Friday, December 22, 2017

Monster-Slaying For The Holidays

I'm finding the post-holiday blues already setting in this week, or maybe it's more of a post-Potter-party blues? Most of the fun stuff of the season is past - theme parks and friends and decorations - and now it's the usual lineup of stress, busy-ness, and guilt. (I haven't sent out a single Christmas card... or bought any presents?! Ack. I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON.)

So I'm lingering over the editing from Holiday Matsuri, dragging my feet tweaking the cosplay photos just so I can look at them a little longer, relishing in all the laughter and silliness and geeky community that only a con seems to provide.

And while I'm looking back for things to take forward, I'm hanging on to a few spectacular things that happened last week - or at least things spectacular to me. If you've got a minute, I thought I might write these down. You know, for posterity. AND SCIENCE.

It's been a little while since I mentioned my agoraphobia, but I'm happy to report that this time no news is good news. This season - all the trips and socializing and just constant leaving the house - has been just what the doctor ordered (literally) for my exposure therapy. The more I'm out and about and testing my panic limits, the more used to it I am, and the more I can actually enjoy it. Every day there've been hour-long stretches of the worst Orlando traffic, crowds, theater shows, meeting new people, hanging out with large-ish groups, and just generally being the opposite of my typical hermit self.

I talk a lot about being an introvert, but there is a spectrum, and even we introverts can thrive around lots of people we love - at least for a little while. I've found myself actually getting energized this month, getting to see so many friends so often, and while I desperately need a break, I can see how you extroverts like this sort of thing.

All that to say, the day after our party I was flying the highest of highs, and I did something absolutely unthinkable: I went to Universal and rode Forbidden Journey.

If you're unfamiliar with Forbidden Journey, it's a definite thrill ride. It flings you all over, nearly tipping you upside down (forward and back) and throwing dementors, spiders, and dragons in your face at every turn and stomach-churning drop.

And if you're unfamiliar with me, well, my agoraphobia stopped me from going on ALL theme park rides, no matter how benign - even the parking tram! - six or seven years ago. I've been slooowly working my way back, first conquering the kiddie Suess ride in 2014, then E.T. - my chief goal - last year, followed by the Hogwarts Express. I stopped there, though, afraid to test my panic further. In all our trips to Disney over the last few years I've never been on the Frozen ride, or Little Mermaid, and these days even the thought of Carousal of Progress puts me into a cold sweat.

So yeah, me, the girl who had a panic attack in the queue of the Atlantis show just a few months ago, went and rode Forbidden Journey.

What was it? Temporary insanity? A post-party sense of invincibility? John's utter look of glee when I said I'd try? Probably all of the above. But that night I set my shoulders, charged into the queue, and climbed into that scary clamp-down seat thingy without stopping to second-guess. (Thank goodness there was no wait!)

But that's not the best part.

The best part is I didn't panic. Not even for a second. Sure, I was nervous, and I'm sure my heart rate was sky high, but the lights didn't close in and I didn't feel that all-consuming, impending dread. I didn't go weak or start shaking or have my head take flight. I only had to do a little belly breathing, and keep my eyes closed for, well, maybe 25% of it. (It is REALLY dizzying, ha.)

Did I enjoy it?

NOPE.

But did I sail through with only the normal amount of adrenaline and never ONCE thinking the world was ending and/or I was about to die?

YES INDEEDY.

And then - then! - the very next night at Animal Kingdom with family, John and I stayed behind and rode the little boat ride in Pandora. I even waited in a queue, though mercifully for only about 10 minutes. I'll be honest - and feel free to laugh - this was harder. The boats move SO slowly that I thought the ride had broken down, and I went dizzy and light-headed at the thought of being trapped in the water. Then I did a little breathing, focused on the things around me, chatted with John, and the panic monster slipped back into her shackles.

I got through two impossible things, you guys. I even managed to enjoy it a little. And best of all, it sort of felt like No Big Deal? This thing I've lost sleep over, this thing I stress and cry and fight against, this fear that's kept me pinned down and fed up for nearly a decade - for those brief moments, that thing was just, poof! Gone.

I still can't believe it, even now. As we left John kept telling me how proud he was of me, but it didn't feel like a big accomplishment. This wasn't my first ride on E.T., where I emerged shaking and triumphant, having battled my way to the exit on the brink of total disaster. This just felt... normal. Normal. The long wound gone, my mind suddenly free in a way I'd almost forgotten existed.

And wow did that feel good.


A few days later John and I were at Holiday Matsuri, the Christmas con from my last post. At one point in the vendor room we spotted a girl ahead of us, flat on her back, taking a nap right smack in the middle of the aisle. I started to roll my eyes - TEENAGERS, am I right? - but as we got closer I saw the tears on her upturned face, her eyes scrunched shut in pain there on the floor.

I stopped. "Oh! Are you alright?"

"I'm... I'm having a panic attack."

WHOOSH. That was my brain, screaming in sympathy, desperate to take this all-too-familiar pain away.

I dropped to my knees, resisting the urge to take her hand or give her shoulder an encouraging pat. (You should never touch someone having an attack, not unless they ask.)

"It's OK, I have those, too. You're going to be fine, I promise."

She managed to sit up, but her eyes were still shut, tears streaming. She was trapped in that place, that place that shivers with no air, no light. That place I know and remember so well.

So naturally, I began asking her to solve math problems.

"Hey," I said gently, "can you tell me what 2 times 7 is?"

I could practically SEE her brain screeching to a halt, switching gears - the surprise temporarily eclipsing the panic.

"Um... it's... fourteen."

"Good. How about 2 times 9?"

I asked a few more, then her name, keeping her distracted. Next I led her through some belly breathing, counting the seconds and breathing with her to demonstrate. Luckily the room wasn't crowded, so shoppers easily stepped around us, still sitting there in the aisle.

"How does that feel?" I asked after a few minutes.

"It feels... better." She sounded surprised. "I think that helped."

Around then a friend of hers came by, and after encouraging her to walk around a little (to burn off the excess adrenaline) I got up to leave. The girl looked up and gave me a soft thanks and watery smile as I did. I hope I did help. I hope I wasn't just some crazy lady who stopped to demand math solutions in the middle of an emotional crisis. But at the very least, I know I was someone who understood what she was going through, someone who could tell her she wasn't alone, that I'd been there, that it was going to get better.

After this week, I know that for certain all over again. Maybe it'll take an hour or a year or a decade, but if you keep trying, if you get the right help from doctors and meds and loved ones and breathing techniques, if you keep pushing that panic monster towards the door, if you chip away at it even when the light goes out and all is dark and it feels like nothing will ever change, if you just keep going, keep breathing, keep watching and waiting and hoping, it will get better.


It's taken me all afternoon to write this. When I started I was sad, looking into next week and seeing only the ways I've already failed people. Now I remember that girl from the con. Now I remember John's face when I climbed into that ride car, the way he grabbed my hand and hooted with happiness. I remember all the messages and comments from each time I've blogged about my panic struggles and victories here, the way you guys tell me it helps, the times you've told me you're finally making that doctor's appointment, or now you understand your loved ones a little better, all because of the things I share here.

I know I'm flawed and selfish and forgetful and bad at showing my friends and family how much they mean to me, but I can write, dangit. I can do this. I can tell you I've been there, that it's going to be OK, that it gets better.

And now I can say I've ridden Forbidden Journey.

So maybe this week won't be so bad after all.

Happy holidays, everyone - and hang in there. Those get better, too.


Now have a happy snow cone ornament. :)

66 comments:

  1. Way to go Jen! That's so awesome! All of it - riding Forbidden Journey and helping someone who probably needed YOU in a moment of crisis.

    And good luck with the holidays - every year I wish that the obligatory (and guilt-inducing) gift giving would stop being part of Christmas. That sounds Grinchy, but I'm terrible at picking out gifts, I don't need most of the stuff people get us, we don't really have the money to reciprocate what some family members do, and it just seems to suck the joy out of the season. I keep brainstorming ways to change the gift dynamic with our families, but I haven't come up with something that doesn't seem ungrateful/selfish. If anyone out there has a solution please share!

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    1. Celebrate the solstice, not Christmas, no obligation to give or receive gifts. Step outside of it all and let them get on with it.

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    2. We instituted a book swap some years ago instead of presents, the books having been ones you had read and thought other members of the family would enjoy. It worked well for a few years. A friend of mine has a secret santa christmas where everyone only buys one present up to a fixed value, wraps it and places it in a pile. They then take turns to throw the dice around the dinner table until they each get a six. They are able to choose a present when they throw a six. Once everyone has got a present, they are opened and a further fixed period of the game continues where the dice continues to be thrown and if people throw a six again they can choose any of the other presents and swap them with their own, it is hilarious apparently. You don't have to go to that extent, a simple secret santa with everyone having to buy and receiving just one present would reduce the wastage all round.

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    3. I don't know if this helps, but we're reaching a point when we're realising we're different and that's OK! Some of us love to give gifts, mostly the giving is such a big part of it, and some of us actively really do not want to be part of the whole hysteric mass commercial part of Christmas. So we're talking about doing a two-day Christmas, one with just meeting, eating, having time together, and one day with the gift bonanza where those who aren't enjoying it can opt out

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  2. This post was so needed today. Thank you! I am with heath above regarding the gift giving. It seems so forced sometimes and it sucks a lot of the joy right out of the holidays for me. Dealing with anxiety is never easy either now. Your post made me smile today and it was perfect timing.

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  3. You are amazing, Jen. Thank you so much for helping that girl in exactly the way she needed it. Most people would have rolled their eyes or moved on, or gotten so uncomfortable at a stranger crying in public that they would have let their eyes glaze over and would have kept on walking.

    I am so glad you have managed to get passed some of the things that cause you anxiety. I personally had a similar situation come up this summer. I won't go into details, but I was able to do something that I haven't done in 15 years because doing it usually means an instant panic attack. This summer, surrounded by friends, I was able to try again, knowing I'd be ok, and have since had no issues at all doing it many more times. It's amazing to have those sorts of breakthroughs!

    So much love and appreciation to you and John. You both really do make the world a much better place and I am so thankful for you and the community of amazing people you've brought together. <3

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  4. Oh my god, if your friends and family prefer presents and cards to a healthy, happy and helping loved one, then they are mad. i am sure they dont and presents and card are the commercial side of Christmas. Print this out, put it in an envelope, give it to each one (I hope they would understand). Alternatively, celebrate the solstice, like I do and its all over and i can go forward looking forward to longer and warmer days and let the rest of the world get on with their pseudo religious/ commercial Christmas.

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  5. This is so great. I'm so happy you stopped to speak to & help that girl. So many times we (myself included for sure) see someone that could use some help & compassion. But out of fear; fear of being thought weird or strange, fear of being a hindrance, fear of getting involved, fear of stepping out of your own plans & problems; we pass by that person & situation, missing the opportunity to put a little more joy in the world. Thanks for the reminder & for stepping up!

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  6. You were exactly who that girl needed during her panic attack, you were put there in the right place at the right time. Helping others in need - that's the Christmas spirit!

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  7. I need to learn that belly breathing. I am afraid I can no longer attend BrickCon or Emerald City Comic Con because the last times I attended either, I got lightheaded and nauseous. I never really thought of it as panic attacks - I always just thought it was too many people. I should probably talk to a doctor about it. Groups of more than 3 others make my head swim :)

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    1. ECCC can be soooo crowded! There is nothing wrong with talking to your doctor. Also, consider taking advantage of the quiet rooms at ECCC if you do try again, and know that there are many of us there who share the same issue.

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  8. Is it weird that I, a random person on the internet, was just thinking about you and your agoraphobia, wondering how you are managing these days. I am glad to hear that you are managing quite well. Take care and have a lovely Christmas and New Years.

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  9. What a way to pay it forward. Your successes and work on yourself and your challenges has created a mentor in you. You know what the feeling is and can pay your techniques forward. Even if the math problems were confusing or didn't help (sounds like it did), I think having someone step in and care about her and keep her safe while she was panicking was exactly what she needed.

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  10. That is so awesome! You are a constant inspiration, and it's so great that you recognized what was happening with that girl and willing to gently help. We can all be so hard on ourselves some days, but well done you for taking some time to look at your successes as a reminder that you can be real strong and brave too! Seriously, as someone who struggles with anxiety lately, you sharing your experiences, good and bad, means a lot, and I'm grateful you're willing to do that.

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  11. Thank you for writing about panic attacks, thank you for writing about anxiety, thank you thank you thank you for making visible the light at the end of the tunnel. My panic attacks and anxiety have also improved dramatically through a lot of hard work but sometimes they come back to bite me and I feel like I've slipped back and everything is over. This is a great reminder that we are all doing our best and sometimes that's conquering scary rides and sometimes its getting out of bed.

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  12. Jen, you and John are angels. While I don't have the anxiety or agoraphobia you have to deal with, I have my own battles and monsters to slay, and your posts always uplift my spirits. This has been a pretty tough year for me, but I will treasure the memories I have of being able to do a meet-up with you and John back in January as one of the best highlights of a very memorable vacation. Thank you for always being an inspiration, and even if I don't comment very often, I am here, loving everything you have to share. Merry Christmas!

    P.S. I haven't decorated or done hardly anything for Christmas this year, no presents, no tree... like I said - tough year. But all that matters is having the spirit of the season in your heart, and you and John embody that throughout the year.

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    1. Glad to know I'm not the only one without a tree or presents this year because of a tough year. I'm here at work now and I'm the only person here, but I don't mind because it helps me take my mind off the fact that it's Christmas. Here's hoping 2018 is better for both of us, Myra! :)

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  13. The other day I started to freak out a little at the grocery store (it was just so crowded and SOMEBODY'S CART HAS A SQUEAKY WHEEL) and I had to put my face down in my coat in the seat part of the cart and cover my ears for a couple of minutes.


    I will try to remember the math problems for next time though, that seems like it would help.

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  14. Congratulations! That's amazing! And I'd like to think that the woman you helped is appreciative if nothing else that someone stopped to help, didn't just walk by and ignore her. It's so easy to assume something isn't your business and walk on by, it's amazing that you helped! I'm sure she appreciated it, if not in the moment then later when she recovered more.

    I hope your holidays go well, and you get past all the stress!

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  15. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but: this post made me cry. The holidays are the hardest time of year for my boyfriend - so much to do, get and finish, so many social obligations, so much family stress and drama, and thus so much panic. Today has been especially bad. Reading this made me happy and sad and hopeful. Thank you for sharing it.

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  16. So. Much. Hope.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

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  17. Thank you. After 5 years of struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, I’ve started wondering if it will ever end. This gave me hope that maybe one day I’ll be okay again.

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  18. Thank you for sharing both the good and the tough parts of the last week with us. I've been thinking a lot about my own anxiety and strategies to keep it manageable, especially when it's close to the surface. Weirdly, I like your idea of it being a monster. In RPGs, as a group, we slay monsters all the time. More people, more ways to take it down. There must be a way to translate that to real life, maybe minus the cloak and cross bow.

    So happy for you that the Forbidden Journey is no longer forbidden, and maybe someday it will even be enjoyable. I was also deeply moved by the kindness you extended to the girl having the panic attack, it's what we need more of in the world. Darn onion ninjas.

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  19. Way to go, Jen! You have come so far!

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  20. Big squishy hugs for you! What a great week. And so wonderful that you could use what you have learned to help someone else. I'm sure you realize that what you and John do touch a lot of lives and do so much, but mostly you don't get to SEE it. Well done. And thank you for all you have done for me and for others. Like the fact that we now have a 9ft T-Rex thanks to your Thestral project *cackling madly*

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    1. A 9 foot T-Rex?! I DEMAND PICTURES.

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  21. Hooray, Jen! Such great news, and so glad you shared it. And I just wanted to say, I don't like roller coasters, but I like most other rides. I HATED Forbidden Journey on my first ride. Closed my eyes for a good chunk of it. But on my second ride, when I knew what to expect, I actually enjoyed it! I hope you are able to give it another chance. Baby steps. :)

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  22. Hey Jen- I just wanted to let you know you've saved my Xmas, too! :) Your drywall spackle technique saved a cheapo skinny tree I bought on clearance last year in desperation to keep my cats off of the tree. I hated it until I used your technique (which is addictive and I did it to a couple of wreaths, too). I was able to add in some sparkly fir-type garland pieces to fill it in and it looks like a full, sparkly, expensive tree & the cats are leaving it alone. :) I hope you'll take a look here at a before, during, and after pic. Flocked tree pic

    Happy Holidays and keep up the awesome work- with people, with crafty stuff, with everything. :) You're greatly appreciated. :)

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    1. Oh that's gorgeous! I love your ornaments, & it really does look like an expensive designer tree! You're making me want to get out the spackle again - it IS fun/addicting, right? :p

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    2. Thanks for looking at it! Thank you for the compliment on my ornaments- I went to school in Williamsburg, VA and I miss it at Xmas time. So, it's my bit of my second home that stays with me in the Midwest. :) (That's why I have a pineapple at the top of my tree.) I loved seeing your pics of the Universal Harry Potter/Hogsmede decorations that used so much natural stuff that it reminded me of Williamsburg, too. (Someday, I may make those Golden Snitches made with tangerines or lemons.) :) ANd speaking of Harry Potter Xmas trees, yours inspired mine, but again, a cat knocked it over last year, but I'm going to spackle-flock it, too, and hope that will keep them off of it. :) Thanks again (sorry, fangirl rambling now).

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  23. I loved reading this. I loved how you stopped to help that teen (and the teacher in me loves that you two practiced multiplication problems). Thank you for sharing with all of us.

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  24. Congratulations!!! And thank you. For sharing your experiences and kind words along the way.

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  25. How very wonderful of you - helping her and showing her that it does get better. This sounds like the very best spirit of the holidays, when humans help their fellow wo/man. Congratulations on all your accomplishments! I am super happy for you!!!

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  26. as of november 19th, my marriage of nearly 11 years has ended and we are now starting the process of getting a divorce.
    i have struggled with depression and anxiety my whole life and as you can imagine going through this, especially during the holidays (and our wedding anniversary being december 31st) things have been even more difficult for me.
    to hear that you have had these moments of victory and also helping others both in person and by sharing your struggles online has helped me tremendously.
    thank you.

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  27. Ahhhhh, why do the most powerful stories get shared here when I'm in the middle of babysitting and I don't have time to write a long, meaningful comment in response to a long, beautiful post?? *wink* Wowza, I didn't even know that Forbidden Journey type of rides... existed. I mean, I know they do somewhere, I just wasn't expecting one so close to home. It's been a while since I've referred to you as "auntie Jen" and "uncle John", but the moniker still applies. Through Cake Wrecks and Epbot here, you've been part of my family for... an absurd length of time. I'm extremely jubilant for you! Thank you for writing this post. I'll be thinking of it during my next attempt at getting the car down the driveway without crying.
    Merry Christmas, and a Squee-filled New Year.
    Pinkie Welborne, 17
    Indiana

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  28. I have mental illnesses and I've been unmedicated for around a year (by choice). I've been fine, until this past week. Stressors finally caught up with me and I recognized that I am slipping back into a depression. First thing I did was call a doctor to get back on meds ( 2 week wait. Ugh), and remind myself that I've been through this before, many times. I wasn't diagnosed until I was in my mid-30s. I have mad coping skills and an incredible support system. Even so, it stinks. This post was a great reminder though. It does get better. There are ways through this. Thank you for that. While our issues are not the same, it does help to remember that I am not alone.

    I am so impressed with your courage in trying new things and battling through your issues. And for writing about them. Thank you.

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  29. If you are a Terrible Person for procrastinating with the cards and presents,then you are a now a member of our very, very large group of Christmas Terrible Persons! Welcome! Seriously though, what you have been doing lately is connecting with family and friends and making pleasant memories with them, AND you gave all those friends the gift of that incredible party. Isn't that what cards and presents are supposed to be for - reconnecting with people and giving them pleasure. You already did that! So, do late cards and late presents (or none at all) and don't feel like you let anyone down.

    And congratulations on being able to ride those rides. Go, you!

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  30. Thank you for sharing this. Loved the story of helping the girl at the con.

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  31. This is beautiful. Thank you so much. I always really appreciate your posts.

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  32. Congratulations, Jen! I'm so proud of you. Those little victories are awesome, and not as little as you think and maybe you'll be able to do more in the future. Forbidden Journey is hard, even for someone like me who doesn't get motion sickness, so that is a WIN. Happy Holidays. I definitely feel the Harry Potter party blues though. At least now you can start planning for next year and throw yourself into that :)

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  33. This is so lovely to read. Your math problems reminded me of a moment, one of the worst of my life, when I was having a panic attack in the middle of a very scary medical emergency and my sister came into the room, looked me in the eye... and started quizzing me on the titles of Firefly episodes. And then actors' names, and Doctor Who episodes, and their actors' names. It was exactly what I needed right that second to not completely lose it.

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  34. That's great progress! And it's funny... My son and I both get panic attacks. Ever since he was little, I'd ask him to do math problems in his head if I saw him starting to freak out. He loved math and could do pretty big problems in his head. He's 18 now and told me he still does that when he gets anxious. He does math equations in his head to distract himself.

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  35. Congratulations on your victory, you are amazing and a huge inspiration to me and have helped me in many ways too

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  36. Oh, so many things well done, Jen! You should be incredibly proud of yourself. <3

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  37. Oh WOW Jen, you are truly an amazing person. Thank you for sharing the ups and downs of your awesome journey through life.

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  38. Rock on Jen!! I’m so happy for you! I feel like we’ve virtually been along for the ride with you - what amazing progress, I’m so happy for you I cried s bit! Look at that, a Christmas miracle for you - getting to feel normal and conquering the monster enough to actually help someone else in need! Best. Present. Ever. Thanks for all the joy and humor you bring to the world!

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  39. I wondered how things were going. It's been a while since you'd updated, so I assumed all was well. You're usually pretty up front when they aren't. Congratulations on your victories, large and small!

    As for being a terrible person, well, let me also welcome you to the club. I had rotator cuff repair surgery the Monday after Thanksgiving. That pretty much ruled out most shopping. And then we put our house on the market and are packing to move, so cards, presents, decorations, and the like have completely been tossed by the wayside. If I'm lucky, I'll get some cards out around the New Year, but if not? Oh well. I decided to give myself permission to be human this year. And you know what? You get to be human, too.

    One of the things you get to take away from your own experience with panic attacks is a deep and ingrained knowledge of how to identify it and help others. That's the up side. The better you get at handling it, the more opportunity you have to share it out in the world. You are amazing. Don't ever forget that!

    Best wishes for the rest of the holidaze!

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  40. I don't have agoraphobia, but I do have anxiety and depression, and this post made me get a little teary eyed. Thank you for sharing your story and your setbacks with mental health... it helps so many, myself included. This post really struck a nerve with me because I'm in a bit of a setback right now when it comes to mental health, but I'm moving forward glacially, fighting tooth and nail for every inch of progress. I know I'll get there, but, as you said, when you're in the darkest, most paralyzing moments, it's hard to believe that you'll ever be functional again. Congratulations on more dragon slaying (or befriending), and thank you for sharing it with everyone who finds your blog. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

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  41. "the panic monster slipped back into her shackles." I love this, and pray for the day she stays there, unable to work her way out, forever. Oh, and what you did to help that girl through her panic attack? One of the best accounts of "love thy neighbor" I've read in a long time. God bless you and have a fabulous, kick-anxiety's-butt New Year!

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  42. Whose chopping onions?!? So wonderful to hear this. Proud of you. :) And someday I hope to make it to Universal to partake. :)

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  43. Dang those onion-chopping ninjas! Who let them in here?

    Seriously, I want to give you a standing ovation and cheer for you for accomplishing so much! You have come so far and we're all so proud of you, not just John! ;-) And you are also to be applauded for helping that girl at the con. Even if the methods may seem kind of strange to those of us who don't struggle with anxiety (I'd never think to ask math questions to switch someone's brain processes like that!), you did help, and that's what matters. I wonder just how many people walked past her and didn't stop to help before you came along, someone who could relate and knew ways to help and gently guide her back.

    You. Are. Awesome.

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  44. I got all teary reading this. Jen, you are SUCH an inspiration to me. You share your struggles so openly and honestly when it would be easier to hide it all. And in doing so, you've inspired legions of people. I'm so proud of you for your openness, and I'm so proud of you for all your accomplishments so far!

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  45. One of the oh-so-many things that make you awesome: you face the panic monster and share about it and help others who need a lift. And you do this all_the_time, even when you're having doubts. Whenever you feel down, remember the many people you've helped, in person and otherwise, and all of the people who think you rock.

    I'll have to remember that math trick in case I need to use it.

    Also? I love the snow cone. :)

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  46. Having read your blog for years, I'm so happy to read this!! GO GIRL! While I don't have panic attacks, I'm definitely on the introvert spectrum and was really feeling it after hosting friends all day Christmas Eve. My husband had to practically shove me out the door to go see his family Christmas Day, but it was worth it in the end. Even if I spent half of it on the couch by myself. ;) Big digital hugs to you!

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  47. Oh, this made me happy-cry at work. Congratulations on your victories - keep on fighting!

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  48. Thank you so much for always writing about your anxiety. My own anxiety disorder has gotten worse lately and I really needed a post like this. Knowing that you can do something like this, face your demons, makes me think maybe I can face mine. And it makes me feel less bad, because sometimes I feel so bad about how my anxieties affect other people. But I know I can get better, and this post and your blog in general helps. Sorry for the rambling, and thank you again.

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  49. I missed this post, and now am crying from reading it. Big hugs to you for battling and helping others!

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  50. Love you, love your guts, love your heart! Yay, Jen!

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  51. I'm getting caught up with reading blogs now that I'm back in the office. Granted, I probably have more important things I should be doing, but whatevs. I want to do a happy dance for you right now, but my office mate would probably think that I've finally lost my last marble. I hope that you're able to take this major accomplishment with you into the new year and kick more anxiety ass in 2018.

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  52. Please never stop writing! Your posts are what finally made me realise that that strange feeling where the world starts spinning, it gets hard to breath, and I need to get OUT! NOW!, has a name, and that name is panic attack. It used to be something that just randomly happened, but now I can mostly identify them when they start, and fight the monster off before it takes hold of me. It’s been over two years since my last full attack! Reading how you cope has been such an immense help. I cheer every time you write about how you overcame something, and even when you write about how bad it is going, I still feel that glimmer of hope that it will get better. I’m so proud of you for helping that girl!

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  53. Jen, you rock. Thank you for being YOU. John also rocks, but you know that. <3

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  54. I missed this in all the hubbub of the holidays, but i wanted to let you know how much I loved it. I do the same thing--beat myself up about my failures and miss all the good that I do. And you do us all so much good, Jen! And i love that you were able to take on the role of panic attack supporter. So much <3 to you.

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