My least favorite A word.

In practicing meditation I've learned some days my brain is much like a well behaved dog.  It does what I tell her to do, and even a little extra just to make me smile.  Then some days, like today, it's has so many things bouncing around, and into each other; it sends me on a long mind trip I didn't ask to go on.

So I'm sitting on my cushion, in my spot.  Feeling the bits of the sun beam on my face and the chilly morning breeze blow through my hair.  I let out a big exhale as I give in to the sounds of the birds and waterfall, and suddenly it happens.  "What if not doing wound care everyday set you back?"  "What if there's something brewing and that's why he hasn't felt well?"  "What if you made the wrong choice keeping him home?" "What if what if what if what if...."

Shaking my head much I like I see my dogs do when they get wet, I shake the what ifs.  I sigh and try to settle my shoulders back into my practice.  The birds are singing to me and that frog who likes to sing during the morning is there now too, as if to cheer me on; and here it comes again, "You know you can't give Steve the meds he wants today for his, you'll have to take his anxiety from him..."

ah ha.  There it is.  The key to why my brain won't stop.  Anxiety.  My least favorite A word.  My entire life I've had an interesting relationship with that dirty word. I used to have these dizzy spells as a kid, where the world around me would be moving so fast but I was stuck, and I would be forced either sit down or pass out.  They weren't common but of course they led to doctors appointments and all that.  They did find some mineral and vitamin deficiency's and everyone said, "That must be what it is."  Of course it wasn't, but it was so infrequent I would learn to play it off, "I must need food or water I'm dizzy.  Sit and breathe through it and then I was okay..."

For those who don't know I have my masters in clinical psychology.  I've learned the ins and outs on this A word, and I have even successfully helped some clients learn to get a grip on their debilitating anxiety.

One extreme case comes to mind, he was agoraphobic (afraid to leave the house) and it was my job in one summer to help him conquer it.  I was so sure of my counseling skills in these early days, i'll admit, but even my inflated ego was a little unsure if I would ever be able to help this man.  Without too many details he was transgender and newly had undergone some sex change therapy.  My first day with him I'm trying to be like a sponge and take it all in.  His world, his feelings, the way he perceives the world etc.

A few weeks later, I suggest we take an outing.  Because I worked in the field I would see people in their homes and often take them on excursions.  Our first outing i'll never forget for as long as I live.  We get to a coffee shop, and as we walk in, I ask, "Can you place an order for coffee?  I'll buy."  I should add I worked with the very underprivileged and undeserved population at this time.

He walks up to the counter, and starts crying, and hyperventilating.  Suddenly, I see maybe for the first time in my life TRUE debilitating anxiety.  Not just that dizzy feeling you get occasionally or the the butterflies in your stomach for talking in public.  He runs out the door, and I meet him at the car.

"I want to go home."  He says through forced breaths.
"Can you tell me what happened?"  I ask.
"Take me home."

The entire car ride he is struggling to breathe between tears and as we get to his house, and he gets out of the car he vomits and falls to the ground.

It was humbling and I could write about this forever, in fact I may in the book; but this was my first glimpse of that out of control anxiety that I've heard of and studied, but never REALLY saw it.  Sure all of my teenage clients had anxiety, but I would often tell them, that's hormones and growing up you don't need a pill for it.

I never experienced this type of anxiety again, until Steve.  We don't leave our house these days, that's no secret, but the reason why is very similar to the story above.  On several occasions out of the house, we get out of the car and people approach us, suddenly Steve can't breathe, even while on the vent; because he's hyperventilating.  In that moment there is nothing I can do for him, like there was nothing I could do for my patient.  Understanding in that moment all I could do was take him home and tell him, it's okay.  Don't beat yourself up.  Obviously with ALS and the pain and sickness that Steve feels on a daily, I'm not working with him to get him on outings, because he doesn't want to, so neither do I. :)  I just now bring the party to us, and he doesn't have to experience that trauma.

So I went on a long tangent on this A word, and I'm going to leave it, but I want to talk briefly about my relationship with it.  So these dizzy spells will still happen, and much more frequently these days. Now that I fully know what they are I have a trick and it helps me every time.  Of course I don't have the trick to stopping the A word from creeping in but at least I've learned to take control back.  I sit down honestly no matter where I am on the ground and just breathe and as I'm breathing to take back control of my mind, I say, "I am in control of my mind,"  "I am okay," and "thank you"

So today as I focus on my breath all day to keep the A beast away, I will offer some gratitude for my understanding of how to make this life work for me.  I hope that for everyone.  That's what made me want to be a therapist.  In hope we can all learn to find something that works for us to conquer whatever challenge we are facing.  It was also to encourage others that YOU have the answers in you already as to what will help, you just have to find them.

So with lots of breathing today I send y'all love in hopes that you find what works for you for ANYTHING you have going on today and beyond.

xo.