I AM BRAVE

I AM BRAVE

I have been defined in my life as funny, pretty, sweet, loyal, stubborn, caring, but the most powerful word I have been described as is brave. As a child growing up I thought to be brave meant you were never afraid of anything or anyone.  You needed to wear a badge, armour or be a male to be brave. As I aged, somewhat gracefully, I began to understand those were unrealistic definitions of the word brave. To be brave, there is not a list of credentials written in stone. Anyone can be brave, regardless of sex, nationality, employment, height, weight, personality, or age.You do not have to jump out of an airplane or pick up a rattlesnake. You do not have to dive into the deep end. You do not have to sleep with the light off. You do not have to be someone you are not. Being brave means facing a fear and making your own decision on how you deal with it. It is far more brave to say no or walk away sometimes than it is to push yourself into something you are not ready for.   I am brave not because I was not scared, but because I was, and did it anyway. I am brave because I allowed myself to be me. I am brave because I needed to be. I am brave because I survived.  I am brave because I am a woman. Find your reason to be brave and bravely yell, I AM BRAVE.iambrave-wh

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Sleepless In Anxiety

 

It’s 3:00 am.

You’re staring at the ceiling, perfectly still and eerily quiet. You decided how ugly your ceiling is by 3:06 am. Why does it not have some beautiful painting for me to stare at or at least a skylight so I can watch the twinkling of the stars? I would settle for a big screen television that only plays what I want to see at 3 am!

Inside, you feel like you’re sweating through your eyeballs and your mind’s swarming like a flock of angry mosquitoes. You know that buzzing sound you hear as one flies by your ear as you try to sit outside at night, that zipping like they are preparing to invade your brain feeling. 

How you wish you could drift off to sleep like they do in the movies or commercials. Seriously, who the hell can fall asleep as soon as they turn off the bedside light and place their heads on a pillow. Those people need to share their secrets and perhaps their DNA so I too can enjoy sleep! If you are like me, this is not your first time at the sleepless rodeo. You have performed many nights without applauds. I don’t even get my name in the credits.

Sleep, as we all know, is absolutely vital for bodily repair,  general all-around health, and cognitive function.  Everyone knows that, well except babies but they are babies.  It’s generally recommended that we get eight hours of sleep a night but for those suffering from anxiety, that’s not something that comes so easy. I have heard about these strange humans who are powerful sleepers and actually get at least this eight hours, some many more. I am amazed but mostly jealous of these Snow White impersonators. I want to sleep like that and if I am asleep, don’t you dare kiss me awake. I don’t care if you are a Prince, unless you are “Prince”, but that would be an out of body experience. 

When you’re suffering from anxiety, the beast likes to invade your thoughts at night. It loves to make your heart beat faster as you finally lay down in your crisp cold sheets. The nausea that is creeping up your throat is forcing you to sit back up in fear of being sick. This is the kind of feeling you get when you have been out for a night of adult like fun that involved a high percentage of alcohol. You get the worse part of that feeling without all the previous fun.   You find yourself actually pleading with your brain to give you a break. Just tonight let me sleep and tomorrow you can destroy me again. You can’t switch off, not even for a few hours.

If you actually get some shut eye,  you wake up in the morning feeling grouchy. You’re irritable, sluggish, and your cognitive function suffers. Extended issues with lack of sleep have been determined to increase our risk of developing diabetes,  heart disease and having a rather diminished immune system. I always feel like I have morning sickness, which is not anything I could have, believe me. I mean far from it unless my mother was right and you can get pregnant from sitting on a public toilet. 

When you have the misfortune of having anxiety, your adrenaline levels are invariably running higher than normal. It’s substantially like being put through the fight or flight response 24/7, for no obvious reason. I understand fully why my body doesn’t want to fall asleep when it thinks that it’s in danger and needs to be moving.  However, it is  hard for me to feel emphatic when I am staring at 3 am and I am on the brink of tears. It’s hardly relaxing, is it?

I started off as a kid who slept very little but when I did close those big green eyes, I was out cold until daylight. As a teen, I slept like most teens. Up late with raging hormones and a zombie like appearance every morning. If my mother was smart, she really should have video taped her daughter and cashed in on the whole zombie thing of the early eighties! When I was in my early twenties, party girl sleep was all the rage! It was until I was closer to thirty that my sleep pattern was noticeably off. I began to notice how bad my debilitating panic attacks were and felt trapped in a bubble. Not those happy bubbles from cartoons but a big ass scary one. At the time I had an energetic toddler who never slept as it was. I was captured by an evil circle of stress, no sleep, and anxiety.

I always felt irritable in the day and always felt off kilter. Being a new mom and having a mother sick, was just added stress to this. I still had to be the energetic human my family needed and expected but felt dead inside. No sleep can kill even the strongest of warriors. My daughter was a backward sleeper. She loved to be fully, I mean, fully awake at night. Think Richard Simmons on crack after drinking a Redbull type of wide awake! So I was always running on fumes.

Now with anxiety and this horrible tragic syndrome that others apparently call perimenopause, (the period of a woman’s life shortly before the occurrence of the menopause),  I never sleep. If I do sleep, it is for only a few hours. Sometimes those hours are spread out, sometimes they are slammed together like the best sandwich you can imagine.  I get hangry feelings when I am tired too just in case you are wondering. 

I sometimes watch TV shows that are not-mentally taxing with conversation so that they don’t stimulate my mind too much to keep me awake, but enough to keep my mind busy so that I can control my mind off the demons and get stuck into falling asleep.  Sometimes I count sheep, but I prefer counting zombies or old boyfriends.  It’s something that is repetitive but requires very little thought to keep my mind occupied on other things.

I’d recommend the above techniques, over and over again, until the cows come home. I’d recommend, at first, making sure you’re fully wound-down after a long, stressful day. Don’t exercise in the three hours before you go to bed. Don’t eat in the two hours before you go to bed. If you can, have a hot bath or do something relaxing. Going on your smartphone or laptop is not one of them, as the backlight will keep you stimulated for hours. Apparently, sex helps you drift into a sweet slumber but I can’t remember that far back, memory is not what it used to be.

It is obvious that you should cut down on caffeine and alcohol to help you sleep. I just think that sometimes, to be honest, a glass of wine helps me sleep. Glass..bottle…tomato…tomatoe. Make your bedroom your dream room, both in reality and sleep mode. Invest in room darkening curtains, keep it at a cool temperature and make sure it is well ventilated. If you can handle sleeping with a window open then do it or sleep with a fan propelling all night. The swishing sound might just put you to sleep like a lullaby does a small child. If you are lucky you have a good mattress that is comfortable so if you don’t sleep, at least you won’t ache in pain. If you can, lock your bedroom door so you have no late night visitors such as kids..or significant others. They will totally understand, ( insert eye roll where you see fit). Meditate, do yoga, use breathing exercises or essential oils. You may have to try thirty different things until you find something that works for you.

If, after doing all this, you’re still not drifting off, get up and do something gentle. I sometimes put a load of laundry on or clean off my bathroom counter. Don’t sing the heavy metal song of your youth just keep it all calm and gentle. Trying too hard will only make it worse, and odds are you’ll suddenly be overwhelmed with a desire to get into bed and not do that horribly boring housework.  I don’t want to do the horribly boring housework when I am energetic so why would I want to do it at 3 am? I’d also recommend a sleep cycle app – I know I said no cell phones– which monitors your patterns of sleep and wakes you during a light stage of sleep so you don’t get that horrid befuddled feeling in the morning.

If you are still unable to get any rest and it is clearly causing you issues in your day to day life, please talk to your medical team. I know a lot of people who use sleeping aids and they are better off for it. I am planning on discussing a plan with my doctor on my next visit.  We all need sleep to function and fight the beast.

WORKING OUT

I hate to work out. I do not spring out of my bed in hopes to sweat and in my case, get winded. I don’t want to be achy all over. If someone says to me, “no pain, no gain!”, I will punch them in the throat. My goal is not to slurp down an energy drink and lace up $180.00 running shoes and run outside to dodge sidewalk dog poop.  If I am doing any downward dog motions, it is because I dropped my cookie on the floor. Now I want a cookie, dammit. The  issue with having an issue with the dreaded torture of exercise is that you really NEED to do it. If you are over forty then you better be doing it daily or just give up now. Those pants will not fit you ever again. Leggings will be your life. A lot of people are comfortable enough in their skin that having extra weight on their bones is never an issue. I can’t be one of those people. Am I vain or insecure? I could be both and social media plays with my mind too. I see beautifully in shape women over the age of fifty and cringe. I have never looked that good even in my twenties. I am also too cheap to have to go buy more clothing to fit over or at least hide my muffin top. Now I want a muffin, dammit.  If you are one of those people who could care less how you look or how others perceive you, I bow to  you in awe.  I wish that I had your confidence.  I have always been thin and at times considered skinny. In my youth, basically anytime before 45, I did not work out unless forced by an educator. I don’t drive so I walk everywhere so that counts right? WRONG!! You need to exercise to maintain your health and actually survive in this world. Exercise really does help with stress and anxiety. Your sleeping patterns will improve if you exercise regularly too.  You need to be active to remain a healthy lifestyle even if you just take the stairs twice instead of the elevator a week. You can walk your kids to school instead of driving them even when little Mary cries she will shrink in the rain. We all know if you could shrink in the rain, I would not be here typing, I would be out in the damn rain Mary! I will exercise and stay fit to get healthier. I just hate it. I am Grumpy Cat times a billion when I workout. Do I feel better after I workout? Do I see the benefits of sweating , stretching and straining my body? I will never tell as that would confuse my desire to hate exercise!sucks ass.jpg

Finding Friends

When you are an infant you do not need friends. All you really need is a bottle, or nipple of sorts,  someone to change your diaper, cuddle and someone to put you to bed. Which is what I need nearing fifty too if I am honest except the nipple, got two already thanks. When you are young kids, parents have you playing with siblings or cousins, which can be an amazing experience or pure torture. Now adays, parents seem to arrange playdates for their children, literally scheduling time when they can play.  When I was a kid, in the 70’s, I had to go outside to play. There was no all day television channels for me to watch. No laptop, PS3, Wii, or Ipod to entertain my imaginative mind.  I had to venture outside into the wilderness of my street in hopes that some other kid dared to say he or she was bored, so their parents kicked them outside too.  When you are in your teen years, you are put into “groups”. Think of The Breakfast Club, and if you have not seen this movie, get out from under that rock and watch it NOW. I’ll wait……… There are the cool kids, the mean girls, the jocks, the nerds, the stoners, the drama club kids, YOU get the picture. You can find yourself differnent groups of friends daily.  In college or university years, you end up being friends with your roommates or study a lot on a Friday night. ( no judgment here and your liver will thank you).  When you become a parent yourself, you  may find yourself in Mommy and Me groups or meet other women at the park.  These friendships will last as long as your children like each other. Once little Sarah bites little Melanie, all shit hits the friendship fan. Some people even become friends with their neighbours but they move and the new owners are from a cult or are Trump supporters. The older you get, the harder it is to find friends. You perhaps moved, changed jobs, divorced, were widowed, children moved out or had an illness. Some how you found yourself without a lot of girlfriends to hang with. Some women join Facebook groups in hope to connect with others in the same area as they are or that have the same interests as they do. There is events online daily in meet up groups to. Just like online dating sites, you can find your new bestie online .

I have found making friends fairly easy for most of my life so I am on the lucky side of the equation.  I always mangaged to have someone to play with when I was young. I always managed to have someone to hang with when I was a teenager. I was never home on a weekend night as I always found something to do. When I had children, I still had my friends from my early twenties to hang out with and vent to. Things changed when we moved and my husband got cancer. I knew no one in my new city and my family did not live close. I made some friends through my children but when I became a widow, all those friendships stopped. Actually, alot of my friendships phased out. I can not pinpoint exactly what the reason was but I was suddenly alone a lot. I am sure it is hard when you want to vent about your husband but worried the widow might think you are selfish. Some even felt uncomfortable that I was suddenly a single woman around their husbands. It still amazes me how people react to a widow, especially a younger one. I still get that stigma of being a widow/single woman around married couples. I find it bizarre. I do however keep to myself more than I have ever in the past due to anxiety and circumstance. When you have anxiety, especially social anxiety mixed with agoraphobia, it makes having actual friendships difficult. Most humans love to be out and enjoy life. I have a hard time sometimes leaving my house. At first people are understanding but after the tenth time I have cancelled plans with them, it gets old. I know it is not their fault as they can’t fully comphrehend my illness. I am fortunate right now to have four women who I can call my friends. I trust them entirely and love them like sisters. If I need them, they are there, no judgement. They may not completely understand my anxiety and all things “ME”, but they try to, which is more then I ask for. They allow me to vent and complain even about the little things in my world. I listen to them and give advice when I can too. I can be me and not feel insecure while doing so. They make me feel comfortable in my skin. We are all differnent ages, ranging 32 to 49. All but myself, have only boys. One is single never married, one is common law, two are married and I claim widow status. All come from differnent childhoods. Some how it all works for us as a group of women trying to find balance on this ride of life that does not come with seat belts. I would be lost in this chapter of my life if it were not for these five unique women. I don’t feel alone. They are my tribe that I found with my vibe.

Xmas Dinner with friends

Xmas Dinner with friends

Balmain turtleneck long sleeve shirt
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Gucci red motorcycle jacket
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Moschino faux leather pencil skirt
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Christian Louboutin heels stiletto
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Henri Bendel mini satchel purse
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Faux leather handbag
31 CAD – shein.com

Boho jewellery
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Vegan jewelry
11 CAD – newlook.com

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