Yesterday’s appointment went very well. I don’t know if this is the case with most people, but I have better luck in general with nurse practitioners than doctors. After taking a thorough history, the NP is pretty convinced the primary culprit for my panic attack is my slightly-insane caffeine intake. Probably compounded by a solid three months of saying “yes” to everything, and a kind of high-stress year in general.
At any rate, I now have a medically-approved treatment plan. Because I have a history of responding poorly to medication, we’re going to try supplements and cutting out caffeine to start. He sent me home with some research about SAM-e, which is a nutritional supplement. No side effects (to which my liver, libido and weight loss plans all say “Yay!”). If I don’t see improvement in the next couple of weeks, we’ll revisit things.
Deep down, I’ve known for a while that my relationship with caffeine is not healthy. The NP explained that we have less tolerance to it as we get older, it can trigger anxiety and it has a cumulative effect. So it wasn’t just that I drank too much caffeine once, it was that I consistently drank too much, for a few months. And I’m old.
I’ll keep writing in coffee shops, obviously, because I love them. But I’ll be drinking decaf or herbal tea for the foreseeable future.
It feels risky writing about my mental health issues in such a public way. But I think it’s important for a few reasons. First, lots of people struggle with depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, and other issues. The more we talk about it, the more it’s okay to talk about it, and the easier it is for people to get help. Second, there are a lot of misconceptions about mental illness. I’m a highly-productive creative professional with generally healthy personal life and relationships. I’m reasonably well-respected in my local business community.
Behavioral or mental health issues don’t mean you’re unreliable, unproductive, or that your life is a morass of personal drama.
Here’s the thing, employers. A certain percentage of your workforce does suffer from these conditions. Here’s what you know about the ones who are brave enough to tell you: they’re self-aware, honest, take it seriously, and are managing their condition.
So anyway, that’s enough about that.
Getting Ready for 2015
I’m starting to think about 2015, and the goals I’d like to set. Thanks to some recent events, those goals will probably be different than I might have expected earlier in the year. There will be less “saying yes to every opportunity” and more “staying focused and following a sane plan.”
Part of my anxiety this year came from constantly feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. But since my plans and goals were so nebulous, it was impossible to know what “enough” might be. Setting clear and reasonable goals means I can reassure myself I’m doing what I’m meant to do. I won’t get plagued by that vague, unsettled feeling that I’m leaving a bunch of things undone. Which makes me nauseous just typing it.
Submitting more short stories is definitely going to be on the list. As will reading (and reviewing) one classic, one new commercial release, and one high-quality indie release a month. With permission to call “DNF” on one of them each month, if I’m just not enjoying it.
What goals are you noodling on for next year? And did your 2014 goals help you manage your stress, or stress you out more?