Cycles

Cape Neddick, Maine. August 2019.
Noun.
This is how I experience
a cycle of anxiety.
It's when my body senses danger,
and my mind springs into action.
It happens in a split second,
even when there's no danger to be found.
I become distant from my thoughts.
It's like I'm watching a movie
that plays the same scene on repeat.
When I was younger, I felt comfort
when in this headspace.
This was my safe place to escape.
Now I'm just annoyed that the narrative
doesn't go anywhere.
I have become aware of when this happens,
how this happens, why this happens.
I'm learning how to breathe through it,
I'm reminded that I don't live here anymore.
A cycle of anxiety passes over me
like a wave, I get lost in the current
for a split second, only to come up
and see I'm in an empty movie theatre
with the lights up.
I'm not who I was when I was younger.
I no longer live in these cycles.
I say hi every once in a while
when I'm bored or triggered
by trauma.
But I always find my way
back to myself.
These cycles are waves that pass.
My anxiety calms with my awareness
to know I have grown from
the stories of my past.
I prefer to remain
on the beach instead.

What I’ve Been Clicking On – Part 2

  1. Girls5Eva on Peacock is a must-watch comedy show (and this performance they did at The Hollywood Bowl was very good).
  2. A reminder from Elizabeth Bishop.
  3. audio instalment two by Yara Daley-Ward
  4. This beautiful photo by Katrien Vermeire of fireflies in the woods
  5. Taylor Swift’s speech at the Brit Awards
  6. Everyone should strive for this cozy atmosphere
  7. This photo of Phoebe Bridgers lives in my head rent-free.
  8. Emma Chamberlain discussing how she deals with her mental health.
  9. The first two episodes of Kendall Jenner’s four part series with Vogue about anxiety.
  10. The first episode of Glennon Doyle’s podcast We Can Do Hard Things is all about anxiety. I felt less alone while listening to it because I could relate a lot to how Glennon described her anxiety.

New Perspective

Last week, I went to the eye doctor for the first time in almost two years. I received some incredible news. Not only are my eyes healthy after dealing with Thyroid Eye Disease for two and a half years but the keratoconus I deal with hasn’t changed since 2019. After going through hell with my eyes, I can proudly say I’ve come a long way and I’m in pretty good shape. Thyroid eye disease can impact the optic nerve because the swelling from TED squeezes the muscles around the eye causing damage. Both of my optic nerves are healthy and well.

Though, it wasn’t easy in the slightest. I look at photos from 2019 and I can feel how uncomfortable and swollen my eyes were. At the time, I dealt with it as best I could. I couldn’t relieve the uncomfortable swelling, I just had to get through it. It’s only when looking back do I realize how bad the thyroid eye disease really was. It sucked. It was one of the worst things I have ever endured in my life. I hated every second of it. Double vision, light sensitivity, upper, eyelid retractions on both eyes, depth perception issues, dry eyes, uncomfortable swelling, and migraines. It was all horrible.

I tried steroids but they ended up hurting me much more than they helped. So I just had to wait. Wait for my body to calm down and heal. It took a whole lot of time. Time was really the only thing I could count on. When I was experiencing it, I tried not to complain. Complaining wouldn’t help things. Sure, I’m human and there were moments where I felt depressed by it but it could have been so much worse.

I’m almost three years into this and I’m very happy to say I’m on the downward slope of this disease. I no longer have double vision and the swelling has gone down quite a bit. The migraines have improved as the swelling improves. I don’t have dry eyes and I’m no longer uncomfortable every day. The light sensitivity has lessened tremendously. My right eyelid is doing quite well and is no longer retracted. My left eyelid is a few months behind the right eyelid but is slowly catching up. I still have depth perception issues on occasion but being aware of it helps me not run into things (most of the time).

I wasn’t a glasses wearer before this. I had glasses but I didn’t wear them often. I now wear glasses all the time. I think that’s partly why my eyes are in good health now. I recognize how important it was to wear them when I had double vision and had to get a stick on prism to help me see one instead of two. Plus, glasses act as a barrier between my fingers in my eyes. I haven’t rubbed my eyes in over two years and I have no plans on rubbing them ever again.

One thing I learned through this experience that I think everyone should be aware of is that it’s so important to take care of your eyes. Whether it’s wearing blue light glasses when looking at screens or wearing your glasses more if you don’t wear contacts. Wearing sunglasses when in the sun. For people with cornea diseases, do not rub your eyes unless you want things to get worse.

There was nothing I did to cause TED. I had noticeable swelling over Labor Day in 2018. Then a month later, I woke up with double vision. It was scary and uncomfortable and difficult but I got through it. I went through hell and back with my eyes but the eye doctor did a normal eye exam with eyes and he was able to get 20/20 easily. When I was going through it with TED, the eye doctor was only able to get me to 20/40. Being treated as a normal eye patient is a success in my book.

About six months into TED, steroids caused my vision to plummet. It was awful. I had to get new temporary glasses to deal with the sudden changes. I got them when I still had moon face and swollen eyes. I wore those glasses for two years. Those glasses always reminded me of what I had been through. When I got my eyes checked, I was able to get some new glasses. New glasses for a new chapter of my life.

Anxious

Adjective.
It’s like spinning around the room,
unsure of what led you here.
You were fine and now you’re filled
with overwhelming thoughts.
Time and therapy has taught you
to breathe, controlling
the anxious feeling isn’t easy.
Sometimes it’s doable,
sometimes you just have to
wait for it to get bored
and move onto other things.
But right now it’s a thought
that’s clung onto your brain.
You find yourself spinning
in the dark,
cycling through worries,
knowing how you arrived here.
Awareness helps
but it’s often a mystery.
You learn to listen
to the anxious feeling.
The more you listen,
the more you learn
to understand the process.
You see how you got from
point a to point b in a second.
The more you see,
the faster the thought gets bored.
Hold onto the knowledge you gain,
it will be the key to standing still.
Breathe.

What I’ve Been Clicking On – Part 1

Happy Saturday!

Here’s what I’ve been clicking on the Internet this week. Most weeks will likely just be a numbered list with link but who knows. I’m still trying to figure this out.

I hope you’re healthy and well.

Kelly

  1. This video of a library reopening and people welcoming the library staff with a standing ovation.
  2. Podcast episode – On Being with Krista Tippett. A conversation about how we live with technology and when it’s time for a break.
  3. An article about Internal Family Systems.
  4. This photo of a cat sitting outside.
  5. Billie Eilish’s Cover Interview with British Vogue
  6. Kate Beckinsale’s cat
  7. Podcast episode – Why Are Dads? A conversation about Blue Valentine.
  8. This tweet took me back to my childhood.
  9. An article talking about why people aren’t getting vaccinated.
  10. Poem – Molly Brodak by Molly Brodak

Fully Vaccinated, What Now?

Tomorrow marks two weeks since I had my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. While I’m excited to be less worried about COVID, I’m still nervous. I don’t foresee my life looking remarkably different, at least at first. Though, I do plan on going into stores instead of shopping online and making appointments in-person instead of virtually if I can.

I want to go walk around a library and maybe a bookstore without being determined to leave even before I enter the building. I want to be able to see friends and family who have been fully vaccinated without worrying afterward if there could be a chance of one of us having it or spreading it to everyone else. I do hope COVID will no longer be top of mind before I experience something. I’m hoping I will be able to shed some of the worries I’ve been carrying with me for the last year.

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on where I was this time last year. I was having a lot of panic attacks. I was at the peak of my anxiety threshold with what was out of my control externally. Internally, I tried to avoid and withdraw from my overwhelming thoughts by watching a lot of TV shows and movies. Sometimes, it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I found myself doing a dance with distractions to mentally get through everything while staying physically healthy.

I think myself in May of 2020 couldn’t imagine this is where I would be today. Fully vaccinated to help fight against COVID. Masks were just beginning to become normalized this time last year. Vaccines weren’t in the public consciousness. Myself in May of 2020 would be surprised to hear I didn’t have a panic attack thinking about the vaccine. She would be surprised to hear I haven’t had a major panic attack since last spring.

I’m excited to do some traveling this summer and stay in places that are totally different than what I have experienced this last year. I’m excited to become more comfortable being out in public again. I’m excited to see those who I love and miss dearly. I’m excited to live in the present moment without thinking about what has been or what will be.

even when we can’t control the situation around us, we always can choose where we’re directing our attention.

Liz Stanley, PHD

Happy

Adjective.
The feeling when you can't stop smiling.
Where everything becomes lighter
and you run around the house shaking
and yelling because of unexpected
good news. The feeling of magic,
keeping a secret to process yourself
only leaves you giddier. Feeling like
you can explode from joy at any moment.
Being reassured that the path you're on
is where you're meant to be.

Little Update

Hello Readers!

I have some news. Starting next week, I will be posting two extra days on my blog! I’m trying something new in May. On Fridays, I will be sharing a little paragraph or two about something that’s been on my mind recently. On Saturdays, I will be sharing ten links to things on the Internet that have caught my attention that I want to share.

I love posting on my blog every week and I want to share more than just my poems with you all. If you read them, I will continue this posting schedule.

See you next week!

Kelly

Seasons of April

The month begins with beautiful weather.
Sunshine for days and a warm breeze
that's welcoming after the cold months.

A dramatic turn is taken with
the arrival of a winter storm.
Spring receives winter 
storm warnings. 

Snow falls to the earth,
sometimes like rain,
melting as soon as
it hits the warm sidewalk.
Other times,
they're too fast,
falling in rapid 
succession,
multiplying in inches
within hours of arriving.

The storm passes
and the beautiful
weather returns
once more.

The grass is growing green,
flowers are slowly blooming.
Vibrant colors welcome
nature back to life after
months of remaining dormant.

The cycle between winter and spring
happens several times throughout
the month, allowing no time to
adjust to either season. All this back
and forth eventually causes me
to ignore the weather app
on my phone until June.

Unexpected Stop

I was driving down
a side road,
surrounded
by pine trees.
For some reason,
this road
reminded me of
girl scout camp
when I was younger.
It must have
been all of
the pine trees
and the way
the sun hit
my eyes
behind
my sunglasses.

I was a mile
down the road,
surrounded
by pine trees,
when I had to stop.
Four deer were crossing
the road
then jumping
gracefully
over a low fence
on the other side.

I was amazed at
how they moved,
swiftly without hustle,
elegant but aware.
I was about to move
when a fifth deer
came sprinting across
the road,
trying to keep up
with it's friends.
I laughed. 

No other cars
to be found
on the road
in the middle
of nowhere.
When I got to
the main road
there was a sign
pointing north
and south.
The two directions
I could go.

I chose north
and thought of
the deer
moving in
the same direction
magestically amongst
the pine trees.