Weekend Reflections; Hiking & Anxiety

This post is coming up late for a reason…it’s a sensitive one to write about. To start let’s talk about anxiety, something I’ve had for as long as I can remember. My anxiety has never been debilitating. I have only had one panic attack, but I did not go to the hospital for it. I have been in therapy for it/am still in therapy for it. As a child I was just told I’m a worry wort and simply “to stop”. As a child I always thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t “stop”. I couldn’t stop being afraid of irrational things like something as simple and general as the future. My sister, on the other hand, had more prevalent anxiety-the kind that made her vomit, have hospital-inducing heart palpitations and take days off from school. So, in comparison, there was “nothing wrong” with me, so they said. Later on in my life I realized that what I’ve been dealing with is Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I have never taken medication for it regularly but I have tried anti anxiety drugs. They made me incredibly tired, too tired to function. I was told to keep taking them and that my body would “adjust”, but I was scared of how long that would take and the pills made me too tired to do something as simple as homework and the time I started taking those pills was my first semester of graduate school so skipping homework was definitely not an option. So I found a new therapist and worked on the alternative: I learned coping skills. I learned how to listen to my body and how to pick up on my body’s signs/signals as it began to panic, such as sitting in a ball shape (I would sit on my knees with my feet under my butt and my arms wrapped around my body…similar to a fetal position), talk faster, fidget, heat up/sometimes sweat and my digestive system would freak out. My therapist and I worked on various coping mechanisms and this all started almost five years ago and I’m still perfecting those skills.

The point of this post is not to discuss my anxiety but it bears relevance on something that happened this weekend and explains why it was such an awful situation for me. Earlier this week my mom asked me to stop by on Saturday to hang out with her dog as she and my dad were going to be away and she didn’t want Chewy (their dog) alone all day. I agreed to bring Gatsby over and keep him company. On Saturday morning I called my mom on my morning run and she reminded me that it was the first of the month and that Chewy needed his flea prevention medicine. Now, earlier this week my mom had told me that she just got a new flea medicine for Chewy that’s topical instead of the chewable pill that Gatsby has and that Chewy used to have. She didn’t mention that on Saturday but we’d had a long discussion just a few days ago about the pros and cons of the two different types and she just assumed I would have remembered. And normally, I would have.

However, for whatever reason I had forgotten it was the first of the month and I had forgotten to give Gatsby his medicine. So by the time I got home I had tunnel vision: give Gatbsy meds, go see Chewy, give Chewy meds, hang out with Chewy, come home. I gave Gatsby his and headed over to my parents’. I opened the new box of Chewy’s medicine and saw that it was a little vile of liquid. You’d think that would have triggered the memory of my mom and my previous conversation. No. You’d think it would have at least triggered me to READ THE BOX. No. For whatever reason I felt this sense of panic and just had to give Chewy his medicine and I neglected to read the box or further look into it. I opened the vile and squirted what was supposed to be a topical flea guard into his little mouth. He kept running away and trying not to drink it and I just squirted it in. I texted my mom to let her know I’d medicated him and was outside with him and Gatsby. She called me back frantic explaining that it was a topical product and could be poisonous if ingested.

Panic.

Thank God Dan was there because at that moment I started hysterical crying, freaking out and feeling like the worst, most horrific person on earth. I couldn’t stop replaying the image of me squirting poison into his mouth…like a monster. I called the animal hospital in hysterics and they told me to contact poison control, not to bring him in yet.

Long story short, we did just that and they told us everything was ok and just to give him water. We double checked with Animal Poison Control (we originally just called the Human Control), the animal hospital and a local vet. Chewy was fine but I’ve never in my life felt worse.

I’m not using my anxiety as an excuse for why this happened, it was 100% my fault and my carelessness. What it did do was elevate the situation. It made my guilt, fear and anguish something I could not handle. Dan was the rational one on the phone with the poison control while I was in the corner holding Chewy, shaking, petting him and crying. When we got back home I felt paralyzed. I wasn’t even somewhat ok until my mom called me and told me Chewy was 100% ok and had eaten dinner. Dan and I had plans to go out for dinner but I just wanted to crawl up in a ball and hide. He knows how I get so he helped me get myself back together and nudged me enough to get in the shower and get dressed. Knowing I couldn’t handle anything too intense we went to a local, casual hole in the wall Mexican spot.

On our way to the restaurant I was still on the verge of more tears but this is where coping skills come in. Everything was ok. Chewy was ok. I made a mistake but thank God everything was alright. It didn’t have to mean time stopped and my life stopped. FYI — It’s so weird to segue from this catastrophe of a story to, like, “hey here’s my weekend!” but it really was all wrapped into one. Friday was a great day; my first Friday not swamped with work and Dan and I picked up Cheesecake Factory for dinner, Saturday was hell but Dan got me out at the end of the night and Sunday I needed MAJOR decompression/refused to waste away on the couch because I felt awful so we went for a hike. We took Gatsby because after feeling guilty about almost harming a dog I needed to do good by a dog so we took Gatsby for an amazing hike. It was perfect for him because it wasn’t too humid [of course I was HYPER nervous about the heat/elevation/exercise all being too much for him] but we saw two Frenchies, a couple other small fluffy dogs, two German Shepards and two Chihuahuas. Gatsby is a Boston Terrier so his breed fit with the others that we saw on the mountain. I brought more than enough water and food for him and was sure to watch for his cues and take all the breaks he needed. He made me so proud and hiked like a champ! Today, while still his psycho self, is a TAD BIT pooped.

Thursday evening we had one of those CRAZY summer storms. The thunder and lightening were out of control. Gatsby had no problem with the fourth of July fireworks and he’s heard thunder before which never bothered him but this was a BAD storm and he was absolutely terrified. I’ve never seen him so freaked out so I made sure to spend extra time snuggled with him in his favorite spot on the couch to calm him down. 

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This candle is from Goose Creek. I just ordered from this company for the first time, I hauled it in a video here, and I gotta say, their candles rock. Well, so far, as this is the only one I’ve burned yet. It’s Coconut Sugar Cookie and it smells like vanilla+coconut aka my two favorite scents of LIFE!! It’s not as strong as a Diptyque or Voluspa Candle but it is stronger than a Yankee Candle. Actually, I think Goose Creek will replace Yankee for me. 

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Sooo….Friday night Cheesecake Factory. Some people eat when they’re stressed, I eat when I’m happy. With this being my first Friday off in FOREVER all I wanted to do was celebrate, but in a snuggly/comforting way. So we picked up dinner from The Cheesecake Factory and spent the rest of the evening snuggled up being little love bugs on the couch. It was PERFECTION. BTW, we always get the same few things from this restaurant, it never changes: Buffalo Blasts, Luau Salad, Chicken Costoletta, and a slice of cheesecake…

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The flavor of cheesecake is the one thing we always switch up. I should mention, we eat at Cheesecake Factory maybe once a year. It is my ULTIMATE comfort food…I used to work at Applebee’s and every once in a while I will crave that type of food [standard American chain restaurant fair] however, after working there for as long as I did I simply can’t stomach their food, even though I crave it (bizarre, right?) so I’ve found that Cheesecake Factory comes the closest for me and satisfies that craving. In the years I worked at Applebee’s I had several friends who worked at Cheesecake and those friends still eat there and love the restaurant so I know it’s a place that actually has decent, good food despite it being a chain. Oh, and this time we got the Oreo Supreme Cheesecake….but we wanted the Pineapple Upside Down Cheesecake which was sold out. THE HORROR.

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Fridays are rough on him. [ps, that is Googaly Pig, aka Gatsby’s BFF, even though he only has one eyeball because Gatsby ate one]

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CHEWY!! This is my mom’s dog Chewy. Gosh is he not the tiniest, sweetest little thing?? He was sitting in my car while we called Poison Control because if we had to race to the vet I wanted to be ready to go. 

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Let’s talk makeup for a moment. This was Saturday and it just shows how expressive makeup can be. I got out of the shower Saturday evening still with no intention of going out. Dan stood in the bathroom convincing me to go somewhere low key so I chugged a beer and then began painting my face. I had no vision, no goal in mind of how I wanted my makeup to turn out I just kind of rolled with it. I ended up with a neutral eye, THESE lashes, and a blue waterline. Looking back I realize that I made the blue pop because I was feeling sad, i.e., “blue”. Color has always resonated with me and I know that the situation with Chewy is the only reason why I outlined my eyes in that color. Also, I’m not smiling in any pictures because my eyes were quite puffy from crying and I was trying not to accentuate that. 

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This was the outfit I wore. It’s a basic black tank, booties and Dan’s jeans that I cut and ripped into my ideal Daisy Dukes.

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For my Westchester friends, we went to Vega in Hartsdale. I kind of hate sharing that on the blog because it’s our secret get away. It feels like we’re back in South Beach but really it’s this random little spot that some people in the area order delivery from but no one actually goes to. And their guac, fish tacos, fajitas, chimichangas and mole sauce are unreal. I love it.

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After dinner we walked across the street for froyo at Peachwave. I didn’t take a picture of my yogurt because I was too caught up by the wall of children’s artwork. The title of the wall read, “What Are Your Summer Plans”? When I was a kid all I wanted to do on Summer Vacay was eat and go to the beach but then I saw this kid’s work of GENIUS and just said yaaaaaaasssssssssssssss because to be honest, I so feel this kid. At the end of the school year, who wants to do anything else?

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After knowing that Chewy was ok, then eating Mexican food and froyo and looking at outrageous kid art I was back to my happy self.

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Mental illness and any type of mental/psychotic abnormality is a bitch of a thing to live with in your own head. But it’s especially tough for someone else to live with, especially when that someone else has had no experience with it themselves and no exposure to it whatsoever. However, it hasn’t always been this way and we did not get here overnight. I’ve been in counseling for years, Dan and I have been to couples counseling [which is AMAZING!! I recommend to EVERYONE and every couple out there. Go BEFORE the fights start!! We first started couples counseling six months before our wedding and it’s been the greatest thing; improved and benefitted both our communication and understanding of each other and made us an unstoppable team.}

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Sunday morning! A fresh start. Dan asked if I wanted to go to the beach to feel better but I didn’t want to for the sole reason that I didn’t want to feel like I’d abandoned Gatsby after what I did to Chewy. I needed to do something that would wake me up, snap me out of my funk and include my little buddy. So I suggested a hike. Mind you, my husband is the ULTIMATE anti-outdoorsman. A hike is the LAST thing he’d ever want to do. But, he agreed and it meant the world to me so we headed up to the mountains. All three of us. 

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And it was breathtaking….

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And made me feel small. Which is huge because usually the beach is the only place that does that for me. However, I’ve discovered that hiking does it just as much…maybe even MORE when I hike a mountain that overlooks water. We really are a blip on this big, beautiful world and here we are feeling anxious about the smallest thing. And at the end of the day, they truly are SO small. When you hike and open yourself up to the fear and vulnerability, then the beauty, breathlessness and rewards of the views you start to realize what truly matters. To me, it was the two guys lagging behind me. My husband, my pup. Two guys that love me, who make my heart swell with love. It was the water that cleanses my soul and the height that reminded that God was watching over me and only gave me a struggle as tough as what I could handle. I firmly believe that God only gives us mountains that we KNOW how to climb. That’s why I took the difficult/challenging trail on Sunday. 

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And felt strength ..

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With these two by my side..or lagging behind me

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On the way down we met Mia, a two month old Frenchie puppy. She and her big brother Bugsy were the MOST ADORABLE!!!!!

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I posted this shot on Instagram and my friend asked if that’s what I looked like during or after or a hike. No, no, no. This was the before….

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This is the after.

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Have a wonderful week!! Don’t forget to BREATHE. If there’s one coping skill that helps me, it’s to remember to simply breathe. Have you had anything this scary happen to you? I hope not

xoxo

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One thought on “Weekend Reflections; Hiking & Anxiety

  1. Love your honesty & I know how difficult it is to open up about! I think it’s so easy for people to think they are alone or part of an “dark underworld” of strugglers.

    Still can NOT get over your fabulous makeup. So clean & glowy! Should a youtube tutorial ever stumble upon your to do list I’d watch it 🙂 Cheer’s to a better week!

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