Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch….July 27, 2018

Between bears and yellow jackets, this tee shirt pretty much sums up my summer.

This week, I waived the white flag of surrender to my anxiety.  I told you last week that I want to get honest on this blog, so this is one of those weeks when I share a bit of personal information with you.

All my life I have dealt with anxiety, and until a therapist gave it a name in 2003, I felt very alone with it.  Knowing what it was, and that it was treatable, helped me begin dealing with it.

When I was hit with major depression in 2009, depression’s BFF, anxiety, was along for the ride.  Xanax helped, and I discovered that doctors in Atlanta prescribe it freely.  I wasn’t looking for massive doses, but every time I saw my psychiatrist, even once we had the depression under control, if I mentioned that I was anxious, he prescribed more Xanax.

For a number of reasons the move here was very stressful for me, and by the time I had my first visit with an NP for prescription refills, I was a hot mess taking a dangerous amount of Xanax.

Spiky feathers!

Dawn looked at me with great concern. “Eleanor,” she said, “You are taking an unhealthy amount of Xanax.  Do you know that if there was an interruption in supply and you could not get a refill, you could have seizures and die?”

Well, that got my attention.  I explained to her that between the move, trying to transition my job to a remote position, and shouldering two mortgages, I was under tremendous stress.  I promised her that once my job settled down and the house sold, I would, with her help, begin tapering off of the medication.

The textures of these feathers!

That was March of 2013.  In January of 2014, I began tapering.  I worked for a year to reduce the amount I was taking, until I was only taking one dose to sleep through the night.  Later, I even weaned off of that.  Cognitive therapy helped keep me off of it.

During the fall and winter of 2016/2017, anxiety reared it’s ugly head for no discernable reason, and I took a different medication to get through that season.  I now believe that it was associated with seasonal affective disorder.

Love this swirl shape!

Cognitive therapy was helpful because I learned how to identify and wrangle my anxiety triggers.  This time when anxiety began to lay itself over my shoulders like a mantle, I was quickly able to identify the triggers.

Two are just part of my daily life, and they are a chemical imbalance and living with my husband’s chronic back pain.  Generally, I can manage these two sources of anxiety.

Why yes, of course a yellow jacket had to show up!

What pushed me over the brink for the summer is a combination of the bear, yellow jackets, and hornets.  I can’t step outside without constantly being on the alert for any combination of the three. The outdoors is my happy place, and this summer it has become my dangerous place.

The threats are real, not imagined, and I needed some help to relax. I called Dawn, and she prescribed lorazepam to help me through the rest of this summer.

Oh, that teeny egg! Hard to believe that birds start out that tiny. The brown chip off to the side is the interior of a shell.

I share this with you for several reasons.  First, I want to be honest about our life here.

Second, I want to encourage people who deal with anxiety.  Cognitive therapy is important, and there is no shame in occasionally needing medicine for anxiety.

Third, for readers who live with someone who has issues with anxiety, it is real, and it helps us when you can help us identify our anxious moments and deal with them.  When anxiety hits hard, we can get so wrapped up in it that we don’t realize how we have just been run over by a freight train.

One of the most loving actions John can take in these moments is to calmly and kindly point out to me what is going on. He has lived with me long enough to know how beneficial medication can be for me in these moments, so he encourages me to take it when needed.  Other times all I need is some time alone to regroup my thoughts, and he understands that, too.

It is a fair statement to say that we are overrun with yellow jackets, with no end in sight, except for autumn.  Even John commented yesterday that they are everywhere we turn.

Sunset at Smith Lake.

And yes, I finally got stung, and it wasn’t even at home!  We bought kayaks this week (!), and we took them out on Smith Lake Wednesday afternoon at sunset to try them out.  Apparently, one lit on my arm without my knowing it, and when I lowered my left arm to paddle, I managed to bump my arm against the side of the kayak exactly where the yellow jacket was sitting and it got me.  Fortunately, I am not allergic!

With a little help from a filter.

The kayaks are awesome!  We both love them! And not only does paddling not hurt John’s back, we both find it to be fun core strengthening exercise. We took our first river kayaking trip this weekend, and I will write a separate post about that adventure.

We cleaned out our bird houses Thursday night. John wanted to make sure that no yellow jackets had set up house in any of them. We found two gorgeous feathered nests; one still contained an egg!  We suspected swallows in at least one of the boxes, which we confirmed with a quick Google search.  I did not know that they routinely line their nests with feathers, did you?  I have interspersed pictures throughout this post.

The garden is chugging along.  I am watering it daily now, and will likely continue to do so through August. The sweet peas are beginning to sport blossoms! And by the way, when I say “sweet peas,” I mean the vegetable sugar snap peas, not the flowers.

And it is cherry season!  Flathead lake is the perfect microclimate for cherries, so the lake’s edge is dotted with cherry orchards.  Cherry stands open up from Elmo to Summers along Highway 93 (which runs along the west side of the lake). We stopped yesterday and bought a pound of Rainiers and a pound of Flathead cherries. They are so sweet and juicy!

One major blessing this summer is an almost fire-free wildfire season! I just checked inciweb, and it is only reporting two small fires burning in Montana.  This time last year, there were over one hundred fires scorching 1.4 million acres. That acreage is larger that the state of Rhode Island (988,000 acres) and almost the size of Delaware (1.5 million acres).

We are so thankful for this “no fire” season!

In closing, here’s our weather forecast for the week.  If we can make it through the next three hot days, it looks like our highs will be mostly in the low eighties! Have we seen the last of our hottest days?  Time will tell.

Stay tuned for our camping trip and river kayaking adventures!


5 Replies to “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch….July 27, 2018”

  1. Thanks for sharing Eleanor. I always appreciate your honesty.

    1. You are so welcome, Karla
      I always appreciate your support. I am

    2. Thanks, Karla. I always appreciate your support.

  2. Tracey Turner Reidy says: Reply

    Thank you for this raw and honest post. We all have our struggles and it helps to hear encouragement from those who struggle also. I love you dear friend with all of my heart!

    1. Tracey, thanks for your encouraging words. I don’t think it does anyone any good just to paint a rosy picture. I love you, too!!

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