Anxiety and Relationships – The good, the bad & the ugly

Had an opportunity to reflect recently on some of my past relationships, but before I get started an old joke from and old man (humor me please). “Some relationships are like algebra, ever look at your X and wonder Y?” Now that you pulled yourself together from that knee slapper let me explain a little bit. Relationships I have had, mostly, have been based on physical attraction first and once that begins to wear off you really find out if you like being with the person. I mean the everyday stuff like folding towels, waiting in traffic, discussing the day’s events.

Physical attraction is usually what drives most initial interactions with the opposite sex, at least it is with me. While I am happily married back “in the day” I dated my fair share. Upon reflection of some of my past relationships I often wonder how my anxiety influenced the outcomes. I’m going to give 3 relationship experiences I had and link an interesting article below for a decent read.

(names have been changed)

The Good- Mindy M: High school, Mindy was 5’10 dyed blond hair and was absolutely insane. What do I mean by that? Mindy was up for anything, and I mean anything. We partied a lot, we went to dead shows together and while we were young our sexual experiences were remarkable IMHO. Mindy made me better, but instilling in me the confidence that every young man needs to be successful. She didn’t do this by simply “being hot” or being a “party girl” she was devoted to me, we did everything together. I remember when a good friend of mine died I was extremely depressed, we were seniors. Mindy talked to me, made sure I knew someone gave a shit. She was awesome in almost every way a perfect girlfriend for a young man. She also gave me one of the corner stones in my life, how to treat women. Mindy demanded respect, she never let me get away with being arrogant as a young man, she never let me treat her poorly or as an object. We stayed together for almost 3 years, it was one of the best relationships of my life.

The Bad – Tina K: Fast forward to early 20’s, my group was into the bar hopping scene. I met Tina K at a bar, she was, and still is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met and been with. Sadly, the beauty was only skin deep. Tina was an extreme party girl shallow and judgmental. My car wasn’t nice enough, my clothes could be better “are you wearing that cheap cologne again?” really she was material girl 101. It was bad and in the time I was with her I was in constant competition with her expectations. I felt inadequate, small and never good enough. I was too young at the time to understand what was happening but I realize now this was a trigger for my anxiety. This woman was very attractive, everyone wanted to be with her and she was technically my girlfriend. I should have seen it coming, she cheated, I was devastated due to blindness. I thought it was me, I changed everything about myself. I tried to conform to an ideal set forth by someone else. I was in full anxiety mode, and I was blaming myself 100% when it wasn’t 100% me.

The Ugly – Dawn H: Around the same time as Tina K I met Dawn H. We fought constantly but the sex was great. It’s unfair I guess to list Dawn as “The Ugly” but it was in this emotionally and verbally abusive relationship that, upon reflection I realize now was the real beginning of my anxiety increase. I was no angel in this relationship so dear reader do not take this as “I was a saint the woman was to blame” I was a full participant in emotional black mail, verbal abuse, and mental detiriation. We were both wallowing in the misery of being miserable together. We lived together for a time, there was never enough money, never enough anything. I became withdrawn, I stopped talking to friends and family. It was just Dawn and I, and it was during this relationship when I started suffering anxiety symptoms in a more extreme way. I couldn’t t go to work somedays, I didn’t want to be in public and have people looking at me. I was a mess.

Notice I haven’t given to much specific detail on the relationships. These women are not present to defend themselves so I think it’s fair not to delve to deeply. Also notable is I haven’t listed my wife as “the good” that isn’t to say that it isn’t the best relationship with a woman I have had, it is. When I met my wife I was emotionally mature from the relationships of the past. I am functioning and was able to offer her a great relationship with a man who KNEW HIS ISSUES.

And that’s the point here, the good, the bad, and the ugly relationships of your life help mold you into who you are now. Maybe you are in one, take a step back think about how you feel, be honest. There really wasn’t an overarching point to this post other than to say anxiety is a journey and along the way you meet people and have relationships. They help shape who you are and they shape your anxiety. Embrace the good, work on the bad, and get out of the ugly.

Here is a decent article I read about anxiety and relationships, maybe there is something in there for you?

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Simple investment allocation principle to reduce Anxiety

This post is meant for people with anxiety, and these are the only people whom I would recommend this strategy for. As with any financial opinion you see on this blog, it is simply my opinion. Before making any financial decisions you should seek out as much information as possible to make an informed decision. All that said, as individuals with anxiety, even discussing money can be agonizing. What do you do then if you are functioning with anxiety, working and investing?

You need some way to help navigate investment allocations. What are those exactly? An allocation is exactly as it reads, how much you are allocating to a specific asset class, like cash, stocks, bonds. Rather than go in blind or with no knowledge at all you want to have at least some strategy. Again, you should be doing some research on your own to help educate you on finance but often we don’t have the energy to do this.

There is a simple method to determine allocations, and mitigate risk. Again, this is meant for people with Anxiety not seasoned comfortable investors. It is the rule of 100. The assumption in the rule is that the maximum age you are likely to live to is 100. You take your current age (let’s say you are 45) and subtract that from 100, that number 55 (or 55%) is what you should be invested into equities (which are stocks and include mutual funds that invest in company stocks). This would leave 45% of your assets into more conservative investments (bonds, CDs, Treasury’s, Cash). The older you get the less investment into higher risk investments and more into lower risk.

Enough
The Finance Industry bombards you with fear

This particular strategy is very simple and is actually pretty effective. One of the myths of the finance industry is that you have to have targeted funds managed by professionals to “guide” you through your life. Of course that’s the sales pitch, it’s an industry, be a little cynical here, they are selling you something…. With this technique you manage your risk based on anticipated age of death. Morbid? Yes, but we have to use something and once you’re dead, it doesn’t really matter.

100 is kind of a max, if you live to triple digits’ bravo and it’s reasonable to assume as technology improves life spans will as well. The “100” number can be substituted with any number you want, 80 is a good number. Now this strategy is considered conservative, fiscally I always advise people to be conservative first until knowledge is obtained, experience is obtained and more granular decisions made from the accumulation of both. That said, this blog hopes to serve those with anxiety. Money and investing is a huge source of anxiety but both are required for our long term prosperity.

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Anxiety and your heart

One of if not the most important thing in your life is your health. Now of course that sounds like a meme now, we’ve heard it so many times that many of us have become numb to it (kind of like politics 🙂 ). It’s something that you shouldn’t let invade you constantly, meaning you shouldn’t be worried nonstop about your health but you should spend time doing and thinking about what you can do to be healthier.

As this blog evolves I find more and more that it Anxiety is the theme, or rather how things directly and indirectly impact anxiety. Anxiety itself is more than an emotional response or “feeling” to something happening, there is a physical component, that over time can have a dramatic impact on our health. I found an interesting article about anxiety and how it affects high blood pressure

“When a person’s anxiety levels are elevated for long periods of time, the resulting nervous system activity could raise blood pressure and promote arterial disease, the authors of that review write. But a lot of the evidence they turned up was inconsistent or inconclusive, they point out. Some contradictory research has even found that anxiety is associated with a slightly lower risk of hypertension.”

Love your Heart !

I know its contradictory isn’t it? The article seems to slant more towards the notion that the more you worry the more you place your heart at risk via your blood pressure. I know when I get anxious I can “feel it” If you have anxiety you know exactly what I mean. Do I get chest pains, no I don’t but I can feel my body tensing I sometimes get headaches, I get angry I know my blood pressure is rising.

Then there are bouts of anxiety where I just want to lay in bed and never get out. The heart risk is particularly noteworthy for people who already struggle with weight or have preexisting conditions. If your anxiety is to the point where you “feel it” in your chest or you start to feel light headed you really should speak to a dr about it as soon as you can .

In the meantime if something like this happens to you please do this one thing. Close your eyes and take as deep and long a breath as you can in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this five times. I know it’s simply, some might say silly but that 15 seconds might make a world a difference.

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Clutter – Is this stressing you out?

One of the perks so to speak of living in a prosperous country is the abundance of everything. There is so much stuff you can accumulate. Clothes, dishes, paintings, music, furniture on and on. At some point all this stuff can become clutter. First let’s establish what clutter is. Clutter is a crowded or confused mass or collection 

The older we get the more life we have lived and the more we have accumulated. Spiritually, knowledge and yes possessions. You picked up a shell at a beach on your vacation you kept it, it’s in your house somewhere, and the vacation was 8 years ago….  I think you get my point. As individuals with anxiety for us we should from time to time take an accounting of what we own and categorize it into needs and wants.

Now at no point am I going to tell you what you should need and what you should want that’s completely up to the individual. That said, as you read this take a look around your surroundings. How many singular items can you count? Let’s assume you are at a PC, so each speaker, keyboard, and chair, monitor, on and on. Now count the wires, add it to the total. Did you count the desk or table the pc was on? The point of the exercise is, is to reveal to you just how much stuff we all really have.

This look like your desk?

Of course this entire concept is predicated on degrees. I mean if you are a single person and have 30 drinking glasses I would say that is excessive. A family of 6 is 30 excessive? Maybe not. Clutter takes up visual space and in a lot of cases emotional space as well. We have ascribed a memory or feeling to these items, like our shell we got from the beach 8 years ago. This isn’t meant to minimalize or trivialize any of that.

More important it’s meant to reveal to you that by accumulating more stuff, you create the possibility of obtaining clutter. Clutter then becomes a distraction to the anxious mind as you have more and more tangible items to concentrate on that you have assigned an intangible benefit too. Sure some mementos are irreplaceable and you can’t disassociate the emotion from them. But sometimes, more stuff is a mask to a larger issue. Sometimes more stuff is a distraction so you don’t have to let go of past memories.

There is a simple exercise you can employ should you think clutter is impacting your life negatively. Pack as if you were going to move. That’s right, pack up your stuff into boxes, the whole 9 yards do the exercise. Label the boxes, etc. Then let them sit in the rooms in which you packed them in and give it 2-4 weeks. At the end of the time period see how many things you had to pull out of the box. I’m betting you find it’s less than 50% of the stuff you own.

Is that other 50% clutter? Could be, you certainly didn’t need it for the last 2-4 weeks did you?

Interested in more posts on anxiety and Clutter? Check out my post here.

Just a Thank you today

Hey folks, not a formal post today taking a day or two off from articles/formal posts. I do want to take a moment and say thank you. Thank you for taking your time to read my blog, like my posts, your subscriptions. All that really means a lot to me, I am a small blogger and it does go a long way to keeping me motivated.

Again, thank you so much for your continued support of me and the “A Gen X Point of View” blog.

Have a great weekend and take care.

Your Pagan Friend,

Karac

Beyond the Trees

Do You Remember?

Remember the days when people would say “I disagree with what you have to say but will defend your right to say it”? Those days are gone, we are now in the throes of “I disagree with what you have to say and will cancel you for even thinking it.” Yes, we now have thought police and many of these individuals, hiding behind screen names and VPN’s are watching you.

It’s likely some are reading this post right now. They are everywhere, they are ordinary people like you and I. Emboldened by the illusion of anonymity and empowered by ebb and flows of likes and affirmation from other anonymous people. Your next door neighbor who says hi to you every day with a smile could be watching your Facebook feed, your tweets and you would never know it.

Remember, when you have an alternative point of view you find yourself with a tremendous gift. You find out clearly who your friends are and who are not. Real friends respect you, and how you feel. Fake friends do not, don’t be fooled they are everywhere. Oh the quick reminder?

Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means you are standing alone. Standing up for the right thing, freedom to think what you want when you want not only empowers you but gives others hope. It’s okay not to like someone for what they believe in, don’t be one of those people who punish others for wrong think.

The “A Gen X Point of View” blog is a safe place to express your thoughts, you are allowed to feel how you want and say what you want here. You can’t abuse other posters, you can’t create a hostile environment, you can’t spread hate here, but I’m not going to try and cancel you for thinking and feeling how you do.

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India

For our friends in India: Environmental Stress is serious

I am proud of the fact that per my word press statistics a large portion of the people who view my content reside in (or have a VPN in) India. As many of my readers know I am based on the U.S. the New England region. Most of my pieces are things that pertain to the U.S. situation. Sure many of them translate and generally you can apply most of the context to any part of the world with some tweaks.

The environment impacts everyone, locally and globally. The fact is the drum beat of climate change and pending environmental calamity has been beating for decades now. So it’s not a stretch to say that environmental concerns add to and inflame anxiety in individuals. Our friends in India are no exception. I found a good article here that discusses some of what’s going on.

From the article: “The overall assessment is that our air and water quality is all trends show that pollution is increasing and this has massive impacts on our health. Even during the lockdown, data shows that river pollution did not reduce. Clearly, we need to do much more to improve the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink,” said Sunita Narain, director general, CSE and editor, Down to Earth, while releasing the annual publication.”

Plastic destroys the environment
The world is overrun with pollution.

The article itself states some interesting statistic that to be blunt I can verify myself, I don’t live there but the overall sentiment is important. A clean environment producers healthier living conditions. I don’t think I am going out on a limb by stating that, I think we can all agree there. Just like here in the states it seems daunting for one individual to measure what impact they can have on the overall problem with the environment.

As people with anxiety, it’s just one more thing to worry about and its tangible you can see pollution and feel it. What can you do? You can change one thing. You know your habits better than I do, what are you doing now that has a negative impact on the environment? Using too much water? Throwing trash in street? Using too much plastic? I’m sure you can find something and that one thing DOES HELP. Me? I purchased a reusable straw. I get a coffee almost every day a cold brew and I use a straw. Over the years I must have thrown away hundreds if not thousands of straws. For 5 bucks I got 2 reusable straws and I have thrown one away in 6 months.

That’s 1 straw a day for 182 days, it’s not much but imagine if everyone did something small like this? That would be a big deal. It’s not late to start, no one is saying go crazy but find one small thing you can do to help the environment, where ever you live.

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Surviving 2020 & covid

The Stigma’s of Depression

Found a very interesting article with several links to studies that discusses multiple stigma’s for various groups in society.

MDD or Major depressive disorder is an underdiagnosed condition. Often its not the medical professionals that miss the signs, but rather the patients who are covering up and hiding symptoms due to stigmatism. Race as an example is a factor as many minorities are already dealing with accepted social profiles (although this is changing) the mere fact you are a minority (there are less people that look like you) could be an important factor in whether you have depression. Often, we see minority groups that live near each other, there is a reason for that beyond our social constructs. Simply put, humans are social creatures and we want to be around people who we believe are like ourselves.

Then there are men. Some men suffer in silence, but why? “As to why the men did not seek help for depression or sadness, the main themes focused on weakness and loss of masculinity for doing so.” Again, this specific social stigma is changing but not fast enough if you ask me.

College students were also studied. College has become a far more competitive environment than it was. If you are a Gen Xer like me, you went to college in the 90’s. Yes, it was competitive, but we didn’t have the weight of social media hanging around our necks either. When we went to bars and to parties, we weren’t uploading the “perfect pics” to Instagram. Maybe a few to myspace…. (😊) Millennials and now Gen Z are competing with one another for coveted spots in schools, on social media, in sports the list goes on and on. For some depression is a clear outcome for this increased pressure and the stigma attached to it is now not only do you have your inner social circle, but that circle includes individuals who can broadcast your issues to literally millions of people via YouTube, a blog like this, Instagram, twitter…

Social Media = Anxiety

Last let’s discuss older people. What is “old” “it’s just a number its all how you feel” well if that’s true there were somedays last month I felt dam near 80…. Older individuals are usually people, clinically anyway 55 or older, elderly is your 70+. Those are both generalities based on what I have observed and read over the years, you decide for yourself, but I think you get the picture. The issue here is the stigma of “getting old” is in fact reality based. Meaning at this point in our lives we are entering the final phases of our live. Average age for men in women is 80 ish, so a 73-year-old is closer to their ultimate live expectancy.

The stigma is the fight against aging and the omission of being old. You see it over and over in TV commercials. Product A offers healthier skin, Product B relieves joint pain, Product C lowers cholesterol so you can play with the grand kids…. Point here is we have built marketing around combating aging and taking products to help what ails us. This creates the conditions by which many don’t want to talk about getting old, which can lead to masking of serious depression issues for older citizens. Loss of spouses, friends passing, Parents and siblings facing medical issues… all of these contribute to the mortality mindset. You begin to think about your own, and many enter depression as a result.

“The paradox of depression treatment is that patients who most need it are often the ones who have difficulty accessing care due to stigma, attitudes toward mental health, and lack of access. Healthcare professionals need to adapt their approaches with different populations to ensure access to care.”

If you are depressed or just don’t feel right your age is irrelevant. You should tell your Dr. who can help you. The goal is to live the best life you can with the time you have, living in depression doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

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Anxiety Lessons: One of the hardest things to deal with.

For those of us with anxiety we have good days and bad days. There are of course degrees of anxiety, some of us are in better places then others and that’s why every day is a crap shoot. Like anything in life the more you experience something the more adept you become at navigating its nuances. Anxiety is no different and for me I have had a few very hard lessons in my travels.

One of the hardest for me? The conversation you have been avoiding is probably the one you most need to have. If you are dreading it, chances are if it’s not already a trigger it’s going to be soon. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the neighbor’s dog barking? The Amazon delivery person’s insistence in putting your packages on the side step instead of the front? This can be a wide range of subjects; we all have different triggers.

The worst part is not knowing, not knowing if having the conversation is the person going to think you are nuts? Will they reactive negatively? Violently? These emotions are real, and don’t let anyone minimize them. If you are talking to your roommate about the guy upstairs playing music to loud, don’t let their rational (or agreement) sway you from how you feel. The hardest part is making the decision to confront and “have the conversation

For those of us with Anxiety, sometimes the simplest conversation can be nuclear

This is one of the worst parts of anxiety. Wouldn’t it be great for just a day to not care what other people think? Many of us find that relief through self-medication and I am not advocating that here. What I am saying is, there are options. Continue on and allow this to eat away at you and become another trigger. I’ve done it, you wouldn’t be the first to live with other people’s crap. Or have the talk and confront.

The downside is it can be a disaster, creating more conflict then you ever wanted. The upside is the person may provide relief, gain a measure of respect for you and in the future may be more aware of how their actions affect you. I advocate to have the conversation, with a HUGE caveat. That being you have to assess the risk posed by the other person. Example, a conversation about putting the cap on the toothpaste is likely to have less of an impact then asking a parent to have their child stop leaving their toys around.

Both may be triggers but the likelihood of one garnering a negative response is higher. Use your instinct and your experience as an individual with anxiety. Some battles (and for us, internally, that’s what these conversations are) are less risky than others. have those first, build a mental reserve of successful (or failures) outcomes to draw on as you consider attempting the harder and harder conversations as your life progressives.

If you are thinking about it constantly, its eating at you and emboldening your anxiety. It’s likely a conversation you should have sooner rather than later.

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Anxiety and Post Vaccination life

As individuals with Anxiety the Covid 19 pandemic has been horrific. It’s not just that there is one more thing to worry about, a virus that can kill, but it’s all the ancillary B.S. that came with it. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, social media fights, zealous government regulations, lack of government regulations on and on. No matter where you fall on the pandemic there was anxiety and stress everywhere you looked.

We now have vaccines, something that is way ahead of schedule. Most vaccines take years to get approval, like it or not we can thank Trump for getting it produced early even though the distribution was a mess. The point here is we have a solution to the problem. What now? What happens after you get the vaccine? Is it back to normal for you? Not by a long shot…. I found a good article here That discusses the issue of reentry, which is yet another pain point for those of us with Anxiety.

From the article: “The new guidance said fully vaccinated Americans can gather indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing. It also states those people can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one household without masks, unless any of those people have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Those people do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. However, the CDC still urges social distancing and masks while in public or traveling.”

It’s a fairly short article with a news video report attached, it is from a local news station not a national one. The point they are making though is that despite the CDC guidelines above, everyone should still be careful. As individuals with anxiety we have to be diligent about our triggers. As an example I am not fearful of this virus as many others are but I am respectful. I wear a mask, I keep my distance, I wash my hands I am mindful of other people.

stressed-out-woman
Anxiety is still spiking around the world.

There are many, millions who think this is all B.S. they do not believe the threat is real and they are vocal about it. Just as vocal as those who rail against those who don’t think masks are important. It’s just another flash point in the social war currently being waged in western society. We are all neatly placed into “us” or “them” and depending on where you go you’re either a villain or a hero.

Of course those of us with Anxiety? We are screwed either way because now as this clears up you will be exposed to more people and their cavalier attitudes for either side. I imagine for the next year you will still see people wearing masks even though many are vaccinated. Taking a shower at the gym? That will be interesting, how will that work? When will that be allowed? On and on.

If you suffer from anxiety be diligent. Stick to your routines and if possible get vaccinated ASAP. We are in the beginning phase of reopening and reentry. I know many places already have, but with a vaccination out there (3 to be exact) more and more places are going to open up and you might be triggered. The end of this is closer, and the isolation and fear are beginning to ebb. You are doing great, one day a time. Hang in there, things are getting better.

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