I just moved. I also cut back on caffeine a tremendous amount. I had been drinking QUITE A LOT OF COFFEE up until that point. (I probably could do 5-8 cups a day.) I stopped entirely for about two years. Now I drink a limited amount and never in the evening. So yes, sensible diet and sensible steps that are all boring but REALLY WORK. But they work over time.

Seven: KNOW THAT IT CAN END. It will tell you that it won’t. Remember: IT DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING. Anxiety is like a four year old who thinks they are a surgeon–that’s cute that the child thinks that, but you wouldn’t actually let the four year old operate on you. THE CHILD KNOWS NOTHING. You would prevent the child from attempting any surgical procedure. Likewise, anxiety must be prevented from making your decisions. It’s so small! It’s so silly! Look how it thinks it can move you around! You can regain control. It really isn’t stronger than you.

EIGHT: I found out just how many other people had it. Seeing it was not just me really was a great eye-opener. Someone around you has anxiety right now as well. You may or may not know about it. People doing all kinds of things have anxiety. Some of the people who make the shows you like have or had it. Same with the people who write the songs you like or books you like. People doing all kinds of jobs have or had it. It is super common. It moves around. It can be lived with and shown the door. You are not alone in this.

NINE: There is nothing to be embarrassed about. So what if you are hiding in a bathroom stall because you’ve panicked about seeing a menu? SO WHAT. So what if you are talking fast? SO WHAT. So what if you wrote a long and nervous-sounding post? SO WHAT. So what if you couldn’t finish something because you had an anxiety attack while looking at a pen? SO WHAT. Doesn’t matter. I’ve been there. Ain’t no thing. Come on out when you’re ready and we’ll throw that pen out the window. Or we’ll say, “It’s okay, you’re a nice pen.” SO WHAT. Say SO WHAT right now. Because SO WHAT. Unless you just caused a major international incident, which I promise you you did not (unless you are Vladimir Putin reading this, in which case I have several misjudged my audience), you didn’t do anything awful and no one cares and SO WHAT!

I had to throw a whole bunch of stuff at it. Together, it worked. The severe, continuous bouts stopped after a few months. I remained on alert for at least a year or two, but I genuinely cannot remember if I had attacks during that time. Because part of what happened was that I stopped being afraid of it. I gave it permission to come and go. I left the door open. “You can come in,” I said, “and you can show yourself out.” Sounds stupid and new agey but it is a TRUE STATEMENT. I just decided I didn’t care any more and was going to go about my business whether it was there or not. It took effort, but I stuck with that. And the monster wandered off on its stupid way. 

But I don’t hate it. Remember I said there was good stuff? There was.

I’m frankly a better person for having had it. I’m not saying I am a fantastic person—that is not for me to decide. But I felt the sting and I got a lot more compassionate. I realized that since I had this major disruption, I might as well use the time to make some changes. It’s like, “Well, the roof of my house just came off. I guess I’ll redecorate!” This is possible. You can make it do something for you, since it is there. Give that stupid monster and broom and MAKE IT CLEAN. I slowed the hell down and I like stuff more now. I give no f**ks about what people think of my slow life choices.

When I did this, I looked around at what I had and saw that life is pretty great and things can change. I saw that the people around me were very kind. Oscar, my partner, took care of me. When I was having such a severe bout that I had trouble getting on a plane by myself, he bought a ticket and went with me. This was no small thing. I realized that these kind people in my life were people to be emulated.

I thought I couldn’t do anything when I had it, and I look back and see that I did. Was I slower? Yes. Did I do it? Yes. I work more efficiently now.

I realized that when I wasn’t staring at the anxiety all the time, I was happy. I had convinced myself for a while that it was not possible to be both, but that’s a lie. You may think that is true because the anxiety is dancing around like a big dumb idiot, trying to block your view of happy. But happy can be there. It probably is there. CONTENT is there. NON-ANXIETY is definitely there. 

Again, this is my story and all the stories are different. But like I said, I tell this one to give you a true story about having anxiety that ends with something good, which happens to be true. A lot of you are going to deal with it, and you can make that stupid monster dance. You can make good changes. Or you can just be okay. You can. Don’t listen to it when it tells you you can’t because remember: it is dumb and you are not. It doesn’t know a thing. It really doesn’t. Whatever dumb thing happens, SO WHAT.

Anxiety being what it is, this post may be for a lot of you. But even if it was right for ONE of you, that’s fine by me.

Good luck out there, and give no f**ks you do not want to give.

Love,

Auntie MJ

* I do not condone putting misbehaving children into orphanages, unless they are imaginary misbehaving children who live in your head. And my imaginary orphanage for imaginary children is a very nice place.

 ** I have taken several types of meditation classes or programs in the last few years. I really went for it. The ones I recommend most are Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (often labeled as MBSR) classes, and a very helpful online program called Headspace, which I now use daily. Both cost money but I believe they are worth it. Headspace, for example, is free to try and then about $8 a month to use everything, so you can give it a try for no risk and see how you like it. There are also free or quite cheap apps available, and loads of places offer free or very cheap classes. Have a look around your area. Many libraries will have books on meditation as well. There is no bad way to get started, and it is often worth trying a few things to see what works for you. 


Ask Auntie MJ is a thing Maureen Johnson does once a week, usually between Wednesday and Friday, whether anyone wants her to or not. You can submit questions using the ask button.