High-Functioning Anxiety

anxiety1 Have you ever read something and thought ‘How did this person get in my head?’

Today I found an article via To Write Love on Her Arms simply called, ‘Living With High-Functioning and Hidden Anxiety‘ on The Mighty.

It was like reading a journal I’d written myself, if I was, you know, highly articulate and much more insightful about myself than I probably am.

The panic that flashes through my eyes when a plan changes. When anything changes.

Last week, my SO tried to change the way our table faced. It wigged me out. I had to ask him to change it back, pretty much immediately.

my body is confusing answering an email with being attacked by a lion.

 

No one here likes you.

Oh yeah, I’ve had that track on repeat for years. 

It’s always looking for the next outlet, something to channel the never-ending energy. Writing. Running. List-making. Mindless tasks (whatever keeps you busy). Doing jumping jacks in the kitchen. Dancing in the living room, pretending it’s for fun, when really it’s a choreographed routine of desperation, trying to tire out the thoughts stuck in your head.

This never really occurred to me. Do I run two monitors and sometimes wish I had three because of this? Do I play a game, read an article and watch TV all at once just to shut an inner dialogue up?

It’s always being busy but also always avoiding, so important things don’t get done. It’s letting things pile up rather than admitting you’re overwhelmed or in need of help.

anxiety3

so often find yourself standing in a room where it feels like no one knows you.

Is that what that feeling is? That weirdly sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when faced with a social event?

It’s when answering a text impulsively and thoughtlessly is an act of bravery.

anxiety2 Has this person been watching me? Most replies, except for those select few I feel very comfortable with, are carefully measured. They’re written, read and re-read, then a pause while hovering over the send button.

Getting taken by a flight of fancy or a spat of anger and firing off anything hastily results in a panicked rush to the outbox, to review just how much “damage” I just did.

Spoiler alert: None.

High anxiety can be a natural consequence of a busy lifestyle, but its existence is akin to the chicken and the egg. Which came first, the anxiety or the busyness? Am I always moving because I’m anxious or am I anxious because I’m always moving?

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Flowers in the Attic – Revisited

I’ve read the gothic horror Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews before – probably over a decade ago, when I was in my mid-teens. I actually read the entire series back then, and I read them with more of a shocked fascination than anything else.

Spoilers ahead, in case you haven’t read the book (or seen the movie).

fita

I turned each page this time around knowing what was coming. When the doughnuts first appeared, I knew what they meant. I knew what was hidden in the powdered icing. Every time Cory spoke, or did something, or was just so plain cute, I felt a little sick.

Strange, how as you get older, the shock and emotion comes from a completely different place. As a teenager, the shock was mostly of what Chris and Cathy did – their incestuous relationship, the hiding, the lying.

Now in my 30s, the shock comes from what their mother did to Cory. How she let all four of her own children wilt, slowly killing them all, with all but Cory eventually escaping on their own. I was utterly miserable after reading it, fascinated but sick with a grey kind of sadness.

Okay, it was sad, but it wasn’t real … right? Except that’s the problem with Flowers in the Attic – it’s always been claimed to be “based on a true story”. I tried to determine how truthful that claim was, but it’s been difficult – impossible – to completely determine one way or another. While I think it’s safe to say the book was clearly embellished, what if the seeds of the story – the children locked away – actually happened?

Even the editor, Ann Patty, has been known to confirm the story is at least partly true:

“Yes, Flowers in the Attic was based on a story she heard when she was in the hospital for a spinal operation…. Well, someone told it to her, yes. Some doctor there. So I’d guess that some aspects of it were true—at least the aspect of kids being hidden away. Whether the twins were real, the sex, the time frame, probably not. I think it was just the concept of kids hidden in the attic so the mother could inherit a fortune.”

The source of the story seems to be from a doctor in a hospital that V.C. Andrews came in to contact with:

“While at the “University of Virginia hospital for treatment…she developed a crush on her young doctor. He and his siblings had been locked away in the attic for over 6 years to preserve the family wealth.”

And:

Flowers in the Attic WAS based on a true story. Virginia was a young lady when my dad made arrangements to take Virginia to the University of Virginia hospital for treatment. While she was there, she developed a crush on her young doctor. He and his siblings had been locked away in the attic for over 6 years to preserve the family wealth. Obviously she cut the time back [in her novel] to be more believable. That area of the country has a lot of very wealthy people. I do not know who they were.”

Alluding to the story being at least partly true is even included in the original pitch letter:

pitch letter

So despite my best efforts, while not confirming completely whether or not this story is true, I also didn’t receive much comfort about the sadness I felt re-reading this novel. Even if this account is untrue, there are children locked and hidden away from the world, and now that I’m older (but not necessarily wiser), this is what I take away from these books. The sadness of a mother who loved herself too much, and her children too little.

Keto Food Review: Bulletproof Coffee

Coffee One of the struggles we’ve found for keto has been juggling our protein intake. We have our macros, so we know where we should be at, but I find us constantly creeping towards – and over – our protein limit.

We decided to give bulletproof coffee a try for breakfast this morning.

A couple of things – it’s Monday. Ugh.

I don’t really drink coffee. My idea of “going out for coffee” is ordering a chai latte. Hell, sometimes (read: often) I opt for a soda.

Imagine my surprise when not only did I enjoy the coffee, but it’s been over four hours and I’m still feeling satisfied. I was skeptical when I read two bulletproof coffees can see you through to 9PM, but I can believe it now.

I guess that’s a constant with keto, though – you’re just not hungry on a ketogenic diet. You’re satisfied and occasionally, peckish.

The worst part about not being on keto is the hunger. I’d actually kind of forgotten just how damn hungry I get when not on keto. This is complimented by shaking and headaches. Brilliant.

I’m a big fan of bulletproof coffee, immediately, because:

  1. It’s delicious
  2. It’s satisfying
  3. It’s low in protein
  4. It’s quick
  5. I can drink it while commuting

Last but not least, I get to make those comments coffee drinkers have been making around me for years! “Not without my coffee!” “Hand over the coffee and nobody gets hurt!” “Working hard, or hardly working?!” Hurr! 😀

 

A Feast Fit For Hobbits

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The Seven Daily Meals by missqueenmob

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Hobbits from the books, movies and game, it’s that they like to eat. By the way, if you haven’t played Lord of the Rings Online, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Loving to eat often comes hand in hand with loving to cook – and being good at it – and Kate Young has created a recipe based on the last meal the Hobbits enjoyed before embarking on their journey:

One to two other hobbits belonging to the farm-household came in. In a short while fourteen sat down to eat. There was beer in plenty, and a mighty dish of mushrooms and bacon, besides much other solid farmhouse fare. The dogs lay by the fire and gnawed rinds and cracked bones.

The dish Kate Young has come up with is a Mushroom, Bacon and Leek pie, the recipe is listed here. It sounds delicious but is obviously not keto friendly, if only because of the pastry and flour. The good news is this recipe is probably quite adaptable to being keto friendly, and I’m tucking it away on my list of things to try. But not today, because today is a terrible day for cooking on account of being nearly 40 degrees.

I think even Hobbits would find something cool to eat on such a day.

For a start, though, there’s a keto pie crust recipe all ready to go. If care is taken with the leek (which reportedly contains 0.8g carbs per 6g), and other dubious ingredients like the sherry, I think this could become quite a mean – and hearty! – keto recipe.

Headaches! Migraines!

I get headaches. I’m not sure that I’d say I get them regularly, not anymore anyway, but when I do, they’re usually fast to hit and they hit hard.

Actually calling them “headaches” is an understatement. “Migraine” is closer to the truth.

A migraine headache can cause intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down.

That last part was me a few weeks ago, I called in sick to work as I was just feeling rubbish. By the end of the day, I was lying in bed with a pair of shorts over my head (the closest thing I could grab by fumbling) to block out the light and in tears trying not to vomit. Fun. (Often during these times, I wish I could vomit, because I’m convinced it would make me feel better.)

Whenever someone finds out you have a headache or a migraine, you’re run through the usual questions. “Have you had enough water?” (Yes), “Have you been in the sun?” (No), “Have you taken painkillers?” (Maybe).

Here’s the frustrating part about headaches and migraines. For some people, they’re probably usually just caused by dehydration or something even simpler like a hangover. Easy to identify the problem, and hopefully easy to manage.

But then you have someone like me, who ends up in bed crying and wanting to throw up.

There are lists all over the place of all the weird things that can cause the hell that is a migraine. Some of my favourite (and I use that term in the highest possible level of full blown sarcasm) possible causes:

  1. Not enough sleep
  2. Too much sleep (yay – so don’t try too hard to fix point #1!)
  3. Chocolate (but can also help some people with headaches)
  4. Pleasant scents (that just seems unfair)
  5. Change of weather or barometric pressure (oh good, something we can’t possibly control)

They can be caused by headbands being too tight, but a tight headband can allegedly also help alleviate the pain. They can be caused by it being too hot… Or too cold. Over-the-counter painkillers can help, but overuse of these can also cause headache.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve just spent the whole damn day with a headache (not a migraine, thank god), and not only am I over it in general, I’m over not knowing what the exact cause is, or what I can do to get rid of the pain. Today I tried chocolate, caffeine, water, sleep, cool water, warm water, about four rounds of painkillers… You get to the point where you’ll try it if there’s a chance it will work.

/tired sigh.

 

 

Wildfire…

Music is the soundtrack to our lives. – Dick Clark

A couple of years ago, I was sent to work a roster out “on site”. At the time, I was really excited to be heading out there.

I still remember why: the excitement of leaving my comfort zone, the hope I could leave my anxieties behind, the chance of maybe growing as a person and developing some good real life skills out in the wild.

So I boarded the small chartered plane and took a bumpy flight out to a remote Australian work site, where the only signs of civilisation were the work camps that had been built out there. The one I stayed at housed literally thousands of workers at any one time, and walking from one end to the other took ten minutes (and I’m a fast walker).

In truth, I can’t remember when it happened. I think I was okay for the first night, but very quickly a few things took a big toll on me. Namely the 4am wake ups, with a rush to get breakfast, get to the field vehicle, and get driven to site by 6am. Then being there all day, in a cramped, uncomfortable office for 12 straight hours.

I often say the 12 hours wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d been busy, but it became apparent almost immediately that their “need” for me to be out there was taken care of in a matter of hours, or involved tasks I couldn’t complete without comms. (And that site had comms for maybe a solid hour for the entire day.)

The combination of sitting in that office, with a cramped back, completely isolated (being the only female on the site), having no tasks to do, and knowing I was there for 12 hours quickly became too much for me. I should probably note, there was no female toilet on site, and so any time I needed one, I had to ask someone else to drive me to a different site so that I could use their facilities. (By the way, it’s just awesome to have someone loudly ask, “Do you need the toilet?” in front of a group of men you barely know at work.)

After a few days, I was that miserable I got to the point where I was on the verge of tears all the time, I wasn’t talking, and I physically couldn’t eat. I was running on empty both emotionally and physically – I was homesick, my anxiety was spiking severely, and I felt this deep physical need to just escape.

I was warned it could cost me my job (and in fact, maybe it did a year later), but I really had to try and get out. Because I have anxiety, I try not to back out of things unless I need to. Forcing myself out of my comfort zones is the only way to take my anxiety head on. That said, I always give myself an allowance. If I need out, then I will get out if I can.

In this case, I needed out.

I approached the manager on site and told him (honestly) that there were, realistically, only a couple more tasks I could even attempt, and that I could have them done the next morning. I pointed out he needed some vehicles gone, and I could drive one back to the city (about a 7 hour drive). I don’t know if he knew there was more going on, or simply agreed with me, but he gave me permission and I went to bed in my depressing little camp room almost crying tears of relief and joy.

The next morning everything looked brighter. The reality of being able to leave hung just in front of me, just out of my reach, but I knew I’d be able to grab it soon. Sure enough, after a few hours of waiting around for vehicle checks, I was given permission to leave.

With no idea really where I was going, I drove out of the site, signed out, and hit the open dirt roads somewhere in outback Australia.

I felt like my soul was on fire. It was such a feeling of freedom, of ultimate relief, or release.

Unable to get the vehicle to pick up my phone’s music stream, I resorted to moving my way through various random and crackly country radio stations. A few hours in to the trip, I landed on a station that played Wildfire by Michael Martin Murphy.

It’s a song I’d heard, a song I knew, but never really paid attention. It never really clicked with me.

That day, though… That day it was like it was my own personal anthem, a song the station had played just for me. Every word, every surge of music, spoke to me about the freedom I’d just found, about the misery I’d left behind at the camp, and the happiness that lay out on the open road in front of me.

It’s not a moment I’ve ever forgotten, and Wildfire is still the song I find myself at when I need a reminder of freedoms, of general, unabashed wildness.

wildfire

She comes down from Yellow Mountain
On a dark, flat land she rides
On a pony she named Wildfire
With a whirlwind by her side
On a cold Nebraska night

Oh, they say she died one winter
When there came a killing frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down it’s stall
In a blizzard she was lost

She ran calling Wildfire [x3]
By the dark of the moon I planted
But there came an early snow
There’s been a hoot-owl howling by my window now
For six nights in a row
She’s coming for me, I know
And on Wildfire we’re both gonna go

We’ll be riding Wildfire [x3]

On Wildfire we’re gonna ride
Gonna leave sodbustin’ behind
Get these hard times right on out of our minds
Riding Wildfire

[Youtube]

Music is the soundtrack to our lives, but how often do we miss a song that really talks to our soul if it’s not in the right moment? Is it pure serendipity when the right song comes on at the right time, or something more?

She ran calling Wildfire…

Keto Food Review: Cheesecake Cupcakes

First, apologies to anyone who isn’t interested in these food updates! It’s probably obvious, but we’ve been doing a fair bit of experimenting and cooking in the kitchen. I’m kind of excited about this and wanting to share – I’m typically useless when it comes to cooking, so having success is pretty awesome to me. 🙂

Our latest project was one I chose – Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes. Both because cheesecakes are a serious weakness of mine, and there’s only so many “sweet” options that you can have on a keto meal plan. Most desserts are full of sugar, carbs or both.

Keto Cupcake Bases

Butter and almond meal base – Mickey mouse style!

This recipe has a neat idea for making a keto friendly base, using butter and almond meal. I found that the first two cupcakes we tried, the cheesecake filling and the base separated. As it turns out, leaving the others setting in the fridge solved this problem, so if you find the same thing – leaving them to cool overnight helps!

Keto Cupcakes - Filled The cheesecake filling itself uses Stevia, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla essence.

I should note here I made an amateur mistake – I ignored the ‘almost fill to the top’ part of the recipe and squashed as much filling in as I could, as can be seen in this photo.

Next time I’ll leave them filled as per the instructions, because they ended up being pretty close to overfilling over baking.

The other (purposeful) variation we made was leaving out the flavoured syrup. I opted to simply use vanilla, giving us a classic New York style cheesecake. Despite being slightly worried initially they might be bland, I’m pleased to report they weren’t!

The end result from these is that they taste remarkably “normal” – I found a slight ‘sweetener after taste’ from the stevia, but I don’t usually have anything using that particular sweetener, and I didn’t notice it with the next couple I had (yes, they’re too easy to nom).

Delicious, easy to make, and replaces something that I find sorely missing from keto – dessert! I recommend this recipe if you’re in to cheesecakes like me – even if you’re hopeless in the kitchen, this one is pretty straightforward that even I can manage it solo. 😉