When Anxiety Wins

September 19, 2017 at 6:00 am (Musings..., Social Anxiety)

I could feel it coming…

About a month ago, two situations occurred, which threw me into old, bad habits.  One I won’t discuss — even though it’s been resolved!!  (Yay!!)  The other was silly really.  I joined a few “over 50” Facebook groups as a way of meeting other women and encouraging each other as we move through these decades. Many of them do something called OOTD (Outfit Of The Day).  I had lots of fun with it even though I very seldom dress up!!  Once I began to blog, I actually did a post about my OOTD experience.  Anyway… I was honest about my physical struggles (I know, I know!!!  Dumb!).  I posted a link to my blog post on OOTD.  I didn’t know that blog links were not allowed.  (Dummy me-should have read the guidelines!).  I was stunned when a woman accused me of trying to start a “fashion” blog and using my physical issues as a way to make people feel sorry for me.  She was very unkind, her words were sharp and just plain mean!  I was absolutely stunned!  I apologized (which was dumb too — can you see a theme??)  I did a self-check with another MS warrior and she assured me that it was her, not me!!  Okay.  Let’s get out of middle school here and move on…

I thought I moved on from both situations.   It began small… I’d feel a niggling of anxiety when I went to the grocery store, but I pushed through.  I felt fear as I took Jazzy Joy for her walk, but I pushed it down… after all, if I don’t walk her, she doesn’t have an outlet for her energy!!  I kept pushing down, pushing down.  I continued to read my Bible.  I repeated my mantra of “It’s My Favorite Day.”  I did have a week’s respite when I visited darling Amanda because I was so stinkin’ busy!!  But I kept pushing down, pushing away without looking at it and dealing with it.

By Friday, I was having panic attacks every hour or so.  My vertigo kicked in.  I literally couldn’t get my breath.  I knew they were panic attacks but by Saturday, it was completely physical.  I was scheduled to do something Sunday with mostly strangers by myself.  I couldn’t do it.  I was physically sick.  I thought, “well, get it out, look at it and move forward.”  So, anxiety won.  I spent Saturday mostly in bed.  I was up all night. By Sunday I decided if I couldn’t get a hold of myself, I’d call my doctor on Monday.

I needed to get my brain on something other than panic and anxiety.  I put my praise music on and finished a mixed media piece for my friend.  I also had an idea for a hand-lettered piece for Christmas.  I put my energy to figuring out its design and how I was going to actually letter it (instead of stencil it).

Breathe in breathe out… plan… paint…  pray…   Breathe in breathe out… plan… paint… pray…

By last evening, while I felt like I had been in a fight (my whole body hurt), my mind had quieted down.  I am not naive enough to think this war is over, but I won that battle!

I’m obviously going to have to pay closer attention to how I’m handling things to make sure my anxiety doesn’t ratchet up like that again.  Oh, and I’ve “un-joined” all of those groups.  I’m thinking they’re not a good fit for me. 🙂

These are the two pieces of art I worked on yesterday.  One is the piece for my friend — “Find Hope In the Journey.”  One of the sayings on it is, “I am not afraid of storms for I m learning how to sail my ship.”


The second is a simple Christmas piece on linen — “O come let us adore Him” — I hand-lettered it and am very proud of it!  I might have to make a few more!!


Isaiah 61:3 says:  “to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

I want my anxiety to be the ashes that are exchanged for beauty!!  May it be so, Lord!!


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Three Subjects, Starting with Tuesday-Shoesday

May 20, 2014 at 3:13 pm (Jewelry, Musings..., Shoes, Social Anxiety, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

Subject #1

“Life is not waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning to dance in the rain!!” I know this statement is figurative, but it can be taken literally too!  In the middle of March, it was raining buckets.  I had a neurologist appointment in Altoona.  Of course, it figures, all of the handicapped spots were taken!!  Now, I am not pointing fingers at anyone, but I do know that when it rains, anyone who has a placard, even though they don’t need it on that particular day, is more likely than not to use the HP. I needed my rollater.  It is nearly impossible to manage a rollator AND an umbrella.  I parked WAAAAAYYYY far away from the entrance.  By the time my feet, in slow speed, made it to the entrance, I was soaked through to my undies!!  {{Sigh}}

It was at that point that I decided to buy a pair of rain boots.  I already have a pretty rain-resistant coat.  Since I am not going fishing, just getting from point A to point B, it will suffice.  It is pink.  I looked at many styles and colors of boots, but the yellow ones made me happy 🙂 .  So… Rain, give it your best shot!!!  I am ready for you!!! (Plus, I will look stylish dodging rain drops!)

My Awesome Rainboots!!

My Awesome Rainboots!!

Subject #2

Weekday 12 of no daytime television.  I am on a roll!  This morning I went to the high school (Subject #3), came home, took a nap, planted my herbs, took another nap, am blogging and plan to start supper soon.  Last week I finished a bracelet for my sweet niece, Kristi Brinklie (Really!!  Her last name is Olsavsky). She liked it.  I am very happy with the finished product.  I used one of my wire-worked hearts.


Subject #3

MelodyeJoy – 2  Social Anxiety (SA) – 0

I have spoken about my struggle with social anxiety.  I am working so hard to “behave my way” through it.

Last week, my friend Michelle and her group, New Journey, were singing at EBC.  I really wanted to hear them.  I waffled throughout the week.  On Thursday, I made it Facebook official.  I was going!!  I ran one errand before heading to the church.  I started panicking when I hit the Elton Road exit.  I kept driving… I parked… I pulled out my rollator… Michelle’s sweet hubby, the V man, met me at the door with a big hug.  I am so glad I went to hear them.  They blessed my heart.

Some of you know that I was the accompanist for the Central Cambria School District for 12 years until 2009.  What was later diagnosed as trigeminal neuralgia, made it necessary for me to “retire.”  I have not been back to a concert, at first, because I was so very sad that I had to stop doing something I loved.  Then this stupid SA reared its ugly head rendering me helpless to even attempt to go.  Two weeks ago I texted Paul, (the director and a wonderful friend) and asked if I could attend the double-period rehearsal the day of the concert. He said yes and to text him Monday to remind him to tell the office I was coming… Monday… every time I started to text, I couldn’t.  I promise you this is a real feeling.  Unless it has happened to you, it will make no sense at all to you!!

Finally, I figured he was home from school and couldn’t tell the office I was coming so I texted him, apologizing for not texting earlier, but not telling him the whys of it.  His answer to me was “No worries!!  It will be chaos but I would love to see you!!”

I set my alarm for 7:15 a.m. and, fortifying myself with coffee, dressing to the “nines” with my new Toms and my favorite Isaac Mizrahi scarf (and my goodwill jeans), I went to the school.  I spent two hours listening to wonderful music and talking to two of my favorite friends, Paul and Tom (Tom now accompanies the choirs). Again, I am so happy I went!!


Tom, Me and Paul Graduation-2004


Paul, Tom and Me One of our themed concerts (I re-made my sweatshirt)

I am feeling more confident that I can win this social anxiety battle!!





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A Snowy Saturday Afternoon Contemplation

January 18, 2014 at 3:06 pm (Multiple Sclerosis, Social Anxiety)

I am sitting on the couch, bundled in a blanket, just reading, studying and contemplating…  I seem to be doing a lot of contemplating.  As my MS and TN progress, I am constantly adjusting to a “new normal.”  What worked a month ago sometimes is completely unfathomable today.

My little snack... an orange and three Hershey's kisses :-)

My little snack… an orange and three Hershey’s kisses 🙂

I had a good week.  I exercised three times using my Pilates Power Gym.  That sort of exercise seems to bother my vertigo the least.  I think it is because my head is either completely still or completely supported in 95% of the exercises…

I also went to a concert at the Central Cambria High School, which was a victory for me overcoming my social anxiety issues.  It was held on Thursday.  On Monday I started to plan, what I would wear, what time I would leave, etc.  On Wednesday, I announced that I was “going” on the event’s Facebook page.  I dressed up. I wore my contacts and my new pink bracelet.  I snatched up the last handicapped parking space (there was a person who was going to pull into it right after me… normally I would acquiesce, but I really needed it on Thursday!!)  I walked in, grabbed a program and proceeded to the center section, right side.  I sat in an aisle seat and, as people were filling up the seats around me, promptly started panicking.  I grabbed my purse and coat and went to the far left section, close to the front.  {{Sigh}}  I could feel the stress leave my body!!  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Mariah, Josh and AJ and Devon sing and play.  I helped these kids along their musical journey when I worked as an accompanist at the high school.  I call them kids, but they are college seniors!!!  They spotted me because I am a very active listener… I can’t sit perfectly still when I listen to music.

My view from the couch...

My view from the couch…

Little victories… they may seem unimportant, but they can add up to real progress!!

Amanda shared a verse with me last night.  I promptly forgot the exact reference (thank you MS and menopause brain fog!) so I emailed her requesting the specific reference.

“(Abraham) grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able to perform.”  Romans 4:20b, 21.  In Matthew 9:8, after Jesus healed a man of his paralysis, this was the crowd’s reaction. “But when the crowds saw this, they were AWESTRUCK, and glorified God.”

His promises to me should overwhelm me, because of his faithfulness to me.  These promises aren’t the “prosperity” claims but promises that the Lord’s Grace and Strength are sufficient for me no matter what I am facing, and His Mercies are new each morning.

A Snowy Saturday Afternoon-5

I had an epiphany this afternoon as I was sitting looking at some painting and sewing books.  I always wait until summertime to sew something summery and paint something summery.  In the same manner, I wait until Fall to sew something for winter or paint something with a Christmas theme. Inevitably, I run out of steam and neglect to finish the project in time for the season. I have decided to turn over a new leaf!!!  I am going to sew two summer garments through February and paint two “summer themed” pictures.  I think I want to do one study with a David Jansen DVD in the Peter Ompir style.  The other piece will probably be a Millie piece. Then, in the summer, I will sew a few winter garments and paint a few Christmas pieces!!  See, this old brain still works sometimes!!

I am enjoying my iPod music as I write this blog.  I have such a variety of music playing.  In the time it has taken me to write this, I’ve heard songs by “Judith Hill,” “Little Big Town,” “Guns ‘N Roses,” “Rachelle Ferrell,” “Earth, Wind and Fire,” “Israel Houghton,” and “Florence and The Machine.”  My Dad would be proud of my song list.  He encouraged us to listen to a variety of music styles (no bad words, though).

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Social Anxiety and Me

December 10, 2013 at 5:39 pm (Social Anxiety)

I have wanted to write about this for a while but didn’t know how to put it into words.  It’s taken me over a year to even begin to work through it.   

Me and Sue -- about the age when we started singing with our Daddy

Me and Sue — about the age when we started singing with our Daddy


I have spent my life on a stage, in front of people.  I sang with my sister, Sue and my Daddy when I was three years old.  We had a little trio.  I competed vocally and won through the Grace Brethren Church “Nurturing Abilities for Christ” more than once.   

Dad, Sue, Me, Mom and Deb.  We were in 7th and 8th grade

Dad, Sue, Me, Mom and Deb. We were in 7th and 8th grade

I was in two musicals in high school, sang in choirs in college, and played Lucy in “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.”

Playing the piano at Central Cambria High School in 1977

Playing the piano at Central Cambria High School in 1977



Me Kathy McCarthy, Mike Yocum and Mike Boze in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown

Me Kathy McCarthy, Mike Yocum and Mike Boze in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

A Mid'Summer's Night's Dream (I played Puck)

A Mid’Summer’s Night’s Dream (I played Puck)

I sang in church, sang with my family, and we sang with big name gospel groups.  I also played the piano.  In 1997, I began to accompany the Central Cambria School District choirs.  We started to attend Emmanuel Baptist Church and I began to use my gift of music there.  It is a huge church and standing in front of the congregation was second nature to me.  

Singing at Youth Conference - 1976

Singing at Youth Conference – 1976

Singing at my niece's wedding

Singing at my niece’s wedding

Teaching yoga to MS Society members

Teaching yoga to MS Society members

I think this began about five years ago, when I developed Blepharospasm, a big word for eye twitches.  They got so bad that I wore sunglasses so people wouldn’t stare.  I continued to minister with the music team at EBC.  I mostly rehearsed the choir and played keyboards.  I noticed that I would feel anxious as I left the house, but I soldiered through and completed my obligations.    I began to see a new neurologist, Dr. Clark (whom I love) and my insurance company approved Botox injections every three months for the blepharospasm.  I wish he’d hit my wrinkles 🙂 but he gives me five injections around my eyes.  This treatment is effective for me.  I have been receiving this treatment for two years. 

I played the piano for my daughter in her Jazz concert

I played the piano for my daughter in her Jazz concert


I had an MS setback and my TN flared up in April 2012.  May 2012 was the last time I stood on a stage. 

For six months before my last ministry weekend, getting there was another issue.  I developed full-blown panic attacks.  They would begin the day before I knew I had to go to church to rehearse or perform.  I would talk myself through one attack, think it had subsided and then another one would occur.  Another complication was that if I had a TN attack, I couldn’t medicate if I was driving.  Often I’d go to choir in tremendous pain because I was waiting to take my pain meds until I got home.  Because the choir doesn’t sing in the summer, I was able to take the break without really inconveniencing Kristin, the choir director.  My replacement was also named Melody (without the “e”)!! 

Summertime passed.  I went to church if Danny would go but when he was on call or busy and couldn’t go, I’d stay home.  I tried to go, I really did!! I would be fully dressed for Saturday evening service, but I’d have a panic attack.  The last time I attempted to go alone, I turned my vehicle around on 219 (illegally because I used an emergency turn around and you know how I am a rule follower!!).  I haven’t been to church since October 2012. 

Going to Walmart caused me to panic.  I began to go late at night or early in the morning so there wouldn’t be many people.  If I had to go in the middle of the day, I’d take my iPod and listen to music, praying I wouldn’t meet anyone I knew.  If you have seen me in Walmart and feel that I have ignored you, I am sorry.  I probably did ignore you and prayed you wouldn’t see me. 

I began to realize this summer that I really had a problem.  If I could stay at home for seven days in a row, I considered it to be a good week.  I began to research “social anxiety” and “panic attacks.”  There is a lot of information and as I read, I’d find myself nodding in agreement… “this is me.”  “Yeah, this is me too.”  I began to talk to my best friend, Juel, who is a great listener and trained in these areas.  I finally opened up to my family doctor, Dr. Mike.  Because of all of the medicines I am on, I cannot take an anti-depressant.  Quite honestly, in order for me to get a prescription for this, I need to see a psychiatrist.  I don’t want to do that.  I see so many doctors already.  Dr. Mike and I have come up with a plan.  I am going to take one Elavil in the morning and see if that helps.  I am going to begin to see a counselor just to talk about it.

I have been happily married for 33 ½ years to darling DannyO.  He is a very social person.  We have two couples, Dave and Shelly and Mark and Debbie, who we love doing things with.  If Dan gives me enough notice, I can gather myself together and go.  If it is a last-minute plan, I begin to pray in desperation, because I know I NEED to go for Danny AND for me.  Sometimes I will tell Danny that I am not putting any make-up on and will wear my glasses, but I will go.  He doesn’t care.  He loves me!!

I am so blessed that my EBC family hasn’t forsaken me.  My friend Jenn keeps in close touch with me and prays with me and for me on a regular basis.  Debbie, EBC’s visitation coordinator has corresponded with me.  I get regular cards from Melanie and Laurie.  Keith is my FB EBC encourager.  I keep telling them that I will be back.  I will be back.

I am working to “behave” my way through this.  For instance, I knew on Sunday that today, Tuesday would be my errand day.  I began to prepare for it on Sunday.  When I begin to panic, I talk myself through it… “You have a car that goes good in the snow.” “You will be out of the house for three hours, tops.” “You will shower Monday night so you don’t use all your energy before you go.” Showering and washing my hair saps my energy.  “You will wear your black leggings, your Susan Graver sweatshirt tunic, black boots, watch, ‘Joy’ bracelet, and black hat and pink scarf.”  I make a specific list of the order of my day.

  • Recycle plastic and papers
  • Donnie’s
  • Bank
  • Walmart (with another specific list)
  • Check on Mom and Dad
  • Put groceries away

I took a big step towards healing in October.  I hadn’t seen my son, Brent since January and I missed him so much.  I booked a plane ticket to Ft. Lauderdale and actually flew down and had a magnificent time in the sunshine. 

I don’t know if I will ever be able to stand on stage again.  My voice continues to deteriorate because of MS. I don’t even know if I CAN sing well enough for people to hear. I dream of singing.  I don’t know if I could take any criticism, which I would open myself up to if I performed again.  As I work through this complicated issue, I had my piano tuned and pulled out my vocal warm-up CD’s.  I sing in the privacy of my home and know the Lord hears and loves my praise. 

I am now working through another holiday season.  As I shared in my last blog post, this time of year has its own challenges simply because I have MS and TN.  Add social anxiety and the situation can become pretty hopeless.  I am working through it day by day, prayer by prayer, breath by breath.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I am!!  I really am!!

 I am aware that some will consider me weak and silly for having social anxiety.  Some would say, “Just do it, don’t think about it.”  If it were that easy… if it were that easy…

I was feeling brave today so, here it is… 











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