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Anxiety and Horror Movies

I live with anxiety. In a nutshell, what that means is that randomly my brain decides I need to get anxious about something. It can be the most mundane thing in the world (for example, I’ve had panic attacks while standing in line at Walmart to pay for my groceries), but my brain turns it into a crisis. There are varying degrees of anxiousness, from an electric feeling to nervousness to full-blown panic. And I have no control over when these feelings hit.

Here are some examples of my anxiety:

My family and I used to live in a house on a fairly busy street. The boys’ bedrooms were at the front of the house, and every winter I had visions of someone losing control on the icy streets and slamming into the front of the house while my boys slept.

My friend and I had the opportunity to go to the AWP conference a few years ago when it was in Seattle. We were sharing a hotel room, and it was on the 27th floor. When we entered, my friend went to look out the window, and I told her to get away from it. I had visions of the glass falling out and her being sucked to her death. (For some reason, in my anxiety-induced fantasy, there was a pressure difference between the hotel room and outside.)

I never go into any building without knowing where the exits and bathrooms are—you just never know when you’re going to need one or the other.

I also have anxiety dreams.

One time, I had a dream that my youngest son had been bitten by a zombie. Before he turned, we decided to give him the best day ever—whatever he wanted to do, he could do. When his time was up, I had to take him out into the yard to deal with him. I’m sure you can imagine the anguish I was going through.

When the boys were still babies, I had a dream that I had taken them to Walmart. I set the carrier on the ground next to my car while I loaded the groceries in the back, and my oldest decided he was going to take that moment to run around the parking lot. I chased after him, and while I was trying to catch him, a monster truck pulled into the parking space next to my car and ran over my other son.

These few examples just scratch the surface of what my brain comes up with. Sure, I can tell myself that everything is going to be all right and that it’s only in my brain, but when my body releases the adrenaline and other chemicals, all I can do is ride the wave until they subside.

Anxiety isn’t logical, and I spend a lot of my day having a horror movie play inside my head. It’s stressful to think that I have little control over what my own brain does. So, with all of this happening, why in the world would I want to be a horror author or watch horror movies? You’d think I got enough scary stuff on my own.

The answer to that is actually quite simple: control.

While I can’t control my brain going to the worst-case scenario in most situations, I can control what I watch. I know that a horror movie is supposed to be scary. I know that there are going to be jumps and scary creatures. I know that what I see on the screen is fake.

When it comes to horror, I get to pick what I watch. I’m a huge fan of creature features, slasher films, and zombie flicks, so they’re top on my list. There’s a comfort in knowing that these movies are predictable. Even though they still might cause me to jump, I know it’s coming. I can’t say the same about my anxiety. I have no idea when it’s going to strike.

Horror movies help me deal with my emotions. They don’t stop the anxiety from happening, but if I’m going to be anxious, I at least want to have some control over it. That’s also why I write horror. It gives me a chance to project my unnatural and illogical fears onto the page and have someone overcome the ordeal.

Anxiety is hard to live with. It can be debilitating. It can make me feel out of control—especially of my own mind. But when I get the chance, I like to take that control back and be anxious, panicky, and afraid on my own terms.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope you have a wonderfully amazing day!

Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday, right after Halloween. I love celebrating food. I mean, seriously, what can be better? Aside from spending time with friends and family and reflecting on everything that we’re thankful for.

I know it can be hard to see the bright side when things have been so bleak, and I’m fully aware that the holidays can be a stressful time. But I encourage all of you to take a moment—no matter how brief—and think of one thing that you’re happy for. Maybe it’s just getting out of bed—it doesn’t matter—some days that’s an accomplishment all in itself, and I’m proud of you for taking that step.

After you think of that one thing, try to think of another. Then, go stuff yourself full of turkey and all the other wonderful foods and have a fantastic day!

Life Changes in the Blink of an Eye

For the past few months, I’ve been struggling to find time to do anything besides work. Then, like that, I have nothing but time. So what have I been doing with my new-found time?

Well, I go through a range of emotions on a daily basis—from anger to sadness to hurt to annoyed to worried to acceptance—sometimes in multiple cycles. I’m trying to stay optimistic and look at the bright side, but it’s been difficult to do. I worry a lot about what the future is going to bring.

One of the things I’ve done to try and cope with the situation is look at it like a rejection. As an author, I’m used to getting rejections. I’m used to people telling me no. While it’s distressing for a while, it usually motivates me to pick myself up and move on. I can mourn the rejection and be upset by it, but it doesn’t define me. It’s not who I am, and it drives me to prove that I can be so much better.

It helps looking at it from this perspective, but my self-confidence and self-worth have been shaken. My pride has been wounded.

I’m not one to sit around and do nothing, but there’s only so much I can do right now. I’m doing what I can and hoping for the best. If you want to send some good juju my way, I’ll happily take it.

So far, I’ve gotten up every morning and worked out, then showered and got on the computer. I’m trying to keep a schedule so I don’t fall into a funk. I feel like I should take this time to clean parts of my house that never get cleaned, but I’m working up to that.

Since I have so much time on my hands, I’ve been able to get through edits for Humanity’s Hope and get those sent back to the editor. It felt good to do something productive. Perhaps I can use that momentum to make up for the last few months and get some more writing done. Perhaps this is a good time to look into marketing and PR.

Above all else, I need to keep my head up and realize that this doesn’t define me. Rejection of any sort doesn’t define me; it only makes me stronger and more determined. Sure, it’s tough and I might cry every so often, but I can’t give up.

“Everything Happens for a Reason”

I’ve never been a fan of this saying. It always felt so passive to me. Like I was resolving myself to whatever had happened or was going to happen.

But I think I was looking at it wrong.

Unfortunately, things happen in life that we don’t have any control over. We can’t stop the sun from rising and setting, and bad and good things will occur on a daily basis. But we don’t have to watch it happen passively. We have a choice in how we act and react to the situation. In the end, we might not be able to change anything, but we can do what is best for us.

I’m not talking about the election in this post. While I know that will be the focus of the next few days (weeks or perhaps even months), my focus is on a much smaller, more selfish scale. I can’t change what happened with the presidency. The only thing I can do anything about is my own life.

Life is tough. It throws us curve balls and tests our will. It pushes us down over and over and over again. But the true test is whether we get back up. Sometimes, the fight isn’t worth it. We don’t always have to be able to face the challenge. Sometimes we don’t have the energy or the means. And that’s okay. We’re not going to win every battle. The older I get, the more I realize that it’s important to pick my battles and do what I can to make a difference in my life.

I try to be the best person I can be and instill those values in my kids. I try to make my small part of the world what I want it to be. Right now, my goal is to be happy. It’s been a long road full of bumps and detours and the world crashing down on me, but now I have an opportunity to change. I think this is where the above saying comes into play. I think this is my sign to be spurred into action. It’s my chance to find something better and rediscover what it means for me to be happy. Will it be easy? No. Will there be challenges and worries and stress along the way? Of course. But I’m going to do what I can.

On a lighter note, I’ve been working on edits to Humanity’s Hope. The other day, I was at the point with corrections where I was like, “This isn’t half bad. Maybe I’m not a terrible writer!” It’s helps to have an amazing editor make suggestions on how the book can be better.

I don’t know when the book will be out—more than likely it won’t be before the end of the year—but I’m getting that much closer. I’m working toward the end. It’s a great feeling, and it helps me feel accomplished. 

November Already?

Where did the time go? I didn’t have time to fully prepare for Halloween, and now Thanksgiving is right around the corner? Insanity!

I hope you all had a great Halloween. We did. I took the boys trick-or-treating with their cousins and one of their cousin’s friends. They go soooooo much candy. We should be good for a year.

The night after Halloween wasn’t exactly a fun time. My oldest left his candy bag on the couch, so two of the dogs got into it. The third dog didn’t because he was in his kennel while the rest of us went to basketball practice. I got to spend the rest of the evening running the dogs to the vet so they could induce vomiting.

It was a good thing they went, however. Siggy, my little 22-lb Corgi, had eaten chocolate and some gum, which could have possible had sorbitol in it. I had no idea that was poisonous until the vet said something.

I’m hoping the rest of the week goes a bit more smoothly. It’s only Wednesday and I’m already exhausted.

How did your Halloween go? Anything fun and exciting happen?