Letting Go of Expectations

From hectic life in the USA to island life as a stay-at-home-wife, this blog follows the musings of an anxious Type-A as she learns to slow down and tune in to the important things in life

 

Month: August 2017

How Anxiety Medication Helped Me

At this point, I have been on anxiety medication for over a year.

When I first started taking medication, I noticed some changes within the first few months. I was more able to redirect my thoughts to something productive when I wanted to fixate on something. I could actually do things instead of feeling too overwhelmed to start.

Even little things improved. I was able to chop vegetables for dinner in a reasonable amount of time because they didn’t all have to be exactly the same size. I still wanted them to be the same size… but they didn’t have to be. It sounds silly, but it made me so happy!

Anxiety Affected my Favorite Activity

I started taking anxiety medication about the time I was getting less involved in horseback riding to prepare for the move to Grenada. I didn’t think much of it until I was back in the States for a while and had the opportunity to ride again quite a bit.

It hadn’t occurred to me that it was my first time really riding after I started taking anxiety medication until, one day, I found myself on the back of a horse that was being a bit cheeky.

My anxiety looooves to taunt me with the worst-case scenario. In this instance, my mind obligingly flashed images of said cheeky horse running full tilt back to the barn, looking like a cross between Seabiscuit and a rodeo bronc. If I managed to stay on for that, my anxiety assured me that the saddle would slip dramatically off to one side, and I would fall off and probably get hurt. While we were at it, why not add the horse stepping in a hole and getting injured as well.

In the past, I would always ride through any anxiety I had and do my best at ignoring it. Despite that challenge, I achieved a reasonable level of competence in riding, training, and competing. I like to think that it never got the better of me or made me quit in those moments, but I found that fearing for your life tends to make things a lot less fun.

The Moment Medication Made a Difference

Flashback to reality for a moment. The horse was really just doing a little jig as he walked back to the barn. My rational-self knew there was absolutely no reason to panic.

I told myself that the horse would likely jig for a minute and then calm down, just like thousands of horses have done thousands of times before. I also told myself that I have been riding for 16 years and could probably sit whatever buck he could muster if he even decided to buck in the first place.

You know what happened then? My rational self won and I actually started to relax. A short time later, the horse settled down and we continued on our merry way.

That was huge! It was the first time in my riding career that my anxiety started to act up and I was able to actively manage it, instead of just trying to ignore it.

It made the rest of the ride actually enjoyable. The horse was notably happier, too, considering that I was no longer clinging onto him like a cat being put into a bathtub.

It wasn’t only that ride, though. After that, all my rides were more worry-free. Not entirely worry-free, but notably better than before.

I realized that medication changed the stick that I was using to beat back anxiety into a sword.

Why I’ll Never Go Back

There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and taking medication for mental illnesses, but nothing should keep someone from using the tools available to them to live a better, happier life.

Medication is not the right answer for everyone, and that’s fine too. Side effects can outweigh the benefits, it can take a long time to figure out which medications and dosages work best, and all that may change over time.

For me, though, anxiety medication has improved my day to day life. It has also taken riding, which I have always loved, to a new level of enjoyment.

It’s not a fix, but for me, it was a start. I feel like I’m able to experience the world more fully now, without anxiety always holding me back.

I know that there will be times that anxiety will rear its ugly head again and make life more difficult, but right now I am so excited about exploring this new life and all the possibilities in it.

All thanks to two little pills.

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

Updated: Pot Hound Love

Meet foster puppy Madison! She is five weeks old, weighed 1.02kg at her last checkup, and is ferociously teething. She is a pot hound puppy!

three week old pot hound puppy

What is a Pot Hound?

“Pot hound” is the name for mutt dogs on the island of Grenada. Many of them are strays, and you’d be hard pressed to walk anywhere without encountering at least one pot hound.

By my guess, most of these island dogs are about 40 pounds and a lot of them are brown, but I have seen pot hounds that are white, black, biggish, littleish, brindle, and everything in between. Sometimes they will follow you as you walk down the street – or beach – and are really sweet and friendly when you offer them a scratch behind the ears.

brindle female dog with floppy ears sitting on grass

This lovely lady greeted us at a bus stop one day. She was quite happy to accept the pop tart that someone there offered her!

Most of the dogs in Grenada that aren’t strays are kept for home protection, not as pets in the way that most people in the States have dogs. They may bark when you pass by their house, though I’ve only ever met one pot hound that harbored any true ill will (I’m talking about you, Sugar the dog!) Sometimes you see them roaming around with sun-bleached collars on, indicating that they have a home to go to, but they are still free to wander most of the time.

Many of the pothounds here, even the ones with owners, are not fixed. Which is how little Miss Madison, and many other puppies and kittens like her, came along.

The beginning of Madison’s story is not a happy one. She was found at about two weeks old alone and covered in maggots. Luckily, she was taken to the Grenada SPCA Animal Shelter, where she got fed and cleaned up and eventually came to us as a bottle baby to foster!

pot hound puppy

Always on the move!

Future Foster Fail?

Madison is now healthy, playful, and sassy! She likes to sleep, wrestle with little toys, and has a tiny little bark. I am completely unable to call her by her real name most of the time, and her nicknames to date include Sass, Squeak, Little Miss, and Miss Maddie May, but only if you say it to the tune of the song, “Down by the Bay”.

If you don’t have that song stuck in your head now, I applaud you. If you do have that song stuck in your head…sorry!

Having an adult dog and a bottle baby puppy has been as close to having children as I could imagine in any of my life experiences so far.

blue heeler puppy sleeping

Not to be outdone by adorable pictures of Madison, here is a picture of Tryst as a puppy!

I will be feeding Madison, and our dog Tryst will all of a sudden need to go out, so I will need to juggle both of them to make everyone happy. Or, I will be playing with Madison and Tryst will feel left out and beg for cuddles. We are making sure he gets lots of love so that he doesn’t get jealous, but sometimes cuddling him and playing with Madison feels like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time!

Taking care of such a young puppy is also a really great way to kick start those motherly instincts… but that’s a whole other story!

While we are having a great time fostering Madison, we are hoping not to become a foster fail. She is going to be really, really hard to let go, but our plans for the next few years are tentative, and traveling with one dog is enough of a circus!

pot hound puppy sticking tongue out

Who could say no to this face?

Looking to Adopt?

Madison is available for adoption in Grenada, but it would be possible for her to travel to her forever home if someone off the rock wanted to adopt this little ball of fluff! Although it will be really bittersweet when she gets adopted, I plan to volunteer more at the GSPCA and foster again in the future.

You can’t foster if you keep them all, right? At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Can you have too many dogs though? Well, probably, but we only have one right now…

It sounds like Madison is hungry again, so I guess that’s my cue. I’m off to snuggle some pups!

*Adoption Update!*

As of today, Madison has a forever home! I held out for as long as I could, but Husband and I fell head over heels for this sweet little girl. We just signed the papers, and she will officially be staying with us!

The moment I heard her name I knew she was going to be hard to give up. Madison is my hometown and the city where Husband and I met. Now, we’ll always have a piece of Madison and a piece of Grenada with us, no matter where in the world we are.

Our adventure in fostering is over – for now – and I completely understand why there are so many foster fails. Really though, it’s not such a bad club to be in!


Want to see more adorable puppy pictures and pictures of my adventures in Grenada? Follow me on Instagram!

The Grenada SPCA does so much for the animals here. They shelter neglected and abused animals, provide affordable veterinary treatment, and are working hard to get more of the animals on the island spayed and neutered. If you’re interested, check them out and maybe send a donation their way. With all of the animals that they help, I know they could always use it!

If You Can’t Handle Me at My Worst

You’ve probably heard the saying before. “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

This quote (whose actual author is unknown but which is commonly misattributed to Marilyn Monroe) seems to resonate with a lot of people.

It does with me as well, but a lightbulb moment changed the message of that quote for me. Now, those words speak to me in a much different way.

The Aha! Moment

It started when I was mad at Husband about something or other. We had just uprooted our lives in the States and moved to Grenada. He had just started medical school. We were both maybe a little stressed out. Ok, maybe a lot stressed out.

As I was sitting there, being mad, the quote popped into my head. If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.

Things were hard. And different. And he was really, really busy. Our lives had suddenly changed completely and he wasn’t able to support me as much as I needed or wanted during that major life transition.

I felt like I was at my worst, or close to it. I was at my worst, and in that moment, he wasn’t able to deal with me the way I wanted to be dealt with.

My mind went back to those words. If you can’t handle me at my worst-

But then it occurred to me. What if you turned the phrase around?

If I can’t handle him at his worst, I don’t deserve him at his best.

That changed everything.

How it Affected My Relationship

I realized that, though he is quite a bit more unflappable than I am, he had just gone through the same move that I did. On top of that, he was starting med school. We were both probably at our worst, or close to it.

Suddenly I began thinking about how I could be more supportive in our relationship, instead of just ruminating over what I needed out of it. I thought about how I could help him so that I deserved him at his best.

It seems really easy, in relationships, to think about what you want out of the other person. We spend time, even as we’re growing up, thinking about what qualities we want our partner to have and how we want them to treat us.

But how often do we think about what the other person wants or needs from us?

That is not to say that one person should bear the brunt of the work in a relationship. It is important that both people contribute equally. But maybe, if you give a little more, you’ll get back at least as much as you gave.

When I started thinking about what I could do for Husband to “handle him at his worst”, we both became happier.

The small steps that I took to help him become less stressed out also reduced my stress level because it gave me actionable things that I could do to improve our relationship. On top of that, when he was less stressed out, tension in our relationship dropped, and he was more able to provide the support that I was looking for from him.

Does the World Really Need More Relationship Advice?

The original quote is all about loving and accepting yourself for who you are, flaws and all, and making sure that the important people in your life do the same. While being treated right is incredibly important, it is also important to step back and make sure that we’re giving what we want to get.

I tend to be very stuck in my own head (hello, Anxiety), so maybe this reminder to step back and think about what you can give to your relationship is more obvious to some people.

But in a world where celebrity marriages end as soon as they begin, where the divorce rate seems to keep climbing, where people are always moving on to the next newer, better thing, maybe I’m not the only one who could use a reminder to think, not just about what you want to get out of a relationship, but what you are willing to put into it.

How to Improve Your Relationships

If you can’t handle them at their worst, you don’t deserve them at their best.

Try it on for size. Think about it. The next time you encounter a situation where you feel like someone isn’t able to “handle you at your worst”, try flipping the tables. When they were at their worst, what did you do for them?

Maybe the answer is that you did a lot for them. In that case, that might be a person who is using up a lot of your energy and maybe that’s not the kind of person you need in your life.

But maybe the answer is that you could have done more. Maybe you could have been more understanding, or taken a little more time out of your day for them, or sent that text message, or checked up on them, or brought them coffee. If that’s the case, and you value that person, maybe you decide to do a little more the next time.

That may just be the best bit of relationship advice that I’ve ever had the good fortune of stumbling upon-

If you value someone, think about what you’re doing for them to deserve them at their best.

Photo by Farrel Nobel on Unsplash