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Closet Fascination

A blog about a journey, smoking, not smoking, vaping and everything in between

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anxiety

Anxiety Strikes Again

So I sit here on a Friday, after spending the majority of my evening paralyzed by anxiety or a depressed mood or both. With 8 days until my period, I know this is my ‘normal’ PMS mood swing. Knowing that doesn’t help me change how I’m feeling very easily. It helps explain it, which reduces any inevitable worrying about why I feel so shitty but nothing on the actual reducing how shitty I feel.

Being a teacher of how to take care of one self when one is experiencing negative moods, I know what I should do. De-stress, take it easy, distract with an activity, avoid alcohol or other drugs (cough- nicotine), try not to overeat. I’ve managed to do most of those things, aside from overeating.

Overeating is the worst. I find when I am feeling this way, I mistake my anxiety for hunger and try to eat it away. Of course, it doesn’t work. No quantity of food could satisfy because I’m not actually hungry (to a point, I always start hungry). I don’t eat quantities of food that would qualify as a binge, but I eat more than I need and beyond the point of comfort. Part of me figures it would be good to go back to tracking my food as I did this less often when I was tracking all of my food. The drawback is I become a bit obsessive about what I eat when I track. I need some sort of happy medium between tracking each piece of food entering my lips and the free for all I’m practicing right now.

Next time I feel this way, which I guess could happen as early as tomorrow, I’m going to try to chug a bunch of water first as I actually find that being dehydrated sometimes feels like hunger.

I’m happy I avoided drinking alcohol and smoking (although that was more of a thought than an urge). Alcohol always seems like I good idea in the moment, but in these moods I find that my anxiety is even worse the next day. I should probably avoid drinking again until I have my period. I also cleaned the kitchen which is something as well.

To end on a more positive note, today I had a good day at work. At the end of each of the classes that I teach students can give their feedback. The feedback today was overwhelmingly positive. My favorite piece of feedback was this: “Thanks for helping me feel like a person again.” Jail is a pretty impersonal place so I’m glad I was able to help this person feel this way.

I feel better after writing this all down. I often tell my students that writing can be helpful but sometimes I don’t take my own advice. Time to continue the de-stress with a bath, more water, perhaps a book and maybe a relaxation meditation.

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Watch “What It’s Like to Have ‘High-Functioning’ Anxiety” on YouTube

My cousin posted this on my Facebook. My reaction was: this explains my life. 

I noticed that my thoughts of smoking have increased recently. I’m dealing with some stressful stuff. My dad is currently in a bad manic state. He is drinking and driving and I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t worry. To be honest, it has been hard keeping up appearances that everything is OK. 

I noticed my cravings to smoke have increased, but it is really that my anxiety is sky high. I know I don’t want to smoke, that it is just my mind looking for something to decrease the anxiety. 

I’m doing my best to cope, but I’m looking into going to talk to my doctor and a counsellor, just to have someone outside the situation to talk to. 

I haven’t been on meds since I was a teen, but maybe it is something to consider.

Without further ado: 

Challenge Day 28: Favourite Movie and Quote

Carpe, carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.

The above quotes is from my favorite movie of all time. The Dead Poet’s Society. I rented this movie on a whim when I was in grade 9 and loved it from the first time I watched it.

I’ve always loved this movie. The message about seizing the day, going after your dream, living life to its fullest has always resonated with me.

I think a large part of it is because I really identify with the character Todd Anderson. I didn’t always know why but today I figured it out. Both Todd and I suffer from anxiety.

I actually have only been putting this together recently. I can’t believe I never connected the dots with this before now, but I think I’ve been anxious my whole life. It certainly explains a lot. It explains my overeating, my compulsive use of nicotine and why I was drawn/liked smoking to begin with. As well as various other coping mechanisms developed along the way.

Like Todd, I suffer from social anxiety. How I cope: normally if the social situation has food, I eat the whole time I am at the event. I think this could be why I feel drained at the end of a drain- less so now that I work with adults and don’t like I have to ‘put on a show’ for them as much. If you were to ask me which vape or smoke I miss the most it would be the one right after work. Probably because I feel totally anxious right as my work day ends. Today, I used deep breathing in the car to calm myself down.

I used to think that I was getting really hungry at the end of the day but it turns out it is anxiety.

My next ongoing challenge: figure out the healthiest ways to deal with my anxiety. Meditation works, so keeping up with that will be key. Exercise works. The smoking/vaping thing didn’t work out so well. Eating isn’t working so hot either. So learning how t change that will be my next challenge.

Meditation:Peaceful Sleep Meditation

 

 

Challenge Day 17: Stop worrying about the future

Today’s prompt: If confronted with your fears or worries from five years ago, what would you tell yourself?

First, I have to figure out what was going on five years ago. June 2016 minus 5 years is June 2011. Perfect. What an excellent time in my life to reflect upon!

5 years ago, I had just finished my first year of teaching. I was worried about a lot of things. I know this says “fears” but to me worries and fears are the same thing. So it was the end of the school year and while my contract with the school board had been renewed, I had been declared surplus at the school I was working at. Further, I was having no luck obtaining employment in the same city as my now husband.

1)Fear 1: I wouldn’t have a position next year. I would tell myself, don’t worry everything is going to work out. I had another position within 2 days of the school year ending.

2) Fear 2: I was afraid that I was actually a terrible teacher. An imposter. A fraud. My first year of teaching was incredibly difficult, making me wonder if I picked the right career. I would tell myself: keep doing what you are doing and you will get better and you will become the teacher you were always meant to be. I just finished my 6th year of teaching and I feel very competent now. I am very competent. I like to think I’m pretty good at my job.

3) Fear 3: I’d never find a job in the same city as my love. To be honest, this was my biggest worry. Me working in a different city was a huge strain on the relationship for the three years that we did long distance. We made it work but you can’t help but feel a little stagnant like you are always waiting to start your life. I would tell myself, you are going to do this for two more years and then through perseverance you will finally get a job in the same city as your love.

Thinking back, I think those were my main fears five years ago. What I learned from writing this is whenever you start worrying about the future, reassuring yourself that everything will be OK might be more productive than worrying. In every fear that I had, the only thing in common with all three us that everything was okay in the end.

Or as the Brits said: Keep Calm and Carry On.

Meditation: Loving Self-Compassion

Day 14: Reflections on Personality Type, Triggers and the need for Moderation (In all areas of my life)

Today, I’ve been feeling kind of down and a bit anxious. I know exactly why too. Two reasons: family issues with my Dad (I don’t want to get into that) and lately, I’ve been noticing that when I overdo it with alcohol, even just a little, it takes a couple of days for my mood to go back to normal. Luckily, I don’t have a problem not drinking. One of my future goals is to stop binge drinking though. That combined with binge eating. I’m great at doing things to excess. I mean, when I ran consistently, I wasn’t just running. I was training for half-marathons and eventually a marathon. I need to learn moderation because I tend to have all or nothing thinking leading to eventually not enjoying the activity.

Anxiety, it turns out, is a huge smoking/vaping nicotine trigger for me. It makes sense considering withdrawal feels the same as anxiety. Which is interesting because I used to get really anxious about smoking, which probably make the subsequent release of giving in that much more powerful. I’ve had a few cravings today for nicotine, but also for my other unhealthy self-soothing mechanism, binge eating sweets. I’m breathing deeply, drinking water and surfing these urges.
When I was doing all my reading on Saturday, I found this blog post about how personality type is often connected to addictions.
Contrary to popular culture, there is no such thing as an addictive personality. There are however personality traits that make certain people more vulnerable to addiction.
According to the article, these are:

(1) an impulsive or risk-taking personality style

(2) an anxious, oversensitive personality style

or a combination of the two:

(3) an impulsive or risk-taking style combined with oversensitivity

When I read that, I thought, well I’m definitely (2) and more than likely a bit of (3). I remember mostly suppressing these my impulsive risk-taking by writing about it. I had the urges to smoke, use drugs and even drink when I was a teen but I guess my mom did a good job teaching me to say no to drugs. But that didn’t change the wanting.
I felt anxious off and on throughout the day. I felt the most anxious after I got a text message about my Dad and was immediately filled with anxiety and dread. It was the first time in a good number of days that I felt what I thought was a true craving, but my body doesn’t need nicotine so I saw the craving for what it really was: a desire to get rid of the anxiety. Once I picked up my husband from the train, my anxiety started to disappear and I feel fine again. I’m going to have good days and bad days but overwhelmingly my thought was: “CF you haven’t abstained nicotine for 14 days to throw it all away on  a little bit of anxiety. “
So I didn’t and I keep on keeping on…

Today is why one should never be a closet smoker

I didn’t know my roommate was going to be home today and nobody knows I’ve been smoking. Not regularly, but enough that I really want to right now and can’t.

Runs off to do relaxation and mindfulness exercises.

Don’t do it kids. Don’t start smoking. It is both wonderful and terrible at the same time.

Nicotine Amazing, but Temporary

Today, I decided to forego the morning cigarette as much as I was enjoying having one first thing. I mean I really could have used one, what with the four or five hours of sleep I had not to mention how anxious I am feeling about all the exams I am writing. But based on how I felt both Tuesday and Wednesday (great at beginning of day and progressively worse as day went on) I decided to tough out the tiredness, the blah feeling and the anxiousness. And you know what- as much as I loved the way nicotine makes me feel, the effects are only temporary and once they are gone, everything that was bothering you before comes back and life seems that much worse because but three hours ago your brain was riding a nice dopamine high. That is how the cycle begins. I think what I hated most is the feeling that I had inflicted this upon myself. I was far more anxious about everything yesterday than I was today. Today I felt like shit, but it was a nice even steady state all day. I found that easier to deal with, because based on my schedule right now- it totally makes sense. I’m stressed, but it is understandable. 

I guess this adverse reaction- signals to me that I really do not want to become tied to the cigarettes permanently. The idea, while attractive from a fetish point of view, bugs me that I have less direct control over my emotions and state of being. I hated the feeling that I had self-inflicted a mini-depressive episode because my brain decided that it wanted more nicotine. Sure, it would have felt good to give in, but only because the contrast between the two states would have been huge. Even seeing people smoke today gave me a mixed reaction. Part of me, thought, “Mmmm cigarette.” Part of me, thought: ” Do you want to start the cycle again?” I think more and more I think I am going to work towards not smoking because hands down, despite the fact that part of me loves smoking(namely my brain and such) , despite the fact that smoking actually turns me on, on the whole I do not feel that smoking increases my quality of life enough to keep at it. Nor do I think I am capable of keeping my smoking down to some sort of low level. I’d have good intentions, but one would become three, which would become five and I have shit self-control when it comes to stuff like this so likely it would not stop there. 

Along with this- I will have to work something out with the fetish. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to stop myself from being turned on by smoking. It is kind of involuntary. Actually I have no idea how I am going to deal with this aspect, since being turned on by smoking is part of what drove me to smoke in the first place and the two are pretty intimately linked. But that will be a discussion for another time… tonight I learn about the weather.

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