Mind Games

There are days when it’s painfully obvious to me I no longer take Paxil. You may not notice. My family may not notice. The UPS guy I flirt with may not notice, but in my head there is really good cage match going on between happy fun thoughts and utterly ridiculous anxiety.

I’d like to think I just have a very active imagination. I tell my kids all day long to use theirs-I am simply a shining example of how to really, really imagine fun scenarios like husband dies in car wreck on way home from work, and the classic home invasion/kidnapping of kids party in my head.

Before the medication these thoughts were rampant and kept me awake at night and dictated if and when I went anywhere. While on the medication these thoughts were few and far between. Now, off the medication, the little scenarios play out in my head from time to time, but I can usually recognize them, shake them off, and move on to happier thoughts like sex with my UPS guy.

Its important to note I’ve also been diagnosed with some mild post traumatic stress. Before I gave birth, I was a news reporter. Unfortunately, I was a really good news reporter and had a knack for arriving on horrific scenes before emergency responders. That means I saw parents trying to pull burning children from homes on fire. I saw hostage situations unfold before my eyes, before I was pushed away by yellow tape. I heard gunshots, saw little figures come out in body bags, and generally spent my days flitting from interviews with Tom Hanks to murder suicides.

There was a period of time after I had the kids in which I tried to NOT pay attention to the news. I found it unacceptable. I MUST be informed on what’s going on in the world, even if its horrific. I’ve learned to temper my news obsession with mindless fun. I’ve learned to tune out certain stories, or only read the headline and then walk away. However its much more difficult when you’re PART of that story.

Two earthquakes here in SoCal lately. One yesterday. One massive earthquake in Peru. 1-foot tsunami. Tomorrow we will pack up the kids and head to the beach-to sleep. Why does all this matter?

Welcome back my old friend anxiety.

The odds of a large earthquake off the coast of central California causing a major tsunami that wipes out my family tent and all its occupants may be small-but the hell if I haven’t thought about it for the past 48 hours.

With images of the horrible 2004 Christmas disaster spawned by a quake in the Indian Ocean fresh in my head, I’m playing out ridiculous and horrifying scenes in my active imagination.

We’re peacefully sleeping when we hear screaming, waves engulf us as I try and grab the kids…I’m holding onto both for dear life as we try and tread the salty ocean water.

We’re warned a tsunami is coming and we rush to our car, throwing things in as we flee. Its California and people are in a panic, so naturally we’re stuck in traffic. Which way to we go? Are we far enough east? Can we climb that nearby mountain with those waves on our heels?

We’ve in our tent when the water comes rushing in. The tent is closed, we can’t reach the zipper. The kids are screaming and crying, I can’t reach my daughter. I can’t reach my son.

I don’t know why I feel the need to play out these little vignettes in my head. Part of me thinks I need a plan. If this situation occurs, I want to know what to do. I want to be prepared. I need a dry run. Part of me wonders if I just half expect something like this to occur in my lifetime. I’m simply aware of each situation and what could occur. Better that then to be caught off guard.

I’m packing for our little trip as I type this. My 4-year old really wants to sleep in a tent under the stars. I really want him to sleep in a tent under the stars. While I’m certainly no camper, the beach sounds like fun. Spending my wedding anniversary in a tent with my husband and kids while I imagine terrifying tragedies-not my ideal way to spend a weekend, but its that or stay indoors. Do nothing, go nowhere and pretend all is safe and well.

I know better. I know I need to get out there and bat away mosquitoes while I roast marshmallows. I know I need to push my fears aside and NOT freak out when I hear waves crash on the shore.

So I will continue to pack. I will NOT visit the earthquake monitoring homepage today and I will NOT pay too much attention to CNN. I’m going take a deep breathe and pitch a tent. Of course I won’t really know how to make it sturdy, but I’ll watch Kaiser use his fine Boy Scout skills. I’ll build sandcastles and make a big deal out of sleeping bags and flashlights.

I might even quiet my mind long enough to enjoy myself and have a nice UPS guy fantasy.
See you Monday campers.


  1. Maybe you should write a book about a terrible tragedy. Indulge your active imagination in something productive. Or maybe that would make it worse? I don’t know. Take lots of happy music on your camping trip this weekend. Flood your mind with it.

  2. Can we have a UPS girl too?

  3. I used to break out in hives due to my anxiety. I sincerely hope you enjoy yourself and your family this weekend …


  4. *hugs*

    This type of anxiety is a major reason I had to go onto my Effexor.

    Two of my fears:

    1. Bridges
    If I drove over a bridge I would end up playing scenario after scenario of what I would do to get out, who I would call, what my final goodbye over the frantic call would be and if the kids were with me…how I would save them.

    2. Snipers in my cornfield
    Yes, you can laugh. This one was very irrational and I have no idea what it was based on. None.at.all. But I was terrified to be on my front porch when PC was working 3rd’s because I was pretty sure there was a sniper waiting to take me out ‘Long Kiss Goodnight’ style or something.

    It’s great that you can recognize your fears and work through them. You should be very very proud of that. It’s a tough thing to do.

    Have a great time camping and good luck Kaiser on that ups girl 😉

  5. {{{HUG!}}}

  6. Have a great time camping! I hope you have more thoughts about the UPS guy than anything else this weekend. I feel for you.

  7. I hope you can put the anxiety in the back of your mind and enjoy the weekend. I never felt the kind of anxiety I do now before I had kids. Now my first thought in any situation is to the safety of my daughters.

    Good luck, and watch the sand in those sensitive areas.

  8. Hope you have a relaxed enjoyable time camping!

  9. As cheesy as the title is, read, if ever you get the chance “Excuse me, your LIFE is waiting” by Lynn Grabhorn… it saved my mind from utter darkness when Spain and life and hardship and paranoia running rampantly amock and whatnot had me in their grips…

    This made me think of that… there is always hope, in the beginning the work is hard but then MY GOD the freedom! And if anyone can kick ass it’s you my dear!

  10. We will soon be camping for a week. My anxiety lies with a few things, but the biggy for me is barfing. Granted, I can’t begin to describe how much more “normal” I am on the Zoloft. The weaning for me was a disaster. Okay – not disaster – just the realization that I probably need lifelong medicinal treatment.

    So, I will spend an entire week, many hours in the car, getting the runs and the sweats anytime someone has a wet burp. Without the Zoloft … we would be staying home. My kids are rather fond of my meds. 🙂

  11. It’s a tough line to walk, I agree. Some people think my wife and I are paranoid for carrying our pistols for something like a short trip to the grocery store, but will all the car jackings, murders, and robberies, I’m not taking a chance.

    I was on zoloft and quit but I didn’t suffer from any worries like that. I just became a great big pussy for a few weeks and my eyes would tear up over a song, a picture, or even a damn commercial that really didn’t mean a thing. Now I’m back to being a regular sized pussy, tyvm 🙂

    We can laugh at ourselves for those thoughts, but when we sit around in private and look at them, it is scary. Here’s hoping you find that balance, Queenie.

  12. PS: Don’t act on those UPS guy fantasies. When he says “I’ve got a big package” he was just talking shop.

  13. I can identify. I always imagine horrific things happening – and I don’t even have post-traumatic stress syndrome. For instance, I bought new toothbrushes while my husband was on a business trip, but I didn’t throw out his old one until he was safely home. Why? Because I imagined if there were a plane crash and I needed to identify him by DNA, I might need his used toothbrush. Beat that one if you can! LOL! And that is when I’m ON Prozac.

  14. I’ve been the same way ever since giving birth. I play out all of the horrible tragedies in my mind, ending with me in tears and freaking out over something that hasn’t even happened. And I’m still on medicine, so I think part of it is just a mom thing.

    I hope you enjoy your trip in spite of everything and I hope you guys STAY SAFE!

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