Friday, May 11, 2018

Dark Place Today

I managed to make it through the day yesterday without having a panic attack. Not sure how I'll do today--my body is so tense, and my throat so tight, that I have to focus on breathing. By 2:00 yesterday, I was wiped out.

I keep thinking people are pissed at me. This is a common symptom of depression with me, assuming the worst about people's intentions toward me. But I made a mistake last year--when I thought a co-worker, one of my Girl Scout friends, and two of my neighbors were mad at me. I blew it off, sure that I hadn't done anything to provoke anger. And then it turned out they were all mad, and they all waited months to tell me. It turns out there were misunderstandings all around. But still, I don't know if I should trust my instincts, or not. I've lost faith in my ability to do that.

Of those four people, I'm still friends with my co-worker, and the other three are history.

I was super-sensitive as a teenager, but I kinda got over a lot of that as I grew up. But for some reason, the events of last year with those four friends (well, one friend and three ex-friends), really threw me for a loop. I have trouble trusting people now. Living in this new town, I've found that people are very nice, but I can't help but wonder what darkness is behind the friendly smiles.

So yes, I'm in a dark place, when instead of focusing on the good things in life (and there are plenty), I'm sitting here thinking about how friends betrayed me, and how painful the whole experience was, and how angry I am that my ability to trust myself and others were stolen. My husband would be able to just forget about it and move on, but I'm not so strong--or so forgiving, I guess.

Let's try to make it through the day without any craziness ...

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Down, Then Up, Then Down Again

After my "I don't hate how I sing anymore" post of a couple of days ago, I'm now thinking of quitting choir.

I went to choir practice last night and had a panic attack. I was trying to sing, but I could only get out a squeak. I couldn't breathe.

A couple of things led up to it. I'm being super-sensitive here, but I'm going to write it anyway.

When we get to choir practice on Sunday morning, I usually put my purse in a chair and then go to put on my robe. Several times (at least four times that I've noticed), the person who would have been sitting next to me had gotten up and moved to another chair by the time I got back. Coincidence? Possibly. I mean, new people come in and people want to sit with certain people, or talk to certain people, so they'll move. But after this happened a couple of times, I thought, "Are they moving so they don't have to sit by me?" And once that seed of doubt starts growing, it's like a weed out of control.

Another thing I've noticed a few times: The person who is sitting next to me subtly moves their chair away so that they're closer to the person on the other side of them. And it wasn't because they needed to share music.

Another coincidence? Why would someone do that, unless it's because I was singing so off-key that it was distracting them?

Both of those things happened last night. And the weed of doubt was more like a vine wrapping my heart in a death-squeeze.

So we were doing this one song, and I lost my place. My mind started reeling, and I wasn't able to find where we were, even after someone showed me twice on her music. So I careened into a panic attack and I had to get up and leave. I waited until practice was over and most people were gone before I went back in to get my purse. No one noticed me, thank God, so I was able to leave without talking to anyone.

Am I that bad of a singer? I know I'm better than I was. One problem, though, is that I have trouble hearing myself when that many people are singing near me, so I can't tell if I'm hitting the right note or not. Even if I sing louder than is comfortable, I can't hear. I don't know if that's normal, or if it's related to my hearing loss.

I do know that I've gotten a lot better at singing on pitch. When I can hear myself, I hardly ever miss, and if I do miss, I know I'm missing. And it's usually because I got lazy and wasn't focusing. But in choir, I can't tell if I'm missing or not.

Of course, no one gives me any feedback, so I have no idea if I sound good or bad, or if people can even hear me at all.

All in all, the panic attacks seem to be coming at me from left and right, and I need to eliminate the unnecessarily stressful things from my life. Sadly, choir has become stressful, and I don't think it is a good fit. So I'm going to quit, at least for a while. I'll continue taking voice lessons. I'd like to join the choir again once I get past all of these anxiety/panic issues.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

DIY Mad Gab: Hee-ho Power

Overheard by my hard-of-hearing self at a product planning meeting today:
  • It's time for goose fat
  • Going over indeliments
  • It's another important dinner lane
  • We're gonna include Walt Wayne
  • It has a sort of hee-ho power
  • Does the song fit everyone?
  • Those are the twosome ponies
And now my brain is tired and I wish people all came with closed-captioning.

Monday, May 7, 2018

I Don't Hate How I Sing Anymore

I never thought this day would come. If I'd had faith that it would, it might have come faster. But I'm not going to complain.

I don't hate how I sing anymore.

A mix of voice exercises and songs have helped me to build up physically--my vocal cords, or whatever muscles are used in singing. I've also learned not to sing from my throat but from far below it, and to open my throat and my mouth and not "mumble-sing" (my term, I think). And it's not just that I've learned the how; I was told the how over a year ago with my voice teacher in Asheville. But now I've practiced enough that the how is becoming habit. I liken it to going all your life thinking you can't walk, and living in a wheelchair ... then suddenly learning that you can learn to walk if you try, and so you start trying, and at first you can't do it because your leg muscles are so weak ... and then you start being able to walk. The second sentence of this blog post refers to the fact that, if I had actually believed I would eventually walk, I would have worked harder. But that's the past, and I'm not looking back.

So I'm there. I'm in those first phases of being able to stumble along on my own. There is still a long way to go, but I've finally accomplished a significant "baby step," and it's a thrill.

When I first moved to Augusta, I took voice lessons with a non-classical teacher. She was a good teacher and very nice, but I wasn't in a good place. I was out-of-my-mind stressed at work (a common theme of my life), and I either didn't have time to practice, or I didn't make it a priority--not sure which. I finally quit because I wasn't getting anywhere and was ending up in a puddle of tears at my lessons more often than not.

So recently I started taking lessons again, this time with a classical teacher. What is it about me and classical, hm? (When I write classical, I mean it in the general sense--serious music, or the whole shebang of music from Renaissance to Stravinsky.) Is it that I just know it's superior, or that it's a more comfortable world for me than the world of pop? Probably both.

Anyway, I'm working on three Italian songs and two English songs, and doing voice exercises every day. I love the songs, so I'm singing them constantly, whether I have the music in front of me or not My teacher is caring and encouraging, and I find myself relaxing the moment I walk in the door for my lesson. Plus, he's an accomplished musician, and it's good to be around someone who loves and knows a lot about music. Someone like me. Well, I'm not an accomplished musician, but I do crave the company of music people.

Yesterday I listened to my recorded lesson from last week and thought, "Hm, that doesn't sound bad." I could still point out where improvement was needed, but the vicious critic who usually descends upon me during those listening sessions was gone. Or she was there, but saying, "Not bad."

That's an important point I want to make. Yes, it's true that I'm not beating myself up. But part (perhaps all?) of why I'm not doing that is that I'm better. There is less to beat up. It's good to accept yourself as you are, but it's important to have the inner critic push you to do better, as long as the critic doesn't paralyze you or otherwise make you miserable.

This morning I recorded myself playing guitar and singing John Denver's "Today"--something I did a lot when I first got my guitar in 2016. I pressed "Play" and tensed for the inevitable cringe ... and it didn't happen. My pitch was good, except for a few notes here and there, and I'd recognized them when I'd sung them--oh, that's a little flat, or I didn't quite hit that one. So no big deal. The fact that I'm correctly judging my pitch? That's another giant baby step right there.

So I listened, and I heard a strength and quality in my voice that hadn't been there before. I'm still not ready for a coffee-house performance, but I've come a long way. And now that I have faith in this whole process, along with a good voice teacher, I'm feeling hopeful about the improvement to come.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Panic Attack

So yesterday I think I had the mother of all panic attacks. The last panic attack I remember having was at my sister's parents-in-law's house, Thanksgiving, sometime around 2005. Which makes total sense because I was teaching at BCA then and a total stress case the entire year.

Yesterday I was getting some stuff together to go on the Girl Scout camping trip that I organized, and I couldn't find the mess kits. That one little thing, and ... I was suddenly gasping for air, but air wouldn't come. I went into a panic, trying to breathe, and I called Dan, who was supposed to be on his way home, to tell him to hurry. I got his voice mail, and ... I don't remember a whole lot.

I do remember that by the time I was talking to him on the phone, my arms were all tight to my body, my hands clenched, and my mouth caught in a kind of lockjaw. I couldn't close my mouth--so more panic. Fear that I was going to choke on my tongue. And I kept going into these horrible shaking episodes, and I didn't know if they were seizures or what.

I couldn't feel my mouth or nose, or my hands. I couldn't think. I couldn't talk. I couldn't do anything but cry and and panic.

Dan got home at some point. A lot of it is blurry now, but we ended up canceling the trip that the girls were so looking forward to. So on top of feeling like crap, I now have all kinds of guilt for disappointing everyone.

We didn't go to the ER because I have no insurance. Last week I learned that I'd been misled about the insurance I was buying, and I was so angry that I canceled. We have a phone meeting with another insurance company, but for the last few days, I've had no insurance at all. Considering my medical bills currently are well into the thousands (which is a significant part of my stress), I really didn't want to go to the ER. Dan was able to get some food and water into me, and I started getting better after that, so we stayed home.

Thinking back on the things that have caused stress over the past year, and in the past weeks:
  • Medical bills
  • Chronic severe pain in my hip
  • Inability to exercise
  • Feeling overwhelmed at work
  • Dealing with personalities at work
  • Dealing with personalities in my former Girl Scout troop
  • Learning that the person who sold me my insurance had not been up front with me
  • Having to cancel my insurance
  • Having my house be a wreck because I never have time to clean it
  • Being out of town for the past five consecutive weeks
  • Dan being out of town or at meetings more often than not
  • Never having time to myself--no quiet time, no writing, no piano, no reading, etc.
There's more, I'm sure. For now, I'm going to try and avoid all stress this weekend. I need to get better. Something needs to change.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Where Did the Rest of the Day Go?

Well. I kept track of what I did for most of the day yesterday. I had it in a Notepad file on my computer, unsaved, and my computer shut down this morning to do updates. Probably better for you, dear readers--it wasn't very interesting to read.

I do know that I worked all day. I was nose-to-the-grindstone for most of the day, and then I took a break around 2:45 to walk around my block.

Last night I took Anne to taekwondo at 6:30.

I did other Important Things, but I can't remember what any of them are. Is this normal? To think back on the night before and not remember a thing? I promise I wasn't drunk.

If I think really hard, I can remember going to Anne's friend's house on the way to taekwondo to pick up her shoes that she left over there a couple of days ago.

At taekwondo, I chatted with another mom who is a writer.

It's been a chatty week at taekwondo. I usually just watch Anne, but this week I've been bonding(?) with other parents whose kids started taekwondo at about the same time Anne did. It's good. These are the people that I will likely be seeing several times a week for the next few years. It's good to be making new potential friends.

What else did I do?

We came home. Anne stayed outside to play with the neighbor kids. I made dinner, even though we had no real food for dinner. A bowl of pasta for Anne, and a black-bean salad for me (lettuce and a bit of bellpepper with a half-can of black beans dumped on top).

Of course that wasn't enough for my growing child, so she had several snacks throughout the evening.

What else? See, I can't remember. I think maybe I did dishes? At some point I went outside to get Anne, and it took a good 10 minutes. She is a master of stalling.

And? She did her homework. She has to do it on the computer. She took a bath.

Oh, I got a shower. No. I planned to get a shower, my first in two days. But it was late, and the litter box was stinky again. So I cleaned the litter box and washed my hands and called it a day.

Did I plan for the camp-out tonight? Nope.

I just feel paralyzed. I am going through the motions of life (I think ... I can never remember), but I'm constantly overwhelmed.

And Hubster asked, "Why can't you just be happy?"

Indeed. Why can't I?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

My Day, 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.

My husband has a hard time believing that I don't have time to get stuff done around the house. So I'm going to write out what I do every day. Good thing I don't have a lot of readers, because these next few posts are going to be pretty mundane.

5:30: Alarm goes off. I'm exhausted because I didn't sleep. I go back to sleep.
6:30: Alarm. Still exhausted but I need to wake up. Alas, I am sleeping on my stomach and have a big yellow cat on my butt.
6:35: Extricate myself from beneath said big yellow cat. Pet big yellow cat.
6:40: Decide to get out of bed at the very moment that sweet calico cat jumps on bed. Pet sweet calico cat.
6:45: Get out of bed, go to the bathroom, go downstairs to feed the cats. Get coffee. Put last night's dishes in dishwasher. (Did I forget to do that again?)
6:49: Let sweet calico cat outside.
6:50: Go back upstairs, wake up Anne because she didn't do her homework last night and needs to do it before school.
6:52: Big yellow cat jumps onto bed.
6:52: Cuddle with both daughter and big yellow cat.
7:01: Check phone to see what the weather will be, tell Anne that it's going to be HOT today and that she can wear one of her summer dresses!
7:02: Get Anne out of bed. Fire up the computer so she can start her homework.
7:03: Go back to my room. Sit on bed. Check phone to see if any other Brownie parents have signed up to donate to tomorrow's (tomorrow's?) camping trip. One has. (Yay!) Wonder if it would be rude to send a "gentle reminder" to the parents who haven't signed up yet. Wonder how long I should wait before sending said "gentle reminder." Check Facebook, leave a comment wishing someone a happy anniversary.
7:08: Go downstairs, start boiling water for Anne's oatmeal. I kind of have to poop, but I don't have time just yet.
7:10: Get clothes out of dryer, take clothes out of wash and put them in the dryer. Sniff and remember that I forgot to clean the litter boxes yesterday. Take clothes upstairs, dump on bed.
7:13: Feel hopelessly depressed as I look at all the clean clothes I need to fold at some point between now and ... some point. Here's one of the three baskets:

7:15: Go back downstairs because Anne's water is well past boiling by now. I really need to use the bathroom.
7:16: Make her oatmeal. Pour Hubster some coffee. Hear Anne screaming from upstairs, "Where are my sleeveless twirl dresses?"
7:16: Give Anne the coffee to give to Hubster and tell her that I'll check the dryer. Discover that her twirl dresses are both in the wet clothes that just started drying. Inform Anne of such. Shut my eyes and clench my teeth, vowing that I won't lose it this early in the morning, even though she is throwing a mini-tantrum because her twirl dresses that she wore yesterday and the day before, respectively, are dirty. Tell her to wear her sparkle skirt with her kitty-unicorn shirt.
7:20: Go back downstairs. Oatmeal is ready. Make and pack her lunch for school.
7:25: Anne is downstairs. Eats breakfast.
7:30: Anne comes to me with a brush and a hair band and a giant sparkly pink bow. She wants me to do her hair a la JoJo. I do her hair and the ponytail is too far back. I re-do it because I love her and the ponytail really was too far back the first time. She runs upstairs to finish getting dressed. I really need to go to the bathroom, but ...
7:36: Those stinky litter boxes. I find a bag and empty the downstairs litter box, then go upstairs and do the same.
7:40: Go to put the stinky bag in the garbage can in the garage, but it's garbage day and Hubster has already put the big garbage can on the curb. He forgot to add the stinky litter garbage from the past week, so I bag it all up, make sure my bathrobe is tied tight and not exposing anything, slip on my slippers, and take the rest of the trash out. I am the very image of a middle-aged suburban mom.
7:45: Anne is screaming from the living room. Big yellow cat has found a roach, which is injured and scuttling around the carpet, and Anne is "trapped" between the bug and the piano. She is wearing a choker and looks strangely grown up.
7:46: I kill the roach, grab a paper towel, and throw him away. The presence of a bug reminds me that I forgot to put flea stuff on the cats Tuesday, so I put it on the big yellow cat. I'll have to get the sweet calico later.
7:50: Get more coffee. Scarf down Anne's leftover oatmeal, rinse the dishes, put them away.
7:52: I've had to poop for the past 30 minutes and can hold it no longer. I go to the bathroom, door wide open, because that's how we moms roll.
7:56: Anne bursts into the bathroom to kiss me goodbye. The bus is early.
7:57: I'm washing my hands as the bus's "reverse" beeping comes on.
7:58: Top off the coffee and come upstairs.
7:59: Sit down at my computer.
8:00: Write this list.

Now it's 8:30 and time for work. According to my Fitbit, I've already gone 1,872 steps and climbed six flights of stairs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

DIY Mad Gab: Dilly Dilly Visions

I've had several meetings over the last few days. Here are some hard-of-hearing doozies from those:
  • Tennis Shoe, the gal that was running the meeting
  • I see that as a real natchee-cootchee
  • Botswana therein, it's attributable
  • A million volunteers were formerly Mallory
  • We want to go in separate different directions in the sunshine
  • We should do a tight end to the glaciers
  • I don't know where th'antenna needs to be in all that
  • The holy experience of guilt around the user
  • You wouldn't be worried about throwing them a few loins
  • Depending on how much you trust Hannibal hands-on
  • Hearing rhumbas about how to get back into it
  • I'm naked with the axe
  • So this is a tentacle internet marketing
  • It's worth being a connect fussy number of cities
  • This is the big pie now
  • Blessed linament emails
  • I'm gettin' in heavy
  • You should now flip-cherry your screed
  • Our pasha choirs are a hen-hen
  • Oh, wise Column G!
  • It was weeks to this pyramid
  • My vision is all dilly-dilly and I'm in a jeep
  • So the eyebrow guy comes in ...
  • Elmer's thinkin' big
  • We'll get some really good church done
  • We'll do a cutie off-site
  • I'm hoping you will go get a borscht for 2019
My brain hurts.

More on DIY Mad Gab.

Vocal Stuff

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