Stress, Anxiety and Cognition.

I had been working as a nurse for about 4 years before I changed jobs and landed in an office nursing job. I was working odd shifts and the regular schedule of an office was something I was looking for.  I was looking for something less fast paced because of my anxiety. I worked for an MD who was really great. Some of my duties included rooming patients, vital signs, some medical history info, med info and the like.  I’m sure you’ve ran into one of me at one of your doctor appointments. I called in prescriptions and worked on insurance things.

Since this was a totally different type of nursing job I was learning new things. I had difficulty remembering what I was supposed to ask my patients.  In between their answer and inputting their responses I’d forget and have to ask again. I might forget how tall they were so I’d have to remeasure. I might forget to have them change into a gown. Sometimes I’d forget which room they were in. Medication calculations….and I was never sure of myself, ever. I couldn’t memorize anything.  If I were being given new instructions or shown a new job to do I would blank out and find myself starring out at the person thinking of something else. I’d ask to have it repeated and pretend to understand or know what I was supposed to do.

Because I was a good employee, kind, caring, willing to work I was given passes. But it never went away. I passed this all off to A.D.D and even got treatment for it which possibly made my anxiety worse.  Who knows. I was finally diagnosed with Lyme and it has made me wonder if the Lymes got into my brain…:sigh:

I ended up quitting my job after 5+ years in a manic, paranoid period. I was sure that everyone was against me. As my depression worsened I was sure that something was seriously wrong with me and decided between the plethora of health issues like migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fibro, lyme and anxiety that I was going to try and get myself better.  I knew working was causing my body so much stress it was taking a tole. Stress was the single biggest factor in my migraines which was as bad as they could get. I’d be getting migraines 6 days a week.

I filed for SS disaility about 6 months after I left my job.  Social security did not accept my new pyche APRN since she wasn’t a MD so they sent me to a psychologist.  At this point I knew that I had bipolar. I learned about the cognition problems that can occur with extreme anxiety or depression. I know I have both of those.

She informed that she wouldn’t be able to tell me if I was approved or not for SS disability.  That was her first statement. I was surprised she was so reserved and seemed very judgmental as she went over my meds with me.

Her first question was “why do you feel like you cannot work any longer”.  For some reason I never expected that question so I hadn’t prepared an answer at all. I tried to explain in my stupid dumb way that I wasn’t able to function at work and I was overwhelmed and incredibly depressed. I tried to explain how I’d forget which rooms the patients were in or tell the doctor the wrong room AGAIN. I told her how I’d forget words or situations.  She observed the same when I would tell her I couldn’t remember.

The exam continued on and she learned of my manic episodes. I tried to make sure she understood the extremes of it and I was embarrassed.  Finally, she was the first person I explained ALL of my mania to. She asked about therapy and why didn’t I do it. Why didn’t my psyche nurse or GP recommend therapy.  I explained how embarrassing this was and I didn’t have it in me to do.  Then….I remembered I went to therapy.  She noddded. I said (again!) I forgot but I did go to therapy (briefly) years ago when the manic symptoms began but I didn’t continue and didn’t realize at the time that I had bipolar disorder.

When we got to the memory/cognition part of the exam at the end I was nervous.  She asked me to count backwards by 7’s from 100.  I know so many people who say they couldn’t do it either.  I had tears streaming down my face and I wouldn’t look at her, closing my eyes and counting on my fingers.  When I knew I was wrong I looked at her and said, please….and she said no….two more numbers and I’d have to try and go back counting and it was a mess.

At the end of the exam I apologized to her for my tears and she assured me that she gets that all the time. I mentioned something else and told her I couldn’t remember the word I was looking for…..and she point blank asked me if I have trouble like that often. DUH.

I never had to go to my scheduled MD visit for my migraines because I was approved with a mood disorder alone. I found out fairly quickly and since I had been out of work I was awarded back pay to the time I quit my job unexpectedly. I think it was all due to my lack of or decrease in my cognition.

These days I’m not working and it’s really no better.  I talk without thinking sometimes (I think that’s what I do!).  The other day I was at my friends house admiring her new puppy.  Her chickens were out and they started to follow the puppy…….I said look! The kittens are following him!  I mean CHICKENS.  I switch words like cold for hot.  I don’t know if this is dyslexia or what it is. But I’ve done it since I started that job.

Of course this all makes me nervous thinking about dementia and Alzheimer disease. Or Parkinson’s.  Or anything I read about with memory issues. I do believe that Alzheimer’s is more of forgetting HOW to do stuff.  How to drive or what a fork is for.

At least that’s what I tell myself.  I’m just tryin not to add to the stress. 🙂


On being a Fraud

I came across an article online and it caused some uncomfortable feelings to be stirred up.  The disorder is called Imposter syndrome.  It’s a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”even though these people are competent.

It got me thinking about how I would always worry I’d be found out I was an incompetent nurse. That I was just stumbling along in my job and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I didn’t deserve to be a nurse even though I completed my BSN degree. I felt like that in school too and it continued onto my job. Continually worried that my preceptor would deem me unsafe and incompetent.

My anxiety would cause me to forget a lot. I’d have to have things repeated again.  I was scattered and unable to truly concentrate. I’d make little mistakes here and there. Mistakes are normal but what happens when you give the wrong medication accidentally this time or calculate a dosage incorrectly? I also have a difficult time when I have people watching me complete a task because I’m afraid I’ll mess up in front of them. Every two years when we’d complete CPR training I’d worry I wouldn’t pass the test.  The videos we’d watch were so quick but I SHOULD ALREADY KNOW THIS INFORMATION. Guess what? I’d always have to go back and fix a question or two because I got too many wrong.  And never mind having to perform in front of the instructors. I always got through that by the skin of my teeth.

Despite my worries I always got really great performance reviews. I did a lot of things really good.  I tend to down play those and bully myself about all the wrong things I did.

Hate Seeing My Child Struggle

growin upThis morning was no better for my son.  He had a full on panic attack and cried.  My heart broke.  We never want our kids to struggle. He still said he can’t do this but got ready and went to work.  His girl friend stayed over to help get him off this morning and I was surprised when he broke down in front of her.  He feels a lot of pressure from me and my husband and also girlfriends family.

I told him if he hated it that much he could tell them that the job wasn’t for him and he can’t do it.  Give a notice.  Or if that much a struggle, tell them I so sorry I can’t do this, it’s causing me to have panic attacks and again….I’m so sorry.

I’m definitely supportive but don’t want to give him a pass to quit his first full time job.  He says it’s the early morning but I remember anxiety from the past  two jobs last year that he only stayed briefly at before deciding to focus on school.  And being one with anxiety myself I know how hard it is.

I hate that my kids inherited my anxiety.  All of them have had issues with it but have worked through them without medication.  I’m definitely one for medication so if they needed a medication to help them through it I’m all for it.

I also hate that my depression led me leaving my beloved job. I know they know I’m on disability for anxiety/depression/migraine. I don’t want them to feel like it’s a choice.  It’s something that I had to come to after years of working. But part of me feels like a lazy slob and I’m not setting a good example.

He said he was doing a little better after a couple of hours.  He hasn’t been trained yet so that’s another glitch. He didn’t eat anything here but I hope he got something on the way in.  He probably didn’t feel like eating. I know I didn’t.

His girlfriend is going to bring him a lunch this afternoon again. He loved seeing her midway through work so it’s nice of her to make the trip to see him.

uuuh stressed

"Look, son! Your birthday present...flying lessons!"My son started a new job.  It sounded great….for an early morning person.  I get it that he has to grow up though, though.  He’s just terrible in the morning. High school was not fun. He goes to bed late.  Six am comes early. But full time, good pay, out at 3 pm. I did question his ability to be up early in the am and he assured me it would be fine. Ahem.

He was really grumpy this morning and said he didn’t know how long he could do this for.  This is second morning.  His girlfriends sister got him the job. She told him he better not abruptly quit if he didn’t like it because she put in a good word for him and was hired on the spot. I like the added pressure of the girlfriend and not just mum and dad. Even his girl friend has a job.

I spent today with my stomach in knots worrying about how his day was going.  I texted him mid morning asking if the day was getting better and all I got was a “No” I avoided further texting him and felt it best to leave him be.

He had one job through high school for a year but left to focus on school.  He had two other jobs for very short stints too but he seemed to get overwhelmed very easy and had a couple of panic attacks.  My poor boy takes after his mum. He does have a history of anxiety.

When I learned he was stopping over to see his girl friend on the way home I figured the day might not have been so terrible.  He came in with a smirk on his face.  It wasn’t so bad. I told him wait til he gets his first full time check! I think he will see how having money can be a nice thing. Plus it will take some time to get into a routine of things.  Soon enough he’ll be waking up early on his days off.

It’s time to grow up baby boy.  Now’s your time to fly…


I’m a Little Bit Crunchy…

It’s no big mystery that I’m a lil bit on the crunchy side.  I’ll be upfront with that. Natural is best.  Breast feeder, co-sleeper, gardener, thrifter, birks wearing lady. So know you know now 🙂

I LOVE essential oils.  I just love them.  I’ve used them on and off for 20 years, long before they were readily available and quite mainstream.  I really love them in my diffuser scenting my home with natural oils known for their mood enhancing properties. I love to make blends for perfume, bug spray, car air freshners! Best idea…take a close pin and saturate the wood area where you will then clip onto one of your air vents.  Pure heaven for me anyway. I frequently use a calming blend when driving and I love to get back into my car with that scent there.



I use lavender or a calming blend on my pooch when he’s anxious, barking crazy at our neighbor and when I put his thunder shirt on. It does calm him.  Also, there is an amazing product out there for people and pets called Rescue remedy.  I highly recommend it. It comes in a small spray bottle or drops but I like the spray since you can easily spray it in their mouth.  It has a slight taste which doesn’t bother my dogs and seem eager to get some 🙂

My oldest is a dear child.  He comes home from work and often sits with me to chat.  Early 20’s, he has a new girlfriend whom he is nuts over.  Apparently she had some essential oils laying around and said son had some anxiety and worked nicely.  He wondered if it was just the placebo effect but maybe it actually did work!!

I said, SON, how long have I been using essential oils and praising them? He laughed and reminded me he does use tea-tree oil on my recommendation.  It was just so funny that now he might be a believer in the virtues of the oils after his girl friend made him try it. I asked him if he wanted me to pick some more up for him tomorrow. To my chagrin he said yes, definitely.

I hopped over to my local health food store and just picked up three.  I love the single oils but the blends have such a nice scent and are so well rounded.  They are also blended for things like anxiety, focus, sensual, relaxation, purification, pain.

c700x420The 2 brands I use most and have easy access to are Aura Casia and NOW brand. My blends were 12.00 but I know you can get them cheaper online. In the store you can smell the samples to ensure you actually like what you’re buying. GNC carries lots of the NOW brand oils as well but I love our little, local store.  Smells so good in there!

You also want to be sure you’re using pure essential oils by reputable brands. I don’t take the oils internally because there is controversy over the harming properties is you’re not using 100% pure oils.  I’d rather be safe than sorry. You can find lots of info online researching the best and safest brands.

There are some oils that I don’t care for like roman chamomille and rose otto. I got both of these oils for specific conditions. The rose otta is supposed to be the best oil for migraines but it made my stomach sick. Patchouli is hit or miss with many people. Everyone likes citrus and lavender!

My faves are lavender, peppermint, frankensense, orange, ylang ylang, cederwood and sandlewood.  I love patouli when I feel like a hippie, lavender and peppermint ALWAYS for a migraine.

If you haven’t given essential oils a try, please do.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised like my husband when I made a frankensence blend and use it totally helped the unrelenting back pain he was suffering from.

Ever since then he’s a believer!




Life Stages

cg5394b4fa12150You know how parents say each age is their favorite? Every stage was my favorite. It’s hard to narrow it down to a single time frame because i love being a mum and love my children. So. Much. But I love this stage.

They are young adults now, each with a significant other. It’s definitely a new thing for all of us.  I love watching each of them in their happiness. My heart explodes.  (Maybe I’m a lil hypomanic!)

More often than not my husband and I are alone for dinner…especially the weekends. We have time to spend together working on home projects or just chillin on the couch having dinner together. I wouldn’t say we grew apart while our kids were younger but it’s hard to just concentrate on your relationship when you’re juggling jobs and kids. We’re growing closer.  We’re comfortable in our own skin/relationship. We like spending time together.

I’m looking forward to navigating this stage of life with my husband.  I’m so thankful for this strong man of mine. I can’t wait to grow closer and experience all that “middle age” has to offer. 😉

I’m learning that it’s ok to embrace what our life is now. I’m so lucky.  When I start to feel lucky I get scared and think it’s bound to end. Then my anxiety kicks in.

My Week

This week wasn’t bad.  Things overall are better but I’ve still had some episodes of anxiety. It seems like every other day is a better day.  I wonder if it’s some type of decompensation. After I spend a day doing a couple of errands or visiting with a friend I feel as though I need a day to recover. I can’t handle a full on booked up week, not working, not playing.

I was able to go out twice this week and be in public. I did some errands, went to my little craft group and made a dreaded phone call. I’m trying to get outside in my garden every few hours anyway. There is always something to do. It makes me feel a little helpful.

Yesterday I had a feeling of dread all day.  I just couldn’t help but feel like something bad was going to happen but I just wasn’t sure of what it was. As the day went on I was feeling nauseous. I used to feel that way so much more severely. I used to think depression was more my issue but it’s really anxiety. Worried about……everything.

By the time my husband got home I told him I thought I was having a panic attack and he gave me the biggest hugs. He told me nothing was wrong and everything was going to be ok.  He’s always been able to hug me and make everything else melt away. I don’t deserve him.

Migraines this week were not good.  I’m running through my triptans too quickly.  My second line fiorcette isn’t as effective and I have only a limited amount of that too.  I’ve had to take some excederin a few times and even after a week I feel gastritis which feels quite like an ulcer with heart palpitations to boot.

Glad the weekend is here. I don’t have any plans in stone. Next weekend we have a milestone we’re celebrating so next week will be stressful for me.  Emotional and stressful. Maybe I’ll share more about this later.


Growing Distant

Vintage Clip Art Royalty Free 05

So I went to my best friends grad party. I made it there in one piece and even remembered how to get there and back!  Anxiety not too bad but I did get a migraine on the way to her house. I made a playlist to listen to along the way so I had some favorite songs for me to sing and distract myself.

I went early to help her get ready.  I hadn’t seen some of her friends and family for years but I knew some of them from before so it wasn’t THAT stressful.  I didn’t need anti-anxiety meds. I’m not a good mingler so I just stuck in the kitchen mostly with her mum and her auntie.

The party was gorgeous.  Everything was beautiful.  Her gardens were wonderful, the food was wonderful.  Ms. Martha Stewart.  Everything was just perfect. She had a chocolate fountain, backyard games, appetizers, catered meal with a beautiful table.  But it was comfortable and not stuffy.  She inspires me to be a better person (in all ways) all the time.

I felt a little sad when she brought out a book that was signed by everyone at H’s baptism(of course, Martha knew exactly where to find it 🙂 I’m not sure why I wasn’t there.  My face turned red and I could feel the tears building.  When another friend of hers found her message I admit I was hurt. I’m just so sensitive. I took a deep breath and (tried) to let it go.

We grew distant slowly over the last decade. I think I felt like we weren’t connecting and her other friendships of people who lived closer made me jealous. Socializing with her husband and another couple also made me sad.

I’m just thankful that these last two years have brought us back together. Our kids are older. Marriages older.  I think we have even more in common than before.  I’m so thankful that she understands my mental illness and understands me. She gets it and I feel like I’ve had therapy session after we get together.

Phone Anxiety

So proud of myself.  I had to make a phone call.  Phone calls are like the mail.  I avoid at all cost.  I never answer my phone unless I know who the caller is.  And then I’m afraid to listen to my voice mails.  I can’t remember the password now so I cannot listen to them anyway and it’s all too much of a process to figure out.

It all stems from my anxiety of course. I always feel like I’m in trouble, something is wrong, someone is upset with me. That’s anxiety right?

So, anyway I’ve been trying to get little things done around the house and not feel so useless. I went to the store, picked up the kitchen, currently doing some laundry and I made that call.  :whew:

6 Reasons I Might Be A Survivor

  1. I have survived as a child of an alcoholic father who abused my mother.
  2. I have survived as a little girl with migraines and pain no child should have to live through.
  3. I have survived being bullied as an adult, doing a damn good job I am proud of.
  4. I have survived Lyme disease.
  5. I have survived through the whole disability mess.
  6. I have survived through mania and the consequences of my actions.

Seems like I’ve been a pretty good survivor despite relentlessly worrying about all this shit above. Constant worry.  And still worrying.  I have to remember that I’ve been through a lot and I’ve gotten through it.  Things will be ok.