Category Archives: Coping

Olivia Pope, where are you?

I love Scandal. I love everything about that show, especially the way Kerry Washington, as Olivia Pope, says “It’s handled.” She’s so firm and definite when she says that.

This was one of those days when I wish Olivia could burst through my apartment door and just tell me those magic words: “It’s handled.” The day started with an anxiety attack when I got up. It wasn’t a big one on my personal Richter scale, but it was a pain nonetheless. It passed and I got on with my day, but then there were a bunch of little things that got to me. People who were supposed to contact me but didn’t. A client website that was supposed to go live but hasn’t. And my favorite: a trip to Automated Phone Hell when I tried to tell a utility company that  I have a new phone number, but could not get directed to the right place to share that piece of information. When I finally got a human, she told me that she “couldn’t take that information”–and gave me yet another number to try. I tried it, and once again I got nothing but automated choices. “Report a new phone number” was not one of them.

So I ended the day with my heart beating heavily and my blood boiling. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to tell normal anxiety from abnormal anxiety. I’m thinking that most people’s blood would boil after the day I had, so I try not to over-analyze it.

But boy, I wish Olivia was here. I might just have to watch a Scandal episode on Netflix just to see her.

So many sounds drive me nuts

I can’t stand it when people whistle or hum.

There, I said it. And I said it knowing full well that most people find these sounds appealing. But–as I am reminded constantly–I am not most people.

Given my love of music, you’d think I’d enjoy these sounds. But every time I hear someone whistling or humming, I want to strangle them. Or, at least tell them to shut up. Tonight, I was on a crowded subway, and I was pinned next to a woman who whistled and hummed. I looked at her face and she seemed so comfortable and at peace. This made me hate her even more.

I have no idea why whistling and humming affect me like they do. But then again, I have no idea why many sounds affect me like they do. Currently, my landlord is having to scrape a lot of snow and ice off the roof. (Warning: I am posting about the crappy weather again.) He must do this to prevent leaks and ice dams. But I live on the first floor, and I jump every time I hear snow and ice falling. Every single time.

Sometimes, I think my only answer is to keep my iTunes ear buds pasted to my ears. That way, I get to hear sounds and music that I want to hear. But my doctor warns me against doing this too much. What I call a coping mechanism, he calls a crutch. I don’t agree with him 100 percent, but he does have a point. If I spend too much time tuning out the “real world”, that’s no good.

I did not reach for my tunes to drown out that annoying whistling, humming woman. My heart raced and my blood boiled, but I just let them do whatever they needed to do.

I’m just glad I’m home now, enjoying some peace and quiet. Except for the sound of the wind blowing outside. Boy, I wish I could stop that.

How snow memes are helping me keep my sanity

I haven’t posted in a few days. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to. It’s because I’ve been posting a lot about snow and cold lately, and I thought things might be getting a little boring.

But I live in New England, which means my world has been little else but snow and cold for the past three weeks. And according to the weather forecast, there’s no immediate end in sight. So, forgive me for posting again about cold and snow, but it sure is on my mind. I’m starting to forget what grass looks like.

There aren’t many, but I do think there are some upsides to living in a “giant snow farm.” I’m sick and tired of this winter, but I know damn well I’m not the only one. I know that because everyone I know who lives here will tell you how sick and tired they are of it, too. Like so many others with depression and anxiety, I tend to think that I’m the only one feeling so frustrated when I’m in a deep funk. In an odd way, this collective frustration is kind of comforting. I swear, the only people in Boston who are happy right now are skiers and roofing contractors.

I also take comfort in humor, and thanks to Facebook, I’ve seen a lot of snow memes that have made me smile. Several friends — most of whom live in the warm South — put them right on my timeline. I’m glad they do. These memes are helping me keep what little sanity I still have right now. Here are some of my favorites.


Anxiety got me today, but it didn’t beat me

I spent a good part of my day today in a doctor’s crowded waiting room. Right beside me, there was a mother with her son, who looked like he was about 3 or 4. There were two stanchions in the office, and probably out of boredom, the kid started knocking them together. He created a clanging sound–and then he wouldn’t stop. The clangs weren’t loud, except in my head. There, they might as well have been clashing cymbals.

I couldn’t get the sounds out of my head, and before I knew it, my heart was beating faster and it was getting harder to breathe. Hello, anxiety attack! I moved to another seat, far away from this kid. I thought that would stop the attack, but it didn’t. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that the kid was still playing with his new “toys.” Just the sight of that kept the attack going. I closed my eyes and took deep breaths. That helped, but the anxiety was still there, taking up a lot of space in my head. When I finally got called in to the doctor’s office and the nurse asked me my birth date, I couldn’t remember it. I had to look through my IDs to be reminded.

The anxiety has passed now. It always does, but it can never pass soon enough. Though I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, my chief doctor believes that at least some of my anxiety comes from my depression. I take both depression meds and anxiety meds, but they obviously don’t stop the attacks altogether.

I’m trying to make peace with the idea that this may be the new normal for me. But it isn’t easy. Really, the kid wasn’t making that much of a disruption. His mother, for better or worse, ignored the whole thing. But the more I try and think about why that little thing affected me, the more worked up I get.

At least I didn’t cause a scene. Even when I couldn’t remember my birthday, the nurse arched her eyebrows, but that was about it. Nurses see everything, and I’m sure she’s seen and heard a lot worse.

So, I’m writing about it here and I’m letting it go. At least my anxiety didn’t stop me from doing what I needed to do today.

It gave me a fight. But it didn’t win.



8 scientifically-backed ways to beat the winter blues

winterYeah, yeah. I’ve been posting a lot about winter lately. But that’s what’s on my mind. Anyway, I found this list on Real Simple this morning, and figured I’d pass it along. I don’t know about you, but I could use as many of these tips as I can get. And please feel free to share your own tips in the comments section.

Read the list by clicking here.

Hanging on to hope

Yesterday, I posted about my tough time coping with Boston’s record snowfall. In the past two weeks, we’ve seen 6 feet of the white stuff, and no, I am not exaggerating.

We all have our ways of coping, or not coping. Most people I know–myself included–have been complaining. A lot. That’s why a Facebook post from one of my friends stuck out for me yesterday. It simply read:

The Boston Red Sox equipment truck heads out for spring training in Florida on Thursday.

Mind you, that’s not that spring training is starting, or that the Red Sox themselves are leaving for Florida. Their EQUIPMENT TRUCK is heading out.

“This guy’s really grasping at straws,” I thought to myself. Just then, one of his friends responded with, “Yeah, the truck will leave–WEATHER PERMITTING.”

I knew I couldn’t top that, so I didn’t. But my friend has the right idea. Even if he is grasping, he’s hanging on to hope–and reminding us that, even if we don’t believe it now, spring will come very soon. It sounds corny, but I see a parallel with my depression. When I’m in one of my dark periods, I think it will never end. But just like the snow and the winter, it does.

Instead of telling my friend that he was grasping at straws, I responded by thanking him for reminding me that this winter will soon come to an end. It was something I really needed to hear.

An appropriate thought for MLK Day


Merry Christmas. And remember–it will soon be over

Merry Christmas to all my followers and readers who celebrate. And hang in there, too.

Seriously, everyone I know is at least somewhat stressed out by Christmas. I’m okay with it, but I think that’s only because I’m Jewish. Yes, we have Chanukah. But unless you have kids (which I don’t), or you’re very religious (which I’m not), Chanukah just isn’t that big a deal. It’s really not even a major holiday, as far as Jewish law is concerned. No big deal means less stress. I do celebrate Christmas with friends. But somehow, being Jewish seems to give me a psychological cushion. I do things because I want to; not because I’m expected to.

If Christmas was my holiday, I’d be as stressed out as everyone else is–probably even more so. All that commercialism and pressure–it’s a lot to deal with. That’s why I say “hang in there” along with “Merry Christmas.” Because December 26 WILL come. I promise.


What makes me smile: Stephen Colbert’s “We’ll Meet Again”

Yes, my blog is called Not Always Smiling. But I sure do smile when something genuinely touches me. Last night, Stephen Colbert did just that with his show’s finale, and particularly, this song. Just watch it. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again. I’ve watched it three times already. Makes me smile every time.

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