Narcissism And Me

A lot of people throw around the term narcissist to describes someone with an inflated sense of self. I’ve done it and I’m sure you have also. But are we using it correctly and can we actually identify a narcissist when we come in contact with one.

The definition of narcisssist is: a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.

Okay. Well… maybe I am using the word right. But what about a chronic narcissist? A habitual, toxic behavior that affects everyone and everything around them?

That’s called Narcissistic Personality Dissorder. It is defined as:

A disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance.
Narcissistic personality disorder is found more commonly in men. The cause is unknown but likely involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle any criticism, and a sense of entitlement.

Yep, I’ve met a few of those in my time.

It is no surprise to meet people like that in television or radio. The talent can sometimes have a very high opinion of themselves, while the producer and editors tend to feel intellectually superior. I get it. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

But what other fields have high levels of narcissistic behavior? According to Stewart Cook, an advocate for victims of Narcissistic Abuse & NPD, says:

  • Politicians – their all-consuming hunt for popularity quickly transfers to the voting ballot. Power hungry, short-term vision, an openness to treachery and backhand deals, thriving in the cutthroat environment amongst birds of a feather, fame and recognition. (I KNEW IT)
  • CEOs – wealth, status, trappings. An ability to make touch decisions unemotionally, regardless of the numbers of staff whose life may be wrecked with redundancy. Natural risk takers greedy for success and recognition. Power wielded as they rule over a flock of sycophantic and fawning subordinates.
  • Lawyers – a delight in making money, lots of it, especially if it can be done at the expense of someone else’s misfortune. A good churn of clients on a daily basis. A profession with status and influence – well suited to the cerebral narcissist.
  • Doctors – one’s natural instinct to think of doctors as caring, empathic types and the majority of them are. But this is also a profession that attracts – the positions of power, the opportunity to enjoy someone else’s heartache, the high turnover rate of appointments. Moreover, general practice is a great cover for the narc – projecting a caring reputation and commanding respect in return. The dead giveaway is what would have been referred to in times gone by as an awful bedside manner.
  • Surgeons – as for doctors, but with the added buzz and excitement of high drama and unpredictability that the operating theatre offers. Moreover, it their ability to make calm, quick and unemotional decisions (that can potentially have life implications for patients) can be a big bonus.
  • University Lecturers – centre of attention, admiration of juniors, the chance to laud their wisdom over a large and captive audience – all attractive to the cerebral narc. Particularly as students provide a regular turnover of fresh new faces.(That makes sense. The Child Nerd of the past who was probably bullied and picked on now has the center of attention!)
  • Media and film – widespread recognition and fame.
  • Sportstars – this is an interesting one. There is much logic in there being an attraction to the somatic narc – physical supremacy, the chance to show off in front of thousands of adoring fans, stardom and recognition. But whilst individual events are golden opportunities, team sports pose a problem to the narc – the close proximity to others in pretty intense and testing situations, having to put the team needs ahead of their own. All a bit of a high-risk environment for the narc.
  • Chef – thriving in chaos, a high turnover of less-educated staff, an accepted atmosphere of fear and abuse. We can all picture the irate chef lambasting juniors with all kinds of expletive, controlling the kitchen with an iron fist, the fearful reverance and exaltation they command.
  • Law enforcement – with a smart uniform, shiny badge and side-arm to hide behind, the ultimate narcissistic mask. Wielding more power that they perhaps should, it is easy to understand how a narc policeman might end his career outed as a rotten apple.
  • Military – as per law enforcement. But with the added buzz of being empowered to commit the ultimate act of supremacy – taking another human being’s life. Unlike the policeman, however, the soldier lives and works in teams, again under pretty extreme and intense conditions. Harder therefore to get away undetected.
  • Priests and Clergy – particularly the gentler type who lack confidence in their sexuality. An uniform and stereotypical and ready-made persona to hide behind, the opportunity to work with the more vulnerable in society; the voyeuristic access to personal information, secrets and situations, the protection that their host organisation has traditionally provided them, a ready-made flock of acolytes.
  • Public relations – the manipulation, the acting, the lack of moral compass for a theme, or empathy towards individuals affected by stories, the thrill of chaos. (EEK… I’m in that world… yeah, I can see it. And yes, I am probably guilty. Pot & Kettle, you know?)
  • Criminals– drugs dealer, pimp etc. For the low-functioning narc, crime is a natural haven and it is of little surprise that studies show a quarter of the prison population typically having NPD. For them, a life of crime offers excitement to the risk-seeker.

Cook really nailed these descriptions on the head!

What I am learning, is that when you are surrounded by narcissists, the environment can be super draining. Just this morning, someone came into my office to discuss a wide variety of topics. Most of it was classic mansplaining and the other half were these half baked ideas on what we should be doing. We as in – Me and doing as in – already done. (Clueless person.) I try to avoid this person, because everytime I spend any amount of time with them, I feel like all of my energy has been drained from my body. A true emotional vampire.

According to starbentrecovery.com, there are signs you have been around one:

For starters, although it may sound strange, but being around a narcissist can leave you with wildly conflicted feelings. For example, do you find your emotions swinging from unconditional love and utter devotion for this person to a nagging, gut feeling of wanting to run far, far away? Yep.

That’s because narcissists run hot and cold. So you can expect to experience sublime feelings of bliss and elation when everything is going well. But if you displease or irritate this person, he or she is likely to get angry, become dismissive, or punish you through rejection.

Narcissists do one thing exceptionally well, and that is playing the drama card. Feeling emotionally drained after spending time with a narcissist is commonplace, as is having the feeling of extreme happiness or devastation when you’re with them.

According to Psychology Today, it is important to carefully assess those we allow into our personal space. We must go beyond what looks good on paper, and instead focus on character traits and value systems. When you consider getting involved or working with someone new, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

How does this person treat other people?
How do they behave in public?
How do they treat their children?
Do they display kindness and empathy toward others?
Are they judgmental or critical of other people?
Are they intolerant of differences in culture, race, religion, or gender?
Are they inclusive and tolerant of other people’s opinions and values?
Do they always have to be right or win?
Another vital litmus test when becoming involved someone new is to ask yourself, “How do I feel in the presence of this person?” And you have to keep asking yourself this question, particularly when you have become vulnerable or have shared your vulnerable feelings, problems, or personal issues with them.

I think the best we can do today is keep our heads up, our hearts open, and our narcissist blocking shield elevated! What about you? Do you have any experience with a narcissist?

Keto Chocolate Glazed Donuts & A Little Rebellious Whiskey

Let’s Talk about these Whiskey Rebels! In particular, the book by David Liss.

What a spectacular biographical historical fiction novel! This is my first book by Liss and I definitely plan to read more. This book was set post American Revolution and featured two different story lines that eventually combine. (I love when a writer does that.) You have Joan Maycott – an aspiring novelist married to a war vet. They find themselves with useless war bonds and are swindled into trading those for property “out west” (aka Pittsburg area,) for bountiful land. As you can imagine, they run into what they call “savages,” and thick woods and rough necks with nothing to lose. Then there is Ethan Saunders, a former Captain in the army that worked as a spy but was falsely accused of being a traitor and British sympathizer. He is in love with a Mrs. Pearson and spends his days trying to right his name and win her love. I won’t go into too much detail, because that would totally give the story away. However, there is a lot of historical accuracy in this book, as well as some delicious fiction.

Despite the title, the story actually does not go into the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. It does however deal with the proceeding years, when a Whiskey tax was placed on distilleries. Obviously, the rebels were very upset with the taxes and went right after Hamilton and the American Banking System. The book introduces us to some real characters in the world during that time and you travel from the woods of Pennsylvania to New York.

READ IT. I loved it. Seriously.

Okay… now for those donuts… the REAL reason you clicked on this page!

Low Carb – Keto Chocolate Glazed Donuts

Donut Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. coconut flour
  • 1/2 c. Swerve, confectioners sugar
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk (I used Lactaid – Whole milk)
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. Swerve, confectioners sugar
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Grease Donut pan.

Preheat over to 350 F.

Donuts: Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Then add the wet ingredients to that bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth.

Pipe into the donut wells to 2/3rds full. Bake 20 minutes, then cool on a rack.

While cooling, make the glaze:

Add cream, Swerve, and chocolate to a double boiler and simmer.

Turn heat to low and add the vanilla and stir until the chocolate melts.

Dip the donuts in the glaze and let cool. (I placed in the frig for an hour or so.)

That’s it! Have a great day!!

Welcome October!

I am so excited that it is October! This HAS to be one of my favorite months of the year!

But first… to catch you up on the things I am not going to write about:

I’ve had a bit of a delay in writing because last week was super busy! We are preparing for Halloween at my office and that includes a few activities (that will mainly be virtual!) I ordered that adorable pumpkin above from Amazon. As many of you know, I am a HUGE fan of anything that is themed out or involves a costume, so obviously, that makes Halloween on of my absolute favorite holidays!

In Americus, the Downtown Main Street group asked all of the businesses to decorate their windows for the Great Pumpkin Wars. I took the task to heart and called all of the departments in the city, as well as all of the tourist attractions, to donate a decorated pumpkin that represents their brand. I’m looking forward to seeing what we end up with. On Monday, the 26th, the displays will be uploaded to FB for the People’s Choice Award. That means, I will provide a link here and you can go online and “like” your favorite display. Then on that Wednesday, judges will come by and pick the best. I most certainly hope we win!

Plus, I’m having my staff dress in costumes each day. This will also be uploaded to FB for a “Who wore it best?” Halloween costume contest that people can vote on!

Last week, I got a chance to wish my neighbor, former President Jimmy Carter, a very happy birthday!

All of the neighbors went onto the compound and did a drive-by parade to wish him happy birthday! It was really sweet. He spoke to everyone as we passed! The media were not invited in, so this was really, super special for the people of Plains.

Speaking of media, on Friday, we had a media day with SAM Shortline. television stations from Macon, Albany, and Columbus rode the train in the super private, luxury car known as the Dearing.

We had a little reception and basically spent the day chatting with journalists and doing interviews.

I ran into one of my old tv news anchors I used to work with, Suzanne Lawler. It was great to see an old friend!

I even took some time to eat at the Buffalo Cafe with my buddies Nichole from the newspaper and Qaijuan.

The weather was perfect and it was a great day! It almost felt normal again.

On Saturday, I kicked the morning off with my final photography class.

I am thrilled I got the opportunity to understand manual digital photography so much better. I am considering taking Photo II in the coming months, but for now, I want to master what I have learned.

After the class, I ran downtown to the Peace Day celebrating at Lenny’s Market in Americus.

My friend Jeni & Laura held a very successful event that attracted over 100 people. Everyone was socially distanced and wore face masks.

Dorian was such a good boy. I took him with me! Can you believe he is 7 months old now?

That night, Tim and I had a little beef stew and watched our first of many upcoming Halloween movies.

Later, we tried this new KETO dessert… but…. it was waaaay too sweet. I’d recommend.

The next day we got up and I wanted to try out my new photography skills. So we drove to Dawson, about 30 minutes south of us and headed to Mark’s Melon Patch.

As always, the farm stand was awesome! However, it was super crowded and very few people were wearing masks. We kept our distance and kept our masks on. I zipped in and took some pics and we headed out.

Here are some of the crops I took pics of:

There is a whole field of Zinnias.

You could get fresh peanuts, dried peanuts, fried peanuts or boiled peanuts. I’m more partial to the boiled peanuts, however, there was a huge line and too many people.

They have a corn maze. Folks can even come at night with flashlights and navigate the area.

Scoppernogs!

Beautiful sunflowers

Craft area for kids to paint pumpkins

And of course, an area to pick your pumpkins!

There are games, food , hay rides, and music. This really does click off many items on your Fall bucket list!

And finally, to wrap up my first week of October:

Need I say more?

Nothing Changes

It is the day after the debates and of course, nothing changes for any of us. If we were for Biden, we are still for Biden. If we were for Trump, we are still for Trump. Maybe we are disappointed in how it went down, but really, nothing changes.

Fact checkers will bring the facts and sheep will follow their leader blindly, and the undecided are probably thinking they will withhold their vote.

God only knows.

Moving on…

I have been creatively blocked as of late. Can’t think of a single thing to write about. Maybe that means all is calm and good.

This week we celebrated Alex’s 19th birthday at a little local Mexican restaurant, La Hacienda in Americus.

I enjoyed a delicious margarita and shrimp fajita (without rice or tortilla.)

My photography class is going strong. Took the third class we covered aperture. OMG… our assignment was so hard. Not so much use the F stops, but more so getting the ISO right.

Here are a few of my pics:

Slowly, but surely, I am getting the hang of it. Taking the camera off automatic is not an easy task.

My stepdaughter and her husband are renovating a home. It is a beautiful home, but needs a lot of work. Cotton, my glamdaughter, is super excited about the space.

At the end of the day, the world still spins and nothing has changed, but somehow, everything has changed.

Here’s to another day!

Are You Truly Living?

I have wasted years and years and years worrying, plotting, and just randomly pushing my way through life. I think at some point, I thought that if I worried hard enough, then things would have to go right.

Oh how wrong I was!

I have wasted so much time hoping, wishing, praying things would be different. And though I am quick to change and improve my situation, the very idea that I wasted even an ounce of precious time on things that really meant nothing to me or did me zero good, is a little disappointing.

My ex-manager that was fired back in February was found dead in a hotel room in Atlanta last week at the age of 52.

That’s not very old.

I don’t know the details surrounding his death, but one thing kept coming up in my thoughts was, “He definitely didn’t see this coming.”

I know for a fact that he tried so very hard to “be somebody.” He wanted to be noticed and I think he spent so much time and heart ache trying to get that validation. It never came. It actually was a repellent for most people.

What a shame.

I don’t want that for my life. I want to live as authentically, as healthy, as full of life as I possibly can! What about you? Are you taking advantage of the time you have left?

I hope this year, if nothing else, has taught us to take a minute and reevaluate what is important to us.

Fall is Upon Us and Other Good News

Happy Monday and man oh man, does it feel like Autumn outside! What a fantastic time of year!

First up, I had one of the most relaxing weekends to date! Friday night, Tim and I watched Ant-Man & The Wasp and ate my favorite Keto Pizza Casserole. (If you want the recipe, just click at the top of the blog on the section titled recipes!) Saturday, I spent the day playing with Dorian, cleaning, reading, and I had my Photography Class with the Atlanta School of Photography!

That night, we made wings in the Air Fryer and then sat outside by a fire with Tim’s youngest. It was a gorgeous night, cool wind and clear skies!

The next morning, I got up and realized that the weather was brisk and chilly and immediately woke Tim and up and insisted we go outside and have our morning coffee by the fire. We had some wonderful conversations and just relaxed. Truly relaxed, with each other.

My dog ended up having the best day ever! He gnawed on sticks and chased his Kong squeaky tennis ball. We sat our there from about 9:30 am until after noon.

Then it was nap time for all of us!

Later that night we grilled some steaks and watched Captain Marvel. I can’t remember if I told you guys, but I am on this Marvel Marathon for Tim. He complains that I never watch anything he likes, so out-of-the-blue, I surprised him and said I wanted to see each of the movies, in order of release. His eyes perked up and I knew I made the right decision. Best news – I am actually enjoying it. And in basic Nicole fashion, I ask a ton of questions and Tim loves sharing all of his historical comic book knowledge with me. It’s cute, really, and I am entertained. Just two more to go…… Tonight is End Game and I hear it is a tear jerker. Should be interesting.

Speaking of tear jerkers… man. The Notorious RBG left us. Let’s hope in November we can turn things around.

Okay, I gave this a try. I did NOT like it. I ended up giving it to Tim. BUT… if you are a sweets person, this may be your jam. Tim picked the mint chocolate chip which was only 4g and much, much better than mine. I might try it again, pending my need.

I just had to show off Big Boy at 7 months old! Look at how tall he is. He was such a good boy this weekend. And sweet!

Less land sharkish.

And here is my good news: I am 21 pounds down! Yes, I did it. I met my goal and exceeded by 1 pound. Next up – 10 more by Christmas. Slow and steady wins the race.

I hope everyone has an awesome week! Let’s do this!

Pumpkin Spice and All Things Nice

THANK GOD it is almost Fall. We are so, so close. Even the weather is starting to cool off down here in the South. Granted, we love the Spring and parts of Summer, but by the time the leaves change, we are a little over the natural sauna.

Alright… but first… here is why I am NOT writing a third part to my Panic Disorder piece.

That still shot above is killing me. lol

Okay… FALL>

I usually come up with some type of a bucket list, but this year is going to be tricky. Socially distanced fun? What does that look like? Also, I can’t exactly make all of the sugary holiday snacks…. or can I?

I did a little recipe research on my favorite site – Pinterest. Here are a few that really caught my eye:

Recipe HERE
Recipe HERE
Recipe HERE
Recipe HERE
https://beautyandthefoodie.com/keto-pumpkin-streusel-bread/

Click on the link below each recipe.

Hmmmm….. who wants to try one now?

Living With Panic Disorder – Part 2

For part one, please visit the post right before this one. In that post, I touched a little on my personal history and experience with Panic Disorder. Today we will cover coping mechanisms.

I think the one piece of advice I can give anyone is to find ways to change your focus. When you are having a panic attack, you essentially are panicking and that is one hard monster to overcome. It is very important to be able to refocus and try to concentrate on something else.

Let me run through a few things I have tried and what I found:

  1. Deep Breaths. Okay, I’ve tried the slow, deep breathing and it DOES NOT WORK FOR ME. Not when I am in the thick of it. It actually begins to feel like my heart is experiencing palpitations, which in turn causes me to panic even more. Deep breathing works once I am flowing out of the attack. If the initial shock is wearing off, I then begin the slow, deep breathing… and then I am able to recover faster.
  2. Stress Balls – Alright, this one can sort of stop an attack if you feel anxious in a place. But you have to start early. While in an attack? Absolutely not. However, if anger and generalized anxiety is an issue for you, I think a stress ball can be very useful.
  3. Peppermint oil. THIS one is a real show stopper for me. I dab a little peppermint oil under my nose, on my temples and on the back of my neck and it is like a miracle! What I think is happening here are two things: – I am able to feel the breath. One of the biggest obstacles is feeling like you can’t take a deep breath. With peppermint oil, the sensation goes deep into the lungs and it sends a message to the brain that yes, you are breathing. And secondly, it refocuses my mind to the cooling/almost slight burning sensation. I always keep something like this on me at all times. (On me, as in in my purse.) You can only imagine the issues I am having with the masks and my “feeling” like I can’t breathe. Quick fix – dab a little on the mask.
  4. Yoga. 100% seems to center me for the day. It is a shame I don’t do it more often. The stretching of the muscles, the slowing of breath, it really can put my mind, body and spirit right where it needs to be.
  5. Meditation. This is another one that centers me for the day and/or right before an attack comes on. If I can get to my safe place (a quiet place where there is no judgement.)
  6. Magnesium. There is a special calming tea that really helps keep stress at bay.
  7. Epsom salt (hot) baths. This one is always a winner! Especially during an attack or after. It sort of puts your body at ease.
  8. Essential Oil – Aromatherapy. This sort of creates a sense of peace. I wouldn’t say the lavender actually relaxes me, but rather the ritual of diffusing helps. That goes for incense also.
  9. Crystals. I’ve been studying the energy of crystals. I will go more into this at a later date, but trust that there is something interesting about this and has worked for me in the past.
  10. Prayer. This is the biggest one. Prayer is the ultimate refocusing technique and works every. single. time.
  11. Imipramine, sold under the brand name Tofranil, among others, is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) mainly used in the treatment of depression. It is also effective in treating anxiety and panic disorder. I did take this in 1996 and I did NOT have one single panic attack. But the drug made me excessively sleepy and I gained 30 pounds in 4 months. NOT an option for me. But it did calm my brain down long enough to do the cognative behavior therapy work with a professional.
  12. Cognitive Behavior Therapy. (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. CBT for panic disorder is an effective treatment for sufferers with or without agoraphobia. It may be used in conjunction with medication or independently. CBT empowers the patient with techniques to manage stress and decrease anxiety and correct thinking patterns that potentiate panic. Works. It really does. But it is simply a coping tool.
  13. Regular Therapy. This typically works very well, regardless. Just talking things out, learning time management and boundary setting skills – all very important for someone with panic disorder.
  14. Xanax – Alprazolam is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines which act on the brain and nerves (central nervous system) to produce a calming effect. It works by enhancing the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body (GABA). This drug works very, very well and quickly. I’ve taken it a handful of times. However, it is highly addictive, so my doctor will not prescribe this pill for long term use.
  15. Massage – And massage can help get you back on your feet by increasing circulation, relaxing muscles, and improving joint movement and flexibility.
  16. Lexapro – Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) It can treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I tried this back in 2007, and I was only able to handle it for 3 weeks. I had racing thoughts and a racing heart, plus terrible headaches. This was not a good fit for me. I was prescribed this after suffering my second run with meningitis. As it turns out, stress will cause recurrent episodes. My doctor thought this would help. Nope.
  17. Floating – Flotation-REST has been found to be effective in reducing anxiety. A 2018 study showed that a single one-hour session in a sensory deprivation tank was capable of a significant reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood in the 50 participants with stress- and anxiety-related disorders.
  18. Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medicine that affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with anxiety. Buspirone is used to treat symptoms of anxiety, such as fear, tension, irritability, dizziness, pounding heartbeat, and other physical symptoms. Last year, my doctor gave me this and not 10 minutes after taking it I started experiencing brain zaps. Brain zaps are electrical shock sensations in the brain. They can happen in a person who is decreasing or stopping their use of certain medications, particularly antidepressants. Brain zaps are not harmful and will not damage the brain. However, they can be bothersome, disorienting, and disruptive to sleep. I had extreme dizziness and would only sleep two hours a night. I lasted one month.
  19. Hydroxyzine – It is used to treat itching caused by allergies. It is an antihistamine and works by blocking a certain natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction. Hydroxyzine may also be used short-term to treat anxiety or to help you feel sleepy/relaxed before and after surgery. This was my doctor’s suggestion for having something similar to Xanax. I take it if I am starting to fill anxious or if I need to remain calm, I can take it before an event. I am still using it, only rarely. It takes about 30 minutes to kick in and once the anxiety has worn off, you want to sleep for hours. So I have to use it sparingly. I will tell you this, if I take it before bed, I get the best night’s sleep and stay calm the next day with zero panic attacks.
  20. Cymbalta – Antidepressant and Nerve pain medication. It can treat depression, anxiety, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and chronic muscle or bone pain. You guys – THIS ONE IS THE MIRACLE PILL. I was prescribed this one for the body pains and incredible tendonitis and anxiety. Duloxetine (generic name) is known as a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It has been a miracle pill! My pain went from an 8 – 9 to a 2, 3 and sometimes 4. My anxiety went from a 9, 10 to a 2, 3. I love it. ZERO side effects, unless you count when I go to relax, I am able to deeply relax. Yep… not too shabby.

There you have it! Coping mechanisms and all of the things I have tried. I won’t share any unhealthy coping mechanisms, because I am sure there are some. Luckily, I have moved past anything that might be not great for the body. One thing I forgot to mention – regular exercise and no sugar seems to give a big calming effect on the body.

Some books I would recommend:

This is by no means medical advice. This is just my journey. ALWAYS discuss any issues you are having with a doctor or therapist.

For more resources and information, visit the following websites:

The MAYO Clinic

The Anxiety and Depression Organization of America

Cleveland Clinic

Float Robins

Living With Panic Disorder

It started when I was a little girl, maybe eight or nine-years-old. I was walking down Westgate Mall in Macon, with my great-grandmother. I remember we were looking at china dolls, rows and rows of beautiful dolls for sale. I assume this was a doll show. At one point, as we were walking, my face began to feel numb. It started around my throat and traveled up my face. This startled me, which made my heart beat faster. Even though I was holding my Granny’s hand, I became very frightened. I looked around and suddenly the room seemed “off.” I got dizzy and short of breath and I asked my Granny could we sit down because I didn’t “feel good.”

I don’t remember much after that. Just the sights and sounds and out-of-body experience in Westgate mall. To the last day that mall was opened, I could never walk that path without my pulse racing and my breath shortening.

For the next month, this same scenario would suddenly play out in class. Ms. Childer’s 4th grade class at Union Elementary to be exact. The numbess, the dizziness, and the inability to catch my breath. I would ask to go to the bathroom. As soon as I left the classroom, I felt so much better. I would return and tell my teacher I didn’t feel good. She would tell me to sit down and be quiet.

Which made me feel helpless.

I told my mom & dad about what was happening, and my mother took me to my pediatrician. This was the early 80s. My doctor could find nothing wrong with me physically and suggested I see a psychiatrist. I don’t remember much after that, except that my mom said that I did not need to see a shrink and that I was just trying to get attention.

Which made me feel helpless.

This continued for years. The symptoms would shift and I got to the point that I would sit in the car when my family went out to eat. I would cower down in the movie theater, because an attack would happen there. I would even have them at church. I remember telling my mom, on numerous occasions, that I couldn’t catch my breath. I remember her pinching me and telling me to knock it off – as I sat there, trying to piece together why I was feeling like I was going to die. With a child’s mind.

Fast forward to high school, I ended up stumbling upon a book at B.Dalton (in the Macon Mall,) called Panic Attacks. I have no idea how I ended up on the self-help aisle, perhaps because it was near the astrology texts, but I picked up the book and read the back. It sounded super familiar. I think flipped through it and read the symptoms:

  • Hyperventilating
  • Dizziness
  • Tunnel vision
  • Chest pain/pressure
  • Nausea
  • Hot & cold flashes
  • Sweating
  • Parsethesia
  • Fight or flight response
  • Derealization

At some point all or some of those symptoms were present when I had one of my episodes. I’m not sure if I had money of my own or I talked my parents into buying the book for me, but I did end up with the book. And I read it cover to cover.

I was experiencing something called panic attacks, and man was it debilitating.

I won’t go into great detail of where or when these were happening, but let’s just say – If there were large crowds, or I had to sit with people behind me, or I was far from a door, or I was in a situation where you couldn’t just get up and go, I would have an attack.

Once I found the book, I didn’t feel quite so alone. In the 80s, people did not talk about mental illness openly, and I had definitely never heard anything about panic attacks.

I finally had a name for what was happening to me.

The continued throughout my college career, mainly in classes and when walking to classes, but never at home or when hanging out with friends. I could go to restaurants and function a lot better, because I was attempting to try all of the things the book suggested.

Things like:

I took deep breaths. I tried pressing pressure points in my hand. I’d ask friends to massage my shoulders. I would squeeze a stress ball.

None of it worked.

By the age of 21, I was dating a young man that happened to be a psychology major. He thought maybe I had ADHD and it was left untreated. He thought maybe the fact that I couldn’t focus was the reason I was “freaking out.” He suggested I see the therapist the campus offered. He thought it was free, why not?

So I went.

After a couple of sessions, she sent me to a behavioral health place for analysis and testing.

Diagnosis:

  • A developmental Arithmetic Disorder. (Dyscalculia) (Which explains the bad math grades and my panic attacks in a math class.)
  • Dysthymia (persistent, mild depression.)
  • PANIC DISORDER

And there it was. The definition of Panic Disorder is:

a psychiatric disorder in which debilitating anxiety and fear arise frequently and without reasonable cause.

I began a journey of anti-tricylic drugs and cognitive behavioral therapy. It helped and the pill cut the attacks out. 1996 was the year. I gained 30 pounds and slept all of the time.

That was no way to live. My gynecologist took me off the pills and told me I did not need that. The attacks slowly came back, not nearly as bad as they were.

Fast forward to 2007. I get divorced and end up in therapy. I thought I would need some guidance to deal with the transition and the therapist got hung on the fact I was STILL having attacks. We started deep diving.

I left therapy before the work was completed.

Fast forward to 2017 – I started having frequent attacks. I went back to therapy and started setting boundaries, they dissipated.

Fast forward to 2020 – and they were back with a vengeance. I ended up with a “as needed” pill – Hydroxyzine and a daily – Cymbalta (which handles my body aches and pains and reduces anxiety.)

Are they gone completely? No.

Do I feel more relaxed? For sure.

But there is so much more to this story. So, so, much more.

I think what I will do is share that in 2 more parts. Today was my journey. Tomorrow will be the coping mechanisms I have incorporated that have helped me tremendously. And finally, the last one will be the why – the root of why I have panic attacks, or at the very least, what I have uncovered through therapy and meditation.

If you or someone you know suffering from Anxiety or Panic Attacks, the best thing you can do is:

  • Accept that this is a part of them now. Know that it will get better as they adapt to what is going on inside of them and when they start to manage the symptoms.
  • When we go somewhere, please give us an option to stay or leave. We will stay longer when we feel more in control and not trapped or helpless.
  • Do not pressure us with your silence or repressed anger or annoyance because we might have to leave. That only makes it more difficult for us the next time.
  • Understand that we do not want to experience this, and that there is no specific time for us to learn how to manage it, there are many types of treatments and one does not work for everyone.
  • Most importantly, give us your support, love and acceptance. It makes a huge impact in someone’s recovery and we all want to recover.

Tomorrow we will tackle coping mechanisms.

Solitude at Sunset

This is Bob.

Bob lives in an Assisted Living facility in Middle Georgia. One day I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw someone repost a request from a nursing home where they were looking for pen pals for their residents. You see, during the pandemic, the residents are not allowed to leave or have guests and if they have to go outside of the building for doctor’s appointments, they are quarantined into their rooms for 14 days. You can only imagine the isolation and loneliness they probably feel.

When I flipped through the pictures, I saw Bob. He had kind, sad eyes. Wearing a white t-shirt and slacks, he reminded me so much of how my grandfather dressed as he got older. I could see his life alert hanging around his neck and a pair of readers in the center of the V of his shirt. This photo said a lot.

I looked at his interests and I realized I did not have a lot in common with him. Well, I do like politics, but I am always afraid to share what I am thinking, in fear of making someone angry. Regardless, I decided to send him a letter.

On Friday, I received a letter from Bob.

Bob lost his wife and is now “alone” in an Assisted Living facility. He has survived a multitude of ailments. After hearing about his latest diagnosis from the contact at the facility, I can only imagine the heart ache and sadness he is feeling. I can’t imagine what it feels like to conquer these mountains alone.

His story really touched me. You can read so much between the lines.

I have written Bob a second letter, this time it is two pages.

What I think frightens me or has at the very least awakened within me is the idea that you can live your entire life as fully as possible and when the sun begins to set…..

How does it feel? Will you feel a void? Will you savor the remaining moments? Will you lay on your bed and turn your back to the world and simply stare at the wall?

I remember my grandfather losing everyone. I remember the sadness just seeping out of him. It breaks my heart.

I am watching now as my own parents are approaching the sunset. Both are retired and honestly, not really by choice. Dad’s health got the best of him and mom’s organization reorganized without her. They are dealing with the aftermath, and let’s be honest, not all of us have good coping skills.

I think about my life choices and the fact that I never had children. Yes, I have step kids, but I came along much later and if anything happens to Tim, I seriously doubt, outside of making sure they get their inheritance and trust, I will be of great concern to them. Will I be in a facility, wishing and hoping and praying someone remembers me? After everything I have contributed? After everything I did?

OMG…. it just breaks the heart.