i just got this from my friend jack and he’s agreed that it’s okay for me to share!
By Jack Spatafora, today at 9:46 am
So what’s all this about the National Institute of Health reporting, “More than 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety each year, many in the form of anxiety attacks.” What’s with this label ‘attack?’ I can understand a shark attack, a heart attack, an attack of indigestion, but how does anxiety attack…?
If you can’t answer that, be glad. You don’t want to know! It’s defined as a sudden onslaught of symptoms that can unexpectedly paralyze you with an inexplicable mix of fearfulness, self consciousness, depersonalization, dizziness, sweating, nausea, and a cold crawling panic about your immediate surroundings.
Case in point this last summer. A well-known Broadway actor suffering from chronic anxiety attacks was rushed from backstage to an ER with these symptoms. The staff told him it was a mild heart attack. He remembers sitting up and telling them, “Thank god, I thought it was going to be an anxiety attack!”
Two schools of thought about psychiatric illnesses. One is the traditional, up-by-your-own-bootstraps bravado which dismisses these as “it’s all in your mind.” Ironically, that’s the point! The mind still remains largely a mystery to us, and so too its many diseases and cures. You can keep a smile-on-your-face and whistle-a-happy-tune from here to forever, but that won’t change either here or forever. Panic attacks have been plaguing the human species since the beginning but cavalierly dismissed as: weakness, foolishness, or the work of the devil.
Modern societies have learned otherwise; however, this learning has not always seeped down to where the boys belly up to the bar and the ladies who lunch scoff at their suffering peers. There are many plagues across the land. The terrible ones you can see like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Then the even more terrible ones you can’t see.
It took a war to finally recognize post-traumatic-disorder. Now what’s it going to take…?
i’m totally in depression and denial! leann rimes–the country singer, actress and homewrecker–is in rehab. quel horreur! quel surprise!
leann and husband eddie cibrian in happier times. both left their spouses for each other. leann tweets pictures of her bikini clad self, tweets about eddie, tweets more pictures of her bikini clad self, tweets about eddie’s children from his marriage to brandi granville, tweets more of those pictures, and gets into tweet fights with individuals in her fan club. two of those tweet fights were with supporters of eddie’s first wife and they were recorded without leann’s knowledge. argh, what a mess. if you tweet a lot does that make you a twit?
the reason for her rehab stint? the publicist’s word is “exhaustion, anxiety and stress” which is, well, what do you think it stands for?
husband eddie has been begging leann to give up twitter. he is particularly appalled that she allows her twitter life to intersect with her real one–meeting people who follow her on twitter. she is addicted. i’m not sure if i am quite so addicted but i do understand and sympathize with her.
still, facebook friend #328 (the 328th facebook friend i’ve met since making my new year’s resolution in january 2011) marty gerendasy makes a habit of seeking out people he wants to meet. whether through facebook, the newspaper, the internet–he looks for what is interesting. and i hadn’t realized how long we had been friends.
i wish leann all health and a supportive marriage, friendship and a great career. and maybe it’s time to put aside the twittering. but i hope leann doesn’t lose the curiosity about the world and her ability to interact with it. as for losing her husband. . .
eddie was in the blink and you’ve missed it series “the playboy club” — since i’m not going to post pictures of leann in a bikini, you’ll just have to be titillated by this picture of eddie and his costar laura benanti.
i’ve just booked tickets for a florida facebook visit. i will start with tallahassee and i will tour the florida state meeting facebook friends! but this past week i went back to bolingbrook, illinois in order to attend a meeting of the facebook lunch bunch.
this is not what we had for dessert but one of the things i’ll be doing in florida is learning to bake a cake. maybe i should send it to mark zuckerberg. he’s certainly having a rough time of it — facebook shares have dropped from their high of $38 to $19. that means he’s only a billionaire as opposed to being a gazillionaire. a cake would definitely cheer him up. but maybe it cheers him up to know he’s doing great things for people. . . like the lunch bunch!
when i started meeting my facebook friends, i wanted to just meet my friends out from behind the computer. when i am on facebook, i might give the appearance of having a very confident, together life because that’s the image my facebook profile picture gives. so does everybody else’s. really though? i’m in my pajamas, my hair is a rat’s nest, and i feel like a failure. maybe there’s a little bit of that in all of us.
the first time we met as a quartet of facebook friends, one of our members couldn’t leave the house. so we had lunch there. this time, that member picked a place a few blocks outside of the “safe” zone. it was a chili’s. it was nice to have lunch and have no worries of being judged, having to make an impression, having to act like–well–like we lived up to our facebook profile picture and our record at gemville or farmvill or mafia wars!
next time maybe you should join us! especially you, mark! i understand that some business pundits are calling on you to resign. it’s gotta be rough, and i say, just come to the chili’s and have lunch with us!
loved the fact that you had fun in vegas. a trip there with the friends before returning to afghanistan? all on it. naked billiards? well, i wouldn’t do it because my naked flesh would alarm all participants, but i’m fifty two. you’re young and gorgeous and i happen to know that for a fact because i’ve seen the pictures.
just before my facebook friend reggie (on the left) was deployed to afghanistan — after two tours in iraq — i went with him and vince p. (on the right) to vegas. i will only admit to losing money at the black jack tables and reading an uplifting book in bed by my lonesome by ten every night. i’m sure reggie and vince read uplifting tomes as well.
maybe your youth can explain the terrific naivete in believing the oft repeated truism that what happens in vegas stays in vegas. but please, h., that’s just a saying.
there is no privacy. no way to keep pictures from reaching tmz.com or radaronline.com or even just your grandmother who has a facebook account of her own. what i find interesting in meeting my facebook friends is that ninety nine percent understand that everything they post and comment and like and twitter and update is going to be seen by everybody.
the pictures have even been published in the sun! but there’s some good news. . . .
h, it’s been a rough week–your girlfriend chelsy has broke up with you, your grandmother is all in a snit, they’ve made you and your cohorts take down your facebook accounts–that was such a cute code name spike wells!
on the other hand, you received a ten million dollar offer to headline a vegas show and you’re so adorable that you’ve got close to 20,000 “likes” on a facebook page devoted to giving you a royal salute:
the facebook page has people posting all sorts of fun pictures of themselves giving the “harry salute”
in any event, h., i really mean to say, do what you want in vegas as long as it’s consensual and everybody turns in their cell phones before the party gets started. i appreciate your service in afghanistan and the fact that you’ve never shirked your duties. and if it weren’t for the minor vagaries of cellulite and gravity, i’d salute you myself!
so lots of folks are frowning about facebook. the social media network built in mark zuckerberg’s harvard university dorm room in 2004 offered up its shares to the public in may. at the opening bell, it was trading at $38 per share and expectations were high. it was the most anticipated of ipo’s!
since then, share prices have plummeted to less than $20 as i write. board member and one of facebook’s biggest investors peter thiel sold off 80% of his shares today and that’s gotta hurt. thiel was an early angel to the company, with a $500,000 check. he’s going to end up with over a billion dollars. that is so much more of a return on investment than i netted when my ex husband and i sold the family home this summer. and i don’t see any articles on cnn.com about what a lousy investment the presser family made in real estate.
dustin moskovitz, one of facebook’s cofounders, is selling 7 million shares today, netting him about $9 million. that sounds like a defection, like a friendship issue. but it’s not. moskovitz still has 126 million shares, or about $2.4 billion in the company. so mark, don’ t hit the “defriend” button!
but let’s look at mark’s summer. and facebook’s summer.
mark and his girlfriend priscilla chan married a few days after the ipo in may. contrary to the storyline of “the social network” mark and priscilla were an item beginning even before facebook was started. he’ll always know she loves him for himself! and she graduated from medical school this year and is pursuing her own dream of being a pediatrician. what a happy couple! i have no idea where my “save the date” postcard and my invite went. but that engraved toaster i got you at bloomingdale’s is on its way!
so on a personal note, mark is having a great summer. and professionally? well, he’s young and he’s created something so amazing that he could walk away and everybody would still think he’s a genius.
but is he going to walk away? no. just because facebook (and the other social network systems) have been overvalued doesn’t mean there’s a fundamental problem. it just means that some people were a little overenthusiastic. a social network’s only asset is information about its users. the only thing facebook owns is information about you–your pictures, your posts, that status update–that it can sell to advertisers. there’s never been a company model quite like facebook, groupon, zynga, linkedin before. it’s to be expected some mistakes would happen in figuring out how to value information about its users.
but with mistakes comes opportunity. the price is dropping. some analysts think facebook is going to settle around $12 a share and that still leaves mark zuckerberg incredibly wealthy.
mark and priscilla have lived in this home for quite a while. it’s big, to be sure, but not quite what you would expect for a gazillionaire. and i respect that the two of them handed out candy at halloween on their own. they’re pretty regular, all things considered.
and here’s the great thing about the shares settling in the teens–it means that mark can look forward to regular type folks investing in facebook. including me!
. . . and they don’t text, email, post on my facebook page, invite me to their linkedIn network, tweet at me, instagramatic me, or send a carrier pigeon. despite all the advances in communications, twentysomething sons just don’t communicate with their moms. at least, this is what i’ve been advised.
i have a preflight ritual: as soon as i bolt away from the t.s.a. stormtroopers (uh, agents) i head for the bar, order a beer and text both my sons that the plane is about to take off and i love them. one of them almost always texts back “love you too” the other, meh, not so much.
some people say that if you’ve done your job well, then you WON’T hear from them. that they’re independent. i’m not so sure.
in any event, i was in st. louis to visit with facebook friend #327 daniel reyna. he invited me to his home on a sunday afternoon for a dinner he would be making. ordinarily, i wouldn’t meet a facebook friend for the first time in their home. but for daniel there were two important exceptional circumstances: he was inviting me to a family dinner and he has a limited comfort zone in which he operates without anxiety attacks. also, i had a chaperone.
the reyna family is second generation mexican: mrs. reyna, daniel’s mom, has nine siblings and her husband has a large family as well. the reynas have five children including daniel and his twin brother david. every sunday the reynas get together for an afternoon dinner. while cousins are welcome, the five siblings and their significant others and children are the core of the meal. the siblings take turns hosting and each host is allowed to invite an extra guest. i was honored to be daniel’s guest. and i was intrigued as to what he would make for us. i was ushered into a kitchen and met the family. the reynas are a boisterous group, five different conversations going on at once, and so many times was i asked if i wanted something to drink and ended up with three beers, a glass of wine and a soda in front of me.
i had been eating st. louis’ favorite specialty–fried ravioli–for two days. this dish is not exactly atkins diet material but this and a double i.p.a. is what i’ll be asking for when i’m on death row and the warden asks “what’s that last meal going to be?”
a small light meal of an antipasto platter, followed up by pulled pork, roast chicken, barbecue ribs, mashed potatoes, spanish rice, cole slaw, bread, baked beans, and daniel’s twin david had made chocolate pie and apple pie. whoops, i forgot the louisiana bundt cake and ice cream sandwiches.
in addition to the reynas getting together for sunday meals, they also host a family olympics in the summer with egg tosses, races, and a pie eating contest. they have a christmas talent show for each other. they go to mexico every year–although daniel doesn’t go with because of his anxiety. and they invent their own games, one of which–spoons–they tried to teach me.
i told mrs. reyna that she was so lucky to have her children with her and she said “the best present a mom can give her children is a family.” she is absolutely right.
daniel was a bit shy about having his picture put in a blog post. i never post pictures that people don’t want me to. so i keep the picture in my cellphone. it was late when i had to say goodbye and i didn’t really say goodbye. i said au revoir, until we see each other again. even if it’s on facebook.
later that day, i was on facebook and noticed a status update of one of my sons on my newsfeed. with all the tools of communication, i think it just makes us MORE aware of wanting what the reynas have every sunday afternoon.
in the end, my facebook friend david janis was not able to see me. i felt a sense of failure, but i also felt like i understood him completely: i have had anticipation anxiety suck much of the pleasure out of experiences and i’ve often cancelled when i can’t fathom how i could get from point a to point b in an experience. nonetheless, david–who is an inspiration to many agoraphobics through the magic of the internet–shared this with me:
A Positive Side to Agoraphobia
by David Janis
We are writers, painters, musicians, crafters, gardeners and teachers. We possess imaginations that extend well beyond that of the “normal” person. We have broad emotional feelings that reach far deeper than your neighbors. We have learned how to live with ourselves, and accept who we are despite our limitations. When we love it is unconditional and when we befriend it will be for life. We speak the truth for there is no point in lying anymore. Our fears run extremely deep but no one is better equipped to handle them. Fear is a daily occurrence for us and if you believe that practice makes perfect, we have become experts in dealing with this demon. Yes, we are prisoners in our homes but that is only a physical limitation. Mentally we are very sharp, witty and extremely intelligent. This becomes so obvious in the words that we write, pictures we paint, songs we write and gardens we grow. We may not run a mile everyday but or minds are strong and powerful.
In the grand scheme of things, is it important that we are afraid of grocery stores or that we eat? Every agoraphobic I know is afraid to shop for food and yet not one of us ever misses a meal. That is called, identifying the problem and fixing it, and I could easily site twenty examples of this ingenuity if called upon to do so.
We have experienced some of the worst situations that life can throw at one person. Public and private ridicule, expulsion from family, accusations of lying and laziness, taking a free ride and probably the worst, our loved ones and friends have forsaken us. Who else do you know would still be standing as we are, not many, I assure you! All one needs to do is read the daily posts on our forum to see the strength of the people this plague has swallowed. We are articulate, insightful, compassionate, and opinionated. We are firm in our resolve to either beat this affliction or live with it peacefully. We are strong!
So I say to you today, embrace the life you have been given and steer around the bumps and potholes. If you cannot leave your house today, write something, build something or grow something. It is not a curse to be housebound, it is a hurdle, a hurdle that you may choose to jump over, or not. Either way, you are just as important to this earth as the president, the pope and Oprah.
What validates you? Is it your bank account or your car? Could it be the house you live in or the company you keep? Maybe it’s because you’re pretty or handsome! What makes you a contributing member of the human race? I can’t answer this one, only you know if your existence is with reason. I can tell you this much, we all have a purpose and we are all incredible people. So go and write a poem, paint an abstract, compose a ballad, start a scrapbook, plant a garden and share your knowledge with whoever will listen, just remember, agoraphobia is only a small part of who you are. All of us that know you, know this to be true, the question is, do you?
new york is like a love affair: getting out is so much harder than getting in–and leaving new york at three o’clock on a friday afternoon, with an e-ticket for a flight at laguardia, you should be prepared for an experience that will not compare favorably with the ex-boyfriend who slashed your tires and dumped a box of your thong panties, that sex toy, and the edible body lotion from victoria’s secret on your mother’s with the words, “i think these are for her.”
but i got out of new york after my visit with facebook friends azusa watanabe from tokyo and carolyn quinn and michele persiak from new york even with a cab driver who got lost, a terminal change, long lines, surly t.s.a. agents who claim they want to touch my junk because i’m “random”, gate changes, delays, cancellations, etc.
i had paid an extra thirty dollars for a “premium” seat 7a. unfortunately, united sold that same seat to someone else. the airline implemented its new “customer empowerment” policy and i lost. i was seated in a middle seat between two oversized bins (i mean men). note to united: can i have my thirty dollars back?
several times over the last year, facebook friend david janis and i have tried to set up meeting with each other. while i was in new york, we talked on the phone and i resolved that i would really do it! i made reservations at a hotel and plotted the course. a few days before my arrival, david messaged me that he was having anticipatory anxiety attacks which was particularly difficult because of some other health problems he battles. i decided that since the hotel was prepaid, i would go anyway.
david is an agoraphobic who embraces himself and his way of life. he doesn’t shy from it. and he helps others who may want to change and others who may not want to–as well as those who think they have no options. he has a lot of interesting wisdom. i wanted to hear it! i told him how long i would be in st. louis and if the anticipatory anxiety fell away i would be happy to see him.
yesterday, i went to the jefferson memorial park and i would have ordiniarily confined myself to going to the westward expansion museum. but then i thought why do i place a limit on myself or on what i believe is possible for me?
brave before you have your ticket to the arch tram is one thing. brave after you have put your money down . . . well, in my case, courage evaporated. and i think part of the mood change, the anticipatory anxiety if you will, is the same as in airports. the park rangers are now equiped with a conveyor belt, metal detectors, harsh voices. i saw one poor woman moved to tears because she had to go through the metal detector three times. finally, she lifted her shirt, as if to say “look, i don’t have anything!” and this is what we do just to visit a national park.
i needed an attitude change but i couldn’t get enough privacy to create it. after a long line that slithered down into the basement of the museum, we were loaded as a group into a room about the size of a motel six bath not included. we should have been appreciating the exhibit items devoted to the arch’s architect eero saarinen. instead, we were crowded together so tightly contemplative thought was not possible. we were half an hour late. we were then herded further into the sub-basement of the museum into another area where we were shown a three and a half minute safety and history video.
i admit it, i freaked in the eero saarinen tram car. seats five but only if the five are freakishly small or they are quite friendly in a kentucky cousin sort of way. getting off the tram and entering into the arch’s viewing area, i totally lost it. i stood in the center of the eight feet by twenty feet room, with its low slung windows overlooking the city. i waited for my legs to stop shaking.
the arch shifts a little, there are noises from the bumping tram cars, children running up and down the narrow space made me want to scream “stop it! you’re going to make the damn arch collapse!”
i waited. the park officials–can you really call teenagers officials?–looked bored. a group of teens turned their backs to the windows and took pictures of each other with their cell phones and then texted. lots of texting. i decided that yes i was scared. but hardly anybody was aware of it. except for that poor couple who had driven up with me on the tram. they were from indianapolis and i think they were glad to get out of the tram and even more relieved that i was going back down without waiting for them.
we take our victories whenever and however we can find them! and now i hope that i meet david, but if not, i still have other facebook friends to visit in the gateway to the west!
of course, my facebook friend william clark goes with me for every adventure! he is right there in front of the blue trunk! the real william clark explored the western half of the united states from 1803 to 1806 in what is commonly called the lewis and clark expedition. you can read all about it in William Clark and the Shaping of the West by Landon Y. Jones!
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i don’t remember exactly how it happened or what was said, but i remember i violated the most important rule for parents on facebook: if you are so lucky as to be confirmed as your child’s friend you may not comment–nay, you cannot even look–at your child’s posts.
i did. i looked and i even commented. something parental, along the lines of “i think you shouldn’t”
this is not either of my sons. my heart goes out to the mother of this poor man. every mom should know that she shouldn’t look, it will only break her heart, at her progeny’s facebook photos.
my sons erupted in a baffling and quick comment and reply i was awash in tears. until eastman called me and said everything was just for show. “if you win an argument on facebook, you’ve already lost,” he said.
i was reminded of his wisdom, forged upon his twenty years on this planet, last night as i logged on. there are many support groups on facebook, one for every supportable human condition. i am a member of several associated with agoraphobia. i joined all of these early this year, after i started my facebook new year’s resolution to meet all my facebook friends. last year, i resolved to meet all 325 of my facebook friends, no matter where in the world they might be. by the end of the year i had met 290–and had discovered that about ten percent were spambots, in prison, were hopscotching the world in such a way that we could not meet, or had some reason they didn’t want to meet me. including being dead.
i still consider myself agoraphobic. meaning i am terrified to leave the house. the problem is that my house now includes the world.
my home is also five bags in the back of my car: one for computer equipment, one for shoes, for clothes, for cosmetics and soaps, and for just every day. and of course there is william clark my facebook friend who is both a stuffed toy and also a nineteenth century adventurer.
every morning i wake up and the first thing i say to myself is “this is the day that the Lord has made. i will be happy and grateful” and then i quickly think of ten things that i am grateful for. before i think of things that make me stay in bed and say fuggeddaboudit!
does that make me religious? i don’t think of myself as particularly so. but without this ritual i would probably fall into a former habit of refusing to get out of bed at all.
coffee also helps. if i try to make any decisions in the morning without having three cups, i am doomed.
last night, i observed on facebook two groups devoted to the support of people with agoraphobia. the two groups devolved into–well, i won’t put to fine a point on it–a bitchfest of accusations of members and admins (administrators) being non-agas — not particularly agoraphobic. one woman was outed as a non-aga because she had recently been able to get out of the house. even holding down a job. she was still the administrator of a support group on facebook devoted to agoraphobics but she was badmouthed by a few members of another group. defriending. blocking. barring from the group. closing the formerly open group. posting, more posting and still more posting. and cut and pasting slanderous posts and reposts. and j’accuse. lots of j’accuse.
the adminstrator (and facebook friend of mine) of one group deactivated her account, taking down (inadvertently or not) many photos beloved by the group as a whole. she reactivated her account and the photos were reposted a few hours later. i think someone won the argument. but i think whoever won has lost.
i’m not sure i’m entitled to be in any of the support groups for agoraphobics and other housebound people on facebook. i was someone who was housebound. i could be someone who is housebound tomorrow. every day i wake up with the decision and every day i am unsure whether i can do it. mostly i do. some days i can’t. but every day i start with this
i think of myself as a secular person. . . what is it with this? how do you start your day? how do you get your ass out of bed? because if i don’t start with this and a list of a lot of gratitudes i’m damn grumpy and then i falter.
i am with the majority of the group members of the support groups i am part of: we need to be supportive of whatever we are, wherever we are in life. we struggle, we figure it out, we forgive ourselves, we forgive other people.
and if we have time we post this on every friend’s page every day. although after a few weeks it would be annoying, so we’d switch to posting pictures of cute kitties or inspirational sayings. oh, whoops, most of us already do this!