You’re Stronger Than You Think

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“Mommy I’m scared. I can’t breathe.”

You never want to hear your child say that to you. And when my four-year-old daughter recently said it to me one night around 2am when her cough went from 0-60 out of nowhere, I didn’t waste a second getting her to the emergency room.

This isn’t going to be the kind of thing where I pat myself on the back for getting my kid the medical attention she needed one scary night just in the nick of time. It’s a fairly basic requirement to keep your kid alive and I did what any normal parent would do in the situation. In fact, I spent the following seven hours pacing nervously around her hospital room, mentally berating myself for all the things I may have done wrong that, in my frazzled state, I thought may have landed her in that room in the first place.

You see, I’m THAT mom. The one who thinks the worst, all the time. The one who worries, who panics, who overthinks and overreacts. I know, I know. We’re parents, we all do that. But when the shit hits the fan, I retreat back into my shell like a terrified turtle — frozen, shaking, crying, feeling sick to my stomach and envisioning every worst-case scenario on earth.

Maybe this is you too. Maybe you’re a worrier, a crier, a freaker-outer like me. Maybe not by nature, but when it comes to your kids at least. Maybe you also often wonder how quickly your legs would turn to jello and your lunch would come back up if your world were to suddenly fall apart at the seams. If so, maybe now I can offer you some hope.

I drove as fast as the gas pedal would allow, flying past red light after red light, one eye glued to the road and the other to my daughter strapped into her car seat behind me. Finally at the ER, we sat for a minute and waited for a nurse while my baby cried and clung to my shoulders, calling out for me in between her tiny gasps for air. I could feel my body trembling from the inside, felt the desperate sobs gathering at back of my throat and the tears welling forcefully under my eyelids. I felt myself breaking down.

This is the moment you are not prepared for as a parent, should you ever find yourself in this situation. This is something you will not learn to handle in a parenting class or a self-help book. This is that make-or-break moment when you are faced with a choice. You can choose to fall apart in this moment, let your anxiety win, let the terror wash over you and just lose your mind completely. 

Or this is the moment you quickly realize there is no choice to be made, and that there never really was. And I promise you, you won’t fall apart. No, instead you will be hypnotized by the adrenaline. Your mommy autopilot will kick in. You’ll push that terror so far back inside that you may never see it again. You’ll put on the bravest face you can muster for your child and you WILL power through it. You got this, mama. 

So in perhaps the strongest moment of my entire life, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and shook it all off. I held my little girl in my arms as tightly as I could and I swore to her that she was going to be absolutely, positively fine. Inwardly, I made the same promise to myself.

If you’re the type who is normally good under pressure, this probably isn’t as big of a deal to you as it seems to me. But in that moment, I will never forget the way I looked fear dead in the face and told it to fuck off. For just a little while, for my sweet, scared baby girl, I was her superhero. I didn’t recognize myself, overcome by this sudden strength I never knew I was capable of. I’m grateful for it, and I sleep a little better now knowing I had that cape all along, tucked away and waiting for the day I’d need to put it on. I really hope I never need it again, but if I do at least I know it’s there.

In case you’re wondering, my daughter is perfectly fine now. I may have kept her calm, but her amazing nurses and doctors kept her alive. I can’t thank them enough.

Five Things I Need in a Bestie

Bestie goals.

So I haven’t posted a new blog in over six months. Why? Well, I won’t bore you with details, but mostly because life. Because stress. Because marriage. Because work. Because 4-year-olds. Because 8-year-olds. Because writers block. Because summer. Because back to school.

Speaking of back to school, my daughter just started kindergarten at the school where my son is currently starting third grade.

If you read my most recent blog post, aptly titled People think I’m a Bitch, you may already know that I’ve struck out pretty hard when it comes to snagging some new mom friends from my son’s class. Apparently hiding behind trees to avoid social interactions does not win you any points in the new friend department. But I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf with my daughters class this year. I’ve been given a second chance with these mamas and this time I won’t screw it up. Heck, I’m already planning my future blog entry titled “People Think I Couldn’t Be More Fucking Awesome.” I’m gonna leave that one at the top of my blog for even longer than six months this time!

Sorry for the painful cliche, but this is a new year and a new me. No longer will paralyzing social anxiety leave me hiding behind trees (and no, not just because there aren’t any trees shading the front entrance where the kindergarten classes are dismissed). I’m going to slap on a smile, maybe swallow a Xanax or two, and get my ass in friend-making mode. This year I will meet my future mom friend BFF.

Full disclosure (and before she kills me) you should know I already have a bestie and she’s, well, the best. But whatever, she works a lot.

So here’s the thing. I just have a few small requirements for my future bestie. I know, I know, someone with a social circle the size of a cheerio shouldn’t exactly be picky, but if we’re gonna be sharing wine and bitching about everything from husbands to homework, then she’s gotta fit some necessary criteria. Like the following:

She must drink wine. Like copious amounts of it. I’m not really into that whole “oh I need a glass of wine, I had a rough day” crap where you literally drink just ONE glass of wine and then act like it made an ounce of difference in the shittiness of your day. I want my future BFF to be the type of chick who goes “oh today sucked” and then guzzles a whole bottle before ordering $300 worth of Christmas decorations on Amazon and passing out on the couch with her hands in a half-empty bucket of Party Mix.

She must not be a judgy bitch. Look, we’re ALL guilty of passing judgement here and there. But you can’t be a total witch about it. Like if we’re at the park with the kids or something and I see a woman breastfeeding her kid and  I’m like “hey good for her, breastfeeding her kid in public and not giving a fuck about what anyone thinks” and then you’re like “oh gross, she should put those tits away,” and then I’m like “well the baby’s hungry, it’s no big deal” and you’re like “oh but there are kids around” and “I’m like yeah totally, there’s one even hanging off her boob” and then you actually walk over to the poor woman and tell her to go feed her kid somewhere else, then not only can’t we be friends, but I will loudly call you the C-word before asking Public Breastfeeding Mom to squirt some boob milk in your bitchy, judgemental face

She must watch trashy reality TV. If I send you text during the Bachelor asking who you think is SOL on getting a rose this week and I don’t receive a response within exactly five minutes, then this isn’t gonna work out.

She must not be too weird on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media site. I guess it goes without saying here that she needs to also be ON Facebook and Instagram, mostly because I’m a huge fan of the screenshot and she should be too. I don’t have any specifics for “not too weird” but if your kid comes down with some hideous rash and you post a photo of it, asking for opinions from all the Google University doctors on your Facebook page instead of consulting an actual doctor, then that falls into the “weird” category. Also weird? Is the compulsive desire to post nauseating pictures of your significant other every day, declaring your undying love for all the world to see as often as possible. Aside from an overabundance of daily selfies, there’s nothing more likely to get you deleted, or at the very least, politely hidden. Don’t mean to sound bitchy, it’s just that if I don’t even want to see your face in my News Feed then there’s no way I want it anywhere near me in real life.

She must dislike talking on the phone. There are very, very, VERY, few people whose calls don’t go directly to voicemail (or they would, if I ever bothered to set my voicemail up in the first place), and I’ve known all of these people for over 30 years. So unless you want to wait til we’re in our sixties to chat, let’s just stick to texting, k?

Are you out there, future bestie?

People Think I’m a Bitch

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They’re wrong. Well, for the most part. I’m actually a pretty nice person, once you get to know me. My problem is that I am separated from the outside world by a very thick cement wall of social anxiety, and it prevents me from functioning normally when interacting with people I don’t know very well.

Whereas most people can have a normal conversation with an acquaintance and then proceed to go about their day as planned, I will spend an additional half hour after our interaction has ended psychoanalyzing every word I said and wondering if I sounded as stupid aloud as I did in my own head. I’ll wonder if I spoke too loudly and called unwanted attention to myself; if others were gawking at the tiny rip in the sleeve of my jacket or the mud peeking out from the bottom of my shoes; if I was regarded as a shitty parent because my kids weren’t using their “inside voices” (while also publicly beating the crap out of each other).

In short, I will waste a lot of time psychotically obsessing over a whole world of shit that DOESN’T MATTER AT ALL. And it’s not even that I really care that much what other people think of me (hence this entire website devoted to my half-assed parenting and other personal problems). I just don’t enjoy the uncomfortable feeling of being scrutinized and consequently unaccepted. It kinda makes my stomach hurt.

So that’s why I tend to avoid 99% of unnecessary social interactions with people I don’t know.

Because I’m the idiot who is incapable of handling basic conversations with other adults without the help of alcohol or maybe narcotics. I’m the babbling moron who hasn’t mastered the art of small talk and probably never will. I’m the jerk who will pretend I don’t know you at all even though I have walked past you while picking my child up from school at least 100 times since he started elementary school three years ago. I’m the asshole who would rather stare at my foot, a tree, parked cars, my phone, anything in the vicinity without a pulse, just to avoid making eye contact with you, person who I kinda-sorta know but kinda-sorta don’t.

And speaking of picking my son up from school– there is no other activity within my daily life which I despise so vehemently.  Talk about social anxiety to the max. Everyone’s chatting, Lizzie lost another tooth, Joey got a soccer award, yada yada yada blah blah blah. I don’t totally mind discussing the difficulty of the recent second grade math test with these ladies, honestly, but I’m just not the type to walk right up to you and start the conversation. It feels weird. What if you don’t really want to talk to me? What if you just want to talk to this other girl who is suddenly approaching us and you don’t want the responsibility of introducing us? What if you don’t introduce us and I just stand there awkwardly while you start talking about someone I don’t even know, inching away ever-so-slowly, silently begging the powers-that-be to make my son’s class be dismissed first today. And then I will say another prayer that he doesn’t ask to stick around and play with his friends in the schoolyard for a little while, thus extending this unpleasant social situation by an extremely painful extra half hour.

This is where I could continue to list the myriad of stressful situations for a socially anxious parent like myself, running the gamut all the way from play dates to birthday parties. But I won’t. If your anxiety is anything like mine, you know how horrible they are. Let’s not even get into it.

If my behavior sounds silly to you, then you clearly aren’t plagued by social anxiety. You are the head of the PTA, the Class Mom, the good neighbor, a person with social circles galore. You and I will never be the same. Which is okay.

Just please understand that I’m not really that much of a bitch. If you approach me and mention that pain-in-the-ass math test, I’ll agree that it was difficult. I’ll talk about how much my son hates studying too, and commiserate with you over how many days are left until the summer vacation. I’ll be surprisingly friendly and kind, maybe even a little bit funny.

But just know that afterward, I will silently berate myself for every weird thing I’ll definitely think I might have said and then wonder if you think I’m the biggest idiot you have met in your life. And the next time we see each other, don’t expect more than a half smile or tiny wave as I rush wildly past you to go hide behind a tree.

I swear it isn’t you. It’s me.

A Sea of Despair: Postpartum Pools of Pain

A few months ago I wrote about my struggle with depression and anxiety, and I was taken aback by the overwhelmingly positive response I received afterward.  It took me a long time to work up the courage to tell my story; I was admittedly afraid of what others might think of my decision to publicly reveal such a personal experience. But the kindness and support that followed was so moving that I’ve decided to revisit the topic today.

When I wrote that post, it was intended to be a one-time thing.  I don’t typically take myself too seriously, not on this blog nor in real life, and I’d rather others do the same.  But then something happened that I didn’t expect. Many of you reached out to me after reading my story to tell me how much my words had spoken to you, and that you understood everything I had gone through because you, too, had dealt with a similar struggle. It seemed that, like with many other aspects of motherhood, the difficulties I had experienced were also felt by many others. Apparently, I wasn’t as alone as I’d thought.

According to the American Psychology Association, up to 16% of new mothers experience postpartum depression.  Frankly, I think their numbers are off.  Perhaps a mere 16% actually report their feelings to a doctor, but I’m willing to bet a nice chunk of ladies simply suffer in silence.

With so many of society’s misconceptions about motherhood, it’s easy to see why so many women find themselves adrift in a sea of despair after becoming a parent for the first time.  Having children is rarely all you think it will be and more.  Sure, the highs are high and they feel amazing.  But the lows? Are so very, very LOW.  And you’ll find that these lows often fill the extra-wide gaps in between the fleeting, infrequent highs.

It seems like every time I flip on the TV I see some sappy diaper commercial featuring a mother tenderly singing her little one to sleep, humming soothing lullabies and swaying gently in a pastel-colored rocking chair. Unfortunately, those commercials are total crap.  Because they never show the four hours leading up to that endearing moment where the baby has finally drifted off—you know, the part where mommy’s  precious little angel was screaming and crying inconsolably until mommy “tenderly” considered chugging a fifth of vodka and sawing off her own ears.

For me, the hardest part of becoming a mom was learning to adjust to how shockingly different life becomes after having kids.  I got pregnant in my mid-twenties before I got married, and it was very unplanned.  While some women feel they are ready to settle down and start popping out some little people at that age, I was definitely not one of those women. 

Before I got pregnant, life was like standing on the roof of Rockefeller Center and looking down at the world below—breathtakingly beautiful, wildly exhilarating, enchantingly romantic.  Oh, to be young and carefree, just dreaming all day and playing all night.  Such blissful endless freedom. Nothing but opportunities at your door and time on your hands.

Until one day you pee on a stick and your life changes forever.

It took me such a long time to adjust to my life being so vastly different after having kids that I never even realized I was depressed.  The transition was happening at such a snail’s pace that I didn’t know it was actually changing me, like as a person.  For years I was just living my life in robot-mode, going through the motions, completely unaware that I was dying inside a little more every day.

From the very beginning I should have known I was in trouble, because when they tried to hand my son to me a few hours after my c-section I didn’t even want to see him.  It wasn’t that I didn’t love him or want him, I honestly just didn’t know what the hell to do with him.  What did I know about babies? I was practically still one myself. And that instant connection parents always describe?  That immediate gush of awe and amazement that everybody talks about after they’ve given birth? Yea well, I didn’t get it. Not right away, anyway.  I loved my little boy, of course.  But the fear and confusion and pain in my head were clouding the feelings in my heart.

I got the hang of motherhood quickly, I think.  A lot more quickly than I thought I would, at least.  There are women coping with such severe postpartum depression that they can’t even take care of their children.  Thankfully, that wasn’t me (and my issue technically might not even fall under the actual definition of “postpartum” depression, but who gives a shit about definitions?) Like I said, the depressed feelings I had were growing very slowly over time. Little by little, I was falling deeper into my own sea of despair.  And I was totally unaware that those feelings would culminate after a miscarriage and eventually bring me to a debilitating breaking point.

Some women don’t ever have a real breaking point. In some ways, a “nervous breakdown” is almost a luxury, as long as you bounce back from it. Because it takes you to such a low point that you literally have nowhere to go but up. And then it motivates you to stay up.

Motherhood is hard.  Like, crazy hard.  Every feeling you experience as a parent is magnified exponentially.  You’re not just tired; you’re exhausted.  You’re not just scared; you’re terrified.  You’re not just confused, you’re helpless. You’re not just lonely; you’re the last person on earth!

I wish I could say I had advice for those of you who are still drifting in your own sea of despair.  All I can say is that it will get better eventually.  I’m living proof of that.  Eventually, you will begin to feel more comfortable in your own mommy skin.  Someday you will start to realize that, even though the bad feelings are horrible, conversely, the good feelings are great.  The love you feel is unconditional. The pride you feel is insurmountable. The bond you feel is unbreakable.

Actually, I do have one piece of advice.  Whatever you do, don’t lose track of YOU.  I know that’s easier said than done, because becoming a parent takes over virtually every aspect of your life until you are pretty much unrecognizable to yourself.  But try hard to hold onto as many pieces of yourself as you can, and then use them to make you whole again when you find yourself falling apart.

Because your baby needs you. And in the end, the only one who can really save you…is you. ❤

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**Update** It has been pointed out to me that I should mention if you are feeling this kind of depression that you should see a doctor.  This is absolutely, 100% true.  I didn’t go for a long time, and I probably could have saved myself a LOT of pain if I had.  While I do believe that you’re the only one who can save yourself, I think professional help will pinpoint how to do that.  And sometimes you may even need the help of medication because you can’t really do it on your own–this was the case for me at my lowest point. And it’s perfectly okay.  There are a thousand excuses not to go, and I’d know because I used them all.  But you’ll only be fooling yourself.  Thanks to aviets at Mom Goes On who pointed this out to me!

A Long December: My Struggle With Depression and Anxiety

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Every time I hear the theme song to that show Special Agent Oso, on the Disney Channel, I’m reminded of my nervous breakdown (or so it’s come to be known in my mind).  It’s a silly little TV jingle but somehow serves as a painful reminder of a very difficult time in my life when I was just physically, mentally, and emotionally ….not myself.  When I heard the song today while my kids were watching their shows, I was suddenly compelled to tell my story.

Depression is a funny little illness.  Because you look and feel like you’ve been through the spin cycle of a washing machine, yet everyone keeps telling you that you’re totally fine.  You’re fine, your family says.  You’re fine, your friends say.  You’re fine, the doctor says.  You’re healthy, your family is healthy, everything is perfectly fine in your life.

If you’re supposedly so damn fine, then why don’t you feel fine?

Why, instead, do you feel like every moment spent awake is an assault on your mind and body, like the very act of taking air into your lungs is earth-shatteringly terrifying, and like you are no longer even living inside of yourself, but instead just functioning as a separate, mindless entity, numbly hovering over your former self in the meager hope that someday you can return and feel, dare I say, normal again?

And all the while, as you’re feeling increasingly UNFINE, the world around you is spinning away.  People are still living their lives, still going to work, still caring for their children, still eating and sleeping and smiling and laughing every day.  They’re doing all the things you did back when you really were FINE.  Except now, everyone else is fine.  They are the “fine” ones.  They go right on living while you teeter dangerously on the brink of insanity, wondering how the hell you’ll make it another day, another hour, even another minute.

I had my miscarriage in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.  I watched the parade, got my son dressed, drove over to my mom’s, and then sat down with my family at the table to eat.  Somewhere between my first stuffed mushroom and second slice of turkey, I began feeling the stabbing pangs of labor pain.  Two terrifying hours later, in an emergency room somewhere in Staten Island, I emerged from a public bathroom stall with a tiny, balled-up fetus wrapped inside of a sanitary napkin.  Horrified and shaking, I handed it to the triage nurse, who then told me I was running a fever and needed to calm myself down.

Don’t feel sorry for me; my story is only seemingly dramatic because hospitals, blood, and death tend to fill me with sheer terror, and retelling the events of that day is simply impossible to do without conveying just how dramatic it all felt at the time.  In reality, I was only eight weeks along, quite optimistic that I would conceive again soon, and I honestly thought I was going to be okay.  I mean, MUCH, MUCH worse things have happened to MUCH, MUCH more unfortunate people than me.  So after about 10 miserable hours in a dim hospital room, I went home and crawled into bed, feeling exhausted and sad, but also knowing that the worst of it was over.

Or so I thought.

I did not know, at that point, that postpartum depression could happen after a miscarriage, even one occurring in just the first trimester.  I didn’t know that the overflow of hormones coursing through my body after this event, coupled with the extreme loneliness brought on by a severely harsh winter, a young child who needed more from me than I could possibly give at the time, and a hardworking husband who was never ever home, would lead me into a frightening downward spiral so intense that I am still recovering from it today.  And it’s been three full years.

My husband used to leave for work around 6 a.m., and I’d wake up at 5a.m. just to savor the only adult company I’d enjoy all day until he returned, already half-asleep, around 9p.m.  Those mornings I’d sit on the floor in the foggy bathroom while he showered for work and we’d chitchat back and forth; it was the closest to normal that I would feel all day.  Then I’d climb back into bed when he left, around the same time my son would usually wake up, and we’d watch Special Agent Oso together (for no special reason, he just happened to like the show and it happened to be on at that time).  And then I’d brace myself for a very long, lonely, dreary, anxiety-ridden day.

Ugh, the anxiety.  The anxiety is always there.  Depressed or not, anxiety is like that extra layer of fat you can’t shed, or the crooked bone in your nose that broke when you were a kid and never fully repaired itself.  It’s that single, most hated, THING that will always be a part of you.  That’s anxiety for me.

The darkest period of my life was like one, long, drawn-out anxiety attack.  My days were spent pacing the floors of my three-room apartment for hours at a time, fingers tearing at the hair behind my neck and pulling until it was smooth, maybe even bleeding.  I’d clutch the phone in my hands and cry, praying for it to ring, wishing for someone to talk to, anyone at all who could distract me from my personal hell for a moment or two.  I’d open every shade and curtain in the house, hoping the daylight might flood my home and chase my shadowy demons away.  I’d wait by the window, praying, begging, pleading for my husband to pull up in his car and save me from the bitter, paralyzing loneliness.

My son was only two years old at the time, not nearly old enough to understand why mommy was starting to lose her mind.  But he knew something was terribly wrong.  I know he did. He would randomly break out in hives, or he would suddenly be covered in eczema patches on his arms and legs—but it only happened that winter and then never again.  Neither the allergist nor the dermatologist could explain the peculiar sudden onset of my poor little boy’s skin ailments.  “It’s just the harsh winter,” they said, and prescribed some expensive ointment or cream.  But I knew it was my fault.  My torment was spilling over onto my son, he was taking in my stress, my depression, and it was finding its way to the surface of his skin.  It might sound crazy to you, but it makes perfect sense to me.  My son was hurting, too.

One morning, after I’d gotten out of bed, I fainted as I poured my son’s cereal.  Boom, hit the floor, just like that.  It could have been dehydration, or anxiety, or maybe just plain hunger, as I hadn’t been able to force down more than a slice or two of bread in about three days.  I woke to find my son, confused and visibly upset, pleading with me to get up.  Seeing pain in the eyes of a two-year-old is not something you can ever un-see.  Knowing that his pain is a reflection of the pain in your own eyes, well, that’s rock bottom.

At that point, I really needed help.  For my little boy, my sweet, innocent, scared little child, I had to come out of this.  I simply had to.  There was just no other way.

Recovery was a slow, gradual process.  My family, namely my mother and sister, whom I spoke to most often at the time, held my hand through most of my struggle.  With the help of my family, some medication, and a whole lot of self-discipline and self-discovery, I eventually began to feel like myself again.

That journey was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. NO ONE in my life understands or has even half of a clue how difficult that was for me- how every single second of every single day was wholly consumed by my hunger to push forward, my drive to never let this illness consume me again, and to be around for my children, no matter what.

In March, I was thrilled to learn that my daughter was on the way.  This was a blessing for more than just the obvious reasons– I was forced to stop taking medication and learn to heal entirely on my own.  If I hadn’t gotten pregnant, I may not have stopped the meds so soon and grown overly dependent on them instead of learning to heal on my own.   My little girl saved me from what might have been a different kind of downward spiral.  My little girl saved my life.

You might be wondering why I’ve recounted this extremely personal story with you today, especially given that I’m prone to much more lighthearted subject matter.

Recently I came down with a pesky case of writer’s block, and I haven’t been able to pinpoint why.  I think, perhaps, my heart simply decided it was time to tell my story.  Or it could be that this bonechilling winter we’re having is a constant reminder of that low point in my life, and I needed to just blurt it all out before I lost my mind.  It’s almost like I’ve had this feeling in my chest, tugging at my heart, just sitting there and pulling at me with all its might, like a giant, malignant growth pushing to be set free.  Well, I’m setting it free today, for whatever the reason.  Perhaps someone will read my story and benefit from it in some small way. Maybe someone will read it and feel a little bit less alone. At the very least, perhaps I’ll be cured of writer’s block.

You don’t need to be a parent to find yourself coping with depression, although I know many are.  You don’t need to be married, engaged, employed, unemployed, grieving, sick, healthy, rich, poor….  You don’t need to have any reason at all.  For many of us, depression and anxiety are simply things we struggle with every single day.  They’re as real to us as breathing.

Your depression affects everyone around you, whether you realize it or not.  Your family, your children, your friends, your job.  Sometimes people understand, but most of the time, they don’t.  If you’re lucky, someone will get it, and they’ll reach out to you.  If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a place within yourself where healing can begin on its own– where you can realize how much the people in your life need you – and you can learn to be you again.

My journey is an ongoing one.  Some days are good, some notsomuch.  I know I’ll never be 100%.

But I’ll never stop trying, either.

Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself? Bullsh*t!!

I have some “minor” anxiety issues, which may be apparent from my writing.  Some of you might have even noticed my affinity for Xanax, which I mention from time to time because it’s kind of awesome.  Someday I’ll write all about the time my anxiety caused me to have a real life nervous breakdown, and I’ll attempt to describe, as humorously as possible, what a living hell it sort of was. But it’s been about three years and I still haven’t found a single funny thing about the whole debacle (aside from the very fact that I had an actual nervous breakdown), so it may be a while before I tackle that one.

Today I’m talking about my more innocent fears.

Some of my fears are your typical, run-of-the-mill, boring things like death, rapists, and tsunamis.  But some of the other ones skew a bit irrational.  To be fair, some are rational but the severity of the phobia is so bad that it enters into irrational territory.  So I’ve listed a few of these anxieties here and divided them into two categories for your reading pleasure: Idiotically Irrational and Rational but Ridiculous.

I’m obviously way too amused by alliteration.

Idiotically Irrational Fears

Being bitten in the ass (or worse, somewhere else) by a giant toilet-dwelling snake.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to put the bathroom light on in the middle of the night before sitting down and then waited, trembling, for a pair of fangs, dripping with poison, to clamp down (up?) and not let go.  I’m pretty sure it’s happened to someone, somewhere, at some point.  Talk about scaring the shit out of a person.

A tiger gets into my house and eats my dog.  Generally, the thought of any wild animal finding its way into one’s home would be horrifying.  But for some reason, I’ve actually had a nightmare about a tiger eating my dog in my living room. Twice.  I can’t say it’s likely that there are any dangerous safari animals roaming around Staten Island, but if there are I really hope they don’t have a thing for British Bulldogs.  Or people.

Undercooked chicken.  For some inexplicable reason, raw chicken meat gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Unfortunately, I really enjoy poultry.  Cooked poultry, that is.  So I still have to be around the raw stuff.  Whenever I make chicken, I tend to wash my hands until they bleed.  I also tend to cook the stupid chicken to like 200 degrees or so.  I don’t mean to overcook it, but the paranoia always sets in and I start freaking out that we’re all going to die from salmonella poisoning and before I know it we’re having rubber cutlet parmesan for dinner. And I’m all “bon appetit!” and Big M is all “where’s the can opener for the tuna fish?”

Forgetting to pull up my pants after using the bathroom.  Technically, this is impossible because even if I really didn’t bother to pull them up I’d surely notice that I was pantless at some point while washing my hands, right? Or, more likely, I’d actually FEEL like my pants were not fully on, right? Still, I can’t help but occasionally envision a rather unsettling situation wherein I hurriedly sprint off the bowl and out the door without ever thinking to pause and make sure that my ass isn’t exposed.  I once forgot to shut the door to pee while entertaining a house full of guests, so I suppose anything’s possible with the likes of me.  (And don’t you dare judge me for that until you have very young children and grow accustomed to leaving the bathroom door open in case someone notices mommy is missing for a minute and decides it’s a good time to feed the dog a chocolate bar or leap like Superman off of a very tall dresser.)

Rational But Ridiculous Fears 

My car breaks down and causes a major traffic jam.  The thought of my car breaking down, especially with young kids in the backseat, is scary enough as it is.  But the thought of being THAT CAR, the dreaded, infamous “stalled vehicle in the left lane” from the traffic report, is just too much to bear.  You know, my brother once broke down on a one-lane bridge. A ONE-LANE BRIDGE.  I don’t think I’d ever get behind the wheel again.

Fainting in public.  Here’s how nuts I am about this one: I will NEVER leave my house on an empty stomach.  EVER.  Today I shoved a peanut butter sandwich down my throat just to go pick up my son from school, and I wasn’t even hungry.   It’s not exactly a figure-friendly habit.  I am PETRIFIED of having some low-blood-sugar incident where throngs of people nearby start freaking out and thinking they just witnessed someone drop dead in front of their faces.  You can imagine what a blast this was to deal with after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes while I was pregnant with my daughter.  Blood sugar levels are such jerks.

Blackouts.  Just now, I asked Big M to help me name some of my bigger fears (yes, there are so many I needed help recalling everything I’m afraid of).  The first thing he said was “not being able to watch TV.” Oh, and then he said “you shouldn’t do this topic, hun, people are definitely going to think you are insane” Oh well!  My point is that I had just jotted down “blackouts- NO TV!!”  Television is just such a big addiction for me.  I know that’s terrible and not healthy and all that crap, but it’s a fact.  I can’t help it that television soothes my anxiety, even when it’s just functioning as background noise.  Plus, TV is awesome (have you SEEN Walking Dead?).  I need television.  It keeps me sane.  Well, it keeps me the kind of sane that allows me to merely imagine I might run out of a bathroom with my pants around my ankles—as opposed to actually doing it.

My children will someday be old enough to supervise themselves.  Although spending every waking moment of my life making sure my kids stay alive from one minute to the next sometimes feels like living inside my very own invisible, padlocked prison hell, there’s something even more disturbing about the fact that someday I won’t get knots in my stomach from not hearing a peep out of them for three whole minutes.  Because that means these kids will finally have the ability to go three minutes without accidentally killing themselves or each other, and then someday they will be old enough to go hours and hours without any supervision at all.  And while that sounds like a little slice of heaven at first, it’s actually a very, very scary thing.  While they might be old enough to understand that crossing the street always requires first looking both ways, I won’t be there all the time to ensure that they don’t wander directly into oncoming traffic– literally and figuratively speaking.  It freaks me out that someday my son might have a drink and then get behind the wheel of a car because I wasn’t there to grab his car keys and drag him home by his ear before he even thought about drinking and driving.  And what if one day my daughter gets pressured into having sex with some dickhead just because I wasn’t there to remind her that she is so much better than that, and then take a baseball bat to the douchbag’s precious little gonads?  Someday my kids will have to make smart decisions all on their own, and I know they aren’t going to get it right every single time.  I can’t stand that thought.  Perhaps, out of everything, that is the one thing that scares me most.

Well, that and getting bit in the ass by a toilet snake.

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