Describing Your Anxiety…With Made-Up Words?

Is there a name for that piece of (otherwise useless) wood that you used to stir a can of paint?  You know what I mean.  It's been sitting in the corner of your garage for a year or so now.  Half exposed wood, half dried paint.
Douglas Adams gave it a specific and unique name: cotterstock.
I've had Douglas Adams' and John Lloyd's The Deeper Meaning of Liff on my bookshelf for a few years.  It's a fun read.  The back of the book describes it as "[t]he classic dictionary of words for which no words exist." In other words, it gathers hundreds of activities, situations, or concepts that are familiar to us -- yet unnamed -- and assigns words to them.  (Liff, for example, is their word for "a common object or experience for which no word yet exists.")
Confused? Don't be. Put simply, it's a book of fun words that don't exist (but should).  Here are a few of my favorite made-up words from the book:


Thank You, Anxiety, For Warning Me When Enough is Enough

Everyone gets all thankful around Thanksgiving. But we're nowhere near November, so why am I thinking about thankfulness in August?
Two reasons: first, it's important to take a break from anxiety once in awhile & reflect on something positive. Right? I mean, if you're constantly thinking about the past and focusing on, say, regrets or failures, doesn't the past grow weighty and uncomfortable?
Surely we can reach into our personal histories once in awhile and pull out the gems.  The events and things and people that have shaped us, molded us, or even whittled us down -- to our ultimate benefit.


On Tapering: Why Paxil is Like a Bank Loan

Note: On Friday, Longshot Magazine gave potential contributors 24 hours to write about debt. Financial debt, social debt, genetic debt -- anything. [Then, their team edits, paginates, and prints an actual physical magazine by the 48-hour mark!]
So, I wrote about debt and Paxil.  My piece wasn't selected for publication into the magazine, but it's still worth sharing along with this question: do you owe something to your meds?  Or do they owe you?)
Nobody told me that Paxil was a bank loan.  That serotonin carries compound interest.  That neurotransmitters bill you for the inconvenience of a psycho-pharmaceutical whiteout.
But the Paxil sent the panic attacks to bed and woke up the calm, so I didn't care about the future.  I lived in a direct-to-consumer television ad with flowers and rainbows and ponies and Lisa Frank stickers.  I floated through life, care-free and careless, rolling in the grassy hills of selective serotonin reuptake inhibition.
Nobody told me that, after the honeymoon, my emotions would disappear. No sad, no happy.  No warmth, no joy.  No adrenaline, no excitement.  I flatlined.
That was my first collections call.

ADA Accommodations

How To Request Workplace Accommodations for Panic Disorder

Imagine this: you're at work and you're having a panic attack.  Your heart is racing.  You feel like you're going to throw up or pass out.  You feel scared and embarrassed in front of your co-workers.
Perhaps you know that you can alleviate the attack by taking a quick walk or by taking a quick break in the bathroom.  Or, maybe you know that sitting down and drinking some water will help.
But what if your workplace doesn't allow you to take a walk or a bathroom break?  What if your workplace doesn't allow you to sit down?  Or allow you to have food or drink at your workstation?
Are you forever stuck without the resources you need in order to calm (or prevent) your panic?


Dear Anxious College Students: Slow Down, Breathe

Today at my 9-to-5 office job, I started feeling a little queasy.
I was staring at one of the 7 or 8 gigantic Excel spreadsheets that I had open on my desktop.  The tiny little rows and columns started to shift, overlap, and blend together into a distorted lattice of alphanumerical dizziness.
Probably just eye fatigue, really.  But coupled with the uncomfortably ill-feeling belly, it felt like a red-alert warning.  Something is wrong with your body!, the warning cried.  You're going to puke and you can't see straight!  Danger!  Danger!


Is Your Migraine Medicine Making You Panic?

The other week, I wrote about the frustrating world of migraine symptoms.  So many migraine symptoms overlap with my own personal panic triggers.  (And I'm sure I'm not the only one who can't easily deal with nausea, pain, and dizziness -- you too, right?)
And now, another great migraine-related Catch 22: when the effects of migraine medicines overlap with your panic triggers. You may know the feeling.  You feel a migraine coming on, and you've got a pill in your pocket that can save you from the pain, the sensitivity to light, and the sick stomach.  Of course, that pill -- that miracle pill, really -- is going to make you lightheaded.  Or jittery.  Or drowsy and all fatigue-y.
If fatigue, sleepiness, and the jitters have a proven history of making you panic, do you still take the miracle pill?


How Do You Classify Or Organize Your Panic Attacks?

They say that no two snowflakes are alike.
Perhaps this is true; perhaps it isn't. But can't they at least be classified into snowflake types?
Some have a round edge; some are scalloped. Some resemble flowers; others look like tiny spider webs. So many different types.
Close-up photos of snowflakes are beautiful to look at.  But, you're reading a blog about anxiety -- not weather or photography -- so we're not going to examine snowflake structure in depth here.  (If that bums you out, see if this makes you feel any better.)
Instead, we'll look at panic.  Panic attacks aren't quite as thrilling to examine under a microscope as snowflakes.  But if you suffer from them, some close investigation can provide you with new insights about the way your body and mind work (and work together).


Are You Afraid of Lightning? (I Wasn’t, Really…Until Yesterday)

The sky was gray and I heard thunder in the distance.  It wasn't even raining yet during my head-throbbing walk from my car to the front door.
I had left work early with a migraine. I walked into my apartment and hurriedly got ready for my date with the dark bedroom: meds, a glass of water, and an ice pack.  It was 3:00 pm.
The other week, I finally bought some light-blocking curtains for the bedroom.  ("Helps reduce stress and improve sleep!" boasted the plastic package.)
Glad to finally have a dark room to retreat to, I drew the curtains shut.  Save the light of the alarm clock, I was in near complete darkness.
Ahhhh.  Perfect.
For about five seconds or so.


Success, Failure, and High School Math: Part II

(This is part two of Success, Failure, and High School Math.  You can find part one here.)


I had to define "logarithm."

"A logarithm," I wrote while smirking, "is the rhythm at which loggers work!"

I should have known that math teachers don't have a high tolerance for lumberjack humor -- or creativity in general.


Success, Failure, and High School Math: Part I

I hate the word "success."

Wait, no -- I don't hate the word.  I hate its overuse.  Success this, success that.  Dream it, do it. Believe it, achieve it. Blah blah.

Success.  The get-rich-quick crowd hawks it via books and CD's. The multi-level marketing cultists sing its siren song.  Even conventional wisdom equates success with money.