Tag Archive | Anxiety

#OctPoWriMo (Day 6 of 31) Pacing the Floor – Don’t Forget to Breathe


Prompt – Pacing the Floor

* * *

img_260627 steps, round way trip, 54,

with a detour, add 42,

maybe more.

Count them, tap them

with fingertips

and soundless word,

lip sync pantomime,

don’t let the panic free.

   12, 13, 14, 15,

      don’t forget to breathe.

   Go round and round,


   once more.

Look up.

   Everything is fine.

Full stop.

     Everything is fine,

like it was before.


Previous Challenge Posts ~

#OctPoWriMo 2017

Day 1How Did You Get here?

Day 2 – We Write Because We Must

Day 3 – Cherita Poem – Metal

Bête Noire #OctPoWriMo (Day 5 of 31)


(It’s still day 8, in which I kind of, sort of cheat) I #AmWriting, but it took on a life of its own and became something else, for some other time, SO, I tiptoed into the archives and borrowed some old words to replace the ones I was going to use )

Prompt – I Finally Understand

Anxiety – I’ve come to an understanding . . . I will never fully understand it. BUT, I now can recognize and fight it when it pays a visit.

* * *

Bête Noire - by Crystal R. Cook

If I knew why the world
sometimes crumbles,
when the earth
neath my feet is sound,

I might forget to fall.

If I could see
the raging storm
was only a summer breeze
of a passing season,

I might not hide at all.

If I was certain
flood waters
were not rising too fast
for me to safely swim,

I might not have to drown.

If I could just believe
the fears I fear
were lies, unfounded,
figments of my mind,

I might keep both feet on the ground.

Confounding little voice, whispering in the mind
infinitesimal, insignificant – ultimately powerless . . .


acknowledged, fed –  held close to the heart like mother nestling a babe, wrap it like a cloak, a chrysalis safe and warm, cower within till it torments no more . . .


it’s an illusion, a blanket of lies keeping the light veiled in shadow, growing heavy, heavier in the darkness, suffocating, stealing breath, parasitic thief consuming, devouring reality, regurgitating anxiety, apprehension and despair . . .

bête noire 

undeserving of avowal, recognition, appellation . . . purge, disembogue, cast out, unbaptize, reject, refuse, restrain, dethrone the beast from lofty place to bowels of depths unknown . . .


ascend past heights attainable by intrusive, binding thought,

look back and you will fall

spread wings of grace and you will soar.

~ finis ~

Crystal R. Cook


Previous Challenge Posts ~

#OctPoWriMo 2017

Day 1How Did You Get here?

Day 2 – We Write Because We Must

Day 3 – Cherita Poem – Metal

Just write the words and everything is fine – everything is fine.

imageEverything is fine.

It’s good.

In fact, perhaps, just maybe, there’s a possibility things are even great – but I cannot say for certain for my heart, my heart is beating far too fast, so very, very fast. My thoughts are swiftly swirling, swirling, swirling into a vortex, into a void – spinning fast and furious, and then faster, faster still – pulling apart with magnificent, terrifying ease, the finely woven tapestry, the tapestry of * me *. Threads of my reality are fraying, strings and strands and tendrils of  . . . sanity? being swallowed by a nothingness I swear is all too real.

Silly, silly girl. I know. Everything is fine.

Tell it to my heart, it’s beating faster still.

Everything is fine. I must write the words to make them real. Words. Words. Which ones?

The right ones, the right ones of course.

imageWords. I must simply write the words because maybe things are great and I need do nothing more than read them to remind my beating (still too quickly) heart . . . remind my heart to tell me, tell me everything is fine.

Write the words and swallow half a little pill . . . write them, read them, once and then again, and then again once more.

The tempest quells, the words prevail – the words prevail once more.
Everything is fine.

I Wasn’t Okay


It could be funny story, but it isn’t. I’ve only shared it with a few, and I’ll admit to putting a humorous spin on it a time or two. You can make something sound less awful if you sprinkle in a few laughs and some self-deprecating humor, but that’s like putting extra sweet icing on a dry cake. It goes down a little easier, but it’s still an awful cake.

So no icing this time.

This is a story about the day I realized I needed help. The day I acknowledged I wasn’t okay. I’d known for some time, but I was strong and capable and could do it all, except I couldn’t. I wasn’t. Some days I felt I was unraveling like a spool of loosely wound thread, and others, like a string being stretched to the breaking point. There were days I felt the unraveling and the tautness together, it left me in a jumbled tangle of knots and loose ends that were becoming harder and harder to free myself from.

I had a home I was happy in, four amazing children, a husband I adored, and falling apart was not an option. There was no reason to, I was happy. I had so much to be thankful for, but I was coming undone inside and no amount of positive anything was changing that. There were times I felt unworthy of my blessings. I felt I wasn’t enough. How could I feel that way in the midst of so much joy?


I’ve always been good under pressure, and while there was happiness and joy in my life, there was pressure. There was stress and uncertainty and fear and sadness. My husband was in the military and often away, my oldest son had recently been diagnosed with autism, his brother was being assessed for developmental disabilities. Physically, I was suffering from the effects of what I would soon find out was undiagnosed diabetes, and I was tired. More tired than I had time to realize.

I’ve dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember, but it was slowly taking control of my life. Everything filled me with dread. The day our home was broken into, the day a stranger came into my refuge and robbed me of so much more than things, was the day I succumbed to the anxiety I’d been fighting for so long. It was the catalyst for what was to come.

I became obsessive about our safety, about locking doors and windows, checking closets and under beds repeatedly. My obsessive monitoring of these things was as intrusive as that stranger that had walked unwelcomed into my home. I looked out the peephole on the front door a hundred times a day. One of those times, not long after the older kids had been dropped at school and I was home alone with my youngest, I saw a young woman making her way up the driveway. I watched her. She came to the door and I held my breath as she reached for the doorbell.

I should have just ignored it. I should have just waited silently until she walked away, but I was unnerved and annoyed. There was a no soliciting sign right above the doorbell and it bothered me so much more than it should have that she rang in spite of it.

I opened the door, she began her well rehearsed pitch for home water delivery service which I interrupted with a polite no thank you. She continued. I could feel my heart speeding up. I pointed to the no soliciting sign and again said, no thank you. She rolled her eyes and I closed the door, but I didn’t walk away from it. I watched her through the peephole. I watched her reach out and peel the sign off the wall and walk away. I didn’t see a young woman. I saw a monster. An intruder. I saw someone violating my home and my peace and my privacy and all the anxiety and anger and fear I’d been trying to contain broke free from its chains and that last bit of frayed thread within me snapped.

I remember feeling so angry, I remember trying to calm myself down. I remember feeling like I was boiling from the inside out. I don’t remember grabbing my keys and my son, I e0fc981baf19c44ebfc1a7bcec92f163 (1)don’t remember getting in the car. I do remember stopping the car in the middle of the street on the other side of the block when I saw her at someone else’s door.

I stopped and got out of the car, left it right there, running, with my almost two-year old son in the back seat and crossed the street to confront her. I can’t recall just what I said, I know it was angry and ugly. She denied the deed and I got angrier and uglier. Neighbors on both sides opened their doors to see what was happening. I know I promised to get her fired, I know I told her I wanted the sign back. I know I told her she had ten minutes to return it.

I don’t remember going back to the house or going in, but I do remember thinking I was going to lose what was left of my mind. I do remember the anger turning to fear. Fear of myself. I felt physically ill trying to piece together what I’d just done, realizing I had left my child in the middle of the street in a running vehicle. I was sitting on the kitchen floor in a puddle of tears when the doorbell rang.

She’d actually come back. She could have easily left the sign on the porch, but she rang the bell. I was embarrassed and mortified and unable to stop shaking or quell my tears, but I opened the door. She was shaky as well and her eyes were wet with tears too. She handed me the sign. She apologized. I did too, but my crazy was still showing and I tried to explain things to her. I suddenly felt very maternal towards this young woman. I told her it was foolish to do things like she’d done, that there were crazier people than me out there. I extended the trauma I’d likely caused her with an unexpected hug. This is the part of the story I actually do find sort of funny, in a totally twisted and sad way. That poor girl. I scared her to death and then I hugged her.

When all was said and done, the reality of it all hit me. I was not okay. I am now. I take medication to even out the chemical imbalance that can wreak havoc in my life. I talk to people. Sometimes I’m more okay than other times, but I recognize it now. I don’t ignore the warning signs and I take action to keep myself from falling back into that dark place. I have a greater understanding of depression and anxiety and OCD, and I know without a doubt I am worthy of my blessings.

It took time and hard work to get here though, and I didn’t do it alone. Reaching out and seeking help was difficult. Admitting I needed it was like admitting defeat in the beginning. I’m not real big on talking to people or asking for help, I still struggle with that aspect of it, but I do it because I never want to be that out of control woman who stood in the middle of the street screaming that day again.

94df6bce140bcbd1f219ed0a1b8a63d7There are moments, days, weeks even that I struggle. Times when I have to rely on faith and facts to keep me moving through whatever dark clouds loom above me. Sometimes I forget, or simply choose not to reach out when I’m facing that storm, but thankfully, I have some faithful storm chasers in my life that keep me from being swept away by it.

Depression is a misunderstood disorder. I certainly didn’t understand it. How could I be depressed when I was happy? I smiled, I laughed, I did things. I hadn’t taken to my bed or lost hope, and yet that fog followed me, sometimes I wore it like a shroud, sometimes it was simply a shadow that followed me.

Once I learned it had nothing to do with my strength, my capabilities, or my fortitude it was easier to fight. I had many weapons in my armory, faith, family, friends, but I still needed armor. Medication served as a shield, it didn’t fight the battle for me, I had to do that, but it did offer a buffer between me and the invisible enemy I faced.

It’s been sixteen years since I took up arms and began fighting back. There are days I grow weary of it, but even on those days, the sun still shines and I find my strength. I am the hero of my story.





Everything is okay, is everything really okay? Breathe.


Wake up. Just wake up. I can’t. I’m so tired and I need to wake up because I need out of this dream. It’s a dream. I’m awake. The feeling won’t go away. My heart is beating too fast. It swishing. Why am I still afraid? Nothing is wrong. Nothing. Is. Wrong.

Something is wrong. Something is definitely wrong. This is more than anxiety this time. Something is wrong. It’s too quiet. Are the kids okay? It might have rained last night and the roads are probably wet, I wonder if he made it to work okay?

Someone would have called if he didn’t. Right? Maybe I should text him. I wonder if my mom is okay. I didn’t talk to my daughter yesterday. She called and I missed it and I didn’t call back. She didn’t call me again. Is everything okay?

Dammit. Something is wrong.

Just breathe through it.

It’s hard to breathe.

My heart is swishing.

Everything is okay.

Dammit. It’s not.

Okay. It will pass. How long? I felt like this yesterday too. It’s worse today and it’s going to keep getting worse. Maybe I should call and check on everyone. What if something is wrong though? What if I call and the phone rings while they are driving? They’ll have an accident. I’m not calling. Everything is fine.

I’m holding my breath again. Stop doing that. My heart is swishing. I think I messed up something yesterday. What did I forget? It was important, I think. I screwed something up again.


Something just doesn’t feel right. I can feel my heart in my arms and my head and my legs. Breath through it. It’s not real.

It’s real.

Your mind is telling you lies, it’s anxiety. It’s a liar. What if this time something is wrong though? I didn’t charge my phone last night. Something might have happened and I didn’t get the call because the phone is dead. No one is dead. Everyone is okay. Why didn’t I call her back yesterday? She was fine. Nothing was wrong or she would have said so when she said to call her back.


Stop holding your breath, dammit.

Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh,

A tubby, little cubby all stuffed with fluff.

He’s Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh,

A willy, nilly, silly old bear.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Still swishing.

Geez, stop crying. So stupid. Willy, nilly, silly old bear.

Stupid. This is so stupid. Tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff. It’s not working. I can’t go to the store today. This is a warning. It’s a warning. If we all stay in the house it’ll be okay. I heard one of the boys leave this morning. I think I heard one of them leaving. He’s supposed to tell me when he goes out. Why did he even leave the house? This is ridiculous. He’s probably in his room. He’s not. It might start raining.








Willy, nilly, silly old bear . . .


Last night’s Dreams won’t release me

their Icy fingers won’t let me go

Holding, Squeezing, gripping

I Can’t regain control
       Anxious Oppression,

I can’t still My heart
       Shallow Breath, I need to breathe
        I’m lost Once it starts
       Shallow Breath, why can’t I breathe

I feel it just Under my skin
Poisonous Lies

from some Acrimony within
    Shadows Torment
   They only Exist in my mind

Last night’s Dreams won’t release me

Today is a new day – Conversation with Myself or First Thought vs Second Thought or Piss Off

So I woke up today. Obviously you did too, so that’s something.

I’ve had a rough couple of days. I spent some time in the pity pot trying to hide from anxiety, stewing over things that were bothering me; things that were pissing me off. The usual – health, society, not knowing how to do crap on my computer, people, stuff I haven’t done that needs to get done. It’s a random and lengthy list I won’t bore you with.

I went to bed last night praying I would wake in the morning with a new perspective. I tried to fall asleep giving myself a pep talk, cheering myself onward to a better tomorrow – complete with an imaginary cheer-leading squad with pom-poms and ponytails.


Gimme an H

Gimme an A

Gimme a P-P-Y

What’s that spell?

Happy! Happy!

Beeee happy!

You can do it!

Yes you can!

If you can’t do it

no one can!

Beeee happy!

I annoyed myself and took a sleeping pill. I had nightmares about murdering cheerleaders, but I slept surprisingly well, I’m not sure what that says about me. Maybe I do need a therapist. Anyway, I woke up and tried to replace my residual stinkin’ thinkin’ with some positive affirmations – hip-hip-hooray and sis-boom-blah-bah.

My first thought was, “It’s a brand new day.”

My second thought was, “No shit Sherlock, every day is a brand new day.”

To which my first thought responded, “Here we go again, why can’t you just think positive? Let’s walk on some sunshine and think happy thoughts!

Second thought then told first thought to piss off.

I’m trying to ignore this internal dialogue and find some neutral ground until one of them claims victory. Until that happens, I’m just going to get out of bed, drink copious amounts of coffee and make lists (I will lose) of all the things I need to accomplish. Or maybe I’ll watch Netflix.

The Monster is Me

Artwork by Carl Otto Hulten

Artwork by Carl Otto Hulten


Always lurking, it lays in wait

hiding in shadows

cast by the light

Stealthy it stalks

just out of sight

it creeps in

and holds me

in the darkest

of night

It whispers

it taunts

it teases

with fright

Soundless echos

in the back

of my mind

I’ve nowhere to run

I’ve nowhere to hide

This thing that I fear

is somewhere inside

It slithers through thoughts

it sneaks into dreams

it binds and it shackles

with chains I can’t see

a lock without key

I cannot break free

I’m bound

and imprisoned

because the

monster is me

  . . . anxiety.

Crystal R. Cook