Tag Archives: anxiety

Moving at His Own Pace

Lately, I have been so amazed at my husband.

I struggle with my own monsters in life – Anxiety, Depression, Deafness, and other little things.

But, I look at my husband, and his resilience amazes me. He doesn’t always have a positive outlook on his growing blindness, but he still fights through.

Yesterday, as we walked three miles to our favorite shopping center, he walked along side me, laughing and teasing me as he held my hand while using his other hand to feel the path before him with his cane. He didn’t depend on me completely, but my eyes and words of what was going on around us just supplemented what he had sensually.

Before we had begun the walk,  I noticed him focusing intently as he stepped down the stairs of our apartment. I thought, “He must be counting the steps.” I counted as well. When we reached the ground level, I shared my discovery of each flight being 6 steps. He then shared, “Yes, and the very bottom one in the back flight of stairs has 7.” I never knew that.

An ambulance siren went off by us, I couldn’t hear it, but he did. I could see it, and I told him what direction it went and guessed which hospital it was probably heading. He agreed and hoped it was not a serious situation.

He signed to me, as I had left my hearing aids out. The warm day and the sweat that would likely come makes it hard to keep my loose ear molds in, thus making it even harder to hear. “Leave them out,” he encouraged, before we headed out for our hike. “I can sign, and the kids can, too. You can put them in your backpack and put them in once we get to the mall.”

He wasn’t afraid of my Deafness, and it was fortunate that I could speak clearly enough despite it. That was a huge asset for us, although, he kindly informed me in a tease, “You sound a bit like a pirate when you talk without your hearing aids.”

“Argh!” I teased back. “Now I just need to dress like one!”

My kids loved the idea… Maybe one day, I will.

An overgrown bush edged the sidewalk, and his hand was on my shoulder as I guided him through the narrow passage way. “Duck!” I ducked down to let him feel just how far down he needed to go to avoid the overgrown branches. We cleared it. “They really need to trim those branches on that bush!” I exclaimed.  His exasperated expression showed his agreement. Running into branches unaware is not something he liked doing.

We walked and I shared with him of the scene around us. He was having a good vision day and could see bright colors, but no definite shape. “The sky is so blue! I’m loving it! I haven’t seen such a blue sky in so long.” It’s moments like this where I remember to appreciate my sight.

I notice horse manure on the sidewalk, and I tell him. It wasn’t too surprising to see this, as there was a horse showing arena not far where we were. He laughs, I didn’t know why. I was chuckling for a different reason, though I don’t remember what for. He later told me of something the kids had said of the discovery of the horse manure on the sidewalk. “Who pooped in the middle of the sidewalk!?” one of them had said. It was my turn to laugh.  I tell them, “It’s horse poop!” My daughter looks at me precariously, and signs, “A horse walked this way?  Why?” I reminded her of the Rodeo/show grounds now far from us. “Oooh.” She signed. “That makes sense.”

My husband then signs to me that my eight year old son is cracking jokes about poop. I rolled my eyes. He’s being such a typical boy.

We get to the shopping mall, and I tell him of a new Italian pizza place that opened up. “Want to try it?” I ask. He signs back, “Sure!”

At the restaurant, I described to him what the place looked like, and we shared an amazing pizza, which the kids each had their own opinion of the Italian flair of their American favorite. My husband and I loved it. His sense of taste and smell had heightened since he lost his vision. He signs to me of what he can taste and can smell. I smiled. My sense of smell had long been muted to many sinus infections, and I appreciated his perspective.

At home, he can’t do a whole lot, but he does try.

He helps by doing his laundry, which he has a system to doing. He washes his shirts and pants separately. I help him fold his clothes in the way he likes it. He wears only black and white shirts and has only five to six button up shirts for work. His shirts are alternated black and white, and I tell him which one is on the top so he knows. When he hangs up his shirts, I tell him which one I give him, and he hangs them in order of the days he likes to wear them.

Lately, he has also been exploring his Scottish heritage, and he will ask me to search for something online. I will find a site and share with him in what I find. I read out loud to him, and if there is a picture, I try to describe it to him.

This is one thing he struggles with. He wishes he could see pictures. Even when he inverts the color, which works well for him when he wants to read something enlarged, the pictures don’t look like something he can recognize. Even a picture I took of him, he struggles to see. “Do I look good?” He asks. “Of course, you do!” He had lost a tremendous amount of weight over the past year. I was proud of him for doing so. I explained this to him. “Even my hat looks good on me?” I can tell he struggles with his image. How can you not when you can’t even see yourself?

Another thing about him that I admire –  He is still working. He has kept his job for the past ten years, even despite his gradual vision loss. They’ve, thankfully, been accommodating.

Yet… He’s facing another mountain now. He might have to look for another job, which scares him. He is fighting despite it. He is also now accepting the truth. “I am going blind.” He shudders at the thought of not finding something he can do with his blindness. He hates the thought of going on Disability, but he’s now realizing that might be a reality.

Despite all he’s facing, I still admire and love him. He is trying, and there are people out there who won’t try as much as he does while having a disability.

As I end this… I ask you to please pray for him. Keep him in your thoughts. Ask that God will lift him up and give him hope. He has yet to experience that.

Thank you.


Finding my Safe Place

Today was a rough day for me. Allergies bombarded my senses in the worst way. I struggled to hear, even with my hearing aids on. Breathing was harder as I felt my chest feel congested, which set off other symptoms leading to anxiety.

I felt my heart beating harder and harder as I tried to lipread the speaker at the mom’s group I was at. I couldn’t talk when the other moms began to discuss what was going on. I felt like I wasn’t there. I got up to get a breath of fresh air with hopes of calming my racing heart. I got myself something to drink and finally resorted to taking some medicine to calm the symptoms.

It seemed like I wasn’t there. No one noticed.

I quietly picked up my purse and left.

I admit, I was angry.

I am an introvert in the worst way. I don’t feel like imposing myself on other people. I just wait for people to approach me, and when I drove home, I couldn’t understand why people couldn’t approach me.

After having a cuddling time with my cat, who seemed to know that his mama was not feeling good, I wrote an email to my husband, who works from a computer all day. His response was very encouraging.

“… always remember that they are humans as well, … forgive them…” 

He reminded me that those women didn’t know what was going on. They can’t read my mind or read my body like I can. I probably can hide an Anxiety Attack pretty well.

I couldn’t bring myself to open myself up to them and share my struggles. There are times I wish I wasn’t that way.

He also reminded me that the reason for some of them not approaching me is because of their possible intimidation of my deafness and my partial blindness (I can’t see in the central part of my right eye, and it has caused it to become “lazy”). He deals with it all the time with his blindness. People don’t approach him to be a friend but to “help”. They pity him, and all he has wanted was someone to talk to and be a friend with.  He has it harder, as it is not an invisible disability, but he probably has a good point.

I am just writing this as a gentle reminder for my readers to think about your introverted friends or even those who have a disability. Maybe they’re in the same place I am and don’t know how to share those deep struggles. As much as I do, they need to know of a safe place to share those struggles with.

Be a safe place for them.

Thank you.

Nature is my Medicine

With my feet having recovered from the overzealous hike from the previous weekend, and after having a rough anxiety filled day yesterday, I felt I needed to get out and spend some time alone with my thoughts. With the kids in school, I returned to the Green Mountains, wearing my trusty old tennis shoes this time, and began the trek I had gone before. The mud from the previous weekend had finally dried up, making the way easier, and I also decided to leave my hearing aids behind for this hike. I plugged in my headphones and cranked up my music, but I made sure I stayed to the right side of the path so bikers could just pass me if they came.

I like being deaf, and I also like just listening to music. One thing I will mention – music does sound different without my hearing aids. I hear the low sounds more than I do the higher pitches. When I have my hearing aids, I can hear a higher range of high pitches, though there are some high pitches I will never hear.

I was walking along the long stretch of the trail where there were several forks in the road for other trails, and I decided I didn’t want to walk the 8.9 miles of the weekend before. One fork looked inviting, and without hesitation, I strode down that path feeling confident I would find my way back to my car before it was time to get my kids.

I stayed to the right of the narrower trail, even though I had not seen very many hikers or bikers. I found an easy pace and found that this trail was one I liked. It dipped, turned, ascended, and descended along the small mountainside. It was definitely not a boring path! A couple of bikers and hikers passed me in that hour I walked this peaceful and narrow trail, and a few even smiled and waved as they went by. They were enjoying it as much as I was.

When I came to a part where the current trail met up with main one that looped around the mountain, I realized my hike was almost over. A mile and a half more was to the parking lot, but after the past 4 miles, I was beginning to feel the need to rest and go home. It was then I realized I wasn’t feeling any symptoms of anxiety. I was relaxed, breathing normally, my heart rate was normal (elevated from hiking but not from panic), and it was such a relief. I felt such a joy and a peace, and I was so thankful to have some respite from what I was feeling lately.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. When I got home and was resting after having cleaned myself up, the symptoms flared up and I had no choice but to take some medicine to help calm the symptoms.

As I waited for the symptoms to ease, I began to think about what had transpired.

Being outside had always been a place of peace for me, and hiking allowed my body to be in that place. The mountain isn’t something that man made. God did. I had medicine to help me ease the symptoms of the Anxiety Attacks, but the true peace was when I was around God’s creation.

Oh, I wish I could stay out there in nature all the time, but that’s not what God wants me to do. I realize now I have to take what peace I found out there in Him and bring it into the crazy and man made life I live in.

Isaiah hiking picture

I found this verse today, as well as a wonderful quote from St. Augustine of Hippo, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in thee.”

I have to remember I’m made for Him, and my heart will find it’s rest in God.

It doesn’t mean these symptoms will go away and never come back. I am still struggling with the symptoms, even though I trust God to take care of me. He will hold me. My heart might race, my hands might shake, I might feel claustrophobic, but, despite all that, He will hold me.

I have to believe that. I’ll remember the peace I had on that trail, and I’ll try to bring it into my everyday life. But on days I struggle and need to breathe and find peace, I’ll just be out on that trail with music blasting into my deaf ears. Thankfully, I have that!

Tough Mudder in my Eyes (edited)

Edited: A friend asked me to write more about my team, and now I’ve added that to my story. I’ve excluded names to protect their identity, just in case they don’t want to be known. Thanks!

I woke up with apprehension, knowing this was the day I would face the unknown. I girded myself with courage, knowing I was embarking on a crazy adventure…

…That wasn’t even half the truth.

The team was made up of three tall and strong men and two small women, including myself. I was little, though the other woman was smaller than me!

Where and who did they come from, you may ask?

A just question. As a new resident in Denver, I was still developing friendships as I went. I knew it would take a while before friendships would grow into something stronger, since I was still considered a stranger to these parts. It was in the church I had come to love in the first year residing here, as it was the only church who eagerly met my needs when I asked. I am deaf and needed an interpreter, and to find a church with one was like looking for a needle in a haystack! It was fortunate that I had found one here. It was also here I saw a couple wearing Tough Mudder shirts, and I greeted them, congratulating them on completing it. As I talked to the woman, I told her how I have always wanted to do a Tough Mudder, but just didn’t know anyone who knew about it and would do it with me. Her eyes lit up and said, “You could join us next year! We are going to do it again, too!” She talked to me about wanting to form a team, and I told her I was really interested.

I almost didn’t make it to the Tough Mudder, as finances hadn’t been kind to us as a family trying to make ends meet with just my husband’s income. I was hushed and told my ticket was taken care of. As you could imagine my shock and appreciation, I was overwhelmed… And extremely thankful! I gave her what I could to help pay for whatever expenses she generously covered for me. Her husband, herself, and two other eager men from our church made up our rag band of a team with myself included.

That very morning we all were excited, as well as nervous. I was also prepping myself up for the big day. With some k-tape in hand, I asked the only other female on the team to help me tape up my shoulder. She aptly taped me up, making a beautiful hot pink across my left shoulder.

My newly appointed orthopedic doctor had told me I had Bursitis and had given me a cortisone shot… That whole visit is worth a blog, but that’s for another time. The doctor had suggested I not do this crazy stunt, unless my shoulder pain was much better.  The whole point of taping it was to remind me not to do anything to hurt it even more. I was going to do it.

It was a chilly morning on the mountain side, but the sun ensured us it would be a beautiful day. The five of us donned our gray team colors, marked our numbers to our foreheads, legs, and arms, and joined a throng of other crazed adventure seeking beasts wearing a variety of their own team colors. I could feel their excitement, the vibration of their yelling touched me to the core, sending my butterflies into another hyper dance.

My female counterpart tapped me on the shoulder and I read her lips saying, “You feeling okay?” I nodded. “I am so nervous, but I’m so ready for this!” She nodded excitedly, telling me she was feeling the same way, too.

We walked under an inflated arch marking the space for warm up.I could feel and her the low bass of the music booming out of the speakers near us, and I could see my teammates laugh as I started dancing to the music.

Ahead, a well known icon of the adventure we were embarking on stood on the platform in his short shorts, three bright colored headbands wrapped around his thigh, high knee socks, and a well fitted shirt over his tight muscled chest – It was none other than Coach T. Mud! That got us hooting and hollering! He led us through a warm up, and the excitement began to build even more. I was so ready to start!

They led us through the warm up to a place where a speaker stood, wearing a white jacket with a microphone in his hand. I read his lips as he encouraged us and asked us to kneel. A teammate looked to me, and I saw her ask, “Can you understand him?” I was able to say he was easy to lipread, despite there were times he turned his back on me.

Could I hear him, you may ask? Of course, I couldn’t. I am deaf. My one hearing aid was left behind with one of my teammate’s wife, who waited for us at the finish line.

Finally, we were off! We ran for a good distance, and it felt good to put in some of the training I had managed to do despite the shoulder pain I had over the past month.

The first obstacle came up, and I see volunteers dumping bags of ice into a basin, and I dreaded being cold, but I wasn’t going to let my team down. I climbed up to see a chainlink fence above a slide, leading to a pool of ice water. I knew this was going to take my breath away. The fence was going to force me to put my head under the iced water.

As I hit the water, my head went under, and my feet met the bottom of the pool. I pushed up, feeling my body scream from the cold, and gasped for air as I broke through the icy surface of the water. I could see my teammates coaxing me on, but the voice in my head shouted louder, “MOVE! KEEP MOVING!”  I climbed out of there, shivering, but proud of myself for not letting my fear of the cold overtake me.

The rest of the team made it out, and we ran to warm ourselves up and to make it on to the next hurdle.

We went under barbed wire, pulled up through pipes, fell backwards into cold mud, climbed through even more mud pits avoiding deeper holes, and so much more!

There were a couple of obstacles I passed, for the sake of my shoulder, but I stood on the sidelines cheering my teammates on. I signed, “Champ!” when I saw them make it through the obstacle, and they would smile.

There was one obstacle I wish I didn’t pass. It was called the “Cry Baby”. Just seeing it caused anxiety to rise into my stomach. There was a smell coming out of the boxed chamber set onto the ground, a very irritating gas for the eyes and throat, and on top of that, people would swim under a board in muddy water to get inside and through this very chamber. It scared me bad. The guys were nervous, but I saw one sign, “Brave!” He says, “I’m gonna man up on this! I’m doing it!” He dives under and a minute later, we see him make it across the other side. We cheered, and we all signed, “Champ!”

They had all learned signs as we became a team, knowing I would need to take my hearing aid out. Talk about an awesome team!

The three others decided to do it, leaving me standing in the muddy path trembling in fear. I couldn’t swallow that fear to just do it. They came out triumphant, wiping their irritated eyes and laughing. We began to run away from the obstacle, and I knew I should have just done it.

We climbed over a “Beached Whale”, which was more of a half inflated balloon with ropes around on it to help in climbing over it. It was a sight to see. There were bodies of men and women clambering to find some kind of control and grip, covered in mud, and there were several handprints on some butts, indicating how they managed to get on top of the “whale” in the first place. As I made an effort to jump up, I found myself being pushed up, and I took the opportunity to grab the rope ahead of me. It was quite a challenge to not slide awkwardly on the constantly rocking ballon. My female teammate was already on the ground, and I saw her gesture to me in how to hold the rope as I came down. I did so, and was able to get down without falling.

Another obstacle, which came to be one I loved the most, was a wall of wooden planks stacked up like a ladder nearly 10 feet up. A few of my teammates questioned me with looks, and I said, “I want to do this.” I climbed up, and as I reached the top, it reminded me so much of my love of rock climbing! I climbed down with a smile on my face, and I could see a few of my teammates smile back with the sign, “Champ!”

I can’t say the whole adventure was easy.

One of the hard parts was trying to make the ascension up the mountain to make it to the next point in part of the 11 mile journey. My legs were hurting as I went up, and as I tried to push myself, I felt my chest on fire, making it painful to breathe. About 3 to 4 times I had to stop to ease the pain in my legs. I felt horrible for slowing down my team, but they encouraged me. I fought through the pain and made it to the top, hoping for no more uphill climbs. No… There was quite a few on that journey.

Then came the end.

Electroshock Therapy… Talk about a painful experience. Sure, it scared the crap out of me, but I was going to do it, not knowing how painful it was going to be.

I began to run in the thick mud, anxious for it to be over, and as suddenly as I went down, I felt this painful shock in my shoulder. I yelled, “OW!” I tried to get up, only to get shocked again. I felt my whole body shake in pain. In the corner of my eye, I see my teammate, my hero, come diving in to help me out. He gets shocked, and as we both pull out to the side of the pit, we get shocked again. That. Really. Hurt. I did not want to do that again. I looked to my savior with a smile. “Thank you.” He smiled back and gave me a muddy hug and coaxed me to run to the finish line. I was glad to see that finish line.

We crossed that finish line with orange headbands, layers of mud on our legs and shoes, and every bit of our bodies aching for the beer they promised us at the end.

Would I do it again?

To be honest. Yeah.  I just don’t think I’ll do the shock thing again. As a legionnaire in the Tough Mudder, I think I have that right to pass it. Once is enough. And next time, my shoulder isn’t going to sideline me!

Living in the Present…

… is harder said than done.

The past comes to me as a plague of guilt, shame, and regret. I am so hard on myself for past failures and mistakes, even if some of them were small.

“I should have known better!”

“Well, that was stupid.”

“I wish I had…”

Then there is the future. There is so much anxiety and worry there.

“What if my husband loses his job?”

“Will I ever be able to get a good job?”

“What’s going to happen to us?”

I was back and forth between those places for a long time. No wonder I deal with insomnia, as I am now. I am on anti-depressants to help me deal with depression, and I just felt like I was in a ping pong game of emotions between regret, guilt, anxiety, and worry.

Well, I think God was trying to take me out of the ping pong game last Sunday.

My pastor, from the pulpit, spoke, “God doesn’t live in the past or the future. Though, yes, he was there when the past was happening and will be there when the future comes, he is more interested in the NOW. You want to experience God? Find Him NOW.”

He reminded me of the verses from Matthew 6:25-26 (NIV):

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink’ or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

What a verse! I look outside and see that nature doesn’t have to worry about provisions. God has shown me that he does provide, and I know how easy it is to forget those times. This verse is a good tool to remind ourselves that God WILL provide what we need, so there’s no need to worry about it.

I don’t have to worry about the past or the future. Right now is good enough for me.  My daughter helped me to see that I need to practice what I preach – She worries about the past. She dwells on things that have happened and fears it will repeat again. I told her that she needed to let go of the past. It’s over. “But the past affects the future!” she protested.  I can tell she’s been thinking, and it’s amazing that she thought of this at the age of seven. I told her, “It only does that if you hold onto the past.”  She’s learning to forgive people who hurt her, and in doing so, she’s learning it is the act of letting go of the past. If she doesn’t forgive those people, yes, it will affect her future. She also has to learn, like me, not to worry about the future. I will admit I struggle with the same thing, and I have a longer history of people hurting me. People will disappoint. There will be ups and downs. But the one thing that stays true. God is in control.

Being in the present time with God is a constant practice. Like my daughter, I have to forgive myself and others everyday of the things that have happened. The future may be unknown and scary at times, but I have to not worry. It’s not going to get me anywhere if I do. It will come eventually and be present, but the only thing I can do is what is right now around me.  I have a little girl spending the day with my daughter and she soon needs to go home. I have to exercise to take care of my body. I have a painting in my head that needs to go on a canvas, and a bracelet to make for a friend. Those are things I can do now. I have enough to do to keep me from worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, but if my mind wanders… I know what I need to remember.