Thursday, April 28, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about "transitions" lately -- mostly because of posting to this blog an old journal entry about my thunderstorm anxiety reappearing (back in 1995) and my comment about how my therapist from "way back when" suggested that my anxiety resurfaced during periods of transition.

I've gone through a lot of transitions over the past few years. I moved from my home town on Long Island to Brooklyn, got engaged (then married!) and have had a few jobs since moving. However, none of that seemed to trigger my anxiety the way my father's health problems did. 

Is my anxiety really because of Dad's health issues? Or was that transition just the last straw? The proverbial straw that broke the camels back.

Transition is really "change" and no one likes change. Although President Obama ran a campaign based on "change", he just called it "hope"

I spoke to my therapist this week about transition and the fact that I feel, on some level, that I'm in a perpetual state of transition as I wait to see what happens with my Dad. But the fact of the matter is I know, or at least I feel like I "know" he won't ever leave the rehab facility and return home. The place he is in is really an assisted living facility.. Except I have this fantasy idea that a real assisted living facility is more like a nice hotel with nurses or something. A place where you actually live and do stuff.. but where Dad is living is more like a hospital than a hotel. And I guess I want to feel like that transition for Dad is over -- either he is home again or he is in a place where everyone - including Dad - know that he will be for whatever life he has left.

I feel like, when I see or speak to my Dad on the phone, that I am being disingenuous by asking him about his progress with rehab, and asking about dates when he might be able to get home. I know he won't ever leave -- there are two many variables. The reoccurring c-diff infection that prevent him from doing PT. The apparent lack of motivation on his part to do simple exercises while in the wheel chair or his bed. But apparently he still talks to Mom like he will be home one day. But I think the charade needs to stop. 

And speaking of transitions -- although a bit of topic from this post -- I need to find a new psychiatrist. My company changed health insurance and my old psychiatrist isn't on my new plan (Oxford). When I told her about the new health insurance she suggested I find a new doctor. Its sort of like being dumped! I wish my current therapist could prescribe me meds. Oh well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thought Catalog

I found this posting about having an anxiety attack on the subway on a site called Thought Catalog. I thought at first the person who posted this article was the author/owner of the entire collection of writing on Thought Catalog but that was because I had only viewed the site on my mobile device. Having now, finally, looked at the site on a real computer I realize it is a collection of works written by various authors. None the less, there are a lot of interesting / funny pieces.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I've posted a bunch of "new" blog entries that are really not new - they are excerpts from journals I kept off and on from high school through a period of my life post-college. I compiled these specific postings for my current therapist and decided they were good things to post on this blog.

I was supposed to start a Mindfulness and Mediation workshop yesterday (Monday) but I bailed on it. My reasons for bailing were.. well partly anxiety related -- I arrived at the building on Madison Ave about 40 minutes prior to the start of the "class" and felt uneasy -- but also there were other factors. I had read more about the workshop online and wasn't sure it was my cup of tea. Of course, I probably should have done that research before I signed up. But the other contributing factor was softball. See, I play on a work softball team and many of our games this season are on Monday's. Because the workshop was also on Monday's I would have missed almost 1/2 the season. As I explained to my therapist today, my anxiety prevents me from doing things I want to do - like flying to California or Aruba -- and I don't want my anxiety treatment to prevent me from doing things I want and CAN do - like playing softball. Of course, my therapist (and my wife) reaction to that idea was that dealing with my anxiety is more important than softball.

I could say that I don't agree but they would both argue I'm just justifying not dealing with my anxiety.

In any event, the workshop - because of my "late" cancellation - is non-refundable so my only option is to re-enroll in a later workshop. So my "justification" for bailing is rendered mute, unless I want to forfeit the rather substantial payment for the workshop.

So many things to think about in dealing with the anxiety.. Yet another reason I wish I didn't have this frickin' issue / disability / whatever-you-want-to-call it.

Elevators II

I think these two paragraphs were written after the text above because it seems like the phobia related to elevators has gotten worse. Above I reference riding the elevators in my building every day but below I talk about struggling to get on the elevator. I remember the struggling part – I think it was after the original World Trade Center attack when I returned to school for the last semester of my junior year that I really had trouble getting on the elevators. The first semester of my senior year I lived with my sister Susan (the one I don’t like) in her apartment. My parents were helping her with her rent and my roommate, knowing I was planning to move out of NYC after the first semester of our senior year, had moved to Brooklyn with another one of our classmates when our leased expired. Since I / my parents didn't want to sign a year lease with plans to not be in NYC for a year my parents made a deal with my sister relative to me living there. I guess maybe she had been paying her own rent but since I was living there my parents helped out with the rent. (I’m not sure if they weren’t paying part of her rent all along)

Now it's gotten to the point where I can't get on any elevator other than the one in this building, and here I can only get on if I'm accompanied by someone and then I don't want to go past the third floor, regardless of who I'm with.. What is the fucking deal? The fear is about not knowing what to do if we get stuck, the odds of which are slim to none, I'm sure, but WHAT IF... It's all about control, and not having it. That is where the fear lies. Anything else that is "what if" I have some control over. You see, if I could take the stairs any time, then I'd have control, and so when there was someone with me, I could go either way. If I was feeling wimpy, I'd take the stairs and if I was strong I'd take the elevator.

Part of the fear definitely resides in the lack of "feedback".. I mean, when I was in the train in the tunnel I was a little nervous, but as long as I could see some light or something outside the train I was okay, knowing that I was in the dark abyss. I think that part of the reason I was okay with someone else in the elevator was that in the event we got stuck I had someone to talk to, so I wasn't "alone"..


This was written sometime after the initial attack on the World Trade Center. I remember that was in the winter and then I was home for Christmas break and I heard on the news about a class trip where a group of students got stuck in an elevator. I don’t remember for how long, I think it was a few hours though. Anyway, in the news report they mentioned how the class (along with their teacher/s) sang to pass the time and keep each other calm. My friend Brooks lived in a building on Mulberry Street where the elevator made a low buzzing noise when it reach the floor instead of the typical “ding”. I knew this from experience but it still freaked me out. I was scheduled to see Brooks and his girlfriend and have dinner at their place and that is what I reference going to his place.

What about elevators. Why do they freak me out so? I mean, honestly, what can happen? And of the two million people in New York City why do I think that I will perish in an elevator? People ride them every day and nothing happens to them. I mean, if it did, you would hear about it because it would be such an odd occurrence, you know? God I'm a weenie sometimes. It sucks. Of course the weather isn't supposed to be great this week either but I've finally learned to cope with it.

It's so stupid, you know? I don't know why I get all worked up. I mean, it's the shortest ride it could possibly be. What's the big worry? No ones ever died in one. It's not gonna freak out a jump out of the walls it's in.. And so what if I get stuck - there's nothing I can do so I might as well sit back and enjoy it.

I think the fear is all related to not being in control. I'm worried that once the door closes, I'm no longer under my own control. That's where the fear comes in. It's not so much elevators, just as it's not so much subways or thunderstorms, or heights, or anything else. It's a lack of control that I fear so much. If I could just come to terms with the idea that there will always be things that are beyond my control then I could deal with my fears more rationally then I do now. The other weird thing is why I feel more comfortable with someone else in the elevator, even if I don't know them. Maybe because then I know that I'm not alone in my lack of control. There is someone else who has to go through the whatever with me, so if we get stuck we both have to deal with it. Or maybe it's knowing that we're not gonna get stuck (most likely) and the person I'm with doesn't have a remote thought about the possibility of getting stuck. The strange thing too is that I don't ever remember being afraid of elevators.. I guess it's because I didn't ever have to ride them in my youth, and then when I came to school here I was suddenly thrust into a situation where I had to do it. But what I don't understand is why is there such a great fear about Brooks' building? I ride the elevators in my building almost every day..

The fear is because of the way the elevator sounds.. You get on, the door closes, the "engine" or whatever, starts, and then it sounds like it stops and there is a buzz, and it sounds like something has gone wrong, but that, of course, is what the elevator does EVERY time, but it seems abnormal to me because the elevator I ride in this building doesn't do that. It's that uncomfortableness with knowing what's coming.. the way the ride sounds, etc. but it's stupid.. it's a short ride and I know that that's how it sounds.. but because it's abnormal, I think what if it doesn't sound that way? Either way it's not good..

More on Thunderstorms

This was written shortly after I moved in with my friend PJ (“Peej” as I called him) to a house I bought but before I started dating Diana so this would have been sometime in mid-1995. Diana and I started dating in late July of 1995. Robby Stein was the therapist my Mom brought me to see when I was in grade school and who I saw for a few months because I was having such anxiety about thunderstorms that I was missing (or wanting to miss) a lot of school. The wedding I’m referring to is my friend Chris from college. I asked Diana to go to the wedding with me – the wedding was in Buffalo. I asked her partly because I wanted a “date” but also because she and I had dated in high school and she knew about my thunderstorm issues.

I'm really beginning (or not really beginning, but deeply into) digressing with T-Storms. Last night, for example, I left here at 12:30am because of visible lightning // sounds of thunder to sleep at Ma & Pa's.. not a good sign.. I think what's getting to me is, well, several things -- first, the move.. as Robby Stein remarked once before, the fears seem to crop up during periods of transition.. and this is definitely one.. I mean, I own a house for god's sake.. but suddenly things have changed -- I haven't been doing the yard work, mostly because the god damn weather has been too hot, but I'm just not up to it.. and then this whole thing with Chris' wedding.. sometimes I think about the trip and I'm like -- it's no big deal, but other times I look at the map and I'm scared.. scared mostly because the trip is drawing ever nearer and the weather pattern seems to be staying the same.. I'm gonna be a fucking wreak if we have storms, etc.. especially on the drive, which I'm not to psyched about to begin with... I've thought about calling Robbie Stein for some quick treatments.. basically give him this.. I don't know what it is about me.. last night, for example, Peej was home.. I was okay the other night when he was here.. but maybe it was the not-knowing factor -- radar showed nothing (as is the case tonight) and so I was like -- where is this fucking lighting coming from ?? and I'm still wondering..

What About Thunderstorms?

The three paragraphs below were written either in late 1992 when I was back at school and there was still summer type weather (thunderstorms) or else in May of 1993 before school had ended for the year.

And what about thunderstorms? Why am I so frightened of them? What happened to me during my childhood that put this profound fear into me? I don't remember always being afraid of them. I don't ever remember being worried about the weather. Was it little league? Maybe that game we started to play in a thunderstorm and then it was finally called off? Or the other one we played down by John Marshall when it started to thunder and suddenly I felt sick.. Was that before, after, or during the time I was in 6th grade and I had this fear of nuclear war? It must have been during that time. When I was in fifth grade and we had the bad storm the day the ambulance came for show and tell and we were all getting ready to go home, standing by the windows packing our bags and the thunder cracked and people dove out of the way of the window because the thunder was so loud. But I remember helping Mariano with reading science before we were getting ready to leave and being scared about the weather, but dealing with it. That was in Miss Zay's fifth grade class. I mean, I can rationalize to myself that nothing is going to happen - especially here in New York, but still I wonder about them three days in advance.

So we had some thunderstorms the other night and I knew they were coming, although in my heart I didn't think they would, just like they never do, and they did! But I was okay. At first I was a little nervous but then it ended and it was no big deal! Can I do that this summer? I was home so I was okay. What if I hadn't been? But what's the difference?

So this summer (1992) we had some T-Storms while I was at work an I dealt with them.. Am I finally over it?

Can We Resolve the Past? Part II

I wrote this passage while in college – I think it was during my sophomore year – my plan was to stay in NYC during the summer between junior and senior year and work and hopefully use that job as a spring board to a “real” job after graduation. I didn't end up staying in the city that summer. I was dating a girl named L and she commented to me that I talked a lot of “the past”, which was high school which wasn't really that far in the past. S is a girl I was really good friends with in high school – I was “in love” with her, or whatever it was I defined ‘love” as back in high school but I never told her how I felt for fear of losing the relationship we had if she didn't feel the same way.

Am I holding on to the past? Do I hold onto the past because I'm scared of moving forward?

I sit here, still waiting for the semester to end. I'll return home this summer, but that will be it. Then it's off to school and work in NYC for the summer. Why do I feel so alone? My roommate is here but he isn't present. When I drove a long time alone I feel like I want to cry. What is my life becoming? How come I don't seem as happy as everyone else? Are they miserable too? Just not expressing it to me? Can I do better? Or am I still insecure about myself? About growing up? Will I sit in my fucking apartment and rot away until school ends? I need to get out of here. Why does my future feel so bleak? I can make it in this world, just maybe not as a cinematographer. I hate to travel. I hate New York.

I love S but do I? Or is it just that she symbolizes a time in my life when I was secure? Do I long for her or do I long for that time? Is this poetry? Is this symbolism? Am I just one of the masses? Why aren't I different? What does Shannon really think of me? Am I'm living in a Hollywood dream, or does she think about me? Is she insecure? Does she need me to be there for her or has she found someone else.. Does she need someone else? Do I? YES!! I need someone I can talk to, relate too. I need those phone conversations with Shannon where I can feel secure and she can confide in me. I need a relationship where I can be nonthreatening and feel nonthreatened. Do I look for that whenever I meet a girl? 

"No one told you when to run, you've missed the starting gun."

These are thoughts that constantly run through my mind, and now that they are on paper for me to confront whenever I feel strong, they suddenly no longer seem so dangerous. I look this all over and think - fuck it. I'm happy and I'll always be happy. I can do whatever I want with my life and so I will. I have no real reason to be insecure, or unhappy for that matter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Post From the Road

I've downloaded the Blogger app for my Android phone and I'm writing this post from my phone. However, even with Swype its taking way too long to enter text so I don't think I'll do this often.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Can We Resolve the Past?

I have been re-reading old journals that I started keeping in high school. I kept up on them for a long time - probably 12 years or so -- but then only sporadically after that. Once I got more into writing poetry regularly I stopped keeping a journal. Part of me misses the tactile experience of writing in an actual notepad with a pen or pencil. Now I feel like I can't write unless I'm at my computer. (I've started posting some of my poetry online, in another blog,, if you are interested in reading my poems.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because, as I said, I was re-reading some of the journals and I am almost surprised at how often I wrote in my journals about the past. The title for this blog entry comes from a Jim Morrison poem and it seems that I spend most of my time writing about the past. Trying to determine why I did (or didn't) do something, what I could have done differently, etc.

But it is also interesting to look back at my previous writings and see how often the same fears come up -- fears about myself. Different kinds of insecurities about me, my job, my love life, my friends, my family.

Looking back it seems to me that my current anxiety isn't all that different from any other anxiety I've suffered from in the past. First it was thunderstorms, then elevators, then driving and now subways. But its always about control - or lack of - or at least the perception of a lack of control, and the fear of losing control.

I also often second guess myself - usually when I didn't act - and then I tend to dwell on the potential missed opportunity.

I'm thinking about posting some of my old journal entries on to this blog as they may generate some interesting feedback and I think that those old insecurities will still resonate 20+ years later.

I'm back to therapy tomorrow -- I didn't go last week because I only had one appointment scheduled and I woke up with bad stomach ache - I think from the lime chipolte marinade we had on our steak.

I'm looking forward to my session tomorrow because I feel like I have lots to talk about -- most of it good!