Saturday, January 31, 2015

Living with Anxiety

There is certainly no shortage of information on Anxiety, some of it good and helpful and some of it, a pure waste of time.  According the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population...” suffer anxiety and “Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.” (Source:  From the same website, the following statistics are offered:

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
  • Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country's $148 billion total mental health bill, according to "The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders," a study commissioned by ADAA (The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 60(7), July 1999).
    • More than $22.84 billion of those costs are associated with the repeated use of health care services; people with anxiety disorders seek relief for symptoms that mimic physical illnesses.
  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

Anxiety is like an invisible broken leg.  When you walk around in a cast and crutches, people are often sympathetic and concerned, “Oh, goodness, what happened?  Do you need any help? When do you get the cast off?”  When you suffer anxiety, people look at you like, “And?  So? Get over it.  What are you afraid of?  Just ditch the fear and stop worrying.”  Anxiety is complex in nature.  Some of it is triggered by pure psychology and some of it is triggered by pure biology.  Some of it is free-floating and of unknown etiology.  Some individuals are fortunate enough to get help but many do not or cannot.  Unfortunately today, our lives are set up for anxiety to thrive spinning our poor Autonomic Nervous System and it’s sub-process, the Sympathetic Nervous System, into over-drive with multi-tasking, taking on too much for a sense of success, peace or happiness that for some is just not achievable.  If you are one of the brave ones who steps up and seeks treatment, you’re even treated ignorantly by the medical community.  “Here just take these anti-depressants” (that have little effect more above cognitive behavioral therapy) “or these tranquilizers to get you through it” and oh my goodness, never tell a soul that you are in treatment with medication therapy because you will be barraged with negative judgment and not one ounce of compassion from anyone but a trained psychiatrist who knows how to truly help you.

There are so many recommendations for anxiety that are generally beneficial such as getting enough rest, exercise, eating right and well, learning coping skills, seeking treatment for triggers, supplements, yoga, meditation and a whole host of other things.  For many, any number of these things is helpful and useful in minimizing the dreaded effects of anxiety.  Anxiety feels horrible to those who suffer it.  I know, because I am one.  I have lived with anxiety since the onset at about age 27 (interestingly, not long after I suffered a concussion).  Now, given the life I have lived and the things I do now, it is entirely understandable for me to suffer bouts of anxiety but it isn’t easy.  What makes things so much worse is when well meaning people give you advice – do this or that.  Gee wow, I’ve only tried that a hundred times already, I don’t care for SSRI’s that are supposed to be the God-send for anxiety suffers because they actually make me feel worse than the anxiety and the only thing that cuts off that anxiety for me aside from steering clear of over-stimulating activities, is a certain tranquilizer that doesn’t give me a buzz but helps control the symptoms of intense anxiety.   

So, living with anxiety is the only choice we really have.  Whatever we resist persists.  Believe me, I’ve tried to ignore anxiety, I’ve tried conventional and non-conventional treatments and supplements and frankly, I’m sick to death of pseudo-science.  All I want as a sufferer of anxiety is to prevent the episodes and get them as quickly into remission as possible before they trigger other ugly things like insomnia, depression and burn-out symptoms from just the normal activities of daily life.  They don’t tell you this but anxiety hurts.  No really, it physically hurts.  I truly feel for those with anxiety and depression trying to find ways to get healthy and their symptoms into remission.  Sometimes some never get that break. Fortunately, I do.  I have sought out treatment and am unafraid to speak of my experiences.  I don’t care for the backlash of judgment I get from the purely uneducated on the topic but in the end, that is really about them and not me.

So, living with anxiety.  How on Earth do you do that with any measure of success?  Well, it takes a lot of patience and a lot of time.  If there is a specific source to your anxiety, go get help identifying it and see if you can cure it at its core.  If you need medication to do that, do and think nothing of it.  Do what works for you but do try, if you can to avoid self-medicating with alcohol or illegal drugs. They will put you into this death spiral of addiction that will leave you in much worse shape.  I think some of the keys to living with anxiety are learning about the things that trigger you and minimizing those things to the extent practical for you.  Finding the things that get the Parasympathetic Nervous System (think rest and digest) running optimally is a good thing to do.  The Sympathetic Nervous System (think fight or flight) pumps out chemicals that are longer lasting. When you get the adrenaline pumping, you need a good 20 minutes of effort to cut off the thoughts or the trigger so your Parasympathetic Nervous System chemicals can return to normal and can function again by compensating and counteracting those chemicals.  Your body is truly built in an amazing way to resolve its own issues. Trusting it to work as it is supposed to if even aided by medication or counseling is really important.  Getting exercise and enough rest cannot be stressed enough!  If work is tough, take some time off.  If there are people in your life driving you crazy, set boundaries or get them out of your lives.  If there are thoughts in your own mind driving you crazy, go talk to someone who can help you sort out the thoughts, reprogram your thinking in a healthier fashion and get to work focusing on the good things you do, your accomplishments and the things you are most grateful for.

Living with anxiety is tough.  It’s tough at so many levels.  It interferes with everything – work, relationships as well as every day living.  Some like to flippantly say “You just need to get rid of the fear, relax, stop worrying so much, and you’ll be fine.”  Well, see, not all of us live in fear even if we do worry about the things we must manage. We live perfectly normal lives and yet anxiety persists free-floating.  So, anxiety isn’t a fun thing to deal with but you can live with it, you can have a good life and you can learn to cope if you are willing.  I suffer anxiety.  Sometimes it is so bad, I will flat pass out from overload.  My system then acts just like an overloaded computer and reboots.  I come out of it and life goes on just fine and the rest of the day is just peachy.  I don’t fear panic attacks and I don’t fear my anxiety.  My anxiety sometimes veers into depression but I don’t fear that either.  There is always a light at the end of the tunnel and just because I cannot see it I won’t despair thinking it isn’t there.  I believe half the battle of coping with anxiety is knowing the episodes won’t last.  You won’t feel bad forever. The same is true for me with depression.  I see depression as my body’s way of dealing with the things that it needs to deal with.  When it hits, I sleep, take care of myself, be ever so kind to myself with my thoughts and well, life returns to normal within a few days or weeks.  The same is true with anxiety.

The one interesting thing I’ve noticed is that as I age, my anxiety gets worse.  I have the same work stress and life stress I’ve always managed with superhero effort.  However, my body resists that now.  My body sends me a message through anxiety that it is time to make some changes.  Some can be readily made and some must be made with longer-term implementation plans…but, this is coping. This is living with anxiety.  For those who don’t suffer it, we’d all appreciate it if you’d stop telling us we just need to do more of something that triggers our anxiety.  This concept does not work for everyone.  For me – flying and public speaking never changes from a strong escalation of anxiety.  For years I have given presentations and have flown and the anxiety sucks the life out of me every time and not just for the first few moments.  It takes me out for at least a day.  But I still do these things.  Not as often as I am all about reducing stressful things.  Not avoiding but reducing to give myself space to feel calm and peaceful.  It isn’t easy and requires the willingness to work at things, thoughts, behaviors and actions that contribute to an unhealthy cycle.

But it can be done.  I live with anxiety every day.  I do not fear death, illness, age, people or situations.  I’m a happy, well-balanced and thoughtful individual that contributes to society as much as I can every single day and that feels great even if the underlying anxiety humming in the background makes me feel like I’m choking at times.  I’ve been getting help since age 27 and it seems to get worse, as I said, the older I get.  I won’t give in but at the same time I won’t resist it.  I get anxious.  I’m anxious now but I’m writing anyway and I do what I want to do, anyway.  I’m letting people in on something very personal that I’ve mostly kept hidden.  I decided to write about this topic so that others like me who have suffered know it isn’t a fate worse than death.  I want YOU to know that you too can find ways to live with anxiety, find something that works for you with medication or DIY type healthy activities.  I know that we suffer for whatever reason we suffer but we don’t have to let it define who we are.  It’s our bodies and minds that are affected but our consciousness is not and we can contribute to society with our presence here anxious, depressed or both or not.  If there is anything I think that helps anxiety more than anything else that exists, it’s support.  Having supportive and understanding people around you make a world of difference.

I don’t care for parties, concerts, flea markets or malls.  I do not fear public places or people but find the energy of it exhausting.  So, my loved ones know this about me and we find ways for me to cope while I can still participate in outings with the family.  I will always prefer a peaceful walk in nature rather than the mall but when I do go to these places, I focus on what I find beautiful.  I look at the babies, I look at the architecture, I look at the landscapes, I look at the sky, I try to find art, I notice the smells that are wonderful and try to ignore the cacophony of too many voices chattering all at once.  I’m also an energy sensitive and this may very well be what contributes the most to my anxiety.  When I’m off work for a few days and can chill at home writing, painting or catching up on some documentaries, my anxiety is zero or near zero.  So, for me, I truly believe it’s an energy thing.  I’m an introvert because I truly love peace.  I don’t need to be overly stimulated by anything to be happy.  Flip on the classical music or even new age meditative stuff and life is dreamy good.  The way to cope as I’m pointing out here is that you need to do what you need to do to get through your life, get trained assistance, get the right support from family and friends and find the spaces and places in life that make you feel good.  If you look for them, you’ll find them.  Sometimes you must take on many coping mechanisms and that’s okay.  It’s okay to have anxiety.  It doesn’t make you a mental monster.  It just means you are human and some of us humans have to deal with things like anxiety or depression and some other disorders.

None of these things can take away the true value of your existence here and your existence here does add value to the whole.  Never forget that.  I don’t.  Even when I am feeling at my worst, I don’t forget how much I do to try to make life better for others, to notice how magical and beautiful nature is and how truly wonderful human beings are when they are in a loving and compassionate state.  I make it a point to surround myself with loving people.  This has meant the most to me.  God bless my partner, my children, my friends and even my little furry four-legged friend Zacky Midnight (the little black kitty we rescued 11 years ago).  They bring me so much joy and peace even when I am at my wits end with stress.  Enough of my rambling for now.  I hope I’ve brought you some helpful food for thought with my little rant on anxiety.  Anxious people deserve love and respect like everybody else.  We thrive with support and wilt under labeling and callous ‘get over its,’  FYI.  I hope you are having an amazing day no matter what you face.  Even if anxious, have strong faith in yourself to manage and cope.  You can do this and if you need help, don’t feel bad about it not one bit.  Ignore the judgments of family and friends who do not understand and know above all else, you are not alone.  There are plenty of us out there who know what you go through and there is hope.  Faith in yourself is better for you to hold than just hope alone in my opinion but that’s just my opinion.  Blessings.  

© 2015 Jaie Hart

Twelve Red Roses


A tiny little girl climbs out of Grandma’s car with her little brother in tow.  Glad to be coming home after a sleep-over with Grandma, she bounced her way to the door not a care in the world.  She opens the door and stops dead in mid-stride, losing all the joy held deep within her just a moment before.  Everything and everyone disappeared from view as the tiny little girl with her immature mind tries desperately to take in the picture of her home she stood now within.  Once orderly and comfortable, it was now disheveled everywhere in utter destruction as if a tornado had torn through it in the night while she slept safe and warm at Grandma’s house.  Her Father was there but she no longer noticed him as he rose from the kitchen table and walked with his Mother to the living room to talk in very hushed tones.

The little girl and her younger brother were left to wonder and wander about the home per usual only this day there was nothing usual about the place.  Dad’s stereo speakers once hung ingeniously and proudly on the walls were torn down and shattered on the floor, a mess of pillows and papers and left-over fast food from the night before literally sprayed about the place.  There were pictures on the wall now half hung and askew, beautiful trinkets and decorations knocked over on the floor or broken where they stood. It was obvious that Mom and Dad had a knock-down, drag out fight the night before.  The curious little girl lost in her own world of converging but not at all understood thoughts walked about the rest of the house.  She noticed the living room surveying the landscape and found her things covered in ketchup and pickles.  Her little Raggedy Ann bank took the brunt of something very not good it seems.  She picked up a napkin and tried to wipe off the mess unnoticed by her Father and Grandmother busily talking across the room.  Pulling in all of her energy and bracing for what else she might see, the little girl entered her family’s kitchen.

It was late afternoon and the setting sun sent rays of beautiful golden sunlight in diagonal stripes through the window onto the kitchen floor.  The dust in the room sparkled in the air as the light hit it.  The little girl paused in wonder at the dancing sparkles in the sunlight.  Feeling so sad about the obvious fight Mom and Dad had and noticing Mom was not at home, she grew sadder still.  As she drew herself out of her own mind and noticed her surroundings again, just where the rays of beautiful sun light reached the kitchen floor, there were beautiful long-stemmed red roses in the center of a field of broken glass that once was the crystal vase that held them.  She noticed again the sparkles as the sunlight touched gently each shard of glass.  For whatever reason, it was this picture; this view that made time stop.  The entirety of the room disappeared and all she could see were the beautiful red roses.  With everything in her she tried hard to fight back the tears from feeling something she had never felt before.  Her heart had been broken for the very first time at the first glimpse of the roses.

Not knowing what to do and seemingly invisible to all else, she walked to the roses and carefully picked them up one by one.  Twelve of them lay scattered across the floor.  As she gently picked up each one, she cradled them in her arms as she quietly cried not understanding why something so beautiful, something bought with such care and love would be so carelessly thrown away and destroyed in her home.  The night before had been her Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary.  As the little girl remained silently weeping with the roses, the whole world remained quiet and time remained utterly still.  In that moment of dire sadness the little one had no capacity to understand, a warmth enveloped her from some place and thing unseen and her tears stopped falling as she just sat there cradling the roses bound and determined to find a way to save them.  She got up and laid the roses on the counter and searched through the cabinets her near 5 year old body would allow her to reach and she found a glass vase.  Just then, Grandmother came in and saw what she was up to.  Her Grandmother grabbed a broom and dustpan and swept up the remnants of the broken vase on the floor.  She emptied the dustpan into the trash can and it echoed so strangely in the little girl’s ears.  The sound of broken glass hitting the bottom of the trash can right next to her seemed as if it was heard through a tunnel, a very long tunnel that echoed and reverberated the sound in a way it wasn’t only heard but also felt in the core of her being.  Grandmother patted her on the head and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll put these in some water.  It’ll be okay.”  Grandma filled the vase with water and helped the little girl put the roses back in the vase.  For whatever reason, it helped the little girl end her tears and begin to smile once again.  When Grandmother and the little girl finished arranging the roses in a new vase with fresh water, they seemed so very beautiful again sitting on the kitchen counter in the sunlight

A sound at the front door caught everyone’s attention as the little girl’s Mother came in with her Mother right behind her.  The little girl felt so very sad for her Mom and her Dad and knew something big must really be going on because she couldn’t remember a time before when both Grandmothers had even been in the same room.  They greeted each other with a seeming sense of helplessness, a sadness and yet a determination to help their respective children come to terms with the mess that they made.  The silent exchange between the two Grandmothers had one Grandmother leading both of the little girl’s parents into the living room to talk while the other Grandmother lead the little girl and her little brother into their bedroom.  She decided it might be good to take some time and clean up the room and then promised they’d have a little time to play.

They worked together happily and then played some games sitting on the bedroom floor.  There was laughter again that eased the sadness in the little girl’s soul.  The sun was setting fast and the room was growing dark but the love of a Grandmother and a perfectly timed diversion with a little extra help eased the heartbreak felt so deeply before.

Forty-four or so years later, I remember not one thing about the rest of that day.  I was the little girl in the story.  I do remember my Father moved out not long after that incident.  It may have been the same day.  I don’t really remember.  I do remember that feeling of the world being distanced, pushed out and away and living in my own world safe and protected was all that I was left with.  Looking back I now see what I had no ability to comprehend then.  The heartbreak of the roses was a realization that our family as we knew it had ended.  Picking them up and putting them in water was the moment my courage to face anything in life was born.  I’m grateful for that moment.  I had never looked at it before as anything but a sad moment of a child being introduced to a soon to be broken home in a different way.  It wasn’t all that tragic.  In fact, Mom and Dad had simply had too much to drink the night before and fought over the last Jack-in-the-Box Cheeseburger.  It was really the straw that broke the camel’s back.  My parents loved each other so much.  Both were so passionate but it burned a bit too hot and rather than continue these little episodes, they decided to part ways.  I didn’t know it at the time but they had been divorced a full year before and were trying to reconcile.  But that day they decided they couldn’t do it.  That day I learned that home is where your focus is, home is where your courage lives to stand up and face the day, face a mess and pick up beautiful long-stemmed red roses and try to restore order amongst chaos.  The rest of my adult life was spent finding those beat up and broken roses over and over again, saving them only to have them trampled repeatedly often leaving me feeling like broken glass.

I don’t pick up roses any more.  I love them with all my heart but I realized with the courage I gained that day that some times destruction is just part of life, that endings are beginnings even when you don’t want to see them and that there is light to be found in even the darkest seeming situation and if you gravitate towards that light and train your eyes to see it in every situation, you will.  When you find the light, there is nothing that can stop you for in the light lies your true heart, your love, your courage and your strength.  Everything else is just the shadow light that defines your brilliance.  I share this story with you to show you that not every bad thing that happens will define you negatively but those defining moments will temper your perspectives in some interesting ways.  You can choose to become a victim of this world and humanity or you can choose to be the light in the darkness; the hero with great unanticipated courage.  It is truly up to you.  May God bless you and keep you strong and courageous to face the trials of the journey of your life.  I know you can do it.  I know because I did and I was nearly a very lost cause.

© 2015 Jaie Hart

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Just Be It!

How on Earth
Does a Rebellious Conformist
Realistic Optimist exist in harmony
With all that is?
Bitter are the years
Of attempting to try.
Nearly half a century now
With much learning on the way.
“It’s time to make a choice,” says the heart.
“You better be careful" says the voice in my head.
“Never mind either of you,” says the voice of my spirit
That cries out wanting to finally be heard!
I cannot be politically correct all the time.
It never keeps me from conflict anyway.
It's best I think to be more authentic,
Let the world see me for who I am,
And whether I am loved or detested,
I know how to stand in my own light.
I do know how to stand in my own truth.
When you can feel this just as I do,
You’ll then find something so wonderful...
A quiet moment of being reveals itself.
One can and should hold their own space in this space-time,
For what other space could a soul truly hold
Of any lasting significance to the spirit?
Never mind the insanities spouting your improprieties!
Never mind the insecurities touting your wrongs!
Just go and be as free as the breeze
Beholden to no man’s idea of who you are!
That is a subject only known by you and your Maker
And it’s time you finally discovered THIS truth!
Forget the books and people that tell you how to be all you can be.
You already know the way there.
You don’t even need a map,
It's written beautifully in your DNA.
Just do it and be it the rest of your days!
Just be it!

Copyright 2015, J.L. Harter

Photo:  NASA

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Chasing Rainbows is a Worthy Endeavor - Just Don't Mind the Rain

Watching the sunrise through gray skies and rain is no less beautiful than when the clouds are all gone.  The colors change but even the shades of gray broken up by fresh green grass and the few leaves left on the trees washed clean can be incredibly inspirational.  The quality of the color of the skies leading up to and then following those rainy days are like magic to me.  Sometimes I think I know all of the colors and then I’ll drive into the sunrise awestruck at having discovered new shades of smoky neon pink and silver and golden tinged peach.  Oh, can you just imagine it?  For nearly half a century I’ve watched the sun rise and set and still I am learning about new colors?!  What?!

Okay, maybe that’s a bit too peppy for this cool rainy Sunday but I don’t really care.  I love it when it rains and I love it when it doesn’t.  I love every day and when I think of my life in this way I find the colors change.  Blue is not just blue, it’s cerulean or azure.  Red isn’t just red, it’s scarlet or crimson.  Your perception is what you allow it to be.  It can be heavy with the filters of your experiences in life that limit the colors right in front of you OR it can be transparent and open allowing the full spectrum of unanticipated or before known to you colors to appear on your horizons in the blink of an eye.  It’s amazing when you notice the befores and the afters.

I have seen dark stormy days that seemed like they’d never end.  Sometimes this or that created this filter of experience that left me feeling as if I were trapped in this vortex of absolute dire distress, doom and gloom.  Lucky for me I figured out that such moments are usually short in duration if and only if I decide to shove the negativity out of my perspective and open up to the lesson instead.  What caused the darkness to enter my realm of experience?  Was it the lingering past hurt I forgot about?  Was it that one that occurred so long ago I allowed to be reinforced over and over again unchallenged?  Was it just an unfortunate series of tragedies and stress?  No matter.  All can still eventually be dealt with through greater understanding. There is a reason we encounter the things we do and it is up to us regarding how we wish to integrate that into our experience. 

At first it doesn’t seem like we have a choice.  Environmental psychology may have dictated our deeply ingrained beliefs laced with fear and wounding.  But, when we begin to understand the true source of those things, challenge all facets of thwm in terms of proving the beliefs to be truths or a series of misguided falsehoods, we can learn to embrace a new experience all-together and one free from the filters of the past psychological trauma and drama.  It can be done.  I’m telling you from experience and not just some made up positivity mumbo jumbo that won’t do you any good.  I have walked through the darkness of despair.  I have challenged my beliefs and rooted out their misguided existence and I have faced the pain, the terror, the fear and worry and then a light appeared at the end of a very long, dark and lonely road…freedom….the colors of life in a full spectrum…and all the love in the universe.

I won’t lie, it’s not an easy road and there is no one that can bring you there, give you a pill or point you to a drive through where you order up some healing to lift the filters of a life filled with malware and pain.  You have to be the one who wants to do the work first and then it is you who must map out the steps, find a way to leave behind you the fear of the dark and embrace hard work, roll up your sleeves and dig into the stuff that just prevents you from experiencing the beauty and magic of this world.  Sometimes you do need help with that – so get it. What are you waiting for anyway?  (smiles).  You can do so much to create joy, beauty and magic in your life.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but you do need to invest in yourself in some way.  Figure out what makes you tick; figure out what you really love without the filters of worry, fear and pain.  Find something healthy to do to lift your spirits knowing that THAT is your true state and if you are not now in it, you can be.  You really can be.

The picture above is not the prettiest picture or the best shot I could have taken and that doesn’t even matter…what matters is I saw it…a beautiful rainbow right there in the sky and I shot it to remember that the memory of the rain coming in to cover the sun brought me the gift of a rainbow.  There are so many gifts in life if we decide to look for the beauty, the color and enjoy life even if a storm is rolling in.  We were meant to enjoy life.  Find a way, a very whole and healthy way and walk that road not with hope born of fear it cannot be but with the very strong faith born of love and truth that lies deep within the heart of you to get you there.  You can.  Really!

© 2015 Jaie Hart (photo and words)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Energy Signatures - The Perception of Vibrational Consciousness

I want to thank those of you who participated in our survey!!  I've posted the abstract below.  If you'd like to read the full summary, click the link at the bottom of this article and it'll take you to my journal post at The Journal of Metaphysics and Connected Consciousness! 





The perception of vibrational consciousness has manifested in a number of individuals via the reporting of hearing tones not otherwise attributed to medications, tinnitus or other external identified sources.  This study had several goals:  1) to gather self-reported information regarding whether these tones are heard by individuals, 2) the quality of the tones heard and 3) the perceived origins of these tones.


Quantitative results are shown for the number of respondents that perceive tones, the quality of the perception of the tones along with the perceived origins of the tones.  The results also show whether there may be a correlation between the perceived tones and the reported participation in spiritual practices such as meditation or of having a spiritual experience.  A majority of responders from all age groups in the survey indicate that they perceive tones and that more than half of survey respondents believed the tones to be of a spiritual origin.


The survey concludes only that there is a high perception of hearing tones from the survey respondents, that the quality of the tones is perceived differently and that while the origins are perceived to be spiritual in origin by more than half of the respondents, the origins are not necessarily clear.  More studies are needed to determine the true etiology of the tones perceived by individuals.