Happy New Year – 4 months late 🙃

There’s been so much that’s happened in our lives since my last post. The way my brain works is if I stop doing something, it’s almost impossible for me to jump back in. I feel like I have to work backwards to catch up. Mark always says just start where you are, but my brain doesn’t work like that. It needs order and to fill in the gaps else it gets upset and obsesses over the missing pieces. In my brain it’s either all or nothing, which is why I’m great at starting but horrible at consistency. If it’s not done when it’s “supposed” to be done…then the time has expired and it’s too late. This is why it’s taken so long for me to post. I’ve had to push past the disappointment and negativity inner dialogue to finally…JUST DO IT!

I’m trying really hard to get better at picking things back up (thanks to Mark). He’s helping me to be more consistent. I’m more of a visionary, I can create the vision, get it off the ground but then I need others to keep it going cause I’m off to the next dream…the next vision to bring to fruition. For me right now, that vision is moving to Portugal. Last year we went there for two weeks for our honeymoon. We already had our NIF (government ID) so we opened our bank account while there. We know we want to live somewhere in the East Algarve region, between Tavira and Vila Real de Santo Antonio (VRSA).

Center Square in VRSA

We had such a great time and met some wonderful locals and expats while there. We were so in love with the area that if we could come back to get the kids and dog and go right back, we would have. In those two weeks we walked over 100 miles, didn’t have any anxiety (except when going over one massive bridge), Mark didn’t have a single migraine and we spent most of our time just really enjoying each other’s company (which we do every day). We know vacationing in a country is greatly different than living there full time but we are ready to explore the world now! When you have a life threatening illness and are now better…you want to enjoy life daily and do things while you can! You shouldn’t have to wait till you are “retired” to enjoy life.

With all the different milestones we need to hit to make that dream a reality, working on achieving those goals can come with seasons of feeling anxiety and overwhelm. My anxiety has gotten really bad this year. At the same time I started an 8 week therapy program through my insurance, I had the worse panic attack to date. It lasted a week with mini attacks occurring throughout the next 7 days. I couldn’t work for two days and couldn’t sleep. I literally felt like I was going to die. It was absolutely terrifying and exhausting. I felt like this has to end cause I can’t keep feeling like this forever. 🥹 One of my last journal entries I wrote down how I felt during that attack so I could always remember.

Therapist suggested writing down what I did before bed when waking up to panic

Anxiety and panic can be debilitating but one must push on. Life isn’t perfect but the difference between being a victim and a victor is our mindset. We can always have something to complain about or something to be grateful for. We choose to live in a state of gratitude, knowing that those hard circumstances are temporary. It’s not always easy to think about the positive when you are drowning in a full blown panic attack but it can help you reset after the hardest part is over. That’s why I’m so thankful to have Mark because he helps me to look on the bright side when I’m anxious, depressed or overwhelmed.

The bright side of having the worst panic attack of my life, was that I also had a therapist, and two life coaches (in addition to Mark) to help me navigate it. They gave me tools to assist with grounding my mind because with panic it’s easy to disassociate. Along with the tools, my therapist suggested I push myself outside my comfort zone. This is so I can be more comfortable driving and eventually be able to go back on the highway. Taking this challenge to heart, I pushed myself to drive on roads that I would normally stay away from. Some bridges and multi lane roads caused major anxiety in the past so I would take the long way around for years. I am happy to say that I have driven over 3 bridges, 3 multi lane roads and actually drove on the highway twice! 🤩🥳

Me driving on the highway to get Thai food 🍲😅

In addition to pushing myself outside my comfort zone in the driving arena, I started swim classes in January after being on a wait list for over 6 months. Back story, when we were planning our Portugal trip, Mark wanted to go paddle boarding. We reached out to a trainer here but she was very adamant that I wouldn’t be able to paddle board until I knew how to swim. So I looked for places that had classes locally but there were no openings. I decided to go on the waitlist at the YMCA back in May 2022 and they finally got back to me in December for private classes starting in January 2023. A week after having my first swim class is when I had the traumatic panic attack. It affected my classes for two weeks but I kept going! I’ve been afraid of the water since I could remember (age 3). I actually remember being little in the bath 🛁 tub and afraid that I would be sucked down the drain. When I was a preteen I went to a water park and thought I was drowning in 3 feet of water. The fact that I was even attempting to take swim classes was fantastic but add the panic attack, subsequent anxiety and the fact that I pushed past my fear to continue 5 months later is commendable ❤️

Showing off what I’ve learned in swim class at a water park 🏊🏽‍♀️

The root of my anxiety is what I need to focus on now. As I mentioned I had fears my whole life, and anxiety the past 17 years. Now I see that manifesting in my daughter Sofia. She tells me almost every day that she has bad dreams of dying. She has body aches and pains that they don’t seem to have a root cause. We had her allergy tested but she doesn’t seem to have any major food allergies. After having a major health-scare when she was 4, she now is afraid to go to the hospital or have any major work done. It took two hours to convince her the allergy testing wouldn’t hurt. It look 3 nursed to hold her down and comfort her to get Novocain so they could do her procedure. I see so much of my fears and anxiety in her and it makes me sad. I don’t want her to live her life in fear of everything. Looking back I see this in my oldest daughter as well (she’s 26). Being a young mom at the time I didn’t realize what was going on, maybe she hid it well or maybe I just was unaware. I do want to make sure Ky and Sofia do not get caught up on the same fear and anxiety wheel I have had to push through my whole life 😩

Every morning my husband and I listen to a Calm meditation , usually “The Daily Jay” with Jay Shetty. Today he talked about how we can use comparative suffering to try and negate your trials because there’s always someone out there who has it worse than you. It seems to make sense to do this but then he goes on to say by not acknowledging your own suffering you are burying it which can lead to other issues…

Bingo

Could this be why I’ve had anxiety and panic since my mom passed away, 17 years ago?!? Could this be the cause of all my emotional and mental suffering?!? Not speaking up when I feel these deep dark feelings, not opening up when I feel sad, overwhelmed, worried or fearful? I’ve been told for decades that I’m strong and I’ve always hated that word. Strength always to me meant “You’ve got this and don’t need help”, but sir or ma’am, I DO need help sometimes 😩. I think I’ve felt this since my brother was born sick and all the attention went to him and I was left emotionally alone to fend for myself. I learned the bad trait of thinking I HAVE to do it by myself and that no one wants to hear me complain or ask for help. I’ve had a very tough time asking for help because of this…even with my husband…I just keep it all inside locked away thinking it was safe. But it wasn’t safe…it would creep out at night while sleeping in the form of a major panic attack or during the day with driving anxiety or heart palpitations.

My mom and I

Where do I go from here? I’m still excited about our goals for the future but with those goals are major unknowns which I feel has contributed to my anxiety. I’ve pushed myself outside my comfort zone for over two years and have been in awe with how much I’ve grown. At the same time I’m thinking now all of the pushing and stretching has also created anxiety that has been unchecked and under expressed. This has possibly been the cause of the panic attacks and feelings of disassociation. I’ve started having sleep paralysis again, which I haven’t had since I was a teen. I’ve never been an advocate of prescription drugs so I will first work on expressing my feelings about situations that worry or overwhelm me. I think it’s the healthiest way to be anyway and hopefully it will help minimize the number and severity of my anxiety and panic attacks. I know whenever you are pushing yourself past your comfort zone there will be pain. But at the end of every trial there is a rainbow 🌈❤️

One response to “Happy New Year – 4 months late 🙃”

  1. I really liked this! I feel as if I understand what your going through a little bit better😊

    Liked by 1 person

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