Anxiety Does Not Age Like Wine

When I was a kid, I was pretty fearless when it came to things that could actually kill me. I wasn’t afraid to climb things or jump off things or slide down things. If it looked like fun, I did it.

I was that monkey child that climbed up doorjambs to the top. I’d get on top of the monkey bars and just hang out. I flipped over and over on the flip bars–tho I guess they were pull-up bars? But what seven-year-old is doing pull-ups on a playground? I climbed rocks and boulders in Red Rock Canyon when my dad took me hiking. I road roller-coasters with abandon–the more upside-down loops the better! I leaned over the railing on top of the Eiffel Tower to look at the river below at age sixteen. These things didn’t scare me.

Then I got older.

I was never afraid of heights but I was always a little bit afraid of falling. But that didn’t stop me from doing things where, had I fallen, dire consequences awaited me at the bottom. When I was fifteen my boyfriend and I went to Magic Mountain and he super wanted to go on the flyer thing. It wasn’t a roller coaster. It was this sort of potato sack thing that was attached to a crane that hauled you up and up and up maybe a hundred feet in the air? Maybe more? Much, much more? Then, at the top, you hit a button that released a catch and you just… Dropped.

You’d fly over the crowd and swoop up and then back, a human pendulum.

I totally did it. But I fucking hated it. My boyfriend loved it. He laughed and pointed out how high we were getting and still going somehow. How tiny people were getting the higher we went. How high are we? Must be three hundred feet?! At twenty feet up I knew I’d made a terrible mistake. I was nearly in tears at the top. When they called out for Bravo Tower to go my boyfriend hit that button with so much glee and I just screamed.

Yes, I was fine and once we were swinging and not dead on the ground, I enjoyed it. But I knew then I’d never bungee jump, like, ever. That boyfriend went on to skydive for his eighteenth birthday.

But I was fine and I could still go on roller coasters and the top of the Eiffel Tower for years to come.

But with each year my fear of falling got a little worse and a little more worse. Until in the last six to eight years it’s really grabbed a hold of me.

That feeling when you fall? That drop in your gut. That weird tingling, horrible sensation at the small of your back? That. That’s what I get now. Not to mention the shortness of breath, the heart palpitations, the need to just close my eyes and wait until it’s over.

If we drive over a very high bridge that arcs, you know what I mean? I have to close my eyes. I feel that sensation in my back and I can see the car just sliiiding off the bridge. I went to the top of the Stratosphere in Vegas once and at the top they’ve designed the floors and windows so you kind of lean to look down. Couldn’t do it. I legit felt like someone was pushing me and I would just go through the window to the sidewalk far, far below. Those videos of people doing stupid shit on the edges of cliffs? Fuck no. Can’t watch. When we hang lights for the holidays and my husband leans over the edge of the roof to reach for something I have to hold on to him and lean back because otherwise I start screaming at him not to fall.

What’s weird though is I can be high up in a building, just don’t angle the windows so it looks like you’ll fall. I can fly in a plane and look out the window and marvel and not have even a tingle. I can stand on the top of our roof, just don’t lean over the edge. Phobias have no logic.

And I never know what’s going to set it off or not until I’m in the middle of something.

This past week our county fair was in town. I’m not a huge fan of it. I mean, I always think I want to go and then I do and I remember how insanely crowded it is and crazy expensive everything is and I hate it. But we got free tickets this year and I kinda wanted to go.

I wanted to see the fireworks and eat some bad food and I wanted to ride the Ferris wheel with my husband and look out at the ocean and hold hands.

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So we went. And we ate some incredible Mexican-style corn and the sun started to set and I said we should go to the Ferris wheel before it got dark so we bought tickets and got in line. I took pictures and bounced on the balls of my feet, so excited. I hadn’t been on the Ferris Wheel since I was a teenager.

I hadn’t been on the Ferris Wheel since I was a teenager.

As we got closer to the front of the line I was even more excited because I wasn’t freaking out. No anxiety attacks, no drop in my gut, no tingling in my back, no heart palpitations. I was fine! This was gong to be so much fun! I was going to see the fair from the tippy-top and look out over the ocean and hold hands with my husband and it was all going to be so romantic!

Then it was our turn. The mom and dad and their two children obviously under the age of ten got out of the carriage and we climbed in after them and I sat down next to my hubs and the thing swayed, as it’s wont to do. My back started to tingle. My breath caught.

Oh no.

The wheel started to turn and because they were letting people on we stopped. And went. And stopped again.

Oh no.

I had to close my eyes. I wasn’t holding my husband’s hand, I was gripping his arm with both of my hands, clutching him as the sensation in my back became overwhelming and I felt like I was falling.

“I hope they don’t stop us at the top.”

“Are you going to be okay?”

“I don’t know. I thought I was. I’m sorry.”

When someone has an anxiety or panic attack, they often apologize because we know, we know we’re ruining this for other people, not just us. This was my idea and now I was freaking the fuck out.

They were done loading people and we just started turning. Up and down. Then I realized we were cresting over the top a lot faster and smoother than I thought we would and I was able to loosen my grip on his arm.

“I think I’m okay. I think it might actually be passing.”

After the second smooth revolution, my gut unclenched and I wasn’t panting to catch my breath. On the third revolution, my back relaxed and that anticipation that I was about to fall slowly passed until I could actually, really relax and just enjoy the second half of the ride.

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I couldn’t believe it. The anxiety attack passed before the ride was over. I laughed. I almost cried. I’ve learned to just ride out these attacks and get through the activity but this was the first time that I got through it in time to enjoy the activity that brought on the attack.

It was amazing.

When we got off the ride I actually jumped up and down and said, “I did it! I got through it!” Even my husband, who has no idea what anxiety like this feels like, knew this was a big deal and he was so happy for me.

Now, I’m not sharing this to tell you to face your fears and you’ll get over them. Like I said, phobias know no logic. I’m just sharing this because it was awesome and such a big deal for me that I wanted to share.

Of course I don’t know when I’ll try something like that again and even if I do, I have no way of knowing if it’ll pass again. But it passed this time and that was fucking amazing.

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How to be Creative in the Chaos that is Now

Today is my day on the Spellbound Scribes Blog. Come check it out!

Spellbound Scribes

First, let me say that I am proud of Liv and Lyra sharing their posts the last two weeks. As authors and public figures it’s difficult to know whether or not to speak up about politics, always afraid of hurting our livelihoods for offending people. But I think we all know that things are just different now and we need to speak up and not fear reprisal. If you didn’t get a chance to check them out last month, please go have a quick read.

I do want to get back to talking about writerly things, but we cannot ignore the fact that the current climate has really had a hard, hard impact on writers. The constant chaotic news loop we’re stuck in takes so much out of us. Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, there is some new horror or frustration or just plain bullshit that has us…

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Summer Solstice and How I Lost a Year of My Life

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice. Now, I don’t get around to as much witchery as I’d like, but hubs and I are pretty good and dedicated to observing the two solstices and equinoxes. So, even after a pretty crummy week out of a pretty crummy month, we promised we would have a fire and a toast to the turning of the wheel.

If you follow me on Insta, you probably saw that we got a new fire table recently. The thing is so big that we needed to get rid of the picnic table we had. The table was old and rarely used, though our schoodle, Merlin, did enjoy sunbathing on it from time to time.

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And if you follow on Insta, you know that rather than just throwing the table out, we re-purposed it into a pretty cool bench.

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It was even Merlin-approved. The dude knows the table is gone and didn’t seem to care, as you can see.

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Now. Last night was not the first time we’ve all sat outside together around the new fire table. We’ve done it quite a few times in the last couple of months because we quite like it. We bring out two dog beds for both puppies, putting the tiny bed between the two chairs because, otherwise, Merlin has no chill.

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He knows the routine.

So, last night, we lit the fire, we raised a glass, and settled in. Merlin was standing opposite us on the other side of the table, staring at us. So I snapped my fingers and waved my hand and told him to come around the table to me — a command combo both he and his big brother understand.

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Merlin walked closer to the table. The obviously on fire table.

“No, Merlin. Around,” I said in my dog-command-voice and made the hand motion again.

Merlin peered over the edge of the table.

I set my glass down and leaned forward, starting to push out of the Adirondack chair. “Merlin, no.”

Then he jumped. ON THE TABLE THAT IS ON FUCKING FIRE.

“NO!” I screamed and I think hubs did too. And Merlin spun and kicked off the table, sending sparks into the air, like a cat fleeing water.

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The table is a glass fire table, which means no sparks. Nothing to catch fire. Except maybe fur. And, being that it is glass that is ON FIRE, means that glass is really fucking hot. But we both saw sparks burst in the air.

I dove to the puppy on the concrete and scooped him up and hugged him to my chest, hoping to smother anything that might be burning.

Reader: he was fine.

One paw smelled of singed hair, but there was no evidenced of burned fur or paw pad. But let me tell you, that dog is not a fan of being crushed in a bear-hug, so the fact that he didn’t wriggle and fight says a lot.

If you look closely, you can see the streaks in the dust where his paws were.

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Here, you can see a little divot in the glass where his paw hit (you might see the larger, amber colored glass under the more square, smokey quartz glass).

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So yeah. That’s how we rang in the turning of the wheel and how I’ll know, on  my deathbed that I probably still had a year to go if it wasn’t for this furball.

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(Picture taken this morning, pup obviously okay)

 

Behind the Scenes of Self Publishing–Paperback Edition

Today is my day on the Spellbound Scribes’ blog. Ever wonder what goes into self publishing a paperback book? Come check it out!

Spellbound Scribes

As you know, if you’ve been following along with my posts, I have a new release coming out on June 1st–less than a month away, EEEEEP!

Being self-published that means a few different things than it does for a traditionally published writer–including being able to try out a Friday release instead of the traditional Tuesday. And, as we’re all writers here, offering insight into the whole writing process, I thought I’d share a little bit of that with you guys.

The beginning is exactly the same. We all start with a spark of inspiration, then develop that into a story, then kill ourselves over the next 4 to 156 weeks trying to write the damn thing.

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Then we put the book away (or at least, we should). For me, I’ll set a book aside for between 1 to 6 weeks depending on how difficult the book was to write…

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Pre-Order Announcement!

It’s my day on the Spellbound Scribes’ blog and I have an announcement!

Spellbound Scribes

A little while back I shared the cover reveal of my upcoming young adult novel, Blackbird. Well, I’m very happy to announce the publication day and the pre-order links (if you’re so inclined)!

BlackbirdWhat if YouTube warned of the end of the world? Would we even take it seriously? Or just assume it was some lame, internet hoax?

Maggie has her first college finals to prepare for; she doesn’t have time for pranks and conspiracy theories. But a super flu has broken out on campus and her dorm mate keeps coughing, threatening to get her sick before she can get through the tests and get home for Christmas.

More and more people are coming down with the super flu and the vaccines aren’t working for everyone and when one of her professors is dragged out of the classroom by cops and doctors, Maggie realizes she’s waited too long to leave…

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How to Know When a Writer Should be Writing

Gonna be better about cross-posting! This was my week on the Spellbound Scribes’ Blog. Come laugh at my pain!

Spellbound Scribes

If you’ve been following along, you know that I had grand plans to write a new, dark, witchy, Ireland inspired book. And you also know that a natural disaster kind of derailed those plans for a while. Well, we’re finally, finally getting back to normal around here. Schedules are familiar, husband’s clients are getting back on track, things still feel a little like Bambi learning to walk, but we’re getting there.

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And I’ve had enough time away from writing to feel refreshed and like I should be ready to get back at it. My editor has Blackbird, which I’ll have back soon, but going over edits and writing something new can be done; I’ve done it. It’s nice to have two totally different projects like that to work on so you can take a break from one to the other and not overload yourself.

So naturally I got to work…

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Cover Reveal and Pre-order Links!

Oof, it has been a minute since I last posted here. I am sorry about that! But at least I’m coming back with something fun and exciting, right?

If you’ve been following me on other outlets then you know I’ve been working on the very first companion novel to my Ash & Ruin Trilogy. I finally have the release day set and the cover is all pretty and creepy, just like we like it for our apocalyptic adventures!

So, are you ready to see it?

At fifteen years old, Gwen’s world has ended. Not because she’s gone through a break-up. Not because her parents are ruining her life with a lame curfew. Not because her grades are struggling. Not in the way a fifteen-year-old’s life usually ends.

At fifteen years old, Gwen has burned the dead bodies of both her parents and fortified her home against the plague-spreading monsters who killed them, waiting for her sister, Maggie, to make her way back home in the apocalyptic landscape that is the world now.

At fifteen years old, Gwen’s world has ended, but she’s not giving up. She’s not giving up on life, her home, or her sister. Because all you have left when the world ends is hope, so that’s what she’s got, a BB gun and hope.

Hopefully it’ll be enough.

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You can pre-order your ebook copy now at these sites (more to be added as soon as they’re live):

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Kobo Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | ibooks

(It, along with all of my other books, are available on all of Amazon’s sites, but there are so many to list, so just do a quick search for it and you’ll find it!)