Health, life, MS

Anxiety : Depression’s partner-in-crime

Walking the tightrope of ms relapse prevention and symptom management while juggling life stress, heat intolerance, sensory overload, the ogre of depression and its craptastic partner-in-crime, anxiety.

We spent an incredible weekend in Vancouver, going to see the Psychedelic Furs, a band I started listening to in 1985, the year I met my husband. Nostalgia aside, they were maybe not the most exciting live band but we had a whole second show play out in front of us. It ended with a very eccentric, obnoxious man throwing his drink in his ex’s face, spraying all of us nearby. Oh, the drama.

Going to Vancouver usually stresses me out with all the traffic, the dreaded George Massey tunnel, the smells, the noise, the people everywhere. The chaotic energy of a big city is exhausting but it’s worth it to spend a night away watching live music with my husband.

This time traffic was mellow, even on a weekend at the height of summer. Everything fell into place beautifully everywhere we went so there was little stress and the monster was quiet so I felt pretty great, all things considered. Happy hour cocktails at the Cactus Club may have helped a bit, too. 🍹

Even the drive back out to the ferry, because we left the city early and went to check out the new mall, Tsawwassen Mills, was a fun, stress-free adventure. I’m not a mall rat and typically think a mall is a mall is a mall but they have done a very thoughtful job of incorporating First Nations artwork and unique elements that make walking around the ginormous space a mall experience unlike any I’ve had before.

First Nations metal wolf sculpture

Part of the joy of being an island-dweller is the hurry-up-and-wait experience of riding the ferry. I’m mostly patient and can amuse myself pretty easily but we all know how hot this summer has been in the northern hemisphere. Sitting in a truck on the end of a man-made jetty covered in concrete, full of metal cars and huge semi-trailers is a special kind of torture for every traveller.

Heat sensitivity is a common symptom of multiple sclerosis. Being the annoying mofo that it is, my body can tolerate heat or cold just fine most of the time. Until it suddenly can’t and all hell breaks loose. I think my thermostat’s broken.

So, my sweater is hanging off the sun visor shielding my body from the sun, doors and windows all open to catch the cool ocean breeze, all is well. Then the wind dies, the sun’s still beating down on me through the side window and a mushroom cloud of heat wafts up from the pavement.

Knock knock. Who’s there?

Hot, too hot.

Brain frying, can’t think

Panic starts, ears ringing.

Hello Anxiety.

Anxiety is another special gift the monster has given me in the last few years. It is closely related to depression in that they share the all-encompassing feeling of doom. The only thing that makes it controllable is knowing that it is a result of the damage in my brain, it is not real.

On the tarmac, I ended up going into the relative cool of the marketplace, to be faced with all the other overheated humans seeking relief.

Hello Sensory overload.

Tune it out. Blinders on. Focus on stationary objects.

Jewelry. Oh, pretty. Slowly inspect.

Cool down. Calm down.

Sea salt scrub. 50% off. Sure!

Hot, too many people.

Stuffy. Loud. Too much.

When I got back to the car, we had the bright idea of using the air-conditioning. Oh, sweet relief! I don’t love idling a car for any longer than necessary but when it comes to being either environmentally responsible or saving my brain and body from total meltdown, I will be unapologetically selfish. Please remember this if you’re tempted to judge someone for idling their car in the future. It can be a case of life or death for some people in this kind of heat.

People always worry about the dogs but, you know, humans.

Just after we boarded, a camper van got stuck partway on to the ferry, delaying the other cars and ultimately, our departure as they eventually had to back off the ramp. I could feel the spinny, bubbly feeling beginning again in my head that happens when my thermostat’s awry and I overheat. Then, anxiety prickled its knives that I was stuck in this hot car with no air moving for who knows how long and idling your car on the ferry isn’t an option, so no air conditioning.

Sensory overload or not, up I go just until the boat starts moving. Normally we stay in the car the whole time to avoid the crowds as I’ve always had enough after two days in Vancouver but again my thermostat was in control. I go up the stairs straight into the line-up already building for the buffet.

I quickly veer myself into the small hallway by the chief steward’s office and prop myself against a window, watching the hordes of people boarding and lining up. I try to enjoy the enthusiasm of the young Japanese tourists on a ferry for the first time. Their excitement is adorable and appreciated.

Then they swarm around me to look out the window and take pictures. Of the ugly piers.

Over my head.

Okay. Breathe.

They’re gone.

Another group.

Wait. Breathe. The ferry will be moving soon.

One window further over. Look out at the water.

See the diamonds dropped by the sun

Sparkling all over the water.

A bird, diving.

When will the boat move?

Look back at the growing noise.

Buffet line has sealed off my exit.

Swallow down the fear.

Irrational.

Line will move. Boat will move. Time will move.

Please move!!!

Breathe.

Just breathe.

I am only grappling with one tentacle of the octopus of anxiety. Many people are paralyzed in their lives, unable to function because they are crippled by the many facets of this mental monster. Yet again, there is still such a stigma about mental illness. I wanted to share a small glimpse into what the experience is like for me, just to open the discussion and share information to spread awareness.

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Thanks so much for stopping by. I always appreciate any comments or insights about my posts but if you’ve taken the time to read it at all, I am honoured, and I appreciate it so much.

Have a wonderful week!

❤️ Amanda

17 thoughts on “Anxiety : Depression’s partner-in-crime”

  1. Thank you for sharing this absolutely amazing post! I honestly felt every single word with the heat sensitivity and anxious feelings! I live in southern US and it is painfully HOT here and probably will be until at least October. The heat drains all my energy and causes me to feel terrible! I do not deal well with being in large crowds or traffic at all!!!!!!!!!!!! I do my best to stay at home until I have to go to work (which SUCKS)! Whenever I have to go somewhere besides work and the grocery store I get my husband to drive because the massive traffic causes nothing but severe anxiety and with the messed up “so called” laws here in the US I can not take anxiety medicine and pain medicine, which I think is not only a lie but insane!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! I think the heat you’re facing is something I can’t even imagine, at least here the air gets cooled by the ocean a bit. I’m glad my descriptions rang true for you though. It really does suck to feel imprisoned at home because of the heat and the monster. What do you mean about the meds? You’re not allowed to take them together or has your doctor stopped even prescribing them for you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are more than welcome! The heat I face everyday is brutal and there never any cooling down! I think the coolest it gets is in the middle of the night and it might get in the low 80’s or upper 70’s!
        My pain doctor claims there was a new law about prescribing pain meds and benzos. Both myself and my husband looked only to find that was not the real truth! He told me if I was going to take Xanax he could not prescribe pain medicine, but I could stop the pain medicine and still take Xanax, talk about being put between a rock and a hard place! I have not taken anything for anxiety in months now! If I decided I wanted to still take something for my anxiety, I would have to suffer in pain which is impossible for me. I do not really have an idea what to do about the anxiety that I deal with every single day now! Crazy situation, don’t you think?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Grrr…that is totally insane!! The humanity gets removed from the equation when they come up with these stupid new rules. There are so many better ways to control the opioid crisis than to persecute those that are chronically ill. Big hugs and cool thoughts to you, Alyssa! 💕

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you so much! Yes this is completely insane and SO wrong! I really do feel that NO ONE cares about humanity anymore, if they ever even did! To be honest with you and I could be wrong, I think the “opioid crisis” is a false crisis! I really believe they just want control and then make things get out of control so they can pull the reins. Like I said, I could be wrong about how I view things! Than you for the hugs and cool thoughts!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I really appreciated reading the cycle of anxiety. Your strategies (noticing small objects to appreciate, fresh air, cool air, self talk, breathing, etc…) we’re innate and useful. This made me think about my CALM App. The makers of the CALM app talk about research that says that the more time you can take each day to be mindful of your anxiety and de-stress, the better you will sleep at night.

    Sorry for that stinky part of your trip.
    Glad there were some nice times with just you and your husband. Those are special times 😊and fewer and farther in between the older we get☹️. Love that you were able to focus on the good stuff and putting descriptive words to the stinky. Good post!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. It makes a lot of sense that facing it head-on and taking proactive steps to manage it through meditation, will help with sleep, which inevitably helps with anxiety and everything else.

      It was a stinky but small part of the overall trip and it reminded me how strong I can be even in the moments when I want to fall apart. Sort of like childbirth – the only way out is through, so you take it a second at a time and dig deep for the strength of mind to stay in control. 💕

      Like

  3. Great post! I am an island dweller also, so am very familiar with the anxiety of the ferry and Vancouver. I also battle the monster that is anxiety, currently riding it out the best I can! It certainly isn’t easy even though I know it’s all in my head. Glad I found you, you are fantastic! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome post. Thank you so much for sharing the importance of your experiences with such humour, insight, and wit! I thoroughly enjoyed your post!

    Liked by 1 person

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