What Panic Attacks Are Like For Me.

Anxiety is not fiction.

Many who have never dealt with this ailment dismiss it as an excuse by those who suffer from it to get out of mundane tasks or work requirements. Much like ADHD or mood disorders, anxiety is not something that can necessarily be seen or proven when you are the sufferer struggling to explain yourself to someone who doubts that your night sweats and inability to turn your brain off in the wee hours of the morning, are not something you are making up to take a vacation day. Our life is not a vacation.

Anxiety is real. Panic is not made up. Owning, getting help to overcome, and learning to cope with your anxious feelings is critical to finally living your life and not simply existing.

This is what an anxiety/panic attack feels like to me (I been experiencing them the past 3 days now).

It is 3:00 in the morning. I wake up from a dead sleep, sit straight up, and immediately know something is wrong. I am sweating, nauseous, and feel as if someone has dumped a bucket of ice water onto my chest. I feel it spill down my abdomen and through my arms and legs. My chest feels as though a giant’s hand is squeezing it with the intention of taking my life.

I feel like I am dying.

“Call the emergency squad!” I yell to my boyfriend. I refuse to go to the doctor for fairly major complaints, so he knows I am serious.

In the minutes that pass before the EMT arrives, I move to the couch, clutch my chest because the pain is more intense than labor contractions.

I feel like I am dying.

When the medical personnel take my vitals, my heart rate has soared above 136 and my breathing is rapid and short. The sweating has slowed, but I am nauseous and dry heaving. It takes about 30 minutes for the aides to update my stats and explain that they think I may be having a minor heart attack or have blood clots going to my heart. They say I need to get to a hospital.

Hours and lots of tests later, the doctors say I am having a panic attack.

I was diagnosed with mental illness since I was a kid, but I was actually in my 30’s before I knew anxiety was real. I had lived my life with these feelings, never knowing that everyone else wasn’t experiencing the same thing. I then reached and asked about my symptoms. That is when I got back on my medications. I am on anxiety medications and antidepressants, I will be taking them for the rest of my life, I never should’ve come off them when I did. But, they meds works and have changed my life.

Nothing could have helped me prep my body or mind for the feelings that flooded my body when it was in full panic.

When I was in the middle of my panic attack, there was no person, no statistic, no test that could have convinced me that I wasn’t living my last moments on earth. I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare where my boyfriend was in my line of sight, but out of reach.

All at once, I thought I would never see my hopes and dreams come true.

All in a moment that may have lasted hours or seconds, everything came to a halt. The word panic doesn’t seem to reach the sensations I felt during those minutes and hours. My body ached, my insides contracted and felt ice-cold, my chest was tight and I couldn’t catch my breath, my heart hurt more than any pain I’ve felt. What was worse was the paralyzing, gripping fear, sheer and utter incapacitating fear, that I was leaving so many things undone.

Never doubt someone who suffers from symptoms they cannot show you. Some people are dishonest, but those with mental and emotional struggles wouldn’t wish what they go through on anyone, not even their worse enemy. They surely wouldn’t write it as fiction.

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Dog Mom Life.

If there is one thing in my life right now that I am proud of, it would be that I am a dog mom. Being a dog mom is great. The love my dog has for me and the love I have for my dog is not like any other. However, being a dog mom is not all playing fetch and kisses. Sometimes it can bring on some tough “mom” moments. If you’re a fellow dog mom, here are some things you should be familiar with.

1. Kisses

If you’re a fellow dog mom, you know that kisses are a part of every day life. My fur-baby finds any reason to kiss me. Good morning kisses are probably the best ones though. If you’re anything like me, you originally never liked kisses in the face, but now you can’t go a day without a kiss from your baby.

2. Dog Patrol

Probably the biggest downfall to being a dog mom is having to pick up after our little baby. Sure we love them will all of our hearts, but what comes out of them is not so lovable. Dog patrol is something that we cannot avoid, no body likes a poop filled yard.

3. “What are you eating?”

Asking my pup what he is eating is almost a daily occurrence. I’m always concerned about what he’s has gotten into. If you see your pup chewing on something and has that suspicious look I automatically ask him, “what are you eating?” Sometimes this includes chasing him around and finally taking it out of his mouth physically. But lets all be real, we also give our pups a little treat, which is probably why they get into everything.

4. Furry Clothes

It doesn’t matter if the clothes have just been washed, somehow there is always dog fur/hair on our clothing items. We can’t escape it. It is everywhere, hence the need to many lint rollers.

5. Time Outs

As much as we hate this part of being a dog mom, there has to be some structure in the house. The dog does not own the house. If he does something that is wrong, as much as it pains us, he gets himself put in a time out. However, he always looks so adorable with his “I’m sorry” face that his time out lasts a very short time.

6. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a real thing. We all know our little baby has a hard time when we are not around. Sometimes they go a little crazy and destroy the house (my dog doesn’t do destroy the house, thank God), sometimes they cry for hours, and sometimes they just patiently wait for us. Not only do they have a hard time, we as dog moms have a hard time being away.

7. Loud Noises

As a dog mom, we are always concerned about our little pup. Loud noises often scare them causing some anxiety. We have to get a little creative to help out our pups when it comes to those loud noises. Sometimes cuddling is enough, but sometimes we have to pull out some headphones and our laptop and put on a movie or music for them.

8. Constant Dog Posts

I cannot be the only dog mom who constantly has some post about their little baby. Everyone needs to know how adorable he is along with all the goofy little things he does. I alway am taking pictures, so I’m ready to post!

9. Extra Cleaning

Having a dog requires a little more than normal house cleaning. Although this is never a fun thing, my little baby usually helps me out and makes things a little more enjoyable.

10. Great Therapy

Whenever you’re having a bad day or feeling a little under the weather, your fur-baby is GREAT therapy. They’re always there to comfort you and make you feel better.

11. A Happier Life

Dog moms are absolutely so happy with their life and honestly, it’s because of our furry little baby!

(Me and my fur-baby, Joey)

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Prison Life.

Day after day, year after year, imagine having no space to call your own, no choice over who to be with, what to eat, or where to go. There is threat and suspicion everywhere. Love or even a gentle human touch can be difficult to find. You are separated from family and friends.

If they are to cope, than prisoners confined to this kind of environment have no option but to change and adapt. This is especially true for those facing long-term sentences. Few people are completely unchanged or unscathed by the prison experience.

It used to be believed that our personalities remain largely fixed in adulthood. But despite relative stability our habits of thought, behavior and emotion do change in significant and consequential ways, especially in response to the different roles that we adopt as we go through life. It is almost inevitable then that time spent as a prisoner, in a highly structured yet socially threatening environment, is bound to lead to significant personality changes.

Key features of the prison environment that are likely to lead to personality change include the chronic loss of free choice, lack of privacy, daily stigma, frequent fear, need to wear a constant mask of invulnerability and emotional flatness (to avoid exploitation by others), and the requirement, day-after-day, to follow externally imposed stringent rules and routines.

The empirical consensus on the most negative effects of incarceration is that most people who have done time in the best-run prisons return to the freeworld with little or no permanent, clinically-diagnosable psychological disorders as a result. Prisons do not, in general, make people “crazy.”

However I was skeptical about whether the pains of imprisonment generally translate into psychological harm concede that, for at least some people, prison can produce negative, long-lasting change. And most people agree that the more extreme, harsh, dangerous, or otherwise psychologically-taxing the nature of the confinement, the greater the number of people who will suffer and the deeper the damage that they will incur.

‘Prisonization’

These chronic features of the environment might change prisoners’ personalities in terms of the “Big Five” model of personality that dominates most modern research on the general, non-prison population (based around the key traits like extraversion and conscientiousness).

Nonetheless, prisoners adapt to their environment, which they call “prisonization”. This contributes towards a kind of “post-incarceration syndrome” when they are released.

Former prisoners had developed “institutionalized personality traits”, including distrusting others, difficulty engaging in relationships and/or hampered decision-making.

I remember one prisoner telling me when she was release she said: “I do still kind of act like I’m still in prison, and I mean, you are not a light switch or a water faucet. You can’t just turn something off. When you’ve done something for a certain amount of time, it becomes a part of you.” Which is totally true.

The personality change that most dominated their accounts was an inability to trust others, a kind of perpetual paranoia. “You cannot trust anybody in the joint,” said another inmate. “I do have an issue with trust, I just do not trust anybody.” she said. “And neither do I,” I told her.

The prisoners described the process an “emotional numbing”. “It does harden you. It does make you a bit more distant,” one said, explaining how people in jail deliberately conceal and suppress their emotions. “It is who you become, and if you are hardened in the beginning then you become even harder, you become even colder, you become more detached.” Another prisoner stated: “I kind  of  don’t  have  feelings  for  people any more.”

In terms of the “Big Five” personality traits, one could characterize this as a form of extreme low neuroticism (or high emotional stability or flatness), combined with low extraversion and low agreeability. In other words, not an ideal personality shift for the return to the outside world.

As the long-term prisoner becomes adapted, in the true sense of the term, to the imperatives of a sustained period of confinement, he or she becomes more emotionally detached, more self-isolating, more socially withdrawn, and perhaps less well suited to life after release.

The environment in a prison is very strict with respect to both regulations and norms, and private space is limited. Such an environment places demands on inmates to acquire order to avoid both formal punishment and negative acts from co-inmates.

In other words, it can help to be conscientious to stay out of trouble.

(Pictured below: Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, W. Virginia. First pic, a peek inside Martha Stewart’s cell. Second pic, #PrisonLife #CellLife)

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Missing Her.

She’s not the type of person you miss when she leaves. In fact, you might not even notice she’s gone initiall, because you thought she’d always be there. She’ll casually go without a goodbye or some grand exit because it was hard for her to give up on you. It was hard for her to walk away and not look back. It was hard for her to accept no matter how hard she tried, you never were going to reciprocate what she both wanted and deserved.

She was around and gave you so much attention so often you took her for granted. You’re still going to think she’s someone you can pick and choose when you want to. What you don’t realize is, she made the choice to walk away already.

And it broke her heart to do so. But she had to because you left her with no other choice. If you weren’t going to appreciate her presence, she’d make you realize what you lost in her absence.

Missing her.

It’s going to happen when you least expect it. You’ll see her somewhere and she might not even notice you at first. She’ll be so consumed by the attention of someone else.

A smile. A nod. A casual conversation where you’re talking, but not actually saying anything.

You’ll look at this person who is making her smile so big and that’s when it’s going to hit how pretty she is when she’s happy. But you never saw that side of her, because all you did was disappoint her and let her down and bring out the worst of her.

You never saw how torn up she was about every little thing. But she lost sleep over you. You spent too much time talking about you. Too much time emotionally invested. And when you’re emotionally invested in someone, you don’t see how bad they are for you sometimes.

Maybe someone will mention her in conversation, and ask you how she’s doing because there was a time you knew. There was a time you were very much a part of her life, and so involved you could answer on her behalf, because you knew about every good day and bad one.

You’ll freeze for a moment and you’ll answer good but the truth is, you’re finding out about her life the way everyone else is. Through social media. Instagram posts. Facebook updates. Snapchat stories. And you aren’t hearing from her firsthand like you used to.

It’s going to hurt a bit once you realize that.

You’ll go to text her and you’ll realize you don’t even know how to say hello.

You’ll realize there are so many things you want to tell her. And you think back to a time when every conversation, she made about you.

Even when you ignored her she’d send a double text continuing to try to keep the conversation going. You’ll stare at her name in your phone, looking back at the date of the last time you spoke and you’ll realize how long it’s been. But what’s going to hurt more is that it took you this long to realize she was already gone.

What’s going to hurt is the moment you realize you did nothing to make her want to stay.

You’ll miss the little details of her life, even the things she used to complain about.

You’ll miss even the things that used to annoy you about her. How long her texts were, how she’d answer in less than 5 seconds making it so easy. How predictable she was and how you thought she’d always be there. Because no matter what you did or how you treated her, it never altered the way she treated you.

You’ll miss having someone who genuinely cared about you. Someone who took time out of their day to ask how you were and wait for an answer. Someone who went out of their way and always made sure they were there. Someone who took the time to learn and understand you.

Someone who wanted to know about your past to understand why you were the way you were. Someone who would have gone to the ends of the earth to make you happy and never stopped praising you or building you up, even if you were knocking her down.

You’ll miss her late at night when you’re laying there alone and you realize there’s no one to talk to. And it’s not just her you miss it’s the conversations you used to have, how she’d get you to a place no one else could. How she’d get you thinking about things caring about things, believing in things, even if it was you yourself. After talking to her she thought you could do anything, because that’s how much she believed in you.

You’ll find yourself driving and a song will start playing and you’ll freeze for a moment thinking of her. It’s one of the songs she made you listen to and it’s only now you realize why. It was just another clever way of her saying she cared without spelling it out.

You’ll drive past a place and it’s her ghost you’ll see there as flashbacks run through your mind of when you were there together, and things were so different.

You’ll think back to a time when you knew she cared even when you didn’t. Moments where she poured her heart out to you and all you did was listen.

And you’ll hate yourself for realizing it too late that you really do care. Maybe you always have. And you probably always will care a little bit. That’s the thing about girls like her, they come into your life just long enough to leave a lasting impression before they take off again. Forever leaving a little bit of an imprint on your heart.

She’ll leave and you won’t even be able to be angry at her for it. You’re more angry at yourself for not realizing what you had when you had it.

She’ll smile and hug you and ask how you are because she doesn’t hold it against you for not caring. But what she doesn’t realize is, how you do care. But you let her go on her way not saying anything because even you know, she deserves better and it wasn’t supposed to end this way.

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It’s Okay.

It’s okay to think of them when you hear a song on the radio. It’s okay that you look for them in certain places when you go somewhere that used to be your spot. It’s okay to look back at your instagram to a time when they were in the pictures. As well as a main character in your life.

It’s okay to want to text them like you used to. It’s okay to post something hoping maybe they’ll see. It’s okay to dwell in the past sometimes of someone you thought would be in your future. It’s okay to miss the good parts, even though there was some bad.

It’s even okay to break down sometimes. It’s okay that you still feel something when you hear their name. It’s even okay you still think of them sometimes when you’re with someone else.

It’s okay to even compare them sometimes. Because we all do that. It doesn’t mean your feelings for the person now mean anything less. It doesn’t mean you aren’t over it because we all have our moments when we aren’t sometimes. But healing is a process. And it can happen at the same time you’re falling for someone new.

I think when you miss someone, it just proves that they did matter at one time or another. But missing someone, does not mean you want them back.

It doesn’t mean you have to text them or like their instagram or look at their story. It doesn’t mean you have to catch up just because it’s been a while, and you’re curious. It doesn’t mean you have to avoid them when you see them out, because it hurts. It doesn’t mean you have to lie when your boyfriend asks, “who he is?”

Be honest with yourself about how you do feel. Feel through the parts of missing them. Even if it’s uncomfortable.

It’s okay to miss someone and keep moving on with your life. Missing someone is just a part of the healing process. And sometimes it never goes away entirely. But it isn’t your job to feel guilty about feelings you can’t control. What is in your control, is how you let it affect you and every relationship.

If you let this, the standard no one else can compete with, everyone who tries will fall short. Because you’re building them up to a place they don’t even deserve to be. If you let this haunt you, your past will be something you look back at negatively and you won’t heal.

You can miss someone without complete self-destruction while doing so. Because it’s okay to miss someone, but still not want them back.

Remember that if someone left whether they had good reasons to or not, there was purpose for it. Maybe they were only meant to be characters in passing. Maybe they were meant to teach you something. Maybe they were there to teach you about love that comes and goes. The truth is, when someone touches your heart that deeply and you miss them, they are never truly gone, because you carry them with you and that’s okay.

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Whatever.

This is me not painting some false reality of words I wish you said and looking closely at the things you do. This is me judging your actions over your words because you said you care, but you did nothing to prove it. This is me no longer trying because I’m tired of hearing you’re busy. I’m tired of the responses that come 3 days too late. I’m tired of reading too much into mixed signals that don’t actually mean a thing. But I want them to.

This is me walking away and not getting my hopes up or getting used to you, because all you do is leave when you want to. This is me not looking back even when I want to, because I want to know if you’re watching me as I go. I don’t want to give you the satisfaction of showing I care more than I should.

This is me pretending not to care because I really want to answer your text, but I know it’s best I shouldn’t because all we do is run in circles. This is me not thinking much of the fact you just blew up my news feed liking things I wish you didn’t. Looking at stories first I wish you hadn’t. But you linger reminding me you’re still there.

This is me pretending not to care and if ever anyone would ask, I don’t look at your Instagram or Facebook just to see how you’re doing. Thinking back to a time when I used to know that answer.

This is me pretending not to care because I hate thinking back to a time when you were the one I talked to every day and the Good Morning text I loved waking up to.

This is me realizing I deserve someone who wants to wake up next to me and you were never going to be that person…be what I needed.

This is me realizing you’re someone I can’t trust any more even though there were moments I confided in you about everything. Moments where you meant so much to me and I thought it was mutual.

This is me pretending not to care because I didn’t deserve to be lied to, led on or fucked with just because you were unsure. Regardless, I fell for every line so foolishly thinking just maybe you wouldn’t hurt me too.

This is me looking at you for who you are, not the person I wanted you to be.

This is me trusting my friends more than myself, because none of them understood what I saw in you. But I didn’t want to give up on you. But looking back, maybe I should have.

This is me pulling back on my effort because you didn’t deserve it in the first place. This is me pretending not to care all those times you disappointed me. All those times you didn’t show up when you swore you’d be there. All those times you made up lies of why you had to cancel. All those times I did so much leaving you to do so little, but you couldn’t even do that.

This is me pretending not to care because I know I deserve better, even in the moments I thought you were the best.

This is me pretending not to care because it hurts to look back at the good times we had together, because it wasn’t all bad and you weren’t so horrible. I think back to every laugh and every memory I hold so close to my heart. All those times you did help me, make me better and happier. Every time we parted ways I meant it when I said “I love you.”

This is me pretending not to care because I hate the fact we didn’t end up together. I hate analyzing things and wondering why and thinking it was me or something I did wrong.

This is me pretending not to care because I hate thinking it was me who fell short of what you deserved when I tried so hard to be it.

This is me pretending not to care because it’s easier to say, “I don’t care” than admit you hurt me as much as you did. Admit you shook up my life just by being in it, and how much you affected me every time you walked away.

This is me pretending not to care because I think part of me always will. Part of me will always look for you in the places we used to go together. Part of me will always turn my head sharply when I hear someone call your name. Part of me will secretly wish it’s you just so I could see you again, but at the same time, knowing it’s better if I don’t.

This is me pretending not to care because I wish I could hate you and you probably deserve it, but I know deep in my heart I never actually will and I’ll always be grateful to have had you, even if you weren’t mine to keep.

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He’s The Guy.

He’s the guy who isn’t going to be another drunk mistake. He might take you home. You might lay in the same bed. But nothing is going to happen that first night because the guy worth waiting for, isn’t some one night stand you regret. He’s someone who is going to take care of you.

He’s the guy who is going to take you on a real date. Where he dresses really sharp.

Meeting for drinks isn’t his style.

He’s going to take you to his favorite spot, and not some dive bar to get you drunk. Because he wants to know what you’re like sober.

He’s going to hold open your door and pull out your chair. He’s going to stand when you excuse yourself from the table. He’s going to let you pick the app you like even if he doesn’t like it. He’s going to let you order first and let you try his, giving you part of it if you like his better. He’s going to pay even when you try to and won’t allow it.

He’s the guy who is going to drive you home even if you live far away, and he’s not afraid of meeting your parents. Because he wants them to know you’re being taken care of and with someone good.

He’s the guy who tells his friends about you and brings you around to meet them, because someone who is important to him is important to them.

He’s going to want to meet your friends too. He’s going to want to make a good impression. He’ll deal with the pressing questions as they come and handle it with grace.

He’s the guy who is going to keep his word. Someone who doesn’t cancel on dates and tells you things, so you aren’t in the dark about what’s going on. He’s someone who is going to work to make you feel confident in him as he spends time building your trust.

He’s the guy who is going to care about the things you’re interested in, and even if it’s different for him, he’ll try. He’s going to support you and be happy for you when something goes right, but when things go wrong, he’s going to be there too remind you it’s okay and things are going to get better.

He’s the guy who is going to listen when you speak, even if you’re rambling or just talking in a whisper. And, he’s going to remember the things you say. He’s going to make a mental note of the things you like and what you don’t.

He’s the guy who is going to answer your texts and calls, because he doesn’t play games and he sure as hell won’t want to mess with your head or your heart. Someone who values the physical aspect of relationships and goes into it teaching you that too. Showing you what sex should be like.

Someone whose touch you crave when you wake up even if it’s next to him. Someone who never stops kissing your forehead or pulling you close. A simple touch under the table as he puts his hand on your leg that means so much.

He’s the guy that makes even Sundays doing nothing but laying in bed something to look forward to. Someone you enjoy just watching a show with. A silence that isn’t awkward, but broken by a joke because he knows how to make you laugh harder than anyone.

He’s the guy who isn’t just telling you you’re something great, he’s showing you through actions, appreciation, and treating you better than anyone has before him making it look so easy.

He talks about a future like he’s sure of it, and it scares you because no one has ever looked at you that confidently before.

He’s the guy who is going to take the time to learn you. Your quirks and flaws, and he isn’t going to judge you for it, he’ll work his way around it and help you to overcome things making you better. He’s someone who is going to push you to achieve things simply because having him in your corner makes you believe in yourself.

If there’s something you don’t know he doesn’t make you feel dumb, he sits down and explains it until you get it because that’s what a healthy relationship is about, teaching the other person.

It’s realizing you guys are a team and there are things you have to overcome together. He’s not going to walk away when you fight or lose it, you’ll work through whatever the problem is. He’s someone who knows when to apologize and how to make up and doesn’t hold mistakes over your head when you’re wrong.

He’s the guy who is going to make you feel beautiful when you’re in a baseball hat and a t-shirt. But he’s also going to be brutally honest when you ask his opinion. Because he might think you’re beautiful in anything, but he wants you to believe it too.

He’s the guy who is close to his family and pushes you to have better relationships with yours. Someone who isn’t afraid to tell you when you’re wrong and pushes you to always do the right thing. When you think of positive influences in your life, he’s it.

And you sit back thinking about your past and it’s like you always knew you deserved someone’s best, but because of your past, it just makes you appreciate, value, and want him more each day. Because when you meet the right person, all of it comes together so easily. Everything just feels right and it’s been a while since you’ve been that sure of anyone.

So you say a quick prayer and count your blessings, because you know you’re the lucky one.

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