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I haven’t been blogging much.  There’s been nothing I could write about that mattered to me.  I know that sounds depressed.  It isn’t.  I just couldn’t come up with a topic that drew me.  

I’ve sat in front of my computer, staring at the white screen, waiting for something to surface.  

Life is like that.  We often stare at a blank screen waiting for some motivation or answer. At the same time, we are hesitant to begin.  What if we try and still have a blank screen- or gibberish?  

I’m not staring at a blank page right now.  It’s short.  It may not be my best writing. But,it’s not a blank screen.

Just start.

The Way Out

A story I heard:
A man fell into a well, he started screaming for help. Finally, someone looked down the well, it was a doctor. The man screamed, “help me I’m stuck down here and can’t get out!” The doctor then proceeded to pull out a pen and start writing something down, when he was done he threw the little note down the well. It was a prescription… the man said, “what do I do with this?” the doctor replied, “it will help with the pain of the fall” and walked away.

Next a priest walked by and noticed the man screaming for help. The priest peered down and said, “Okay my son, I will pray for you” and proceeded to walk away…

Finally the man, ready to give up, screamed out one last time. This time it was his friend. The man screamed, “help me I’m stuck down here in this well!” To his surprise his friend jumped down into the well and landed right next to him. He turned to his friend and said, “now why would you go and do that?! Now you are stuck down here with me!” The friend replied, “Don’t worry, I’ve been here before, I know the way out.”

Reducing Anxiety Again

Sometimes recovery from anxiety requires professional treatment.  Self care isn’t enough alone.  

Therapy :  There are different kinds of anxiety.  There are different approaches to therapy to target anxiety.  Two of the most common are: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and exposure therapy.  Here are basic explanations.

  1.  CBT:  As the name suggests, CBT addresses behaviors and thoughts that feed anxiety.  The premise behind CBT is how we think, not external events, that impact our emotions. The Cognitive piece addresses  the thoughts and beliefs that feed anxiety. Basically, the client learns to identify, challenge, and replace negative or unrealistic thoughts.  It may also address recognizing when you’re anxious and building coping skills. The Behavioral part addresses how you respond and act in stressful situations.
  2. Exposure therapy gradually exposes you to the trigger for anxiety.  People tend to avoid anxiety provoking situations.  By exposing people to the trigger slowly and in steps helps the person desensitize the anxiety reaction.  For example, if someone is afraid of dogs, the therapist might start by showing pictures of dogs.  Then, have a dog in the room next door, then in the same room, and eventually have the client interact with a dog. 

Medications:  There are many prescription medications on market addressing anxiety.  They break into 7 different groups:

  1. Antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI). Examples: Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox,Prozac, Lexapro, and Celexa.  
  2. Serotonin-Norepinephrine Uptake Inhibitors.  Examples: Cymbalta and Effexor.
  3. Tricyclic antidepressants. Examples: Tofranil, Norpramin, Elavil.
  4. Beta blockers: Indarol, Tranformin
  5. Benzodiazepines: Lorazepam, Xanax,Valium, Ativan, Serxac, and Liberium.
  6. Mild tranquilziers like Buspar
  7. Some anti-convulsants like Depakote, Nueronitin, and Lyrica. 

Each of these medications work better for certain forms of anxiety.  You notice antidepressants also treat anxiety.  The two often appear together.  The medications also can have serious side effects and problems.  For example  Benzodiazepines are highly addictive.  Depakote can cause serious weight gain.  Each type can cause withdrawal symptoms if discontinued.  

However, they can be very effective in treating anxiety. The gold standard if you’re on medication is also to be in therapy. 

Self care, therapy, and medication can make a huge difference in treating and reducing anxiety symptoms.  Many can achieve remission. Others find a reduction in symptoms and improvement in quality of life.  Anxiety and depression may return and require episodic professional interventions.  

Recovery is a process.  

Keep the hope.

More on Reducing Anxiety

There are many websites with suggestions on how to reduce or control anxiety. These are things that I found helpful.   I’ll start with methods we can use at home with, or without, medical intervention.

  1. Accept anxiety as a part of life for now.  That doesn’t mean it’s pleasant or that we quit trying to treat, reduce, or “cure” our anxiety.  When I’m closer to accepting that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), the challenge of being anxious about being anxious is much less.  The trick is not being anxious about trying not to be anxious about being anxious.  Confusion in the last sentence intended.  Anxiety is confusing.  Seriously, though.  This is difficult.   When you find that worry coming back, understand it’s part of the process.  
  2. Mindfulness.  I find this form of meditation helpful.  In mindfulness, we stay aware of our current thoughts, emotions, body awareness,  and surroundings. We stay in the moment.   For example, as I write this I’m feeling anxious.  I worry that I sound stupid or people will judge me.  Since I’m aware of this, I can take a few breaths, realize it really doesn’t matter what people think, and keep writing.  This lowers my anxiety level.  This shows another concept,”non-judgemental stance.”  I’m not judging myself for being anxious or what I was thinking.  A few ways of practicing staying in the moment are: eat an orange. Pay attention to how the peel feels and smells and the squirt of juice.  Feel the texture of the inside of the orange- smell it, taste it.  Slow down.  Another way is to wash dishes. Feel and smell the soap.  How does the water feel?  How do the plates feel?   I watched the sunset mindfully yesterday.  I noticed the color, the clouds, the breeze.  I appreciated it without the mind chatter. There are many resources on the internet to learn more and smart phone applications to help you practice.       
  3. Exercise. I do both cardio and some resistance training.  I love running.  Not everyone does.  Find what you enjoy and set time aside to do it.  Cardio is great because it makes you control your breathing.  When anxious we tend to breath shallow and fast.  Cardio makes you breath deeper and actually can slow your breathing.  The trick there is to keep the pace slow enough that you can talk in full sentences.  
  4. Diet: eat regular meals.  Reduce sugar and caffeine.  Most people don’t want to give them up.  Eat them in moderation.  Eat protein, fruits, carbohydrates, and vegetables.  If you can, work with a nutritionist.  There are resources on the internet.  Make sure whatever you use comes from a professional source.  Fad diets are not going to be helpful.
  5. Get enough sleep.
  6. Do something you enjoy
  7. Coloring: i found mandalas   helpful.  It keeps me focused on something besides worrying.  You don’t have to buy the books. The internet has free ones you can download.


Mindfulness websites:  Body scanMindfulness for AnxietyWhat is Mindfulness

Applications: Insight Timer ,  Be Present, ZMeditations, Meditation

Mandalas  websites: Mandala coloring , Coloring pages

Random cuteness and reducing anxiety

One way to deal with anxiety is to find something you appreciate and enjoy…




Brighid brings me joy and affection.  I am not as anxious around her.  She has a way of keeping me calm.  She is my familiar.

Bobby and Kaliyah are both at Rainbow Bridge now.  Although I miss them, I remember the lessons they taught.  Eat healthy,drink water, play, and get enough sleep.  Doing these things helps with lowering anxiety. They also made me laugh.  Ferrets are inquisitive by nature.  Watching them get into mischief and look totally innocent was fascinating.  I just couldn’t get mad.  They’re also fun to watch play.  They don’t worry about what people think.  They’re totally in the moment.

Reducing anxiety can be done in many ways.  I’ll write more tomorrow.  It’s now time to sleep 

What is it Like….

….To have anxiety?

It’s the shark lurking under the water.  You know it’s there-somewhere.  But, you don’t know if or when it will.

It’s the fears of nothing that keep you awake at night.  

It’s worrying constantly about the future.  And the past.  And the present.  Hell, it’s worrying constantly about everything. No matter how small or stupid.  

It’s being afraid and overwhelmed in a new place or situation.  This is also true for brain injury.  It’s not always anxiety that causes difficulties.  There can be physical issues as well- or the brain not perceiving and responding correctly to new situations.  Often familiarity is our best place in terms of function. 

It’s being anxious about being anxious.  

It’s being anxious about having another panic attack.

It’s being afraid of looking/doing something “stupid” or that draws attention to yourself.  Like having a panic attack. Or seizure.

It’s being worried about social situations.

It’s constant exhaustion- mentally, emotionally, physically (also a brain injury thing)

It’s struggling to get out of bed some days: never mind doing something productive. (Another brain injury thing).

It’s fighting to look and be “normal.”  


Anxiety is common after brain injury.  The brain isn’t physically working right.  Sensory and mental stimulation can be overwhelming.  Just thinking can be hard. Many fight with physical pain or having part (s) of thr body no longer functioning fully.  Communication can be hard- for example, aphasia.  Brain injury and anxiety symptoms often overlap.  Yet, they are different. 

When I was first injured, I had trouble understanding pretty much anything.  Everything came through a haze of sludge and pain.  My body naturally went into fight or flight mode.  I then fought for recovery.  I dealt with the anxiety of being worried about if I’d ever heal again and be what I was before.  The world was (and still is) too loud, too bright, too fast.  Doing anything in public was anxiety provoking.  Things are better now.  I function better and am much more independent .  Sensory overload isn’t quite as bad now.  This is good.

But, I still have anxiety.

Everyone gets anxious at some point in their lives.  It is magnified for someone with an anxiety disorder. Think about the time in your life that you were the most anxious and what it felt like.  Now live with that feeling every day.  Some days are better than others.  Some days you don’t feel anxious at all.  Until you are.  It is like that.  Sometimes the anxiety comes for no real reason.  

It’s not something we can “just stop.”  Trust me, I wish I could.  


I have aphasia.  Receiving spoken messages, sorting the meaning, and finding a response is a long process. Making sense of speech requires effort and I often fake understanding I don’t have if the information is too complex or comes too quickly.  One thing at a time.  Faking is not the best solution but it is embarrassing to ask for people to explain things again and again. For example, I recently went to the doctor.  There is some sort of test for a shoulder injury I’m having tomorrow.  I’m not sure what it is or exactly why because the information came too quickly.  It was too complex.  Oh well.  It’s an adventure.  I’ll see what’s up tomorrow.  

 It is difficult to respond verbally.    I can find words usually.  Sometimes, I mix up words or say words out of order.  Like: I to need go to the store.  Or I’ll call a spoon a fork.  I know the words and how to put them together but they don’t always come out right.  It’s frustrating.  At times I hear what I say and then try to correct it.   Expressing complex thoughts is difficult.  It’s worse when I’m stressed or in loud environments.  For example, ordering food in a restaurant.  If the wait staff talks too quickly, I get lost and overwhelmed by choices and information.  I hate ordering new selections or answering what side dishes I want.  So, I have three things I eat in each restaurant I go to. That way, I have fewer menu items to consider. It makes for a limited selection. Going to a new restaurant is a challenge.  Everything is new. Even something easy can be difficult.

I read an article about aphasia that made a suggestion on how to tell people what I need to communicate clearly.  I can hand it to them instead of trying to explain a complicated thing.  It’s a great idea.  I spent today working on my “card” and took it to Staples to have some made.  

I am a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor. 

I have problems with understanding verbal communication.  My speech may be slow and deliberate.  To help:

1. Keep it simple and speak slowly

2. Allow me time to respond 

I have trouble with balance, coordination, sensory overload, and memory.  I may become anxious, angry, or agitated.  

I am not trying to be rude or difficulty.  Please be patient.  

On the reverse side I have medical alert information and emergency contacts.

I hope this will help take the stress off and make communication easier.  

Sometimes, you have to accept that things are hard and look for ways to adapt.