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Anxious Lazy Ass, Am I


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Hello All,

I've been watching from the sidelines and have decided to jump on board. I've read so many interesting things here and hope to contribute more.

I'm a tortured soul--although when I read about some of the things others are facing I feel guilty, self pitying and self indulgent.

So, what's torturing me, you ask? Well, it is mostly my inactivity and stubborn procrastination. I am coming out of a long, acute anxious episode, so I suppose GAD is an issue. The episode started in June, six months ago, and caused all the usual physical symptoms (clammy hands, insomnia, racing obsessive thoughts, scary rapid weight loss, loss of appetite) and the psychological ones as well (fearfulness, jumpiness, depressive thoughts). Depression and generally negative thought patterns are another issue.

This is my second time on the acute anxiety-go-round and I gotta say I don't like it. My first was several years ago when I started a job that was very stressful and was trying to buy a house in an insane market (like 50% overbids on crappy  bungalows in depressed neighborhoods...ah Northern California living...).  Before that I've just had low level, but mighty persistent, anxiety most of my life.

Now for my short childhood story: I grew up in New York City in the 70s. My parents BOTH have OCD and are hoarders. Double trouble. I lived in a one bedroom apartment with them, about 4 feet of newspapers, clothes, and other crap covering every inch of floor space for 18 years. UGH. Everyone on this board who has described living in these conditions as a child has my full and total sympathy. And anyone on the board who suffers from this affliction and has children living with him/her, I implore you to get the help you need.

There were some funny episodes, like when the newspapers avalanched toward the front door and basically locked us out. And we were on the 8th floor of an apartment building, so no chance in hell of just climbing in through a window and sorting things out. That SNAFU caused a whole day to be spent pushing the door until _I_ could fit my hand in and start pulling newspapers out. I think I was about 10 when that happened.

This event was a nightmare come to life. For a long time before that and after I worried about becoming homeless. Reason being that my mother was not liked by the property managers of the apartment. Something to do with her flooding our bathroom (and the downstairs neighbor's as well...) over and over again. See the tub hot water ran ALL THE TIME. So if you plugged the tub for a bath and just forgot about it and went out for a walk...there's only so much water a couple of feet of newspapers can absorb before...

So, to make my life hell and to rid themselves of a chronic problem, the landlord started eviction proceedings when I was 7. These went on and on and on until I was 17 when we got the final boot. The legal notices were posted on our door all the time. I was always in fear. The process was tough because NY rent control laws aren't easy on landlords and my parents can be damn slippery. So, the landlord resorted to harassment to intimidate us. Suddenly there were rats in the hallway, clear, undetectable, vegetable oil on the hard terrazzo floor in the hallway, and the constant crazy gluing of our front door lock (when we were all out, of course). My childhood action story also had a near brush with salvation in the form of harassment via child abuse reports. Unfortunately, the reports were always hilariously spurious and my mother evaded the home visits expertly. So, my chance to be plucked out of this misery and enter the NYC foster home system was dashed time and time again.

Other funny childhood memories involve being taken out by my mother on nightly dumpster diving runs to the local gourmet shop. Yup, that's right having dinner out of a garbage can isn't great, but Dean and Deluca could make it just a little bit better. The worst of it is that I was appointed sentry as we knew a bunch of people in the neighborhood and the garbage was just piled up in bags in front of the store (not too many back alleys in NYC, you see) on the sidewalk. So while mom tore bags open and sifted through the contents, I had to keep watch and hiss at her as people approached. It sucked. And made me so anxious. Some nights were a bust, others delightful. For example, the store decided to dump their inventory of european chocolate covered shortbread once. Maybe 40 boxes or so. Yum! A funny bust night was when my mom ripped open a bag, exposed a chain of sauerbratuen, someone walked by so we stepped aside acting nonchalant, and then a stray cat jumped out of the gutter climbed the trash bags and stole the sausages. A bad bust night was when a pervert was watching us and we waited for him to go away. Of course, this made him think my mom was whoring me (I was obviously 10 so this was a rather nasty man) so he approached and asked me if I wanted to sit on his face. How nice. I tell you, living with my mother was like being in anxiety finishing school. Endless opportunities to get that GAD nicely cemented in place.

So, what else, can I tell you about childhood? I went to school with a bunch of rich, pretentious kids so I really got to work on my low self esteem there. Actually there were some good people there, but shit, when you have to actively avoid having a friend visit your home, it's just kind of hard to make real friends. They say we kids were smart, but when you don't have a room to study in and you sleep on a bed of newspapers next to your neat stack of textbooks, and you feel anxious all the time, well, you just don't pay much attention to school work.

Ah, another reason to not focus on school work was my drive to just plain work. As in make my own money so I could buy myself proper food and clothes, go to the movies with friends, buy tapes (dating myself, I know), just normal stuff. I worked from about 10 through high school. I'm kind of in awe of how tenacious I was back then as now I am anything but.

I could distract myself with working and playing with my friends but sometimes the crazy house would depress me too much. That happened when I was 15. I popped about 20 Drixoral tablets in a valiant effort to turn all off. I went to sleep feeling rather productive. And then I woke up the next morning with my heart racing and my pupils way dilated. I was scared, so I told my mother what I had done and off we walked (that's right. an ambulance or a cab would have been too expensive) to the ER. And my mother was spazzing out that no one could know that I had tried to kill myself so I had to come up with the acceptable "reason". The lie we concocted and told the ER staff was that the pills were in an Altoids box and the strong peppermint smell made them taste just fine. And I was watching a scary movie so I practically just swallowed them whole, one after another. The docs were all very kind and either believed the story or just didn't want to deal with a train wreck that night. So I was admitted for a night, stuck on a heart monitor and IV, and sent home the next afternoon. I am 99% sure no psychiatrist came by to assess, etc.

Well, I survived, went on to college, started two careers, and since 2001 have been wandering aimlessly through life and graduate school. My biggest wish right now is to have a vocation, a career, job, whatever, that I really enjoy. That doesn't make me anxious. That makes me feel productive and good. Problem is that I just don't know what that job would be or if it is feasible to get there from here. Now I am in massive Limbo with a thesis to write and two part-time internships dragging on and on and on.

I could post chapter 2--after the high school years, if anyone is interested to know more.

Oh, and while I'm here, the current pharmaceuticals I take to fix my brain are 60 mg. fluoxetine, 30 mg. buspirone, and lorazepam occasionally as needed. They work pretty well, but my procrastination is a bitch that causes much anxiety that the pills can't handle. Anyone find any wonder drugs for procrastination?

Ciao all,

WC

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Hi WC welcome.

Your application for membership has been accepted.  We'll email your membership card when we get around to it.  ;)

Please, do honor us with your after high school tale.  You are a wonderful story teller. I'm gonna chuckle over the newspaper/door blocking all night.

Well you've bludgeoned me with a topic till I finally realized we need a forum...Procrastination! I could fill up the rest of the page with the things I'm putting off and worrying over.  Others are too. Hmmm now to approach Velvet Elvis....

See you around,

A.M.

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Hi Weasel (I can't call you WC, I just can't),

Welcome to crazyland. The newspaper bed was what got me, with all the text books stacked next to it. Have you tried wellbutrin? I take prozac too (fluoxetine) and buspar but they seem to sap me of energy. The wellbutrin adds a little kick at least. Procrastination sucks. When I was writing my thesis I often found myself lying on the floor at 4 am pulling dog hairs out from between the floorboards with a tweezers, so I know where you're coming from. Stick around. Write the next chapter. We'll try not to make a mess. Millie

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I liked the story of the bathroom flooding with the comment "there's only so much water a couple of feet of newspapers can absorb before...".

I can't wait for chapter two.  Chapter one was very funny. 

I always thought my parents were packrats, now I see our house was just cluttered.

kane

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Weaseltine, I loved reading your story.  Please do tell us more.  You've definitely kept your humor intact! 

Procrastination sucks. When I was writing my thesis I often found myself lying on the floor at 4 am pulling dog hairs out from between the floorboards with a tweezers, so I know where you're coming from.
Millie, this totally cracked me up, because I can relate.  Did you finish your thesis?
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Air Marshall, Millie O, rayzunkane, Libby and Lily (and all those who read without leaving a note  ;) ),

Well, I am so glad that you liked my tale. And I was worried I would immediately get the skull and crossbones for my fairly dry sense of humor...

Yes, Libby, I am fortunate that I can see the irony and humor in some dire situations. It is a good survival trait. If I could bottle it and sell it to y'all I'd be in good shape!

And thank you, Air Marshall, about seeing to a Procrastination Nation forum. We lazy asses need SO much help in getting moving most of the time.

Millie, I haven't tried Wellbutrin. I get a bit riled up from over 60 mg. fluoxetine so I've never had energy problems. I suspect the buspirone is all placebo effect, but if it works for now...I'll go with it. My two acute anxious periods were due to my going off fluoxetine (unsupervised) and encountering some big stressors. My reactions were almost identical each time. Growing irritability, manageable anxiety but no depression or unusual anxiety. Then the start of a period and BLAM!!!! Instant hyper anxiety. The kind that causes one to drop 20 pounds in a couple of weeks. They were both amazingly dramatic, but very unpleasant.

I find it neat that different parts of the childhood tale resonate with each of you. I looked at them again and realized that a few explanatory details might help flesh out the images you have in your minds. The newspaper bed was really the passageway from my parent's bed to the bedroom door. So, I suppose, technically, I slept on the "floor". But, to get to their bed you stepped down a foot from the newspaper passageway. Also, to use the telephone which was on a night table, you stuck your hand down a hole by the side of the bed and groped around for the receiver. To dial you counted the holes in the dial with your fingers (This was one of those cool old-fashioned rotary dial phones).

And the bathroom, sigh, what a mess when it flooded. Actually all that happened was that my mom finally hauled off most of the papers. We still didn't ever have access to the toilet. (That's why I am so glad I was in NYC and could walk across the street to a public john.) Now, I mentioned that the tub only had hot water, scalding hot water. You might wonder how one could bathe. Well, the sink was strategically positioned next to the tub and what do you know...the COLD water ran all the time there. So a little mixing and matching and we were in business.

Also, on the need to dumpster dive, we had no access to the kitchen or living rooms of this apartment. So meals had to be ready-to-eat-ish. My mom still does her daily shopping this way and my dad never says a word. One day she was feeding him cottage cheese for dinner and he found a cigarette butt!! He just walked away from the bowl without saying anything! Cracked me up because at the time I was an insolent, out-of-there, 17 year old, but poor dad, sigh.

I hope you all have been enjoying some time off this weekend and aren't too bummed out by the holidays. I'm home alone with my husband and I love it! We cleaned out the fridge and sent a bunch of pantry stuff to the food bank. No responsibilities to put on a show for anyone, just some extra time to do our own things that we think need doing. It's not bad at all.

Ciao All,

Weasel

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Good to see ya back!

My weekend was okay, I have to say Cymbalta helps me tolerate most things.  Plus I think everyone was trying to behave.

I can't believe you had to walk across the street to use the bathroom.  We had 5 people and 1 bathroom and I thought that was tough.  Now we have 3 people and 2 bathrooms and I still have to wait my turn.

kane

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Hi Weasel,

Sounds like your weekend was nice. I'm glad.

There's a name for that pack-rat thing, isn't there? Hasn't it been designated its own little label in the DSM? I think so. Of course I can't remember what it is.

We used to live in an old converted barn at the end of a dirt road on 40 acres of woods (actually, it was a lot more that 40, but that's what our landlord owned). The landlord lived down the road in a falling-down farmhouse. She had the pack- rat affliction. One time we minded her dogs and, although they stayed outside in a kennel, I found myself looking in her back door for one reason or another (most likely just being nosey). Stuff was stacked 3 and 4 feet high. There were little paths from the kitchen to the living room and over to the stairs (open floor plan in this place). Milk cartons and newspapers and piles and piles of clothes. I burst into tears. I had never seen anything like it. It made me so sad to see someone's mental illness (and yes, I think it qualifies as illness) so adeptly illustrated. Seems like such a backward attempt to create order out of chaos. I dunno. It just struck me. I don't imagine that one could grow up in an environment like that and NOT be anxious.

Another thing that struck me was the fact that your parents insisted on putting on such a good show for the neighbors - hiding out during the dumpster runs and pretending everything was ok. The fact that she was worried that people might find out you tried to kill yourself just pisses me off. My family was like that too. All secrets and lies and putting on a show. Ugh.

Millie

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Hi Millie and kane,

Suffering is all relative, isn't it? I read many posts on CB and feel so fortunate to have such fairly vanilla issues. But then I get set up for thinking I am weak when I have sad feelings about my "vanilla" issues...and then that just goes round and round.

It is good when the meds take some of the edge off and you can catch yourself in absurdly negative thought patterns before they spiral. I was in a CBT group for depression in 1998 and still benefit from what I learned...although I'm sure I need a refresher.

You are right about the hoarding being a MI unto itself. It's one of the expressions of OCD. The hoarder obessesses about negative consequences of throwing anything away and is compelled to keep everything. There may also be a need to feel in control of/aware of information and material things by keeping them all in sight scattered about. Like most OCD behaviors, it is really bizarre, and hard to change as the anxiety and obsessions are so strong and reinforcing of the behaviors.

I have some OCD traits and can remember symptoms when I was a child--mostly obsessions/recurring thoughts that were anxiety producing. For some reason I didn't develop compulsions in response to these thoughts. Well, I did end up with some compulsions that don't seem to have an obsessive component which is strange. Since I was little, I chewed at the skin around my fingernails. I remember someone asking me when I was about 11 why I did this and I thought about it and could only come up with, "I like the texture of the skin between my teeth". When I hit puberty I got into skin picking, big time. That is the compulsion that remains with me to this day.

I was reading though my story of part one and realized that I omitted a very important part of my post high school story--my husband. Yikes. Now what does that say about me and our relationship? Probably nothing as the essay was about childhood and my thoughts were not in the present at all when I was writing.

But, I am thinking about the importance of this part of my life. We've been together for 15 years, married for the past two. We are very closely bonded and while I'm sure we keep some secrets, we can usually read the other person pretty well. Also fortunately for me my husband is a doer whereas I am a procrastinator. We have conflicts over that (usually me getting pushed into activity and me complaining about it) but it is a good balance. I keep him more restrained than he would ordinarily be and he pushes me further than I could go by myself.

Well, this is not really chapter two, yet. I'm still forming that in my head. Just wanted to respond to your messages.

I hope you are doing well,

Weasel

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  • 4 weeks later...

I can't believe I have procrastinated writing chapter two! ;) Well, actually I'm lying.

I decided to try to kick my butt a little this January and try working on my many projects. I've also hooked up with my great tdoc again and we are focusing on keeping me moving. So far, it's been an improvement over December's inactivity.

I also got hooked on some books which were a great read and informative, to boot: Monkeyluv, A Primate's Memoir, and The Trouble with Testosterone, by Robert Sapolsky. He's a neurobiologist and does research on MIs as well as the effects of stress on the body. The books are kind of pop science, very readable, thought-provoking, hilarious at times, and great fun. I swear they have given me some good insights to my various maladies.

I had a crazy high anxiety reaction to pretty much nothing last week that still amazes me. My husband was driving and we were at a 4-way stop. It was our turn so we started up while the car to the right started just rolling ever so slightly into the intersection. My hyper-vigilance caught that pretty damn quick, made me yelp, and kept me feeling for over 24 hours like someone had just scared me out of my skin. So, I decided to try my damndest to not let this hyper anxiety affect my mood, as in not search for a reason I felt so crappy and anxious, and get more anxious and gloomy about that. It worked! Well, that, and .5 mg of lorazepam the following night.

This is actually one of the topics covered in the books I am reading: how the mind affects physical feelings and vice versa. What a tangled web we weave. Anywhoo, that's all for today.

--Weasel

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Hi Weasel,

Welcome back. I, too, am fascinated by the mind/body connection - something happens in my head and my whole body reacts. I read a great book about it last summer but of course I can't remember what it was called. It was yellow. Umm.... it'll come to me. I have a somewhat extensive library on this topic, believe it or not, but I haven't unpacked most of my books cause we haven't made bookshelves in this new house yet. Geez. It's been 4 months. We better get cracking.

Anyway - about chapter two. Don't beat yourself up - I've been procrastinating for about a year.

Millie

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  • 1 month later...

Well, I've been staying away from this thread in characteristic procrastinator fashion. I set myself up for this reaction by saying early on that I would come back and post chapter 2. Does anyone else have this problem? You make "promises" or commitments to complete something by a certain date/time and that, in an of itself, makes it all but impossible to even get started on the project. It's like a self-torturing behavior! Must be part of OC personality disorder or something like that.

Gah. More later.

--Weasel

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Well, I've been staying away from this thread in characteristic procrastinator fashion. I set myself up for this reaction by saying early on that I would come back and post chapter 2. Does anyone else have this problem? You make "promises" or commitments to complete something by a certain date/time and that, in an of itself, makes it all but impossible to even get started on the project. It's like a self-torturing behavior!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Oh GOD yes yes yes. I do it constantly. And the best part is, I totally believe that I'll do it by that ridiculous time-line when I'm making the promise. Yup.

But I'm a slacker, and I like to cut fellow slackers...er, some slack.

So no rush! You post on here whenever you get around to it, ok?

lily

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WEASEL...forgive my tardiness in welcoming you to crazyboards...I have been a slacker...sheesh...

I have been reading your writing, you tell it so well...and I understand the feeling of anxiety. Its been a while since Ive had to deal with symptoms, but you describe the symptoms in a way that made me think "Yes, thats how it was for me,too..."

Very glad you have made it here...Lisa

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Well, I've been staying away from this thread in characteristic procrastinator fashion. I set myself up for this reaction by saying early on that I would come back and post chapter 2. Does anyone else have this problem? You make "promises" or commitments to complete something by a certain date/time and that, in an of itself, makes it all but impossible to even get started on the project. It's like a self-torturing behavior! Must be part of OC personality disorder or something like that.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

oh... the story of my life! It's like driving your own anxiety issues...

welcome to CB Weasel... :-) Laughed quite a bit at part 1, looking forward to part 2... don't beat yaself up, no hurry ;-)

Justin

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