Pianic Stations!

I’ve always wanted to play the piano. Seven or eight years ago I started taking lessons, but then I quit. I’m sure at the time I had some acceptable excuse but I’m pretty sure the real reason is that I was afraid to practice. I had moved into a house that was divided into three apartments and I felt so conspicuous every time I touched a piano key. I was afraid they would hear me making mistakes. Silly, silly Jenny.

I started taking lessons again in January and I’m really enjoying it! I practice at home where my husband, brother and cats can hear me and it doesn’t bother me. It might bother them, but I’m cool with that. I don’t practice enough, but not because I’m afraid so I figure that counts as a win!

The weirdest part about the whole thing is my weekly panic when I’m having my lesson. When I first started I would get extremely nervous before my lesson. That is abating now. I still get nervous but it’s not enough to make me want to avoid it. The part that hasn’t gone away is the part where I’m sitting at the piano and working my way through a song and all of a sudden I stare at the page and nothing makes sense. I can’t remember the notes. Even if I just played the same note a second before … nothing. Blanksville.  I usually start to giggle or say something silly so my teacher doesn’t wonder why I’m just sitting there frozen, while in my head I’m frantically trying to remember what note it is I’m looking at. Is it a B?  No, it’s not a B!  Is that my left hand or my right hand!  Ahhhhhh!!!  My teacher always tells me to take my time and eventually I unfreeze and we carry on.

Last week was the best one so far because I was playing and then I froze, my mind emptied and I started to freak out. I actually said, “I’m having a minor panic attack!” and my teacher said to me, “Take your time. It’s not worth it! It’s just the piano!” She’s awesome. Her name is Amy and she’s the sweetest girl around. I would put her picture in here but she might not appreciate it. 🙂

Keep in mind people, these lessons are only 30 minutes. So I sit, play, panic, relax, play, possibly panic again … all in the span of one half hour. It’s exhausting and exhilarating!

I always have a huge smile on my face when I leave and I feel amazing and light on my feet and I think I have figured out why!

Something like a simple piano lesson for someone with depression & anxiety issues is akin to a normy skydiving or bungee jumping. I get my adrenaline rush from the fact that a) I actually attended my lesson and didn’t wuss out and b) I played songs on a piano mofos!!  It’s an amazing rush and so much safer than extreme sports!

Happy Piano

It’s worth the pianicking!

Sacred Soul

Soul

This is so true!

In order for me to be okay I need to take care of all areas of my health.

Physical Health – I need to exercise. It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s true. I feel 100% better when I’m being active and not living the slug life.  I enjoy periods of slug life, but it’s not a full time commitment anymore. 🙂

Mental Health – I have to take my meds. I just have to. As much as I’d love to live without them, it’s not happening. Exercising is also a big part of keeping my brain in order and helping me stay happy. Dammit!

Soul Health – That sounds weird. But, I must do things that nurture my soul. My cats and my wonderful husband Eric help there!  And new things I’m trying, like learning the piano and talking to humans. Baby steps with the human interaction. I don’t want to overdo it. 🙂

Hey … that’s PMS! I need to market this somehow!

What, Me Worry?

I’ve been thinking about anxiety lately. More specifically, how it relates to me.

Before I started exorcising my depression demons it was so overwhelming that I never gave a thought to the part that anxiety played in the whole deal. Even now, I’m just starting to explore that side of my … okay, let’s take a short detour here: I didn’t know what words to use there and writing “mental illness” felt wrong. I was trying to think of any words other than those for two reasons:

1. I don’t want people to think that’s all I am and that they should feel bad for me.

2. I feel as though by saying “mental illness” that it weakens me. But eff that! Eff it all!! Let’s do this right, and be proud and own it! Here we go…

Before I started exorcising my depression demons, it was so overwhelming that I never gave a thought to the part that anxiety played in the whole deal. Even now, I’m just starting to explore that side of my mental illness (eff you world!). I would tell people that I don’t go out a lot because of social anxiety, but I was always being sort of half serious. The weird part is, I think I’m right.

It’s not crippling anxiety and I think that’s why I never truly acknowledged it. I have a sort of “stage fright anxiety”. If I have to go out and do something I get all wound up thinking about it and I get grumpy. But once I’m there I’m usually fine. Usually. There are always exceptions.

I’m not good with changing plans either. I need to mentally prepare for what I’m doing and if it changes I freak out slightly. Just slightly. Normally that means I end up being rude to someone. I would guess that someone is usually Eric. Poor Eric. He’s a Saint!

Last weekend my mom reminded me that when I was a kid I would always get sick if there was an exciting event coming up. I figured it was just bad luck. It’s hard to think of little kid me having anxiety! Sometimes I want to go back in time and give kid me a hug and tell her it gets better. She was so lonely and confused. But that’s another story!

Look at Kid Me. She's so cute!

Look at Kid Me. She’s so cute!

I don’t have crazy panic attacks where I have to curl up in a ball and hide, but I recently recalled an episode I had years ago, which I will call my “non-panic panic attack”.

I was at work, changing lives, and all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. I used my puffer, but it didn’t help and I started to freak out a bit. I went into the bathroom and called my boyfriend, who told me to breathe. Not helpful. This was not Eric. I feel I should make that clear. Eric is a Saint.

I ended up going to a walk-in clinic near my work. By the time I got in to see a doctor I was okay. The appointment went something like this:

Doctor: It sounds like you had a panic attack.

Me: No. I don’t have those.

Doctor: Sometimes they occur when you’re worrying about something, or you’re feeling stressed.

Me: I’m not stressed about anything.

Doctor: Sometimes you don’t realize you are until you have a panic attack.

Me: Nope.

Doctor: I’ll prescribe you these pills that will help you calm down. They might make you drowsy.

Me: But I don’t have panic attacks.

Doctor: Take this prescription and get out.

I went home and took a pill and had a nice nap on the couch. I never actually thought it was a panic attack. Perhaps it was. It wasn’t debilitating, but it did freak me out. I never went to my regular doctor to discuss it. I probably should have.

When I review my life with this in mind there are other instances I can think of where the same thing happened. So many revelations lately! Depression and anxiety! Who’s the luckiest girl in the world?

There seriously needs to be a font that indicates sarcasm. Maybe I’ll invent one.

By the way … today I’m winning!