I started my new job today, and even though I wasn’t too busy I was still very nervous.

I know that the medication I’m taking is working for depression, but my anxiety is through the roof. I’m trying to train my brain to exist in the present, but I keep getting lost in the future.

I’m tired of feeling this way. I know that my anxiety and frantic thoughts will pass, but it’s taking too long.

My Last Trip to Houston

When I was in college, before MySpace or Facebook, there were bulletin boards. I don’t remember how I found out about them, but I decided one day to set up a profile.

My profile name? Eros Turannos.

I had just read the poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson in my poetry class and thought it would be a good username.

What I didn’t realize, because I was very naive, was that men stopped at “Eros” and immediately thought I was promiscuous. It was annoying and upsetting.

However, I did meet a few people online who were nice, and one who I thought hung the moon.

His name was Mike, and he lived in another state. Our first phone call lasted several hours. We found that we had the same sense of humor, liked the same books, and were in sync on many things.

He wanted to come visit me, but I couldn’t go through with it. I was too nervous. As much as I liked Mike, I was still an agoraphobic. Even if I didn’t really know it yet.

Mike decided to visit another bulletin-board friend and ended up having a layover in Houston. He asked me if I would come see him at the airport. This was before 9/11, so I would be able to meet him at the gate.

I said I would, but it took a heck of a time to get to Houston Intercontinental. I was so nervous and turned around to go back to Huntsville at least three times.

When I finally got there, I had to run to the gate. I recognized him immediately. He was sitting reading Jurassic Park and was wearing the fluorescent orange hat he told me to look for.

We had only a few minutes to say hello in person for the first time. There was already a boarding call announced. We quickly kissed and then he was gone. Our relationship, whatever it was, didn’t last, but that moment stands out in my mind.

I didn’t travel to Houston for several years after that whirlwind trip. But the fact that I had made it to Houston and back was an accomplishment, and that was all that mattered.

Best Actress Award

Many times that I’ve said to someone that I was nervous, he or she has said, “I had no idea! You looked so calm.”

I think a lot of people with anxiety hide it well. We have our internal symptoms, but on the surface we may seem cool and collected.

I used to see anxiety as a stigma. Now I find it tad easier to deal with if I let people know that I’m anxious.

How do you deal with anxiety? Do you lay all your cards out on the table, or do you keep it hidden?


I finally found out where I’m going, and my job is changing. I’m happy that I’ll be in a position that is a good fit for me, but I will miss the people I’m currently working with.

My body still hasn’t fully recovered from this past week. My stomach is still in knots, and I’m exhausted yet restless.

Will this go on for weeks to come? I’m trying to look toward the future with excitement, but I am equally nervous because basically I’m starting a new job.

Please keep me in your thoughts.

25 Years Ago Today…

…my mom and I flew from Rochester, New York, back to my hometown of Houston, Texas. We were able to move in to the house I grew up in, with the same neighbors giving us support.

I remember how it felt to go to school with a lot of the same people, but noticing they saw me in a different light. I was no longer just “Merrie.” I was “Merrie, the one with divorcing parents.” It felt like a stigma.

It was around this time that I started having panic attacks. I know they appeared before we left upstate New York, but they became more prevalent in my life after we left.

Twenty-five years ago I was 13. I still can’t believe I’ve been dealing with panic disorder for this long, but I hope that things are finally taking a turn for the better.

I don’t want to experience panic attacks for another 25 years.


Off the Charts

Today was one of the worst days I’d had in a while.

It didn’t start out that way. It started like any other day. I got up, got dressed, and drove to work.

That’s when I found out that today was Layoff Day.

I thought I would be OK. I thought we would all be OK. But then a coworker was called into a supervisor’s office, and then you could cut the tension with a knife.

I was miserable. All of my anxiety/panic symptoms appeared. Nausea, heart palpitations, shaking, breathing difficulties, you name it. My anxiety level was off the charts.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t concentrate.

Then the meetings started. I was in two: One to tell the employees that layoffs had finished and the other to tell employees in my department that we would be hearing later in the week what would happen to us.

So the unknown will drag on for a bit, but I am learning how to deal with the edge of the unknown.

I just don’t like dealing with the known right now.

Tools for Anxiety

Tonight is the second time in a row that I’m hanging out with a friend. And, of course, I’m all kinds of nervous.

This is the first time J has been to our house, and I’ve never had dinner with him. That is, he has never seen me eat. I don’t know why that bothers me, but I have had people comment on how little I eat. I tend to pick at my food when I’m nervous.

It’s not that I’m dreading this dinner. On the contrary; I’m excited. J is hilarious. He and I have the same sense of humor, and I know that he and Lee will get along great. Plus, he and his partner are dog people. They will fall in love with Blue and Buddy.

I’m always anxious about people coming over. I don’t want to feel ill and leave Lee to be the entertainer. After all, I was the one to invite J and D over.

So, I’m using mental tools that my counselor has given me to handle my anxiety, and even diminish it a few points. (Remember the scale from yesterday?)

First, I look around and determine whether there is a justifiable threat. With the exception of a scorpion I killed earlier, there is no threat. The house is clean, Lee is cooking his favorite food, and the dogs are relaxing.

Then I determine what is causing my anxiety. Is it a physical sensation? No. Is it caused by thoughts? Yes. I’m having anticipatory anxiety.

What is my anticipatory anxiety about? Being ill while J and D are here.

Can I predict 100% that I will get sick while J and D are here? No.

Then I focus on my breathing. This will help me lower my anxiety.

These tools aren’t always foolproof. And it will take me a bit to take in that things are OK and that I need to live in the present moment. But I’m still looking forward to tonight.

It’s going to be a good night.

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