Tag Archives: Mental Health

Anxiety Talk: Staying Occupied

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’ve got a big day coming up later this week. I don’t always do well with big days.

One of the ways I was taught to deal with my anxiety is to try and live in the moment as much as possible. Concentrate on the here and now. This frustrates people in my life sometimes, as it often means I have difficulty planning things. But it helps me keep my cool in day-to-day life.

But sometimes, with big days, that’s a lot harder to do. I often find myself seeping back into some of my old ways.

Case in point, several years ago I got offered a job. A job that in hindsight, I really did not want. I was in a job I really enjoyed, but made less money in. But I felt I had to take it because of the money. Plus, it was in an office setting. And I fell victim to the old misconception that all “adults” work in offices, cubicles, etc.

I had two or three weeks before I started at the office job. As the time passed, I gradually got more and more anxious about what would happen to me in this new place. Would I be able to handle it? Would I get along with the people I work with? Would I somehow be exposed as a fraud and get fired? You know, all those healthy thoughts…

It got to the point where I was essentially anxious my entire day. Sleep became my only respite. Tragically, oblivion has its appeal for the perpetually anxious.

I vividly remember a family party where I simply could not calm down. It sticks out in my mind as one of the moments where my anxiety really took the wheel, and I was seemingly just along for the ride. I couldn’t escape it. Family members would talk me off the ledge, only to find me back up there a little while later.

The situation I’m in now is less dramatic, as I’ve become a better at coping with those feelings. One thing that I’ve learned helps tremendously is staying busy. Whether it’s being at work, exercising, reading, playing video games, running errands, etc. Anything to keep your mind occupied, so you don’t focus on the fear. That, and being on a good medication regimen can do wonders. At least in my experience.

So that’s what I’m going to try and do this week. No sitting around and wallowing. No laying in bed trying to sleep away the anxiety. One way or another, until the big day comes, I’m going to stay occupied. After all, it beats doin’ nothin’…

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com!

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Anxiety Talk: Adderall and Social Anxiety

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

There was a point in my life where I thought I was past having to deal with social anxiety. That it was a hurdle in my mental health journey that I’d simply overcome. Turns out, not so much. One thing I’ve learned about myself this year is that my social fears and discomforts are pieces of a larger puzzle. One big ol’ mental illness puzzle. Oh, what fun.

Things have been a little emotional at the Siebert house this past year. Tensions have been high at times. Naturally, that stirs up my anxiety. So I’ve had to sort of get myself reacquainted with my social anxiety. Start acknowledging it and recognizing it again.

As a result of these changes, my medication has fluctuated. One such medication is Adderall, which I take for Attention Deficit Disorder. Supposedly, some doctors prescribe Adderall to help with social anxiety. If you’ve been on Adderall, you can probably guess why. I generally do feel more “up” when I take it.

Normally I restrict myself to half a pill, amount 10 milligrams, a day. If I take the full 20 milligram pill, it can actually make my anxiety worse. This is especially bad on a work day. But I had a decent amount of time to kill before going in today, so I went ahead and took the full 20.

I went to get my car worked on. I had my laptop with me, and I pecked away at it in the lobby until they were done. Mind you, I’m feeling pretty productive. That’s what 20 milligrams will do for you.

So at one point, the girl working the front desk calls me up to talk about my car. She gives me a bunch of info, and I instinctively say, “Thank you, miss.” A moment or two later, she thanks me for calling her miss instead of ma’am. She adds that while she’s from the south, where that word more commonly used, at 30 years old she’s not quite ready to be a ma’am yet.

Then something happens.

I’m not good with small talk. I attribute that to my social anxiety. I’m always nervous about slipping up and saying something offensive, embarrassing, or worse, awkward. So I usually just nod and “Yep” my way through interactions like this. Minimum input equals minimum potential for embarrassment or awkwardness.

But here, for some reason, I say: “What part of the south are you from?” I engage. I ask a question, which prompts a response, and the interaction continues.

She says she’s from Texas. She jokes it’s the “good south.” I tell her I have a stepfather from Georgia. The interaction ends as she says my car will be ready soon. We separate.

Little moments like that? They’re huge victories for people with social anxiety. That woman probably has several interactions like that a day. Small connections. But maybe not so small, really. After all, I’m still thinking about it hours later. And would it even have happened without the Adderall? Probably not. I probably would have nodded through it like always.

I can see how people get addicted to Adderall. There are times when it’s in my system that I feel like a completely different person. A friendly person. An inquisitive person. Maybe a more successful person.

Sometimes I wonder if the guy I become when I take Adderall is even me at all. Like it’s a Nutty Professor situation. Regular Rob is bland and dull, and Adderall Rob is somehow smooth, charming and funny. In other words, My best possible self. And who wouldn’t want to be their best possible self all the time?

But we know where that road leads

Still, I’m grateful my doctor introduced me to it. I’m grateful for the extra little moments I get because of Adderall. I suppose it’s just a matter of moderation and perspective. Because Adderall Rob is me. But so is Anxious Rob. Depressed Rob. Creative Rob. Happy Rob. They’re all me. Human beings are complicated like that.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com!

Chester Bennington, and Thoughts on Suicide

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m not really a “music guy.” I like music, and it’s a part of my daily life. But I can’t talk about it or analyze it the way a lot of other creative people do. It’s a language I don’t know how to speak.

Come to think of it, I don’t have a lot of favorite bands. Lifehouse really spoke to me when I was in high school. I was an angsty, nervous, emotional kid. (Come to think of it, I’m an angsty, nervous, emotional adult too.) So I didn’t have a lot of friends. Their vulnerable and honest lyrics were always a comfort and an inspiration to me.

On the other end of the spectrum was Linkin Park. There was a comforting and inspirational dimension to their music. But I listened to them when I felt anger, bitterness, and isolation. I don’t really relate to a lot of music. But I related to what I heard from them. These guys didn’t know me. But they knew something about what I was feeling. While I don’t consider myself a huge Linkin Park fan, I’ve followed them over the years. If I had to list my favorite bands, they’d be one of the first on the list.

The news that Linkin Park’s lead singer, Chester Bennington, apparently committed suicide by hanging this week hit me in a really strange way. It’s a tragedy, of course. Suicide usually is. But there’s another, more personal dimension to it.

There’s no fluid transition into this next statement. So I’m just going to go for it.

I’ve thought about suicide over the years. Quite a bit, to be honest.

I’ve never considered myself suicidal, per se. I’ve not once attempted to kill myself. I’ve also never been a cutter, or someone who self-inflicts. But the thought, the possibility, even the temptation, has maintained a place in my consciousness since I was in high school. It’s wrapped up in my anxiety, my depression, and all that fun stuff. 

Linkin Park was part of the soundtrack of my young life when I was first thinking about suicide. And now one of the voices of Linkin Park has committed suicide. So for me there’s a sad, vile, ugly irony in the whole thing.

I feel a little bit like I felt when Robin Williams killed himself a few years ago. One of the creative forces I admired growing up was fighting some of the same demons I’ve fought. And he…succumbed? That feels like an insensitive word to use. But it’s the only one that comes to mind.

The obvious question to ask is, why? Why would someone who’s had so much success and touched so many lives want to kill himself? I don’t have the answer. But as I was mulling this over today it occurred to me that a suicide generally only makes sense to the victim. It’s something the person rationalizes. What they’re feeling, be it physically or emotionally, has taken such a toll that suicide feels like a viable option. No one understands what would drive you to do something so terrible. But they can’t understand. They may love you. But they can never see the world through your eyes. They can’t know what you face on a day to day basis.

In my experience, thinking about suicide is like staring into a dark abyss. It’s total blackness. You have no idea what’s in there. But whatever it is, it’s got to be better than this. That void can be so tempting when you’re in that kind of pain…

I don’t look down on Bennington, or anyone else who has made the choice he made. I feel for them. I mourn them. It’s so incredibly tragic to believe that’s the only way out. What’s more, they leave their loved ones with their own terrible pain.

When I think about the things that have kept me away from that abyss over the years, that’s something I keep coming back to. My loved ones. My wife. My parents. My family. The people I’ve been friends with over the years. I couldn’t do that to them. I couldn’t leave them to bear that burden.

If you’re someone who’s staring into that abyss now, know that there are people in this world who love you and need you. I know it hurts. It’s agonizing. And at times it’s hopeless. But there is always another way. You deserve love, happiness, friendship, and all the wonders life has to offer. Please don’t rob the world of your gifts.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

Anxiety Talk: Facing the Bear

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’ve been been dealing with some pretty bad anxiety lately. It’s been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. But Mrs. Primary Ignition and I have moved, and I’ve changed jobs. The latter has been hard for me, though I’m essentially doing the same job. It’s a lot of new people, more specifically a new boss. People say I don’t deal with change well. I’ve balked at that in the past. But in my heart I know it’s probably true.

Earlier this week, in the midst of a particularly anxious day, a simile popped into my head. I have no clue where it came from. But it’s stayed with me. And here it is for you now:

Anxiety is like standing in front of an angry bear.

When you’re facing that angry bear, everything in your body is telling you to react. Your fight-or-flight response has kicked in. You essentially have two choices. You can run away from the bear, or you can take him on. You don’t know how you’d take him on, or what that action even consists of. Obviously running is the easier choice. But here’s the thing: If you run, the bear is going to chase you.

Now imagine facing that kind of life-or-death dilemma every day of your life. Multiple times a day. Sometimes it’s for hours at a time. And the kicker is, sometimes it turns out the bear wasn’t angry at all. You weren’t even seeing things clearly. So you find yourself questioning, second-guessing, and doubting everything. Even yourself.

Of course, the only way to rid yourself of the anxiety is to actually face whatever you’re afraid of. Easier said than done. Believe me, I know. But one of the biggest upsides to dealing with anxiety is that the fear itself is almost always worse than whatever it’s directed toward. That bear is tough. But he’s not nearly as tough as you think he’ll be.

So do everything you can to step outside your comfort zone, and face the bear head on. I promise you, It’ll be worth it.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.