What My Anxiety Attacks Are Like [Mental Health Mondays]

Thankfully, I haven’t had an anxiety attack in a while. I used to get them frequently when I was in school and, on occasion, I’ll get the feeling that I’m going to have one, but tend to talk myself out of it. If I do have an anxiety attack though, this is what it typically feels like for me.

Mental Health Mondays: What My Anxiety Attacks Are Like | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Hot Flash

Usually, when I begin to have an anxiety attack, I start to get a hot flash everywhere. I get clammy hands, sweaty everywhere, it’s gross. And it’s not a nice feeling either. I think I start to feel this way when I get overwhelmed and my body is trying to tell me to step outside and just get some air. When I begin to feel this way, I try my best to find a bathroom just to splash some cold water on my face or anything to cool myself down.

I love the summer, it’s my favorite season. I also would rather be hot than cold. However, that doesn’t help when I’m out in public and get hot. Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s the weather or I’m about to have an anxiety attack… in which case, I often work myself up to have an attack.

Shaking and Dizziness

These two go hand in hand sometimes. I’ll feel shaky and unsteady on my feet or get the feeling that the floor is moving or uneven. Then I’ll get dizzy and start to feel claustrophobic. I normally get this way in stores or restaurants. I felt this way all the time when I was in school. If I’m in a place that has little to no windows, then forget it. The entire room will be spinning for me.

I normally try to find a way out of where ever I am when I start to feel this way. Depending on the situation, I can sometimes stick it out, but I usually need to leave.

No Vision

If the anxiety attack gets far enough, I’ll lose my vision. I’ll basically blackout, but I’m not passed out. I’m still conscious and can hear things going on and such, but I just can’t see. It’s a weird thing and I don’t know if that happens to anyone else or not. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened in a while, but when it does, I just have to sit and let it pass. Once it does, I’ll be dizzy for a few moments while my body gets back to normal.

Shortness of Breath

This usually happens at any time, but mostly if the anxiety attack gets bad enough that I need to just let it pass and get through it. A million things can go through my head when I have an attack because it feels like I’m dying. Thus, shortness of breath. I also have asthma so mix that in with thinking I’m dying and… yeah.

Exhaustion

Once all of this is over, I’m down for the count for the rest of the day. It puts such a strain on my mind and body that I am super tired. The last thing I want to do is work, socialize, go anywhere, or do anything. It’s not fun.

Of course, tiredness comes with the package as a whole. Anxiety makes me feel tired all the time and having an attack just makes it worse.

Overall, anxiety attacks aren’t fun and I know people experience different things when they have an attack. I also know some are more severe than others. This is what I usually go through when I have an anxiety attack. Luckily, as I said before, I haven’t had one in a while. Usually, I tend to get them in the middle of the night too so at least it doesn’t interfere with work or anything else during the day. It doesn’t make it any less annoying though.

Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Going To The Movies [Mental Health Mondays]

When it comes to anxiety, some triggers for myself are known and some aren’t. Going to the movies is one of those known triggers for me. In fact, movies, in general, can be a trigger for me. However, I finally went to the movie theater for the first time in forever a few months ago.

Mental Health Monday: Going To The Movies | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Why Movies?

Honestly, I have no idea why movies are a trigger for me. I’m not one for blood and gore and, I think, with the more serious kinds of movies, not knowing what to expect or what will happen throws me off. I used to be able to watch superhero movies like Iron Man with ease and now that kind of stuff bothers me. I still watch them though because I love those movies, but I can only take one or two movies at a time.

I can watch PG-13 movies to a certain point, but I’ve never watched a rated R movie before (not willingly, at least). Needless to say, I can’t and will never do horror. There are exceptions, of course, though when watching a movie for the first time, it can be rough for me.

Why they’re a trigger for me, I don’t know. I think a lot of it stems from school. We’d watch movies that, I personally believe, were not age-appropriate. In ninth grade, my biology teacher gave the substitute a movie for us to watch and it was similar to America’s Funniest Home Videos but it was called That’s Gotta Hurt and was totally bloody and people were getting hurt and screaming. It was not entertaining in the least bit. The sub happened to be the most infamous one among all the students and he refused to let me go to the nurse thinking I was trying to get out of class… because we were totally busy, right?

Long story short, I had an anxiety attack and passed out in front of the class.

More Examples

In eighth grade, we watched a rated R movie about some war and I have certain bloody scenes embedded in my mind.

In fifth grade, we watched Pirates of the Carribean. I love that movie now, but at the time, I was deathly afraid of the pirates and skeletons. I spent that whole time with my eyes closed.

In third grade, that was when 9/11 tragically happened. My teachers were in a panic and, rightfully so, couldn’t focus on work. They brought in the TVs to the classrooms and we watched it all happen on live TV. Their reasoning was that it was “history in the making.” Of course, they didn’t mean that in a good way. I can’t begin to imagine what people went through who were actually present and had loved ones pass away. However, for an eight-year-old watching that live on TV… it was pretty scarring.

Needless to say, whenever I saw a TV in the classroom, I immediately felt anxiety to the point where I would fake being sick or lie to my teachers and tell them my parents didn’t allow me to watch whatever it was we were watching.

I Shied Away From Movies

Throughout the years, I became more and more distant to movies. Cartoon movies and such are totally fine but rated R and some rated PG-13 movies along with live-action or even CGI are tough for me to watch. Despite all that I just said, I still don’t entirely understand why. Again, I think it may be the unknown of what’s going to happen in the movie but I haven’t pinpointed the exact reasoning.

This grew to affect the movie theater as well. I was never one for loud noises, crowds, or the dark – all of which can describe a movie theater. I stopped going to the theater when Fantastic Four came out in 2015. I went with Kris and our friend and I ended up leaving in the middle of the previews. I never went back to the theater after that. Only on the occasion when a new Disney movie came out or something. Then I might go, but I usually waited for the DVD. That way, I could pause and walk away if I needed a break.

Aside from the occasionally Disney movie exception, there was one movie in particular that I was determined to see.

Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu came out in May 2019 and I couldn’t resist not seeing it. It’s Pokemon, which I adore, and I’ve been waiting for this movie for so long. CGI and live-action have been daunting to me because there can be some scary or trippy scenes. (And there was.) But, I made it work.

I’ve never forced myself to work on going to the movie theater. One thing I learned from therapy was to pick and choose my battles. School gave me anxiety, but I needed to work through that as it was stopping me from doing something important in my life. Going to the movies is just a fun activity that I could live without. Plus, there are DVDs and streaming. In fact, it saves me money in the long run.

I didn’t want my anxiety to stop me from seeing a Pokemon movie though. It was something I looked forward to for so long. Being in the gaming community, I would have sorely missed out on Twitter conversations talking about the movie. It’s not the same watching it on a DVD for the first time months after everyone has stopped talking about it.

I Was Prepared

We got our tickets early and went opening weekend so we could get the special Detective Pikachu Pokemon cards (another incentive for me to go). So, I knew it was coming for a few weeks. I was mentally preparing myself.

When I go to the movies, I have my worry stone and bring a cold drink and a snack. The food helps me focus on something else if I need a distraction from the big screen in front of me. For Detective Pikachu, I hid an entire bag of cheese pretzels in my backpack – they were so good!

I sat in between Kris and our friend Nickie and we were also in the back, which I prefer if I need to step outside for some air. I also had two other friends with me to cuddle with – Detective Pikachu himself and Psyduck.

Kris and I went to Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks before the movie and I found plush toys from the movie. Psyduck talks and Detective Pikachu, oddly enough, doesn’t. I got both of them though because Psyduck is one of my favorite Pokemon and Detective Pikachu is the title character. ($40 later…)

I had both plushes in my lap throughout the movie (I even brought them into the restaurant with us for dinner before the movie). I had anxiety, yes. That was to be expected. However, when the movie actually started, all of that seemed to go away.

I’m Still Anti-Movie Theaters

After that, I’ve gone back to the theater to see Toy Story 4 and that’s it. I had a good time at Detective Pikachu, but I’m still not thrilled of the idea of going to a movie theater. As fun as seeing Detective Pikachu was, it took a lot out of me. I’m going to continue picking and choosing my battles.

But at least I can say I won that one.

Mental Health Monday: Going To The Movies | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Can you relate to any of this? What was the last movie you saw at the theater? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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Getting Out Of A Funk [Mental Health Mondays]

We’re back with another Mental Health Month talking about getting out of a funk. I’ve been absent for a bit so I thought I’d share some things I did to get out of my funk.

Mental Health Monday: Getting Out Of A Funk | Anxiety | Mental Health Matters | Mental Health Awareness | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | RachelPoli.com

Getting Out Of A Funk

An Accidental Break

I didn’t mean to take a hiatus. I knew I needed to take a step back but I didn’t mean to disappear for a bit. I was still working off and on but not nearly as much as I normally do. This isn’t a complaint – it’s definitely something I needed. It’s interesting to me how your mind and body just seem to know what’s best for you. I had no motivation, no inspiration, and honestly, I didn’t care that I wasn’t blogging or writing. I took the hint and, even though I still tried to work, the rest of me shied away from it.

So, yeah. I disappeared for about a month. Actually, I think it was over a month. I think my hiatus had started before I announced it because I didn’t realize I was on a hiatus. Even when I announced it, I’m pretty sure I said, “I’m not taking a hiatus.” Well… that turned out well.

Giving Up Social Media

One of the things I needed to do to get away from it all and take a break was to get away from social media. Sure, I still occasionally scrolled through Twitter and Instagram. I checked my personal Facebook from time to time. I never posted though. (My feed on Twitter and Instagram look really weird.) I stuck to the shadows, never engaged in conversation, and didn’t bother to post so people would start a conversation. I didn’t have any blog posts to promote at the time, so that was one less thing I needed to worry about as well. While it was weird to be watching my social media from afar, not posting or replying, it was a nice break. I wasn’t using it as much and it freed up so much more of my time.

What I’m Doing Now

With all that said, I’m back. I’m back to posting regularly on Twitter and Instagram. I’m engaging in conversations again. I’m participating and co-hosting #TheMerryWriter again with my good, patient friend, Ari Meghlen, as well as helping out with the #85K90 Twitter. I’m promoting my blog posts again as well as my writing. I’m talking about everyday life. I’m reading and engaging in other posts. So, what exactly has changed other than the fact that I took a break from all this for a month?

Believe it or not, I don’t post in “real time.” I use Buffer, like most bloggers, to set up scheduled Twitter and Instagram content to promote blog posts, books, and more. I have the Buffer Pro Plan in which I can schedule 100 posts per social media account at a time. I had my Twitter set up that I needed to sit down each week and set up my posts. This took up a lot of my time. I now have it set up so that I can sit down once a month and get my Twitter set up for the upcoming month. This has saved me so much time and sanity.

Of course, that’s just general promotion. I’m still on social media in real time talking engaging with others and talking about my day and things like that. But that’s another difference – I actually have time to do that now.

Blogging Break

I didn’t mean to stop blogging and I certainly didn’t mean to stop writing. However, there were so many things overwhelming me at the time and I felt like I was going to explode. I publish a blog post every day and that eventually takes a toll on you. I love publishing every day and toyed with the idea of cutting back on posting, but I honestly really like having content every day. So, where do I go from here? How can I continue this without burning myself out?

I’ve always wanted to be a month ahead. My Short Story Sunday and Writing Prompts are always done the year before. So, really, I only have five posts to write each week. I have a few monthly features – the quotes, mental health, healthy writer, and more – that I can write ahead of time as well. If you think about it, it’s only 12 posts a year. I actually got a good chunk of it done already. I just need to create the graphics, schedule it on WordPress, and figure out a sharing plan. So, instead of sitting down one day a week and doing the posts weekly and trying to squeeze in an extra here and there (I never end up sitting down each week – I’m constantly working on the blog). I said, screw June and got to work on July instead.

What I’m Doing Now

I’m actually blogging a month ahead. I made a list of “Summer Goals” for myself of things I want to get done in June, July, and August. During the month of June, even though I wasn’t posting on the blog, I was setting up the blog for July. I wrote the blog posts, gave my pages a make-over, and more. Of course, there’s still some work to be done that I’m working on, but for the most part, July is all set. Now I can start working on August’s content so that, I’ll be ahead.

In addition, different kinds of posts will be coming. During this break, I thought of so many other ideas for blog posts. This will no longer be a strictly writing and reading blog, but some lifestyle posts sprinkled in along with other things. I hope this keeps the content fresh and interesting for all of us.

Creative Block

No, I didn’t exactly have writer’s block. I still wanted to write, but I just didn’t want to write anything I was working on. Plus, I wanted to be creative, but I didn’t want to use the written word to do so. I wanted to work on my photography or find some DIY crafts to try. I wanted to create new skills for myself, try and learn something new and different. I flip-flopped so many times wondering what I wanted to do. Did I want to try something completely new? Or work on something I already had? The DIY section on Pinterest was y best friend for quite a while.

The thing is, I never actually did any of it. I bought some things to create something, but I never ended up doing anything with it. I still plan to in the near future, but I actually ran out of time to use it due to real life happenings. With that said, the planning was fun and I have that as a fall back if I ever get stressed and need a break from my other creative projects. In the end, though, it somehow put me back into the writing mood.

What I’m Doing Now

I don’t know why or how – maybe it was just the fact I took a month off. Maybe it’s because it’s Camp NaNo time this month. Maybe my characters have been impatient with me and are finally giving me a kick in the pants. Or maybe it’s all the Marvel movies I’ve been watching lately. Whatever it is, I’m writing again. And I have so many new ideas as well.

The thing is, even though I had been writing and going through the motions, I haven’t had any new novel ideas in a really long time. Normally, I start many projects and don’t know what to work on. But it’s been at least a year since I’ve come up with a new novel idea. Which is totally unlike me. Now, I’m rolling in ideas. I sat down and created a brand new novel timeline for myself for the rest of this year and into 2020.

I explained it to my sister through Discord, sending her a huge, long paragraph explaining my plans. Her response? “Wow, that’s a lot… Glad you’re starting to sound like yourself again.”

We all know I plan and over-plan things and this has felt good. It’s made me get back my mojo and I’m eager to get back to work.

Getting Out Of A Funk – What’d I Actually Do?

I don’t really know. I explained it all. I feel good. I don’t know what I did along the way to caused me to bounce back. This past month has been horrendous for my anxiety and, for a while, I thought all of this hard work – everything I’ve built since 2012 – was done. I wasn’t sure if I was going to come back at all.

But, I think, deep down, something inside me has other plans. I’m glad I was able to work through this on my own (with some support from family, of course) and I’m happy to be back to my normal self.

How’s my anxiety? Still present. But I feel much better than I have been.

How do you do when getting out of a funk? Also, tell me how you’ve been lately. Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Nothing’s Wrong With Me [Mental Health Mondays]

I’ve had Generalized Anxiety Disorder since I was 16 – at least, that’s when I was diagnosed with it. I’m halfway to 26 and I feel like I’m just coming to terms with the fact that nothing’s wrong with me.

Mental Health Mondays: Nothing's Wrong With Me | Mental Health Matters | Mental Health | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Somedays I’m Rough Around The Edges

There are days where I feel like I’m totally out of my element. I don’t feel like talking to anyone, but I feel lonely. Little things bother me, I take what people say the wrong way, I have mood swings. My mind is always spinning and I can’t stop thinking about things that are not too big of a deal.

But Somedays I’m More Down To Earth

Yet, there are some days where I feel the complete opposite. I might ignore text messages one day and the following day I try to talk to everyone in my contacts. Part of this is because I feel bad for ignoring them earlier, but it’s mostly because I actually want to talk to people. I feel good enough to engage in conversation.

Somedays I’m Sad

There are days when I get out of bed and move straight to the couch. I’ll try to get writing or blogging done, but I stare at my computer screen instead. I want to cry, though there’s nothing to cry about. I get zero things done during the day and at the end of the day, I’m angry at myself for not getting anything accomplished. Yes, I know it’s good to take a day off and take breaks, but my mind doesn’t see it that way sometimes.

But Somedays I’m Happy

Yet, there are some days where I’m all over the place. I’m extremely happy and bouncy for no reason. I get everything on my to-do list done and then some. I’m talkative, I’m awake, and I want to be around people.

Every Day I’m Me

Everyone goes through mood swings. Everyone has good days and bad days. We all feel like we have it worse than everyone else – and for some, that’s true. But we also have it better than someone else as well. We just don’t realize it.

So, yeah. Somedays I’m easy to be around and other days I’m not. But it’s me all the same.

Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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All About Worry Stones [Mental Health Monday]

When I was younger, I was always interested in stones and gems. Though I never knew much about them, I just thought they were pretty. I remember going on vacation with my family over the summer and getting those small, velvet string bags and shoving as many brightly colored rocks in there as I could. I never knew they really had much of a meaning.

Mental Health Monday: All About Worry Stones | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

What Is A Worry Stone?

Worry stones are smooth gemstones that are often in an oval shape with a thumbprint. It’s made to be rubbed in between your thumb and fingers to help calm you down and is often used for anxiety relief. Of course, not all worry stones come like that. And a worry stone can be anything you want it to be – anything that you find comfort in.

How I Learned About Worry Stones

When I was in therapy and recently diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, my therapist mentioned getting a worry stone or something of the kind for me. She thought it would bring me comfort as they were trying to step foot back into my high school. Of course, I have no idea what she was talking about. She had a small rock, nothing like the worry stone I described above, but she let me borrow it.

My mom had found a red, heart-shaped stone we had in the house and gave that to me to use. I had both and kept my therapist’s in my pocket and the one my mom gave me in my backpack since it was too big and heavier to fit in my pocket. I don’t know why or how, but it helped. For some reason, knowing I had those small objects made me feel better.

My Own Worry Stone

I had given my therapist her worry stone back the next time I saw her. I had the one my mom had given me and I was thinking of looking into getting my own anyway. Shortly after, my neighbor on the other side of the block (we’re not very close, but we talk to her once in a while), stopped by my house and gave my mom and small, oval-shaped worry stone made from rose quartz. Her two kids (both are younger than me) have anxiety and use worry stones. When she heard from the grapevine (meaning my whole neighborhood seemed to know I was having a rough time) that I had anxiety, she had gotten me a worry stone saying it helped her kids a lot.

Rose Quartz is pale pink stone (like the ones in the photo above) and is said to give off energy pertaining to love, happiness, and passion. I was so touched that this neighbor had thought of me and went out of her way to pick me out a worry stone despite us not being very close.

I kept that stone in my pocket every single day. Until I accidentally broke it.

Jasper Worry Stone

Apparently, Rose Quartz has grooves in them looking like cracks. They’re not cracks, but they’re fragile enough to be like cracks, so guess what’ll happen if you drop it on the floor? I had that particular worry stone for a few years and had it in my pocket every day. It was special, not just because it helped with my anxiety, but because it was given to me from someone special.

I was away for the weekend with my family. I had gone into the bathroom to take a shower. I took the worry stone out of my pocket and placed it on the sink counter – except I missed. The stone fell and hit the tiled floor splitting into two even pieces. I was so upset. Luckily, we happened to be near a shopping area and one store was an elemental store.

It was cool, it had Harry Potter stuff, Tarot cards, gemstones, and more. They had a decent selection of worry stones, though they were completely out of rose quartz. I got a brown stone (I believe it’s a Jasper stone, but I honestly can’t remember). It’s thinner than the one I had, but was oval and had thumbprint.

I didn’t feel the same effect having that one as opposed to my rose quartz one. I wasn’t sure if that was because I wasn’t used to it or if it was because I felt so bad I had broken the rose quartz one.

Some Bad News

Or it might have been because, the day we got home from that weekend trip, a day or two after my stone broke, we found out my neighbor – the one who had given me the stone – had cancer. It was a rare cancer and it a late stage. They weren’t expecting her to live much longer. I’m not superstitious, but for some reason, I felt as though my worry stone breaking was sort of an omen.

I never got rid of the broken stone. I still have both pieces and they’re sitting on the shelves above my bed with my other worry stones. I thought, if I had thrown the pieces away, it would have been the end of my neighbor. It sounds weird, I know, but that’s how I felt.

I’m happy to stay she’s still here with us and cancer-free. It took her a few years, but she won the battle. I still won’t be throwing out those pieces. Superstitions aside, it’s special to me and was my first worry stone.

A Collection of Worry Stones

I now have five worry stones. Three rose quartz, not including the broken on, the Jasper stone, and a white stone. (I bought the white one after I bought the Jasper stone. I figured having a back up would be a good idea in case I accidentally dropped another stone.) I bought another rose quartz stone, similar to the one I had before because the rose quartz seemed to make me feel the best.

I got two other rose quartz stones from a friend. Once he found out I dropped my first one, he immediately ordered me a new one, unknown to me. He ended up ordering two because when the first one arrived, it was a bigger circle (as you can see in the picture above) and he thought it was too big. So he ordered another. So, I have two rose quartz stones that were the same size as my original plus the Jasper and white one.

I like the big one though. I often wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety attacks and holding onto my worry stone will help me fall back to sleep. Of course, I tend to lose them under my pillow or in my sheets. I use the bigger one at night and I don’t lose it in my bed. I can easily find it when I wake up the next morning.

I’m Grateful

I’m lucky to have so many people who care about me enough to hunt down small stones for me just to make me feel better. I have a worry stone in my pocket at all times every single day. Though, I’m at the point where I don’t need it on me at all times. If I’m wearing pants with no pockets, I can get away with leaving my stone in my backpack or wallet. But it’s still near me in some way.

I find it interesting that a small stone can help you and make you feel better, but I’m glad it does.

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My Diagnosis Story [Mental Health Monday]

Welcome to another Mental Health Monday. Today, I’m going to talking about when I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Mental Health Monday: My GAD Diagnosis Story | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Heading To High School

I was never a social butterfly, especially in school. High school was hard. I just wanted to get through each day and make it to the end of the year which would eventually lead to graduation. I felt like I was in a rut – wake up, go to school, do homework, go to bed. I also had a job and babysat in the afternoons as well so there wasn’t a whole lot of room for downtime. But, I much preferred to go to work and babysit than go to school.

I don’t remember middle school being like this. I didn’t really like middle school either, but I had a good group of friends. That group was lost by the time I headed into high school. One friend moved towns so she went to a different high school. Another friend had decided to go to a trade school. One friend stopped talking to me because he deemed himself a “cool high school” kid as he tried to fit in. Another friend did the same – except she didn’t have many other friends. So, as she tried to find her place, she remained “friends” with me. But she wasn’t happy about it.

(There was another friend in the group and she and I are still friends to this day. So something good came out of this.)

Anyway, when I was a freshman my sister was a senior. I often hung out with her and her friends because they were better than hanging out with than people in my class. This particular friend did the same because she thought hanging with seniors made her cool. However, she was going through some difficult times so when my sister and her friends graduated, she was completely lost. So was I, to be honest.

But instead of sticking together, she wanted nothing to do with me… but she still hung around me anyway.

Junior Year

Halfway through my high school career, it was the first day back from winter break (if I remember correctly… it was January, I remember that much). My alarm woke me up and something flipped a switch. I turned off the alarm, rolled over, and went back to sleep. My mom came up to wake me a while later. I told her I wasn’t going to school. She assumed I needed a mental health day and let me skip.

But each morning was the same. I woke up just to go back to sleep. Eventually, I didn’t even set my alarm anymore. I would only get out of bed until it was “safe.” Meaning, I’d be so late for school and everyone else was at school or work so I’d have no way of getting to school anyway.

My poor mother was at a loss. Even I was at a loss. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t bring myself to go to school. Even when my mom said, “Your job is to go to school,” “You need to go to school,” or, “Why don’t you want to go to school?” I responded logically in my head. “I know my job is to go to school,” “I know I need my high school diploma,” and, “I have no idea why I don’t want to go.” But out loud I simply replied, “I don’t want to.”

Doctor Appointments

My mom took me to go see my primary care doctor. She too was at a loss and was kind of harsh about the situation. She asked what I did all day. I told her I’d clean the house, I’d get my writing done, sometimes I would just chill and get the chance to sit and watch TV. I was still going to my job and still babysitting. I just didn’t want to go to school. That was totally not okay in my doctor’s book. She told my mother that if I wasn’t going to go to school, then I wasn’t allowed to do anything else.

Needless to say, we got a second opinion. When we went back to the doctor’s, we saw someone different. She was more sympathetic and in tune to what we all had to say. That fact that I had no idea why I didn’t want to go to school was totally okay with her.

They wondered if I had depression, but because going to school was the only thing I refused to do, it was confusing to them. If I had depression, I most likely wouldn’t want to write or go to work. So, the doctor referred us to a therapist.

Going To Therapy

Our neighbor was in therapy for anxiety and she recommended her therapist to us. I saw her for a few years and it was the best thing that I ever did. But still, it took a while to figure things out.

A lot of things came to light. I explained to her about my “friend” – who thought I was lying to her about why I wasn’t coming to school, thus spread rumors about me that I had died, and so on. I explained to her how most of my teachers weren’t on my side. My high school classes were split into two levels – academic and honors (honors being a higher level than academic). I was in all academic my freshman year and even though I had As and Bs, I had to argue to get into honors classes. My teachers all thought honors would be too hard for me.

So, when all this happened, they dropped me down to academic classes because they assumed I was too overwhelmed with the work, despite my grades. I had trouble with oral presentations, but I still got good grades in all my classes (except math. Math is awful, but I was never in honors for math and I knew that was the right choice). My point is, if my teachers didn’t believe in me, then why was going to going to spend six hours a day with them?

One of my teachers even spoke about my grades to this “friend” of mine. My friend called me saying, “You had better get your work in because she doesn’t know what grade to give you for your report card.” This was the friend who told my classmates I had died. This was my friend who I was there for when she went through her own mental health issues in eighth grade and was now thinking I was lying to her. This was the friend who saw my issues as a gossip-fest. This was the friend who never once called me this entire time to see how I was feeling – expect to “scold” me about my schoolwork.

Now, mind you, at this point, I was going after school for an hour to be tutored and get my work done. This particular teacher, my English teacher ironically, was the only teacher who had not given me work. How can I pass in non-existent work? And then she was talking to my classmates about my grades.

It was shortly after this that we all mutually – my mom, therapist, and I – agreed that I would not be going back to high school. A lot of things came to light and everyone realized that my high school simply wasn’t the best place for me. My therapist also thought that I was just the type of person to know what I wanted and high school couldn’t give that to me.

Some Good Things Did Come From This

I was ready to drop out. I didn’t think I had any other choice. My therapist actually found a Dual Enrollment program at my local community college. I would be able to go to that college and take classes for a year to fill up the rest of my high school requirements. Yet, the credits will also go towards a college degree. So, my first year of college killed two birds with one stone. I still graduated high school and got my diploma and I was already halfway done with my Associate’s degree.

I was able to stop being friends with that particular person. Which is kind of sad in a way because we were friends since third grade. But, looking back, she was even like that in elementary school. It was just something I never noticed.

I’ve learned a lot too. Everything I do now – the blogging, the writing, business, and marketing – it’s all stuff I taught myself through research and hands-on experience with trial and error. Maybe I should have gone to college for business or something of the like, but I’ve come so far myself. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite all I went through to get to this point.

It’s Still There

I still struggle with my anxiety on a day to day basis. Some days are definitely harder than others. It still affects my relationships. I have a hard time running errands sometimes. It actually took me a really long time to understand the anxiety myself. This post came out a lot different than I intended it to, but it still felt good to write.

Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? [Mental Health Monday]

Here we are, already into February for 2019. This year is going to fly by just like the past few previous years. If you’ve been staying up to date with me, you’ll know that I have added a new feature onto the blog for this year – Mental Health Monday. This is the second post in the series, the first talking about why I’m opening up about it.

In that post I talked about how I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). So many people believe “anxiety” is a loose term, but it’s actually an umbrella for multiple types of anxiety. For a long time, I thought anxiety was just one category as well. I mean, we all have a little anxiety inside of us – whether we’re about to take a big test in school or we need to stand up on stage and do a public speaking event.

In the end though, some of us get it worse than others.

Mental Health Monday: What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? | Mental Health | Anxiety | Anxiety Disorders | GAD | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Types of Anxiety Disorders

As I stated before, anxiety occurs in all of us in some form of another. Most of the time it’s passed over as just being nervous for a certain test but we all get the sensation once in a while. In that sense, anxiety can be used loosely, but there are anxiety disorders such as:

  • Social Anxiety – when a person has intense fear of social situations. This can be eating in public, being among a crowd of people, or making small talk with as little as one or two people. Social anxiety makes you feel like people are criticizing whatever you’re doing or saying. You might say something wrong or stupid and end up embarrassed going home at the end of the night lying wide awake thinking, “Why did I have to say that…?”
  • Panic Disorder – when a person has panic attacks that are intense and uncontrollable combined with physical symptoms.
  • Specific Phobias – we all have something we’re afraid of though, for some, it can be pretty intense and bring on anxiety attacks and throw your whole day off.
  • OCD & PTSD – while these aren’t considered anxiety disorders, anxiety may be present in both of these.

And finally, there’s…

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

This anxiety disorder is when someone feels excessive worry and is anxious about many different things. We overthink and plan out every simple thing and plan ahead even more in case something goes right or something goes wrong. Most often than not, we assume something will go wrong and worry, worry, worry about it 24/7. We believe it will go wrong so much that we tend to end up making things go wrong. Because, in our heads, it already went wrong before it even started.

This has effected many aspects of my life throughout the years – school, work, relationships – you know, everything that’s important in life. However, before I was diagnosed, I thought I was just weird and simply overthinking things. I couldn’t understand how to get my mind to stop. Then, when I was diagnosed… I still didn’t get it.

It Took Me a Long Time to Understand GAD

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I’ve come to terms with GAD and truly figured out what it meant for me to have it. I’ve had GAD since I was 16 – about nine years now – and it wasn’t until last year, 2018, that I realized what goes on in my head.

I mean, truth be told, I may never fully understand it, but I know more now than I used to. Even after I was diagnosed with GAD, I thought it was just the “official” term for “anxiety.” You know, professionals sounding fancy. Apparently, I have more than that.

I’ve always been a worrier and never showed it too much when I was younger because, even though I was truly freaking out, deep down I knew there was nothing to be worried about. Then something flipped a switch inside my brain in high school and all of the sudden I had GAD. I’ll get into that story in the next Mental Health Monday post, but it’s interesting to me how I’ve gone my whole life like this and didn’t have a clue that there was something more going on in my mind.

What Do You Mean “Worry?”

I worry over stupid stuff. I mean, I guess it’s not necessarily “stupid,” but in hindsight it doesn’t seem like it matters.

Anything I do or say, I worry is “wrong.”

For example, if I text someone and they don’t reply for a while, I don’t immediately think they’re at work and can’t reply. I don’t think they’re hanging out with friends and just haven’t checked their phone. I don’t think they’re phone is on silent and they just didn’t notice the text ping through. I don’t even think they’re busy in any way, shape, or form.

My immediate thought is that I said something wrong, stupid, selfish, embarrassing, what have you. My immediate thought is that they’re not replying because they saw my text, gave it a weird face, and put their phone down because they don’t know how to answer me.

Or worse, they’re ignoring me because they suddenly hate me despite us hanging out the night before.

This is sometimes why it takes me a while to reply back. I’m afraid to say something stupid and I need to craft the perfect response – or sometimes I’m just having a really bad day and can’t talk to people. By me doing that, I’m doing the exact same thing I’m afraid you’ll do to me… see the vicious cycle?

It Makes Me Feel Self-Centered

Now, I know people get busy. I know the world doesn’t revolve around me. I know people have other friends and family than just me. So, when I get upset or worried that someone doesn’t reply, I immediately feel guilty for thinking like that in the first place. Or I’ll text them again and again after a little while. I’ll panic wondering if my text messages are even going through. When they do reply, I’ll apologize and feel upset for bothering them.

Which is another thing. If I text someone first, I feel like I’m bothering that person even though I know they don’t have to respond. If they don’t respond, then I assume they hate me. So, I rarely text people first. But if someone doesn’t text me first, I assume they hate me and don’t want to talk to me.

See the whole self-centered thing? I’m getting a headache just writing this.

Texting Isn’t The Only Example

Texting is just one way my mind goes in circles. I think that’s a good enough example for now though.

My original point of this post was to explain what exactly GAD is and how it effects my way of thinking. A lot of my real life friends know I have “anxiety” but don’t understand that I have GAD and when I tell them, they get confused and don’t know what it is. I’ve been diagnosed with this for nine years and, like I said, I just fully understood it myself just last year. So, it’s hard when no one else seems to have a clue what’s going on inside your head.

Not that I expect them all to understand. They can’t put themselves in my shoes and I wouldn’t want them to. But now, at this point in my life, I think it’s time I start sharing and explaining things more. Maybe it will help in the long run.

Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Why I’m Opening Up [Mental Health Monday]

Mental health is important. It’s everywhere and effects a lot of people. Some people you know about and others don’t open up about it for whatever reason or they hide it. We’ve been talking about mental health more in recent months and it’s something that should always be talked about. There’s no shame in mental health – just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of yourselves in that sense.

Yet, mental health is a tricky subject. There are still people out there who don’t “agree” with mental health or don’t think it “exists.” This is bizarre to me, but maybe that’s because I have mental health issues myself that it’s hard for me to put myself in someone’s else’s shoes and believe it’s “all in my head.”

Mental Health Monday is a new feature I’m adding to the blog in 2019 that will be posted once a month. I’ve started talking about my mental health more in 2018 – though I’ll admit it was just a handful of times on Twitter (I think). I wanted to talk about it more in 2019 and beyond. I also wanted to add more “personal” posts on this blog and mental health is a huge topic and it’s a huge part of who I am.

Mental Health Monday: Why I'm Opening Up | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Why I’m Opening Up

Like I said, I’ve never really talked about my mental health before. Despite wanting to do more personal posts and letting you guys get to know me more, I wanted to talk about my mental health on the blog – for the whole Internet and world to see – for one reason only.

I’m ready.

I have been diagnosed since I was 16 – so it’s been about nine years. If I remember correctly, I was diagnosed in January or February. Needless to say, it’s been a long time. Aside from a few close people who knew, I never talked about it. Even though I had been officially diagnosed by a professional, part of me still wasn’t sure what was “wrong” with me.

When I quit my job almost two years ago now, I’ve done quite a bit of soul searching and – this will sound weird but – I’ve done a lot of research on myself and my mental health. This has led me to become ready to be more open about my mental health and about who I am as a person.

This is who I am.

I don’t know what made me decide to do the research. I don’t know why I had waited so long. I don’t know why I had decided to do it after I quit my job. Maybe it was because I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. I didn’t know how to get from point A to point B. I made a huge decision. I took a big risk. Maybe it was because of that I decided to do some soul searching. Not to mention, a lot of things have happened in my life that was effected by my anxiety. I took the time to finally sit down and figure out what goes on in my mind.

I did the research, which consisted of reading articles from The Mighty as well as going on Pinterest. It was the biggest eye-opener I’ve ever had. Every article I read was me. Everything that was listed in those blog posts were things I think about every day. They were things I do, things I say. Little quirks I have are “normal” for someone like me. It was weird for me to realize that because even though I’ve been diagnosed and I know it’s a common thing, I always thought I was the only one.

It made me realize, this is who I am. This is normal for me. I’m normal, even if others don’t always see that.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

I’ll save the diagnosis story for another time, but I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. A lot of people think there’s just “anxiety” and that’s it, but there are various kinds of anxiety. Some get it worse than others, some are diagnosed with different types. I don’t have just anxiety, I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I’ll explain more about what GAD is in the next post.

Until then, I hope you enjoy this series. I’m looking forward to talking about it. I’m ready to open up.

I hope you enjoy this new series on the blog. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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My Trip To Canada [Life]

If any of you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you saw a couple of tweets from me at the beginning of the month about me being away. My blog was still running as scheduled, but I wasn’t reading or commenting on anyone else’s blogs. I wasn’t answering comments on this blog and I was barely on social media.

I was in Canada for EGLX – Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo – for my other blog, Double Jump, and also for myself.

My sister Kris and I have been wanting to go to a gaming convention or expo for a really long time now. Pretty much all of the YouTube gamers we watch was going to be there. They ran a couple of panels and put on a show. This was an opportunity we knew we couldn’t pass up.

I don’t do anything spontaneous. I’m an organized person, I have slight OCD, and I need to have a plan for the day, the week, the future, everything. I know plans change and things come up and I’m a pretty flexible person, but I’ll admit there have been a few situations where I’ve been agitated or upset because something didn’t go as I planned.

Being spontaneous is a good thing, shaking things up is a good thing. But sometimes my brain doesn’t think so.

I haven’t been on an airplane since I was 3. I don’t remember it and just tell people I’ve never flown before. So many things have changed since then anyway. I also have never been out of the country. I’ve never taken a trip without my parents. Yes, I’m 24, but I still need my mom and dad.

So you can imagine my reaction when Kris burst into our office one day and said, “By the way, we’re going to Canada!”

I should also mention I’ve never really planned a vacation either. I mean, I have, but with my parent’s help or my aunt and uncle’s help from the times we’ve gone to Disney with them.

Kris and I had to figure out how to book a flight, get our passports, figure out money and currency exchange, find our way around the airport, decide how to get from the airport to the hotel, the hotel to the convention center, and back again. It’s a lot. I knew it was going to be a lot but it’s one of those things you don’t realize how much work it is until you actually do it yourself.

But I did it. Kris and I did it.

Canada EGLX | Video Games | Gaming | Travel | RachelPoli.com

Why am I explaining all of this even though this trip was mainly for my video game blog? Well, I wanted to explain that we’re capable of doing much more than we think. This trip was a huge eye-opener for me.

I have generalized anxiety disorder. I won’t go into too much detail about it. Maybe someday I will, but for now, I’ll leave you with this: some days I do well, other days it kills me.

Being on an airplane, for example, flares up my anxiety. I know a lot of people get like this with flying, so it’s pretty common.

I’m going to Disney in April where I will have to go on an airplane. The last few times I’ve gone, we’ve driven down there. I’ve been panicking and sometimes dreading going to Disney, the happiest place on earth because I need to go on an airplane.

What if the plane crashes? What if we, for some reason, can’t get home? What if I get claustrophobic? What if I have an anxiety attack in the middle of the flight? What if I have to go to the bathroom or start to feel sick? What if someone else on the plane gets sick?

There’s always that “what if” for everything in life, but now I know what to expect. Now I’m actually excited to go.

I had a great time on the plane. The flight was only an hour and a half and it went by so fast. Yes, I did have an anxiety pill, but I honestly don’t know if I really needed it. I got cookies and apple juice on the flight which was really good. I watched the map and followed where the plane was and where it was going on the way there. On the way back I watched Mrs. Doubtfire and had pretzels and apple juice.

On the way to Canada, I sat in the aisle because I was nervous the window would make me sick. I didn’t want to stare into the abyss to remind me of how high we were. On the way back, I sat by the window and loved watching the plane ascend and descend. I loved seeing the buildings from above. We were also sitting right next to the plane’s wing both ways so that was certainly cool to see as well. I’ve never seen a plane up close before.

I was also nervous about the expo itself. Kris and I were going to be in an unfamiliar place, a large room filled with, what seemed to be, a thousand people. It was crowded. It was loud. There was a lot going on. I don’t do well in those situations.

But I did it. I was fine and I had a good time. Sure, there were some moments I felt claustrophobic, but there were so many things to do and games to play, I was able to keep my mind off it and just focus on the good.

And I did this for three days in a row.

EGLX in Canada | Gaming | Travel | RachelPoli.com

I’ve realized something important about myself while going on that trip. I knew my anxiety was all in my mind, but this proved that it really is just in my mind.

I’ve always wanted to travel but never have because I was afraid to leave my house. I was afraid I’d die on the plane.

It was amazing to see all the art and talent of various people who share a love of video games. It was fantastic to see the YouTubers who have inspired me to do what I do today. (Our hotel room was right next door and across the hall from a couple of them!)

It may seem kind of silly, but even though I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school, these YouTubers have changed my life.

A few of them have anxiety and/or depression and talk openly about it which has helped me a lot. Their videos are funny and entertaining that I’ve watched them in the middle of the night a few times when I had too much anxiety and couldn’t sleep. They’re very open, kind, and welcoming to anyone and everyone no matter their race, sexuality, mental health, or anything.

They’re just a group of friends who do what they love for a living and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do – what I am doing.

I can relate to them on so many levels: working from home, doing what I love for a living, my mental health issues, my overall goals for why I do what I do, and more.

I want to inspire people the way they have inspired me. I want to make people laugh. I want to make people feel loved and welcome in this community I’ve been building with my blog (and beyond). I want people to feel safe and comfortable when they read my work or watch my videos (when I get the channel up and running).

I want people to look at me say, “If she can do that, I can do that” just like I’ve done with these YouTubers.

I want to explore the world and before going to Canada I didn’t realize that was a thing I could do. I did it because I wanted to see those YouTubers in person. (And also because Kris was able to pay for me… Thank you, Kris!)

I want to teach myself new things and I have been. I’ve been teaching myself filmmaking and video editing so I can start a YouTube channel for this blog (and also for Double Jump down the road). I’ve been drawing more. I’m not very good, but maybe I’ll get there in time. I want to publish books. I want to create a literary magazine or something similar. I want to create a video game.

That’s not even the half of it. There’s so much I want to do. I want to do it all. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But the possibilities are endless and my creativity can go as far as my imagination, which, I’ve come to realize, is pretty endless itself.

Canada seemed to be the first step for me. It opened a new world for me and I came to realize I can do more than what I think I can do.

Maybe someday Double Jump will have its own panel at a convention. No, I don’t want to be rich or famous, but I’d like to make an impact on people’s lives. (As well as make a living off it because… bills.)

Maybe someday my creative works – no matter what form, video, blog, writing, etc. – will inspire and help others.

Of course, I can’t give all the credit to those YouTubers and to the fact I went to Canada. I went to Canada and I do what I do because of the choices I’ve made and the way I’ve decided to spend my time.

I do what I do because there are so many people who visit my blog on a daily basis and actually care about what I have to say.

Canada's EGLX | Gaming | Travel | RachelPoli.com

This is a long post, probably the longest I’ve ever written on this blog. If you’ve read this far and you’re still reading, I applaud you. Thank you for reading this through.

I didn’t mean for this to be so long and corny, but it’s the truth and I felt it needed to be said. I had this realization through my trip and breaking out of my comfort zone, but there was also something else that happened to make me realize this.

The other thing that made me realize all this isn’t a happy story like Canada. It’s gotten me down for quite a while now. Though that’s a story for another day.

I’ll say this though: I’m happy where I am in life. I’m happy with the things I’m doing and the things I’m trying to do. My anxiety holds me back sometimes, but I figure it out. I have a good head on my shoulders (I think so, anyway). I have a good support system with friends and family who love and encourage me to do what I do. I’m a pretty lucky person.

But I guess I’ve rambled enough. Thank you for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for being here and taking this journey with me.

Have you ever taken a risk in life? Done something you didn’t think you could? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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I am thankful for my school. As much as I complain, I would not be where l am today without it. I am well-educated and have learned a lot over the years. School has opened my mind to many new things and because of that l want to learn more.

I am thankful my job, the people l work with, and my students. I work with wonderful people who are inspiring to me with all the care and knowledge they bring to the special education world. I love each and every one of my students. Despite their disabilities, they still smile every single day and strive to be independant and do the best they can. I always look forward to going to work and am truly lucky to be one of the few people in this world who actually love their job.

I am thankful for all the past jobs l’ve had. I have met so many people over the years, some good and some bad. However, that taught me the right things to say and do and also that some people are here to stay and some aren’t, but everyone comes into your life for a reason.

I am thankful for the “little things” that l have a warm bed to sleep in at night, food to fill my belly, and a house to keep me protected.

I am thankful for the money l have. I struggle sometimes, but l have the knowledge and control to spend money only on what l need and not what l want. Because of that, l am debt-free and able to pay for school out of my own pocket.

I am thankful for time. There are simply not enough hours in the day, but l am grateful for what l can get done each day. It teaches me how to be productive and organized.

I am thankful for the Internet. Without it l would not write as much as l do. I would not be able to blog, do research, or even my school work.

I am thankful for WordPress, this blog, and all my WordPress friends (you know who you are). I have met so many wonderful people through my blog. Everyone has taught me lot (especially about writing). I love you all for your care and support through my blog and aspiring writing career.

I am thankful for my writing. It means l am creative and have an active imagination. Plus, it’s a lot of fun and what l live for.

I am thankful for my anxiety. Without that l would not have found courage and strength in myself. I would not have learned to face my fears.

I am thankful for my church. They’re like my mini family. I am happy to teach sunday school at a great church with a lot of eager students.

I am thankful for my pets Chip the dog, Hunter the cat, Raph the turtle, and Nano the fish. I am lucky to have a great home with a lot of space to give these animals a loving family and long, healthy, happy lives. If l could get more, l would. I plan to someday.

I am thankful for my friends, past and present. People who l am no longer friends with have come and gone for their own reasons. They reminded me that if l don’t have anything nice to say l shouldn’t say anything at all. However, as much as you dislike someone, you should always be polite and pleseant to them. You never know what else they may be going through. My present friends teach me something new every day. They love me for who l am. They support me in everything l do, no matter how silly it sounds. I am lucky to have friends that l can call “family.”

I am thankful for my extended family. All my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins on both my mom’s side and my dad’s side of the family. I may not see them often, but they’re always there for us and are just a phone call away. I am lucky they are all in-state.

I am thankful for my immidiate family. My mom and dad, who l would be lost without. They have taught me how to be me and become a responsible adult. They taught me everything about life. My sister Kris who has always been there for me and supported me in everything l do. She listens to my writing ideas and plays video games upon video games with me. My sister Lisa who introduced me to the wonderful job l have now, always listens to my problems, and also introduced me to the “classics” such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Alfred Hitchcock, and my favorite Jerry Lewis. She’s always there to sit and watch a good movie with me. My new brother-in-law Nick, who has made his way into my family comfortably and fits right in. He’s interested in just about everything l’m interested in and really cares for Lisa and the rest of the family as his own.

I am thankful for me. All my strengths and weaknesses, my looks and personality, and all the ups and downs of my life. All that makes me who l am.

Today take a moment and think about what you’re thankful for and share it with the world. We all really are lucky for what we have. It’s time we recognize it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!