Apr 29, 2007

Trip anxiety

I will soon take a trip. Any trip is anxiety provoking for me, but this in particular involves a lot of social contacts and is particularly difficult. I am back to waking up early in the mornings and being on the edge most of the time.

I exercised a bit more this week and that was good and I will wait until I come back to really step up on that project.

Until about two days ago the idea of the trip was so terrifying for me that I was paralyzed about doing anything. When anyone asked me what was I scared of, I couldn't even think what... I guess I made progress because now I am preparing some (getting little gifts, etc.) and thinking what got me so scared.

Apr 22, 2007


This is in no way medical information, it's just a story that I made up to make sense of what goes on with me. As I read or hear more either from a doctor or some article or friend, I twist my story so it will fit that new information.

I have amblyopia - lazy eye - in my left eye. It runs in my family. This is not an eye defect, but a brain interpretation defect, the brain just doesn't want to "see". There is nothing physically wrong with my eye.

There are two ways that this is treated: an older idea was to abandon the lazy eye, so that it got lazier and lazier and you would expect to lose sight in that eye by the time you're old. This is the way I was treated for about 20 years. The lazy eye got worse and worse, but what was worse was that the good right eye would get tired by the end of the day. No nights spent learning for me, and quite commonly I would skip reading that page before bed. This is very painful for me because I love reading. Computer reading is much better than paper... woohoo for now having enough to read in blogs.

A more recent approach is to force the lazy eye to help. So they would increase the dioptries until the lazy eye is forced to contribute. This is what my current doctor is trying to do with me. I have a new pair of glasses and right now it's pretty difficult to read, but it gets better every day as the left eye is forced to do something.

I think there is a connection between the way my eyes work and my social anxiety. On one side I am so successful professionally and within my family, on another I am so unable to deal with new people and make friends. One part works so hard, the other needs serious pushing to do anything. So what is the right dioptry that I need to add to my lazy part to make it contribute to my well-being? And how do you apply this?

I went to a yoga class yesterday. At a certain point I noticed my neighbour's wedding ring: it looked like a plain wide white gold simple band. I went on with the class and 10-15 minutes later I notice that her ring was actually encrusted with little diamonds. So what made my eyes see much better this time? Was it the breathing, the exercise, the blood flow to the eyes? I think so. And I decided what my next step will be in trying to deal with my social anxiety: I am going to exercise... a lot. I will see where that goes, but it can't go wrong.

I exercised regularly since summer of last year, not much, but at least two hours a week. In February, I couldn't do much and since March I am in a maze anxiety-wise. It's time to get it back and do more of it.

That being said, I won't have much time left for blogging :( I will try to update weekly though! And I will keep reading my favorite blogs... while my left eye hopefully gets better ;)

Apr 15, 2007

Parenting joys and challenges

In our longer than normal journey to have a baby, lots of people told us how this is going to be the best experience of our lives. I knew that I will love it, but I never realized what it really means. You hear: my baby started crawling at x months and walking at y months. It feels like precise milestones that you need to get to. Instead there's a long journey for each of these milestones. The baby doesn't just start walking. There are so many little steps, you can see a tiny bit of advance every day. Sometimes you think it's never going to happen, and then one day it does.

Last week we heard the baby say a word in the right context for the first time: hot, hot. What intense happiness and joy. It gets even better because he understands that we talk about him and that we are happy and he looks so proud of himself. He looks at us with the hugest smile ever.

And the challenges... I think I am a better mother because of my struggles with anxiety. I understand how he feels and I think I react appropriately and help him go through it. When he cries without any apparent reason, I usually feel and understand where his pain came from.

Two weeks ago the baby got sick, then I got sick, then his father got sick. We struggled for a while and finally a week ago we all were well. However in the struggle the baby felt neglected and we had a period of fussiness and clinging. Once again we had to let him cry himself to sleep because it felt like we never spent enough time with him. I had such a hard time deciding where the right line is between being there for him when he needs me and taking some much needed time for myself and letting him soothe himself.

When I was sick and staying in bed one morning, he first enjoyed his new found freedom and played around for five minutes or so, then he came over, looked at me in bed and started crying. I could not calm him no matter what. His babysitter came half an hour later and all of a sudden he was happy again. I think he was saying: "Now my mother is sick and there's no one to take care of me so what am I going to do?"

For the last two weekends I have been very close to him, almost always there when he wanted me, and finally this evening we won: he went to bed without crying. Did I find the right balance? I will never know, but my heart isn't shattered this evening after a long time.

Apr 14, 2007


I've been posting for a while now and I'd like to take the time to acknowledge the blogs/Internet resources that I'm enjoying the most at the time.

Of course I need to start with Paul Levy. Paul is my mentor into blogging and I probably would have stopped doing this a long time ago if it weren't for his kindness when I started this blog. Paul's posts on Running a Hospital are always interesting and thought provoking. I am so glad that he is read so much and that he gets tons of comments on some of his posts. I am learning about hospitals and managing people and how different people have different opinions. It's always interesting to see that the other side has a valid point too. The link on his blog keeps bringing over readers on my blog. Paul, you are the best!

Maria at intueri is always fun to read. In the morning, when I open my news on bloglines, I read Maria's posts the last... I'm keeping them for desert, like a piece of chocolate. Maria is nice and kind and fun. She's a psychiatrist and I think she must be a darn good one.

I think everyone is reading Kevin, M.D., but just in case anyone missed it, if you want an idea about what's going on in the medical blogging world, or if you want to find interesting blogs, this is the place to go. Short messages, but with witty comments and very useful excerpts.

Other health care blogs that I find interesting and fun:

Hospital Impact had a big impact on me by recommending the book "If Disney Ran your Hospital" - by Fred Lee

I'm also reading the Medical Economics magazine online. It is free and I think it has stuff that is readable by normal human beings.

And I need to add my dearest social anxious friends out there:

- SA Dave
- Shy and quiet Drew
- Successfully Shy

For news and fun reading, there are free RSS feeds to the New Yorker, the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal requires a subscription to see the whole articles, but their Health Care Blog is interesting and free.

And finally for those of you that check every day your favorite blogs, I am using bloglines to store my favorites and see when anything is new or updated. It saves a lot of time and it's fun.

Many thanks to all my new acquaintances mentioned here and to all my readers!

Apr 10, 2007

Emotional immaturity

When I got my driver's license, a new test was recently introduced: the psychological test. The result for me was "emotional immaturity". I keep remembering those two words anytime my anxiety spikes. What a good way to put it.

It feels like for me anything either doesn't matter or matters more than life itself. When I do something I am all in it, when I like someone I love them, when I hate I really hate. The smallest encounter consumes me.

How did I get here? Early on I start noticing that my reactions are different than those of other people, so I started controlling them: I don't show that I am happy or sad until I decide what amount of that emotion is appropriate to show. Excitement, anger, joy, pain... it's all under control. Now I need to smile, now I need to be nice, now I should show that I'm upset. It's a lot of pressure and work. It's hard work and the results are not very encouraging: people think you don't care, when you burst out they get surprised and become uncomfortable with the emotional overflow. Then there's always the lag: something happens and I don't show any emotion until I decide what the appropriate emotion is. So everything looks good 5 minutes after it happens, but the next day a storm comes out: quite confusing for everyone around, isn't it?

I'm pretty sure this is not only me: I see it on the other blogs: someone tries to increase their likeability, we all think about how we reacted to something and try to control it.

And it infuriates me. It infuriates me that we shouldn't have to do this. It's unfair that we need to make so many conscious decisions about everything. Can we just not do it? Just let it go? It gets you on things you care about the most: you lose friends, relationships over it... maybe those friendships and relationships never had the chance and you're blaming yourself for it, but you will never know and you swear that the next time you meet someone you will not let it happen again.