A Great Adventure

Philadelphia, PA – 1977 – Spring

In 9th grade, I was a total loser. But even back then one of the few things I had going for me was my artistic ability. I found a friend at Fels Junior High named Robert Weichert. He was a quiet thoughtful boy. Good looking with amazing blonde curly hair like a young Robert Plant.

We were of like mind. We liked rock music and comic books. He would come over to my house and we would hang out in my room and listen to records and read comics together. I remember my times with Robert were amazing. He was one of the few people I had made a connection with. I remember laughing so hard with him that my stomach would hurt. Normally my stomach only hurt if I was having anxiety, some reaction to food, or I was being punched by some bully in school.

We both hated school and all of the animals we had to deal with in that zoo. Even the teachers.

Robert had a talent for writing and I had a talent for drawing. We would make up our own line of superheroes. He would write the little stories, and I would draw the comics. It was a perfect union of creativity that belonged only to us in our little teenage world.

I think his family was breaking up. He said he was going to take the name of the man who was now with his mother. I don’t remember many details but it must have been a rough time for him. The man’s last name was Ketterer and I noticed that Robert would write the name “Ket” on his record albums to identify them as his when he went to summer camp.

Boys didn’t really talk about feelings or family back then. We simply lived in the moment. If we were together laughing, reading comics, and listening to rock we were happy. It was these little moments of repose that were the only solace we had in the hellish existence in junior high school.

When I think about how my daily life was back then in 9th grade, I displayed all of the symptoms of someone who was profoundly depressed. A terrible student, and the thing my father always told me not to become… A victim. I was a victim every day. More like a target. Deal with the animals at school, and then come home and face the king of them all at home, when his car would pull up the driveway each night.

I was growing weary of being picked on and humiliated at school on a daily basis and also by some of the boys that hung up the corner from our house.

I remember gathering a couple of small empty green 7up bottles that I had taken out of our trash. I rinsed them out and filled them with paint thinner or some other accelerant we had in our basement. I tore up some rags and tied them around the necks of the bottles and capped them. I hid them under the sinks in the front of our basement. I was thinking if things got to a breaking point with this one specific kid that had it in for me, I would go to his house and throw those Molotov cocktails through his front windows.

It was a dark time. But I never acted on any of my ideas. But at least I felt a moment of comfort knowing that I could do something to end it once and for all. Instead of lashing out with words and hands, my depression was simply my rage turned inward on myself.

I think I eventually dumped them out, thinking if my mom found out that I was building firebombs in the basement she’d have me committed.

I remember going to my guidance counselor about this other kid that was torturing me for his own pleasure at school. The counselor knew this boy and his advice to me was to hit him back. The kid was a coward, and I should hit him back and he’d stop. That’s wonderful advice, sir. More violence. I am not a violent person. But back then I had a seething temper I later learned to control. When you’re 14 you’re at your absolute purest as a young killer. The hormones and chemicals firing in your brain make you act out. But I never did. But I knew if I ever did anything, it wouldn’t be a scuffle in the schoolyard where I could get my glasses broken and my teeth knocked out. I would simply end it with my attacker.

I knew I had to control that animal that lived inside my mind. I knew him very well and he was worse than any punk at school or the beast who lived down the hall. But I knew if I ever let him out, he’d do something that he could never take back.

You’d think I would have simply walked back to the lot at the end of our street and laid on the railroad tracks and wait for the train to take me.

But I’ve never had thoughts of suicide. Never. No matter how bad things ever got in my life I never wanted to do that. Nobody asks to come here. You should be able to leave when you want to. It’s your life. It’s really all you own. But you don’t really own it. Your soul inhabits a vessel that you rent until it expires and you’re gone.

I used to say that 9th grade was the worst year of my life. It was then, but I would have worse times in the future. But they all happened by my own device. My own bad decisions. Mostly on the people, I chose to have in my life.

But that’s not what this story is about.

At some point, Robert’s mother said she was going to take Robert out of school for one day to take him to Great Adventure. He wanted me to come with him. I had never been there but I had heard about it on TV. Wildwood had a bunch of amusement rides on the boardwalk, but Great Adventure was a big amusement park in New Jersey. I didn’t like the wild rides in Wildwood. Most of them were things that went up high, spun around, or went too fast. I wasn’t having any of that and preferred the more gentle attractions on the boardwalk like the Pirate Ship, Whacky Shack, or the Keystone Kops on Hunt’s Pier.

I have no idea how we got that trip approved. I was a horrible student basically flunking out of all of my subjects. Please tell me the last time you needed Algebra or Spanish in the last month. I remember my father giving me a small, sharp lecture on how he shouldn’t let me take a day off from school to go play in an amusement park with some friends.  Why should he let me go, or reward my poor performance in school by giving me a special day off to go play in a park?

I have no idea, but my parents let me go. I was having my usual low-level anxiety about getting in a strange car with Robert’s mom and his stepdad, but I sat in the back of their station wagon with Robert, and seeing him kept me calm. He was really sweet like that. He was my comrade. The writer and creator of our little comics. Deneb 6, Cestus, Midnightess, Prince Apollo, Captain Universe, Kid Universe, and the Prowler. I loved the Prowler. I designed a cool costume for that character in the comics we made.

Turns out his mom was a really nice lady and her husband was a good, chill guy. They looked like the type of folksy couple that would run a gift shop in some little village somewhere. I felt at ease with them as the car headed over the Tacony Palmyra Bridge into New Jersey.

We get to the park and Robert’s mom and stepdad are just lovely to be around. Just really cool people. They bought us both little bracelets that were all-day passes to the park. We could go on any ride as many times as we wanted, as long as we wore the bracelets.

Then the incredible happened. They cut us loose. They told us where to meet them and what times to check in, but they walked away.

It was a beautiful sunny day in a new world with my friend. His folks said they were going to probably get some food, and then go check out the wild animal safari. That’s where you drive your car through an animal preserve and look at wild animals. Monkeys jumping on your car, etc. I watched as his parents simply left us alone and we were two 14-year-old boys free to do whatever we wanted in the park. I was stunned and elated.

We walked around and explored the park. It was beautiful. Just me and one of my best friends, free for the afternoon in a wonderland. I don’t remember all of the things we saw and did, but I remember how I felt that one day with Robert. We were both free from school and everything else for a day.

We both loved girls at that point. What teenage boy doesn’t? There was plenty there, which surprised me because I thought they should all be in school. But I suppose most were tourists from somewhere else out with their families.

At some point, Robert asked me if I wanted to go on the log flume with him. I had never been on the log flume on Hunt’s Pier or any rollercoaster, due to my fear of everything.

But Robert gently coaxed me with his words.

“Come on, Chaz. It’ll be fun. Look, there’s a bunch of girls going on it. Maybe we can talk to them.”

“I’m afraid, Rob. I don’t go on rides like that. I’m scared I’ll get sick.”

“You’ll be okay. I’ll be right there next to you. No pressure. But we’ll have fun. It’ll be over before you know it.”

“Okay.”

I was terrified, and probably trembling as we approached the gate. The fear crept in. The worst part was when you committed and got in line. Once you were far enough in on the line there was no turning back. I didn’t want to wreck my friend’s day by running away and being embarrassed.

We finally got to the front of the line. The attendant steadied the log/boat and we got in.

“Just breathe, Chaz. Trust me.”

I did trust Rob. We were close. We shared a lot. I needed to steady myself and survive this scary ordeal. I knew I shouldn’t have done this! I’m probably going to puke!

The boat floated along for short a time and then grabbed the rubber rotating conveyor belt that carried it up the first hill. It was a small one so I held on tightly. I could hear Rob’s voice. He was calming me, but only a little. I was on high alert. I was in danger. But Robe was there. I’ll be okay. I’ll be okay, right? I won’t die. Look at all of these other people. They’re all happy and I’m terrified. They’re all having fun and right now I am living in the opposite. My whole psyche is upside down in this life. Why am I like this? Why can’t I be like everybody else?

We reach the top and the boat slides down the small hill with a splash!

I didn’t die. That was okay, and I’m nervously laughing in relief. That wasn’t so bad.

Then the next climb is a bit higher. Another hill. Again… up and then down. Splash! I somehow have survived again. It’s a miracle. The boat’s cruising along and two girls are sitting right in the seat in front of us. They’re giggling and looking back at us and… smiling.

I must be strong. The boat climbs an even higher hill. But for some reason, I’m not dying. Rob’s smiling and reassuring me. I can’t look like a loser in front of these cute girls. We’re low in the boat and I focus my eyes on the inside of the small craft. We’re pretty high up and I can’t look out, because I’ll die. But the way these little log boats are constructed we’re low in the seats to keep the center of gravity down.

The boat is at the top now.  But it doesn’t go right down a hill. It goes along on a straight line around the top. It’s making a turn now. I glance over. I can see the hill over to my left. That’s the hill we’re going to go down. We’re so high up. I’m scared but I have to hold it together, for Rob and for myself.

We get to the crest of the hill and down we go. I can hear the screams of delight from the girls in front of us, and as we land with an enormous splash I feel a sudden rush of relief wash over me (Along with a lot of water!)

That’s it. I did it. I went on my first thrill ride and I didn’t puke or die. It’s a gosh-darned miracle.

We exit the ride and are pretty wet, along with everybody else. It feels good. I experienced what exhilaration felt like for the very first time. I’m not athletic and don’t do any sports or anything risky, so my fear turned into relief and excitement. It felt good. I didn’t know it back then, but the dopamine was dropping. What a wonderful relief. What a wonderful feeling. The girls even talked to us a little bit after the ride. It was nice. For the first time, I didn’t feel like a leper mutant.

“See, Chaz. You did it. It was great, right?”

“Yea… yea… It was pretty cool. I was panting and feeling joy and relief.

I liked that feeling.

“Do you want to walk around a little bit?”

“No Rob. Let’s get back in line.”

We rode that log flume probably a dozen times that day. I was frightened, but I was with Rob. We did it together. I felt safe with him and liked the high I got from the ride. I had somehow turned my fear into excitement. I learned something about myself that day.

Nothing is ever as bad as you think it is, as long as you don’t let the fear in.

You can take that fear and turn it into something else. I was a long way from conquering my anxiety or my depression, but it was a step, albeit a small one.

But it was a step. The only thing holding me in my prison cell was me holding onto the bars. If I would just let go, the bars would fall away and I could walk right out.

It’s not that simple, but I learned that if you want to conquer something in your life, simply take a step. Any step. Just take the step. Then slowly walk toward the things you fear. Keep doing it over and over, and after a few years or decades in my case, you’ll rewire your mind to carry forth into tomorrow.

My life changed that afternoon in a small way. I thankfully graduated from 9th grade and went to the seashore for the summer. The summer of 1977 was the first great summer of my young life. Everything changed and I was on my way.

I rode every rollercoaster in Wilwood that summer.

The Supersonic on Sportland Pier, The Jumbo Jet on Morey’s Pier, The Flyer on Hunt’s Pier, The Wild Mouse on Marine Pier, and the glorious Queen’s Rollercoaster on Marine Pier West.

One evening I rode every rollercoaster on the island!

Life can be like a rollercoaster. There’s all that anxiety and fear as you climb the hill of your life. You slowly reach the top and you’re terrified. It’s too high. I’m going to die. Then the coaster zooms down the first hill and the fear turns into excitement. Every hill after that is never as thrilling as that first one. That long difficult climb to the top to face your fears is now behind you. Once the ride is over and the coaster roars into the station, you can only think about one thing.

I can’t wait to do that again.

Rob and I lost touch after Junior High because he went to a different high school than me. But I’ll never forget that boy, and that special day we got to play hooky from school and go on a great adventure together.

 

 

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7 Grounding Techniques To Calm Anxiety When You’re This Close To Losing It

Because it happens to all of us. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life. But as I’ve gotten older I learned to rewire my brain and spank those demons and make them pay.

And you can too.

No one is immune to feeling anxious at least on occasion. And no matter who or what it is that sparks your pending eruption, knowing how to calm down the anxiety and anger you feeling when you’re seriously this close to losing it can save you and those around you a lot of collateral damage.

Life happens, and a simple chain of events can slowly stoke a fire within you. Then all it takes is one “he said/she said” or “they did/they didn’t” to push you across the threshold into this close-to-losing-it territory.

Once you’ve learned some effective grounding techniques and coping skills for calming anxiety, calling upon them can be far more empowering than impulsively unleashing your fury ever will be.

Here are seven tips on how to calm down when you’re feeling anxious using simple grounding techniques and positive coping skills.

1. Excuse yourself, gracefully

Leave the room, the situation, the area, or park the car, but get yourself to a safe place. That can even mean staying right where you are until the heat of it subsides.

It may be a big test of your inner strength not to storm out of a situation while huffing, puffing, slamming chairs and doors, but do it with grace anyway.

Depending on the circumstance, leaving may not be possible or ideal. Take a deep breath before asking for a time out (or simply informing them that you are taking one), and be sure to do so in a calm and controlled way — even if you have to fake it.

Graceful exits may also mean hitting pause by drinking a glass of water and feeling it dampen your fire. If no water is handy, you can imagine it.

Leaving in a civilized way, either literally or virtually through a pause, versus going into full throttle bulldozer mode can be the step that helps quell your eruption from spewing.

2. Put pen to paper

Intense anxiety or anger can be vanquished by saying what you feel you have to say on paper rather than directly to the object of your frustration.

Kick it old school by handwriting everything that is on your mind so you can vent about this current situation.

The benefits of handwriting as opposed to typing it into a text message or email are twofold:

  • You can’t accidentally click send and unleash your unfiltered thoughts, feeling, and words into someone’s inbox
  • When you finish venting, you can shred the pages with your bare hands (another bonus), leaving no digital trace that may inadvertently be found later

Handwriting has been proven more cathartic than typing, and as well as to help improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills. And being this close to losing it needs solving.

And as explained by Eric Grunwald of MIT’s Global Studies and Languages Department, “Freewriting, a writing strategy developed by Peter Elbow in 1973, is similar to brainstorming but is written in sentence and paragraph form without stopping. Thus, it [increases[ the flow of ideas and reduces the chance that you’ll accidentally censor a good idea,” which can add another level of efficacy in reducing your angst.

3. Visualize the old heave-ho

Fantasizing about flipping the desk over, clearing the table in one swipe, or playing Frisbee with your laptop. It feels good and satisfying, doesn’t it?!

Visualization, also known as imagery, has been a tool employed by Olympians and other elite athletes for decades, and there is much evidence backing its efficacy for putting desired outcomes into motion without ever leaving the room.

How far can you imagine your laptop will actually fly? How well does it bounce?

Keeping your action-packed fantasy in your head allows you to see the action, feel your muscles contracting, hear the thud of your desk, taste and smell the scene in excruciating detail, without leaving an unpleasant mess to clean up afterward.

When you are this close to losing it, you are so wrapped up in the instant gratification of the moment that you don’t see the final scene — the one where you have to pick up the pieces and clean up the debris, all while shrouded in regret, remorse, guilt, and shame for literally following through with your actions.

4. Get tactile

When you are in overdrive and your foot is fully depressed on the accelerator on the thisclose freeway, take the off-ramp by redirecting some resources from that feeling and shifting them to a tactile action like counting your toes.

With the bulk of your attention invested in your current state, very little of you is connected to the physical.

Whether you are standing or sitting, wiggle your toes and notice how many you can feel. Press each individual toe into your shoe and count them, one toe and one foot at a time. Repeat and repeat again.

By counting your toes, you begin to re-ground yourself. You can go further by scanning your body and noticing how your shoe feels or how the fabrics you are wearing feel against your body or what the chair you are sitting in feels like.

This is especially effective when you are in a situation you cannot dismiss yourself from. Tuning into your body helps to calm the mind, and therefore, your emotions.

5. Catch your breath

When in a high emotional state, your breathing becomes rapid and shallow, which in turn moves you closer to losing it because it’s like fanning the flames of a fire to burn bigger.

Box breathing or four-square breathing is a grounding technique used by Navy SEALs you can put into action no matter where you are and is a highly effective way to get back into control of yourself when things are reeling out of control.

  • Inhale slowly to the count of five
  • Hold for a count of five
  • Exhale slowly to the count of five
  • Hold for a count of five
  • Repeat

As Healthline reports: “According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s sufficient evidence that intentional deep breathing can actually calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This system regulates involuntary body functions such as temperature. It can lower blood pressure and provide an almost immediate sense of calm.”

Deep breathing also delivers more oxygen to the muscles you are clenching as they begin to release with each cycle you repeat, essentially disarming the cortisol accumulation simultaneously.

6. Get physical

Dropping down and doing ten push-ups to burn off your anxious or angry energy may not be appropriate at the time, but taking yourself out for a brisk walk can help.

Being in nature helps calm the sympathetic nervous system (your “fight, flight or freeze” response), and putting your pent-up energy into your pace can help to return you to calm.

Even when you can’t get outside to commune with nature, you can use the power of your mind to take you wherever you decompress best.

Maybe your happy place is a white sandy beach where the ocean waves wash all your stresses away. Or perhaps it’s riding down the open highway on your motorcycle, sitting under a tree, or climbing a mountain.

Creating or recalling an image that brings life back into perspective is only a thought away.

7. Grab onto gratitude

Chances are, in a moment when you are trying to figure out how to calm down, you are as far away from feeling grateful as you can get.

However, you always have the power of choice, and flexing your gratitude muscle may effectively diffuse the situation.

Bring to mind someone who you are wholly grateful for, or think of ten things you are grateful for in your life. Feel that gratitude infuse your body and mind.

We cannot feel fully grateful or fully enraged at the same time, so go with the positive feelings gratitude evokes.

Most importantly, you can think about how grateful you will feel for not losing it when you don’t, as well as how proud you are of yourself for keeping it together in this volatile moment in time. Remind yourself that feeling this close to losing it is temporary, and gratitude is the long game.

Keeping a gratitude journal and choosing to be intentionally grateful for the people and things that add value to your life helps sustain you in times like this.

Gratitude acts as an antidote to stress. The benefits of giving thanks in our life are endless, especially helping us to build our resilience overall.

Be aware that not any one of these tips is guaranteed to work for you every single time you need to calm yourself down.

You need to find your combination of tools to get you on the other side of losing it, and all are most effective when sampled and practiced before you need them.

Regardless of how few or how many you need to use these techniques and skills, it’s worth the effort, in the end, to find what works best for you.

The Absolute Dater – Making Online Dating Easy Again

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Wildwood Daze – The Big Flamingo

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1971

This little story takes place a year after my father bought the house at the shore in Wildwood. It was a magical time. We were the only kids I knew that had a shore house and could disappear from the neighborhood in Philly for the entire summer. I remember when I would come home at the end of August my friend RJ didn’t even recognize me at first. “All I saw was this kid with a brown face with white hair!” That’s how tan we all were when we got home after spending July and August on the beach.

Undated Travel Souvenir Brochure Boat Cruises Capt George Sinns Big Flamingo NJ - Advintage Plus

My family obviously wanted to take advantage of all of the wonderful activities the seashore had to offer. The boardwalk, with is wonderful amusement rides and games of chance, the beach, Winterwood, Cape May, mini-golf, and movies.

One day I was probably working on the architectural design of some elaborate sandcastle with my dad and sisters. This cool refurbished blue PT boat cruised by out beyond the waves. I asked my father about it and he told me it was an old warship converted into a sightseeing boat.

j7p3T.jpg

It looked fun, but there was an even bigger boat that did tours through the inland waterway and out into the ocean for the tourists. That was the Big Flamingo.  I always thought it was called the pink flamingo because of its obvious color, but that’s the real name.

1980 Capt. Sinn's Big Flamingo Sightseeing Cruiser Boat Wildwood Crest NJ PC | eBay

I wanted to take a ride on the pink one because it was bigger and looked cooler. I remember reading about it in a brochure we had lying around the house. The tri screw, twin-engine sounded like the more powerful ship. I wasn’t a fan of heights or deep water so the bigger boat just seemed safer to me.

Capt. George Sinn’s “Big Flamingo”. The Wildwoods’ largest sightseeing cruiser – the 85 foot triple Diesel Air Sea Rescue boat, the former P444, sails 10:30 A.M. – 2:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. daily from Sinn’s Dock, Cardinal Road, and Park Boulevard, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey.

So dad took us out on the Big Flamingo one evening. My mom didn’t go because she stayed home with baby Gabrielle. I also believe like me, my mom didn’t like feeling dizzy or off balance. We both ate Dramamine for long car rides and always felt a little nauseous when it came to any kind of weird motion.

Illness caused by motion during travel. Travel by car, air, or boat all can cause motion sickness. Motion sickness usually goes away when the motion stops. Symptoms include fatigue, uneasiness, dizziness, and vomiting.
Focusing the eyes on objects straight ahead may help. Avoid overeating, alcohol, and smoking before travel. Oral or patch medications can prevent or treat symptoms.

I remember she once told me that she went out to a restaurant with my dad at a nice restaurant near a harbor. She said she could see the boats going up and down outside the window and she started feeling seasick. We were the same when it came to any unstable movement in our surroundings.

But Dramamine never came into play when thoughts of going out on a huge ship that toured the bay and then a little bit out into the ocean and back. Me, Janice, April and my dad all went on the cruise and it was amazing! It was the first time I’d ever been on a boat and it was super fun! Another great tradition was born for our summers in Wildwood!

Here’s a cute little song to go with the above story.

 

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1972

Wildwood NJ BIG FLAMINGO boat cruise showcard original | #42663641

Here we are a year later and one of the things we kids definitely wanted to do was get back on the Big Flamingo! Capt. Sinn’s giant tour boat docked back in Otten’s Harbor.

So, one fine evening we all headed over there to board the boat for another cool adventure.

Off we go on the boat and it cruises along in the bay through the inland waterway. It was a lovely evening as the sun set over the grassy sound. Good times!

As we rounded the southwestern point of the island, down around Diamond Beach beyond Wildwood Crest, we entered the Atlantic Ocean. This was the best part of the tour. As twilight approached, the ship headed northward, and if you looked off to your left you could see the whole boardwalk. It was a dazzling vision of lights, amusement rides, and music. Probably the best view of Wildwood at night from afar. A view you’d never get to see as a kid.

My favorite spot to stand on the deck was in the absolute front of the bow. It was the best place to be on the ship. You really experienced the power of the ship cutting through the ocean.

But what began to happen was completely unexpected. The ship began to encounter ground swells. A groundswell is a long-period group of waves created by a distant storm system over long distances, at least 2,000 miles away from the coast. The majority of groundswells are produced by mid-latitude depressions between 30 and 60 degrees, and travel from west to east, swinging towards the Equator.

No one told me this could happen, but there was no way anyone could have known what was happening. What this means is, instead of the big ship cruising along placidly in the sea, it begins to go up and down in a sickening repetitive movement. Not little rolling waves. I’m talking this huge ship goes up two stories and then comes back down, causing a jarring feeling in your stomach. This happens over, and over, and over again. This is how people become seasick. It’s a normal occurrence, but being a kid I was absolutely terrified.

My dad told me to stay where I was and just ride it out. I think what made it so horrifying for me was, last year I had a great time. I felt safe and had a wonderful time. Now I was stuck on a boat in the ocean and it felt like it was out of control. It doesn’t matter how big the boat is, it’s simply no match for the power of the sea. If it wants to toss you around, it’s going to. There’s nothing you can do but ride it out.

Apparently, people were getting sick all over the boat. At least I wasn’t alone. My dad and sister Janice were close by, but it was the unexpected, trapped feeling that gripped me. That was the worst part. It was a sudden horror that washed over me again and again.

The captain turned the ship around halfway through the tour and headed back to the bay. We had nearly made it back into the calm water of the bay when I began vomiting. I just chundered right over the side. The wind was blowing, and I remember my dad trying to catch the blowback of my technicolor yawn with his hands. He just didn’t want my puke to splash back on the other guests. (Always the respectful gentleman)

I felt a bit better when we finally got back to the dock, but was badly shaken by this experience. I had always had anxiety since I was little and this sort of event really rattled my psyche. My sister Janice was fine and I think April was okay as well, but I felt a bit shattered after that event. My mind went from trusting a fun event that turned into a terrifying, embarrassing nightmare the second time around.

These are the type of wacky events you laugh off after they happen and you simply chalk them up to, “well, that was awful.”

But the next morning I woke up with an anxiety attack. I didn’t know what anxiety was back then. I was just overcome with sudden fear again. People who don’t suffer from anxiety simply don’t understand. They’re all fine the next day. Me… basket case. That feeling of losing control or going crazy. Heart palpitations or chest pain. Feeling like you’re going to pass out. Trouble breathing or choking sensations are all part of those types of attacks.

It actually traumatized me. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt nauseous. I felt fear. I didn’t want to go to the beach, or near any kind of water. It was an overwhelming post-traumatic terror I had never felt before. But of course, nobody else understands it because they aren’t afflicted with that sort of chemical makeup in their brains. It really sucks.

But my mom was very understanding and just let me take it easy for a couple of days around the house and neighborhood. My mom and I shared some of the same fears and it runs in our side of the family. On the other hand, my father and sister Janice are more stable and they simply go forward. Little April was unaffected by it all because she’s simply tough.

After a few days, my father wanted to take us over to a spot called Dad’s Place Marina. It was a great spot to go with family & friends. Everybody knew about the place but I had never been there. I had heard it was a neat place to go fishing and especially crabbing. I had never gone crabbing but it sounded like a fun thing to do.

My dad had found a couple of old metal rusty crab traps in the storage room behind the house. He asked me if I wanted to go. He said it was just a dock on the bay, and I could walk back onto the shore any time I wanted. I liked the idea of the escape route and agreed to go with him and Janice.  So my mom took April and baby Gabby to the beach and we drove over to Dad’s place in our VW minibus.

When we got out there, my dad bought a couple of new crab traps and some squid for bait and we were good to go. Crabbing is a very passive activity and it’s probably what I needed to overcome my fear of the water and acclimate myself to being near it.

Dad’s Place

1950s/60s Good Fishing and Crabbing, Dad's Place, Wildwood, NJ Postcard / HipPostcard

It turned out to be a fun day, and we caught lots of blue point crabs. (Those are the ones you want for eating, not those little spotted ones that grab your toe in the surf.) It was fun to drop the trap off the edge of the dock on its line and simply wait. After a while, you’d pull it up periodically to check your trap. Sometimes you’d have a crab or two. I even caught a tiny sea robin in mine! I was shocked you could catch a fish with a crab trap.

So, the trip to Dad’s Place and the day of crabbing with my sister and father, sort of reset me. After that, I was fine and resumed trips to the beach and playing in the ocean.

But I never set foot on that goddamn Big Flamingo ever again!

And… here’s a song that seems appropriate for what happened above.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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8 Things Guys Worry About – But Shouldn’t Tips

Guys aren’t immune to entertaining silly, irrational thoughts on occasion. Unlike women, we’re just generally better at hiding the things that we needlessly worry about.

From the size of our package to our perfectly-adequate incomes, guys regularly stress over things that would probably make women laugh. So, if you’re a guy reading this, start taking notes: Here are eight things that you probably worry about, but shouldn’t.

Finding a Solution to Everything

Generally speaking, guys are known for being problem solvers. We see a problem and we naturally want to fix it. Because why else would you complain if you don’t seek a solution?

Though it sounds logical enough, this practical approach may not be what your girlfriend is looking for when she unleashes her problems on you. Sometimes, she just wants to let her frustrations out—that’s it.

Don’t stress so much about finding a solution anytime she comes to you with a problem. Instead, ask her whether she wants advice or not. If she doesn’t, then you can sit back and not worry about coming up with a solution she clearly doesn’t want to hear.

Showing Emotion

It’s not unmanly to show emotion and talk about your feelings. In fact, showing emotion and being vulnerable may be more important for men than it is for women.

Studies have shown that guys who regularly suppress their emotions and don’t seek out help when they need it may turn to harmful coping strategies instead, such as substance abuse and risk-taking behaviors. In a 2008 study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, men were more likely to crave alcohol when they experienced negative emotions compared to women.

So, go ahead: Let it all out. If anyone calls you a sissy for crying or admitting that you’re depressed, feel free to show them the door.

Having Perfect Skin All the Time

Some guys are lucky enough to never experience adult acne, while others just aren’t so fortunate. If your face is breaking out all of a sudden, it’s truly not the end of the world.

If you’re seriously stressing over the pimple in your nose, then you might just be making the problem worse. In a 2017 study published in Acta Dermato-Venereologica, researchers found a strong association between stress levels and the severity of acne in subjects with mild to moderate acne.

Bottom line? Try to relax! Get some exercise, practice meditation and listen to soothing music. It will do both you and your skin some good.

And Having the Perfect Body

We won’t lie to you: Many women do enjoy rippling abs and bulging biceps on a guy. However, women might be more attracted to your body flaws than you might think.

Your dad bod in particular could be a hit with some women. Several surveys have indicated that the popularity of the dad bod is on the rise, with many women reportedly finding it more attractive than washboard abs.

You don’t need to look like you just got done with a Men’s Health photoshoot to land the girl of your dreams. Just focus on treating your body with kindness and improving the things that are in your power to change.

Other Guys Stealing Your Girl

If you’re seriously worried that some handsome guy is going to swoop in and steal your girl out of the blue, then there are two possible reasons for your concern. You either have serious relationship anxiety and need to work out your deep-rooted insecurities or your relationship is already on shaky ground to begin with.

In both cases, it probably wouldn’t hurt to try therapy. There’s no shame in seeking professional help. It could potentially save a perfectly good relationship and make you much happier in the long-term.

The Size of Your Male Member

Admit it, you’ve probably worried about your penis size at some point in your life. But once you take a good, hard look (pun intended) at the research, you’ll quickly see that you have nothing to worry about at all.

A 2007 study published in BJU International surveyed more than 50,000 heterosexual men and women. In the survey, a whopping 85 percent of women were satisfied with their partner’s penis size, while only 55 percent of men were satisfied. Two of the studies found that women preferred wider penises to longer ones.

Furthermore, studies have shown that few women can orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. Rather than mope about your completely average penis size, you should instead be focusing on giving her the best clitoral orgasm of her life.

Impressing Everyone Around You

Who doesn’t want to be liked? It’s common for younger guys to go out of their way to impress their girlfriend, coworkers, boss and even random people on the street.

But let’s face it, trying to impress everyone is absolutely exhausting. Life is much too short to constantly be worrying about what everyone and their mother thinks about you.

The only thoughts that should matter to you are from the people who love you no matter what. Once you realize that and finally let go of your constant need to impress, you’ll likely feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.

Your Income

No matter what your current income, you probably wish it was higher. How do we know? Because apart from perhaps Bill Gates, there is no guy on the planet who doesn’t want more money.

By all means, ask for a raise at work and climb the career ladder. Just don’t fall into the trap of believing that a higher income will magically solve your problems or land you a girlfriend.

Besides, think about how many guys are living happy lives and have super-hot girlfriends, despite living on salary that’s barely above minimum wage. The only difference between these guys and you is your gratitude—or lack thereof.

Worry Less, Live More

We all have anxieties that get the best of us at times. The key is to not allow them to steal your happiness. None of the things on this list are worth the space they potentially take up in your brain. So, kick them to the curb, focus on the things that truly matter and you’ll likely be much happier for it.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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What It’s Really Like to Be Sober Curious: When an Alcohol “Break” Becomes Permanent

In the spring of 2018, 42-year-old Kim Banks found herself in a lonely place. Struggles with anxiety and depression interfered with life as a wife, mother of 5-year-old twin boys, and her work in public relations. Despite self-improvements like daily exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits, Banks wasn’t happy.

“I was feeling lots of anxiety and depression, along with irritability, even though I was trying to do all the right things,” she says.

In the back of her mind, Banks describes a nagging thought, “Give up the alcohol.”

“I was in a constant, daily argument with myself,” she says. At the root of was the question: “Should I drink tonight?”

Photo credit: Instagram/@kimbanks_reset
Photo credit: Instagram/@kimbanks_reset
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Banks ended each workday with a few glasses of wine. On weekend nights out with her husband, she describes “going a little hard,” and leaving a wave of bad feelings for the next day.

“I knew I needed to eliminate alcohol, but it was the last thing I wanted to eliminate,” she says. “I really enjoyed wine, and I definitely bought into the idea alcohol enhances experiences,” she continues. “Tell me to give anything else up but the wine.”

Initially, Banks describes a curiosity around “taking a 30-day-break” from alcohol. She researched online for information about what impact alcohol has on the body. “I mainly searched for success stories from people who gave up drinking for 30 days or more,” she explains.

Her online searches turned up first-hand accounts of people like herself, who hadn’t suffered major life-altering consequences from drinking, but saw their drinking as problematic all the same. Others identified as “alcoholic” but blended traditional 12-step recovery with other support among fellow “sober curious” followers.

Banks made the decision to go alcohol-free. “I was thinking, ‘This isn’t making me happy anymore, but it’s ingrained in my daily habits,'” she says.

How Giving Up Alcohol Became a Wellness Trend

Ruby Warrington’s 2018 book Sober Curious is something of a guidebook for this less-threatening, label-free, booze-less trend. The book describes Warrington’s “gray-area problem drinking.” Uncomfortable with the label “alcoholic,” she developed a following of like-minded non-drinkers via her book, podcasts, and social media. Banks is one of many who either gave up drinking altogether or drink more mindfully.

Sober coach Rae Dylan lives in New York City and sees the trend up close. Cities like New York City and Chicago are seeing a rise of sober-free bars and events. Instagram and Facebook pages devoted to alcohol-free living boast followers in the tens of thousands.

“I see it as part of what’s happening all around us,” says Dylan, who works with recovering addicts and alcoholics requiring protection from the press, nutritional guidance, mental health issues, medication, and detox. “People are more interested in a healthy lifestyle and part of not-drinking is part of this healthy culture which recognizes it’s not healthy the way Americans drink,” she adds.

In particular, the idea of not drinking in what some consider awkward social situations, like a bar atmosphere, is encouraging, Dylan believes. “It’s a good thing; the movement gives younger people, who may feel pressure to drink or do drugs, another outlet,” she says.

“Instead of feeling pressure to drink,” Dylan continues, “the focus comes off labels like ‘alcoholic’ and, instead, people focus on having a cool virgin mojito with maybe organic cane juice.”

Finding Like-Minded Non-Drinkers

Banks admits her first steps into a sober lifestyle weren’t easy. Friends and family didn’t object, but they had difficulty supporting what they couldn’t understand.

“I was surrounded with casual drinkers who didn’t understand why someone would choose to give up alcohol without being an alcoholic,” she says. “I wasn’t a rock-bottom alcoholic, so it wasn’t a black-or-white issue for me.”

Instead, the issue, like Warrington describes, was more of a gray area. “I was tired, my skin was breaking out and I had tried everything else,” she continues. “I knew in my heart what I needed to cut.”

Finding support from other non-drinkers meant turning to the internet and social media. At first, Banks was unaware she was part of the sober curious movement. Her first steps going wine-free centered on setting up an Instagram page to record an initial 30-day break from alcohol. “I would post things like, ‘This is my second day without alcohol!’”

Today, Banks has nearly 6,500 Instagram followers celebrating her alcohol-free experiences. She credits this early support with her sober lifestyle today. “There were so many supportive people on Instagram,” Banks says. “I felt like I had these online pen pals who really got what I was going through.”

She describes the connections as uplifting without shame. Followers celebrate her victories and help her navigate rough days. Plus, she knows she has 24-hour access to a community of support. If she and her husband go out for the evening, she’s only an Instagram away from others who are also abstaining from drinks on a weekend night.

Trend vs. Lifestyle

Living in Greenville, SC, Banks doesn’t have the luxury of countless, trendy sober bars to visit. But, time away from drinking has made it easier and less appealing to go backward. She says she focuses on the reality of drinking versus the fantasy.

During a recent family vacation, Banks said the idea of having a drink sounded tempting. She reminded herself, however, of the reality behind the “one drink,” which included, for her, likely more than one drink, a bad night’s sleep and heavy anxiety in the morning. “In the beginning it was so hard, but now I’ve had so many experiences under my belt, and I feel more confident,” she explains.

“I think through the drink,” she explains. “I admit to myself I have the urge, but I know the ‘idea’ is way better than any glass of wine.”

The days of pushing through moments of temptation are fewer and further between. If she needs support, she knows her Instagram followers are always nearby, along with other sober curious friends she’s made on the journey.

Her friends and family are still casual drinkers, but Banks has been abstaining from alcohol for the past year and a half, and has no intention of going back to her evening wine. “I love waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning without a hangover,” she says.

Enjoying sober experiences has left Banks feeling healthier, more focused, and more present for her husband and children. In addition, her family’s finances have improved without the steady purchase of wine. She says her husband is proud of her accomplishment, and her children are enjoying a more active family life with hiking and trips.

“There are so many physical and emotional benefits from intentionally taking a break from alcohol,” says Banks. “It opens a whole new world. I’m a better friend, wife, and mom,” she adds. For now, she remains alcohol-free, one day at a time.

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Why Anxiety Increases Sex Drive In Some People

It’s all about emotions and attachment.

Have you ever received bad news, and all you’ve wanted to do was have sex? Or, perhaps sex is literally the last thing you want to do when you have anxiety?

As a sex therapist trained in affect-focused therapy, I know that emotions, anxiety, and sex are connected. Here’s why sometimes they mix — and  sometimes they don’t.

What exactly are emotions?

Emotions are basic evolutionary processes that have developed to keep us alive. They act like compasses, telling us what our needs are in all situations.

In their rawest state, feelings have specific purposes. And if we listen to them and do what they’re telling us to do —  we feel better.

Positive feelings usually urge us toward connection with others, whereas negative ones work to keep us safe.

Generally speaking, negative emotions such as worry and fear dampen our sex drive because their prime goal is to save us from potential threats.

Hormones are spurred by emotions.

When something dangerous happens, like someone pointing a gun to our head, our body springs into action, creating the stress hormone cortisol, getting us ready to fight, flee, or freeze.

This is a good thing, because getting horny when someone wants to pop our head off, could potentially lead to our death.

The thing is though, worry and fear can also be ignited by things that aren’t actually dangerous  —  at least, not on a physiological level.

These are all examples of situations our brain might perceive as a real threat:

  • Our partner making advances in bed
  • A big presentation at work
  • An erection that suddenly falters

If sex has turned into a stressful duty where you feel the need to perform by having a long-lasting erection or multiple orgasms , worry and fear will inhibit our libido.

Can emotions affect your sex drive? Most definitely.

For most of us, negative emotions put a damper on our libido.

Meanwhile, for others, worry, fear, and anxiety can drive them toward sex  as opposed to away from it.

And this has a lot to do with their attachment styles and patterns.

Attachment styles inform how our sex drive responds to negative emotions.

Your attachment pattern affects your relationships. And to understand why some people prefer to screw away their anxiety ,  you need to know what attachment is.

Attachment, just like our emotions, is a basic human drive developed to ensure we bond with our babies and, thus ,  take care of them.

Our attachment patterns differ, depending on the quality of the bond established with our primary caregivers.

The quality not only affects our relationship with our parents  but  it also governs how we relate to other people in the future , romantically or otherwise.

Secure versus insecure attachment patterns.

Roughly speaking, a secure attachment pattern leads to more balanced, healthy relationships, whereas an insecure attachment pattern leads to more issues in our relationships and, sometimes, more sexual problems, too.

One of the two insecure attachment patterns that can be developed in early childhood — that can lead to a higher sex drive — is the anxious-preoccupied attachment pattern.

This pattern emerges as a response to a home-environment with emotional inconsistency.

Perhaps our parents showered us with love and attention at random; sometimes meeting our emotional needs and other times minimizing or ignoring them.

When our primary caregivers are inconsistent and unpredictable we develop clinginess as a means of getting the love and attention we as a species so desperately crave.

As toddlers, this meant we needed to scream loudly in order to have our needs met, or cling to our parents’ bodies in order for them to hear us.

And so this pattern continues into adulthood.

We meet someone we fancy and we latch on quickly, clinging to them to receive confirmation and feel loved. One of the prime ways we receive this validation and affection  is through sex.

Why does an anxious-ambivalent attachment pattern increase sex drive?

There are several reasons an anxious-ambivalent attachment pattern can create a ferocious appetite for sex. One of them is that society holds sex in a relationship in high regard.

We equate sex with love and therefore, to have sex is to, literally, “make love.”

This pairing of sex and love is perhaps best seen in our western society’s quest for “the one” and our goal of life-long monogamy.

The whole concept of monogamy is that all of our wants and desires are replenished by this one person.

However, it also means if we’re not satisfied by our partner or if we even desire another person sexually, there’s something wrong with us.

And because of the monogamous ideal and the way it links sex and love ,  sex serves as one of the ultimate ways of getting close and feeling cared for.

It can validate us and make us feel like we’re truly seen  —  no matter what attachment pattern we possess.

But, especially, for those of us who are anxious-ambivalent, sex can be the fastest route to feeling valued by our partners.

On the flip side, this means not having sex can be construed as a sign that our relationship is over or our partner has fallen out of love with us.

In order for this not to happen, our attachment pattern drives us toward a higher libido, trying to ensure our relationship’s survival. And, in a more philosophical sense , our own.

By having sex with our partner, we’re safeguarding ourselves from being left on our own ,  the way we felt when our primary caregivers were emotionally inconsistent.

Our sex drive isn’t only sparked by society’s views of sex.

It’s also ignited by the emotions and states that are triggered by our attachment pattern — worry and anxiety.

When we’re anxious-ambivalent, we might suffer more from regular worry and anxiety because relationships, in and of themselves, trigger it.

Sex can be a great way to regulate negative emotions.

The cortisol coursing through our veins doesn’t dampen our drive, as it does for most people who have a secure attachment pattern — it amps it.

Regulating emotions through sex doesn’t have to be a negative thing. In fact, a lot of people, feel like it’s a great way of dealing with difficult feelings.

The problem arises when you feel the only way to relieve anxiety, stress, or worry   is through sex.

Without any other strategies to regulate negative feelings, sex can turn into a compulsive act. Be it through masturbation or having sex with a partner or two.

So, when asking yourself if emotions can affect your sex drive, it’s important to take both feelings and attachment patterns into consideration.

Everyone’s libido is affected by their emotions.

For those who have an anxious-ambivalent attachment pattern, sexual desire can be ramped up by negative emotions and for those who are securely attached, they shut it down.

It’s all completely normal. You’re completely normal.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

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10 Agonizing Truths Depressed People Never Talk About

There’s no reasoning with it. So don’t even try.

Here’s a great post from one of my readers. Thought it was worth sharing.

When I was 16, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. After the diagnosis, my uncle slapped me on the back and said, “Welcome to the family kid,” while my family all compared drugs around the kitchen table. At that time, I didn’t know how to deal with depression, but I’m extremely lucky that my family not only accepted that depression is a real, serious issue, but they understood it.

They were mindful to make sure that my depression wasn’t used as a crutch or an excuse, but thankfully, I never once heard the unhelpful, “Just suck it up and deal with it,” and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

What causes depression? It can be a number of factors, but depression is different for everyone. And over the years I’ve noticed a few things that don’t seem to waver. They hold fast in their level of suckiness and they seem to apply to most everyone I’ve talked to that’s dealt with depression.

1. You don’t choose to be depressed.

This isn’t a choice I’m making. My cat dying or my car being totaled aren’t the reason I’m depressed. Those things are tipping points, they push me over an edge I was already standing at.

Depression is a chemical imbalance. Yes, there are things I can do and medications I can take, but at the end of the day this isn’t something I’d choose for anyone and certainly not myself.

2. Your brain is the enemy.

For me, having depression is like walking around with a mean, petty, awful little friend in my brain all the time. It’s constantly telling me how awful I am, how I’m not good enough and how nobody likes me.

And just like the negative comments on a blog post, those thoughts stick. Trying to convince yourself that your brain is wrong is no easy feat.

3. Telling you to “suck it up” will never work.

Don’t tell me to “suck it up.” Don’t tell me to watch a sunset or exercise or appreciate the joy that is being alive. That’s about as effective as me telling you to go walk it off after you’ve broken your arm. It isn’t going to fix anything.

Depression isn’t logical. You can’t reason with it or apply coconut oil and suddenly be better.

4. Nobody can fix it.

And that sucks. There are medications and there are things that I can do that will help mitigate my depression, but they won’t fix it. There’s nothing anyone can say or do that it is going to fix my brain. I wish more than anything that there was a magic cure-all that would tip the scales back to center for my brain, but there isn’t. What works for one person might not work for another.

What works for you might suddenly stop working. That’s the thing about depression: it’s an ever-evolving disease. Once you think you’ve got things under control, it’ll contort and poke at a tender spot you didn’t even know existed.

5. It’s going to suck for the person dealing with the depressed person, too.

I’ve been on the other end of things, and not being able to help someone I love when they’re in the middle of a depressive episode is awful. Just know that there’s nothing anyone can say that a depressed person will believe or that will pull them back to surface where reason lies. This reality is very tough.

6. Relying on a pill is awful. 

I came to terms a long time ago that every night I’m going to have to take a little white pill. Having to rely on medication for anything is hard but relying on it to make you feel normal, whatever “normal” is for you, is extra difficult.

7. Finding the right meds might make you feel like a science experiment.

Finding the right medication, or in some cases medications that work, is daunting. I’ve had to switch meds a handful of times and every time left me feeling like a husk of my former self.

Even with proper weaning, coming off some medication is like detoxing. Outside of the physical effects, there’s just something about the whole process that makes me feel like a high school science experiment.

8. Depression makes you selfish.

This was one of the first things I noticed after I was diagnosed. I spend so much time in my own head thinking that I rarely have the ability to look out and think about others. It’s also one of the things I hate most about my depression.

I have a damn good group of family and friends, and not being the friend they deserve is hard. But learning how to deal with depression means coming to terms with this.

9. You take away the things you love when you’re depressed.

Everyone has signs when their depression hits. For me, I start taking away the things I love. I stop writing. I stop picking up my camera. Depending on how deep it is, I’ll stop feeding myself or bathing as often as society would like me to.

There’s no point in my mind. Everything sucks and it’s going to continue to suck whether I write about it or take a picture of my cat.

10. Sometimes not being here sounds like a great option.

The reality is, most people who’ve dealt with depression, especially long-term, may consider suicide. Some will form a plan and think it over for months. Some will decide on the spot.

For me, there was never any plan. I never wanted to die, per se, I just wanted to not be here. I just wanted to stop constantly feeling like I was feeling.

Because the thing about depression is, you can’t escape it. You can’t set it down in the morning, go to work, and pick it back up when you get it home. It’s everywhere. It’s at your best friend’s wedding. It’s at your desk at work. It’s at the gas station when you’re pumping gas. You take that little terrorist everywhere with you and sometimes you just need a break.

Note to our readers: If you ever need to talk to someone about depression, please call 1-800-273-8255. Someone will always be on the line. You are loved.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Wake Up and Kick Your Anxiety’s Ass With This Under-10-Minute Morning Routine

Mental health and well being is very close to our hearts, and while we truly aim to have an always-on approach to covering all aspects of mental health, we have chosen to shine an extra bright light on #WorldMentalHealth today, and for the rest of January.

We bring you The Big Burn Out — a content series made up of honest personal essays, expert advice and practical recommendations.

When your mornings feel like this on a consistent basis, managing anxiety can feel like an uphill battle. My solution? Create a routine — and not just any routine, but one that’s specifically tailored to quell stress.

My morning routine has changed a little bit here and there over the years, but a few core things have stayed the same. Here are the pieces that I’ve put together that help the most with my anxiety management.

  • Step 0: Have a grab-n-go breakfast in the fridge. Surprise! This part of my morning takes place the night before. The aforementioned negative five minutes to cook breakfast is often all too true, despite my best efforts. Chia pudding, protein muffins, and overnight oats are some of my favorite make-ahead breakfasts to throw in my bag on the way to the train. One fewer thing to worry about!
  • Step 1: Use a better alarm. Like many of you, I used to have that science-lab mayday alarm (I think it’s literally called “Alarm” on iPhones) because I thought that would be the best way to kick me out of bed and ensure I’m on time to things. I realized the error of my ways — a gentle alarm that builds in volume and intuitively knows the right time (within a 10- to 30-minute window) to wake me up has actually made mornings so much less stressful and startling. I use Sleep Cycle, but there are similar apps you can try in the app store to find one that suits your style.
  • Step 2: *Don’t* check your emails! This one is still hard for me, but resist the urge to check your emails and messages right away. Give your brain a chance to wake up and focus on the present moment. Be still. Be calm. Absorb the silence around you and try to give yourself a chance to appreciate even a few moments of peace before you inundate yourself with obligations.
  • Step 3: Queue up the aromatherapy. I keep some essential oils by my bedside for my evening and morning routine. In the a.m., I opt for energizing, uplifting, happy scents like grapefruit, lemon, wild sweet orange, and sometimes geranium or peppermint.
  • Step 4: Meditate — even for two minutes. I tried creating a morning meditation routine of just 10 minutes a day. It sounds simple, right? Well . . . even that got away from me. Then I became stressed and anxious that I was failing on my anti-anxiety routine, and it all kind of spiraled. Sound familiar? I cut it down to two minutes. If you have more time, you can always tack on more, but two minutes was much more doable, and it has helped me feel like I’m more capable and empowered.

 

  • Step 5: Do your skincare routine. Like in my night time routine, I use washing (and exfoliating . . . and toning, serum-ing, moisturizing, etc.) my face as a form of meditation, self-care, and focus before I take on the rest of my day’s obligations. I think about nothing but the task at hand — and have the added bonus of making my skin look and feel great.
  • Step 6: Make the bed. Tidying up has become a part of my anti-anxiety routine, regardless of the time of day. One of my favorite trainers at Barry’s Bootcamp read an excerpt from Admiral William H. McRaven’s book, aptly titled Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life . . . And Maybe the World, and referenced that even if everything goes wrong in your day, at least you can say you made the bed. It might sound silly, but that really resonated with my anxious brain. So not only does this set you up for a clean, tidy, organized house (anxiety reducing!), but it also gives you a mini victory to focus on (anxiety reducing!). Hooray!

While this might look like a long list, it takes very little time. The two minutes of meditation, five minutes of skin care, and maybe one or two minutes of making the bed (because remember, steps 0, 1, 2, 3, and 6 take either zero time or 30 seconds) total up to less than 10 minutes total. That’s it! Carving out this small amount of time and space to take care of yourself first thing in the morning can lead to a happier day, better well-being, and a calmer, more peaceful life.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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If Dating Apps Give You Texting Anxiety, Here’s What To Do

Imagine you match with a total snack on your favorite dating app, but after the excitement settles in, you started to feel a little nervous about actually talking to them. Do you message first? What do you say? How long do you wait to reply? Do you mention that you’ve already Googled them, know about their soccer podcast, and saw on Facebook that their high school girlfriend lived with your ex last summer? (Small world.) If dating apps give you texting anxiety, or if your brain starts to spiral once you’ve started messaging a cutie, you are certainly not alone.

Whether you can’t decide if you should send a sarcastic meme, a sincere response, or if you literally feel your insides rot as you wait for them to reply to you, it’s totally common to feel stressed about digital dating.

“For better and for worse, dating apps have become the new normal for dating. People no longer have to be vulnerable in person and approach strangers because they can use their phone to buffer a lot of the anxiety required to meet someone new,” Nicole Richardson licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Elite Daily. “It’s really common to feel some anxiety around how to put yourself out there in a way that will attract what you are looking for in return.”

It can be hard to know just how much to share with someone you just matched with. And when you want to make a good first impression, but you haven’t actually met IRL yet — it’s super easy to overthink every text or to want to appeara certain way to your date. Cue: Trying to seem “cute” and “chill,” and not “eating blue cheese crumbles from the container watching Sister Wives.” According to Claudia Cox, relationship coach, the texting anxiety you may feel on apps can be a product of overthinking how to make yourself seem a certain way (i.e. “cute” or “chill”).

“A lot of people try to avoid rejection by creating the perfect profile or the best response ever,” Cox says. “But you cannot control the uncontrollable — meaning someone else’s attraction to you.” Cox shares that with the inescapable role of texting in dating today — it’s common for singles to overthink their every message. And with the growing pressure to be chill(literally push me off a boat) there’s pressure to be interested, but not what Cox calls, “too interested.”

According to Richardson, though it may seem harmless to constantly message your date soon into matching, constantly communicating with someone you haven’t spent that much time with IRL can actually add to your anxiety. “Texting too much in the beginning is a mistake,” Richardson says. “It creates a false sense of intimacy and can make the first couple of interactions more difficult because you have a built up image of each other that is not necessarily the person you are interacting with.”

If you started messaging a potential boo on a dating app and switched to texting, you may find yourself constantly talking to someone who you haven’t even met yet. And though you may not realize it, you may be creating an idealized version in your head about who this person is. “There are singles who overly fantasize about someone after just looking at their profile — without even meeting them in person,” Cox says. “This creates anxiety as it builds the other person up into someone so amazing that you’re intimidated to communicate with them.”

If dating apps are giving you texting anxiety, the experts suggest being kind and patient with yourself, but ultimately remembering that the app is just an app. “Dating apps are just an introduction service,” Jennifer B. Rhodes, licensed psychologist and relationship expert tells Elite Daily. “If you have anxiety about an app, be compassionate with yourself, but try it out. The experience will likely give you valuable learning opportunities needed to help build your self confidence.”

For Thomas Edwards Jr., coach and founder of The Professional Wingman, the first step to nixing dating app anxiety is to see your dating app as just another form of social media. “Depending on where you are in your pursuit of a relationship, there can be a ton of attention given to these apps. The first thing to do is not put your dating app on a pedestal,” Edwards says. “The other thing to do is share your experience with others both online and off. This will not only put both of you at ease, but more importantly, your anxiety will diminish long-term as you continue to share.” If you’re feeling totally nervous about messaging a new cutie, according to Edwards Jr., sharing your nerves with them can actually put you both at ease. Rather than pressuring yourself to look cool or seem calm and collected, admitting to your date that dating makes you anxious or that texting keeps you up at night can ease budding dating app tension.

For Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, the best way to beat dating app anxiety is to remember that love has no formula. “Algorithms, apps, and sites don’t have any different odds at finding you love,” Silva tells Elite Daily. “Keep the focus on trying to explore if theyare a good fit.” Rather than scrutinizing how you’re appearing to them — according to Silva, it’s important to see how your date fits into your life too. If they don’t seem to have have a compatible sense of humor or if they never reply to your texts on time — rather than changing the way you talk or worrying about what they’re thinking about you — you may realize that you’re not super into them. “The only question anyone should look to answer is ‘Am I having fun with this person?'” Edwards Jr. says. “The only way to make that the only question, is to make sure you have fun no matter what.”

If you’re still feeling anxious about dating apps, though it may seem a little cheesy, the experts share the power of positive thinking. “Visualize yourself successfully flirting and meeting new people. Stay focused on the process, and don’t put your sense of worth into your ability to score a date with every person you message,” Cox says. “Remind yourself that the person you’re messaging might be nervous. You don’t know them, or their story yet. So, keep it fun and don’t fall into the assumptions trap!”

And if somethings feels a little off, or if texting someone is making you anxious, it’s always OK to turn your phone off and take a hot bath or go see a friend. “Don’t push yourself too hard. If something really doesn’t feel good to you, don’t do it,” Richardson says. “Do positive things for yourself and spend time with uplifting and positive people (it’s contagious).” According to Richardson, taking time away from dating apps to hike with friends, read a new book, or visit a cool museum can quell any texting stress. Additionally, finding IRL hobbies or doing fun things away from your phone can give you a ton of cool conversation starters with dating app potential boos. “If you need a little more calming, meditate and journal to let yourself get it out in a constructive way,” Richardson says.

Feeling texting anxiety from dating apps is completely normal. Dating can be super intimidating, and the world of apps can make it seem like there are simultaneously 10,000 people and zero people out there for you. If you’re feeling nervous about dating apps, try putting down your phone and doing something fun IRL. Visualizing yourself totally killing it on a first date can help nix any stress as well. At the end of the day, you are a flawless angel, and dating is supposed to be fun. And with some positive thinking, you can totally swipe left on any dating-app fueled texting anxiety.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Here’s What It’s Like to Date When You Have Anxiety (Negative Thoughts Included)

Here’s one from one of my female readers…

I’ll never forget this moment: I was on a second date with a guy, patiently awaiting the large portion of cacio e pepe I eyed on Yelp six hours prior, when he brought up the concept of anxiety. At this point, I was more into the pasta than I was into the guy, but I had to take my eyes off the restaurant’s kitchen door and focus on the conversation that was about to ensue for a few minutes. “I’ve never had anxiety before. What’s it like?” he asked, genuinely curious. Well, honey, I’m going to assume they skipped this lesson during Dating 101, but this is not the time, nor the place. I stared blankly, proceeded to giggle adorably, and thanked the heavens above to see the waiter holding my saviordinner right in front of me at that moment.

Anxiety is something I’ve dealt with since I was 15 years old, and I’m well aware of the stigma associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), so as ingenuous as this guy’s question was, I wasn’t prepared to answer it. It’s hard to explain what “anxiety” is because it affects everyone differently, and I definitely wasn’t going to attempt to describe the debilitating feeling I’ve had for a large portion of my life to a stranger. Thanks, but no thanks.

I’d be lying if I said anxiety didn’t impact my dating life.

Dating when you have anxiety is, uh, interesting. But before I get into it, I want to again clarify that everyone has a different experience, and I can only speak to my own. My experience is not social anxiety or anxiety about dating (usually), it’s about how my general anxiety impacts my life as a 27-year-old single woman in Manhattan who’s just trying to get her date on. While I definitely think I’m a great dater — I’m on the apps, I like going out (sometimes), I’m an outgoing and positive person — I’d be lying if I said anxiety didn’t impact my dating life.

A viral tweet from Gage DeAngelis perfectly encapsulates this: “My girlfriend has major anxiety issues and it really affects her and I see that, daily. So I asked her if there’s anything I can to do help. Her response? ‘Just let me be crazy and I’ll be fine.’ Yes ma’am,” he wrote. I don’t know him or his relationship, but his girlfriend’s reaction to “let her be” is important. In the modern dating era, I believe that you really have to put yourself out there if you want to meet someone. Whether that’s on a dating app or out in real life, you just have to. For me, someone with anxiety, that comes with listening to my body and my mind, and of course, “letting me be.”

There are weeks when I’m feeling hopeful, and the thought of going out with someone I potentially have a great connection with sparks joy, so I’ll make a few dates and dinner plans with friends. There are also weeks when I need my alone time, so I’ll line up workouts after work to clear my head. There are even weeks when I can’t bring myself to work out because I need to de-stress in the comfort of my own home, so I won’t make any plans that could add to my anxiousness. But the most important thing for me is to listen to my body and figure out what kind of week it is to plan accordingly.

There’s no shame in rescheduling a date if you’re going to be mentally elsewhere during the prime hours of getting to know someone.

Listening to your body and your mind is one thing, but acting on it is another. My anxiety, like many people’s, can be unpredictable — a lovely morning can turn into a panicked racing heart if something triggers me — so, cancel plans if that’s the case. There’s no shame in rescheduling a date if you’re going to be mentally elsewhere during the prime hours of getting to know someone. Anxiety and the negative, racing thoughts that come with it are out of your control, but canceling plans and taking the night to cuddle with a weighted blanket and some CBD to get back to feeling like yourself is in your control.

I’m not a mental health professional, and I’m definitely not an expert on dating (hello, single!), but I’ve juggled anxiety and societal pressures to “put yourself out there” long enough to know this: sitting at a table nodding to a forced conversation when negative thoughts are running rampant through your mind is not going to lead you to your soulmate, or even lead you to an enjoyable evening. Listen to your body, your mind, and “put yourself out there” only when you’re able to be present and able to be the best version of yourself. As for me, I just need to remember that Carrie Bradshaw was a fictional character, and in real life, someone with a fabulous shoe collection, a very active social life, and never-ending editorial deadlines would *probably* have anxiety, too.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Facebook: phicklephilly       Instagram: @phicklephilly       Twitter: @phicklephilly

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