When Anxiety Attacks

Anyone who has anxiety knows it is a big bully.  Sometimes, though, anxiety gets drunk and takes on an even worse personality.  Instead of just going home and passing out, anxiety turns into a full blown panic attack.  If you have never had a panic attack, I’m jealous of you.  It is the most scared you will ever be without actually dying.  Here is how a panic attack generally works.

Completely out of nowhere, your heart starts beating on your chest like it is trying to escape and run off to the transplant factory.  You become alarmed by this, and then it gets worse.

Cue the “I just ran a marathon” breathing.  You pant.  You can’t quite catch your breath.  You definitely have trouble talking to anyone who may be witnessing this.

Then, you start to feel extremely hot, not sexy hot, menopause hot flash hot. If you are wearing a sweater, jacket, robe, or any sort of second layer, you start clawing that off because you are certain you are having a heat stroke.

The nausea hits next.  You get close to a trash can or toilet, usually sitting on the ground next to it because you can’t use your jelly legs. You just know you are going to barf, and that makes you more panicky because who really WANTS to barf?

But you don’t barf, usually, instead ice water starts pouring from your pores.  It soaks your shirt, if you are still wearing one.  It soaks your hair.  Suddenly, you are no longer hot.  Your breathing slows, and the pounding chest and marathon breathing slow to almost normal.  Once it is all over, you feel really weak and a little shaky.  You change your shirt and lie down if you are home.

I remember my first panic attack like it wasn’t 25 years ago. I was 19 and I had joined a therapy group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I never received counseling when I was a kid, and the guy I was dating at the time offered to pay for therapy.  I guess he thought I really needed it.  After doing a little research by calling different therapists, I figured out that individual therapy was really expensive, so I joined a group.  It was great to sit with people who knew how I felt for real.  I made friends with my group mates.  One of the women in the group got really sick and had to be hospitalized.  So, I visited her.

My boyfriend drove me to the hospital that day.  He waited in the waiting room and I walked down the hall to her room.  Everything was going OK.  I asked her how she was doing, and she basically told me she was miserable but getting better.  There was a lull in the conversation, so I started really looking at the tubes coming out of her.  There were the usual IV tubes and needles, but there was also a feeding tube going up her nose and down her throat.  For some reason, right after I noticed that, the chest pounding and nausea hit.

I told my friend that I had to go and walked out calmly. I didn’t tell her what I was feeling because I didn’t want to upset her.  I got out the door of her room and felt dizzy and weak.  I kept walking down the hall, staring at the floor, and having a conversation in my head.

Me: Just drop. Drop to the floor. There are doctors and nurses here.

Also Me:  Nope.  You will make it to the waiting room.

And I did.  I got back to the waiting room, sat down on the floor, and started hyperventilating.  I announced that I was going to puke.  My boyfriend was the only person in the room, which spared me a lot of embarrassment, and he brought a trash can over to me.  I kept panting and saying that I was going to die.  I dry heaved a few times into the trash can.  Then, in a few minutes, it all stopped and I was fine.

My second panic attack happened when I was type testing own blood in biology lab. Why do they make students do this? I looked around the room and saw everyone’s bloody fingers, and I got dizzy and nauseated. So, I went to the bathroom and had a panic attack. I never did figure out my blood type.

I had one in line at the post office when I was pregnant.  I still managed to sign for a registered letter from my dickhead landlord while hyperventilating and trying not to puke.  I’m certain the postal clerk thought I was on drugs. I’m glad my mom was with me and driving because I was shaky and very weak after the attack.

Since then, anxiety has attacked me at random times, all over the place.  I’ve been attacked on planes, at the store, and a lot of times just sitting around at home.  They seem to happen out of nowhere for the most part.  I’m a nervous flyer, so I can kind of understand why they happen on planes, but I don’t get why they happen when I’m sitting on the couch.

Other than daily anxiety meds, which make me a wee bit too foggy for my comfort level, I wasn’t sure what to do about these attacks.  Amy Wainright read my Anxiety the Brain Bully piece and reached out to me with an offer to try her Anxiety Relief video course. Overall, I found this video series to be very helpful.  Amy’s soothing tone, and repetition of the steps for each activity really helped.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of video courses.  I find I don’t have the attention span for them as I am more of a reader than a watcher.  This course held my attention, though.

The breathing techniques were helpful.  They helped me release tense muscles that I did not know were tense. Heck, I didn’t know they existed. Amy’s Four Step Protocol could be helpful as it takes the focus off of an impending panic attack.  During this part of the video, Amy tells the viewer to “accept the feeling” of anxiety. I can see how this could work because getting anxious about anxiety often makes things worse. Amy’s techniques are great for people who don’t want to take pills regularly.

I haven’t had a panic attack since watching the videos, so I haven’t had a chance to use the breathing during an attack.  I’m eager to see how it works.  If you have anxiety and panic attacks, what do you do to alleviate them? Have you found a medication or natural technique that helps?  Share it with me in the comment section.  I’m always up for finding new ways to beat this invisible bully that lives in my brain.

Photo by: Krysten Newby

Photo by: Krysten Newby



Social Media 101

Social media of some sort has been around for quite a while now so you would think that people would know how to use it.  But no.  No. Every day, or should I say every hour (I’m a Facebook Crackwhore), when I log on to Facebook, I see things that piss me off, and I’m not an irritable person.  OK. I’m definitely an irritable person, but still. How can we as a species not understand general netiquette in 2016?

Since this bugs the shit out of me, and since I am a Type-A control freak, and since I mixed Sudafed with my coffee today, I have decided to prepare a brief lesson on social media netiquette.  Get yourself a glass of wine, water, bourbon or tea and read these basic rules to remember when you are surfing the Net for selfies and cat videos.

Come on over to Knot So Subtle to read the rest.


The Jordache Smell

“You’ve been wearing those same pants all week,” Dickhead (not his real name) said to me in front of everyone in the hallway right after sixth grade math. Until that moment, I had a crush on him. I looked into his smirking face and hated him and his dark good looks.

“Um, no I haven’t. I have a couple of different pairs, and anyway I washed them.” I stammered, trying not to cry.  This was total bullshit, as I had only one pair and we did not own a washing machine.

Come on over to Knot So Subtle and read about my middle school fashion disasters.



Anxiety: the Brain Bully

A lot of my friends are writers or other creative type people.  By being a creative person and hanging out with similar folks, I have learned that with creativity comes mental illness.  I’m sure not ALL creative types are mentally ill, but I have yet to meet one who does not suffer from some sort of disorder. Seriously, I have never heard of a perfectly normal and well-adjusted writer, artist, photographer, or whatever.  We all have SOMETHING that makes us a little different.  Most of my friends have depression.  I feel for them as I have had depression twice in my life, once after my son was born, and then while going through my divorce. I actually thought about killing myself during my divorce.  So, I get the whole “depression lies” thing because it does.  It tells you that you are worthless and that you should die.  It’s a horrible thing.

I don’t have depression now, though.  Nope.  I have it’s twisted cousin – anxiety.  Anxiety lies, too, but more than that, it bullies. Anxiety pounds you with horror movie thoughts like that mean 4th grader used to throw erasers at your head during quiet reading time.  Anxiety doesn’t give you a moment of peace, even when you’re sleeping.  It wakes you up to torment you.  Here is a recent midnight chat I had with anxiety.

Me: [sound asleep and dreaming about kittens]


Me: [Sitting up in bed] What?

Anxiety: HOW can you sleep at a time like this?

Me: Why shouldn’t I sleep?

Anxiety: Your son isn’t home.

Me: I know. He went out with his friends.  He’s 18.

Anxiety: He could be dead.

Me: He’s not dead.  Wait? IS he dead?

Anxiety: He could be.  What if one of his friends murdered him?

Me: His friends are nice. They wouldn’t kill him.

Anxiety: You don’t know that.  Marty killed Bobby.  They were best friends.

Me: Marty is a psychopath.  My son’s friends are not psychopaths.

Anxiety: How do you KNOW that? You don’t know.  Plus, he could be dead even if he wasn’t murdered.

Me: [listening to my heart race] Huh?

Anxiety: Maybe he was in an accident. Maybe he’s trapped in his car at the bottom of a lake.

Me: No. There’s not much water around here.  He’s a good driver.

Anxiety: It COULD happen.  Anyone could be trapped in a car underwater.  It could happen to you, your son, your husband, your mother.  Anyone.

Me: [having trouble breathing normally]

Anxiety: You need to save everyone! You need to get everyone you know one of those things that can break car windows underwater.  EVERYONE.  Go on Amazon right now and order a case of them.  You also have to get something so everyone can attach the window breaker to their belt loops.  Other wise, the damn tool could be floating around in the car and no one will be able to reach it and they will still die.

Me: Oh no!  I hate water. Why do we have it? It will kill us all.

At this point, I give up and reach for my iPad.  My husband continues to snooze next to me while I sign in to Amazon, magnifying the tiny iPad screen to accommodate my old people eyes.  I search for the glass breaking tool and then Google “escaping a car underwater” 5,897 times.  After reading several articles, spending too much money, and even watching some videos that make my palms sweat, I tire myself enough to go back to sleep about eighteen minutes before the alarm goes off.

So, what about you? Do you have anxiety? Does it bully you in the middle of the night?




Type A is Awesome!

There seems to be a sloppy mom trend on social media and I don’t like it. People are posting memes saying things like “A messy home equals happy children” and other such nonsense. Being disorganized, sloppy, and lazy has become something to boast about. Mothers who are neat, organized, and productive are referred to as cold or bitchy. I have had enough of this nonsense. I am a neat freak mom, and I’m here to tell you it’s called Type A because A lot of Amazing things start with A.

A is the best grade you can get in school.

You want to eat grade-A food.

Boarding line A on Southwest Airlines is the only way to get a non claustrophobia inducing seat.

Size A boobs don’t flop around when you jog.

Come on over to Knot So Subtle to read the rest. Look for me in the Laughing Section.

Holiday Shopping When You Hate People

7finalWell, it’s the “most wonderful” time of the year again. By “most wonderful” I mean stressful as hell.  It’s time for shopping and decorating and cooking and baking and gaining at least ten pounds and dealing with oodles of people.  Yes, the holidays are here.  I say holidays because there are a few of them at the same time; so don’t get all political/religious on me.  I hate all of the winter holidays equally because they involve going out in public and shopping with others.  If you’re anything like me, and you probably aren’t since I am pretty weird, you hate Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanza shopping, too.  So, I have prepared a list of holiday shopping coping mechanisms.

Try like fuck to find it on Amazon and avoid the whole shopping trip.  I know. I know. There are certain things you CAN’T buy online.  With my tree trunk legs, I have to buy boots in person because most of them don’t fit my sturdy calves.

If you just can’t avoid shopping amongst other humans, eat hard-boiled eggs and Brussels sprouts for breakfast.  Once you start dropping flammable farts, everyone will steer clear.

If you loathe salespeople like I do, avoid eye contact when entering store.  Just keep your chin on your chest and stare at the floor.

Want more tips?  Head over to the Knot So Subtle Laughing section and look for me there.


Crossfit Failure


I attempted a beginning Crossfit class recently.  I kept a diary of my progress. Here it is, for your enjoyment.

Day One – I breeze through my first ever Crossfit class at 44 years old. Well, I didn’t BREEZE through it exactly.  I got a touch out of breath during the burpees, and those butterfly leg, arms all the way up sit ups were no picnic. My couch pouch kept getting in the way. But I did it. I did the whole half hour class. Thirty solid minutes of sweating. I didn’t cheat with the lunges, either, even when the instructor was not looking.

As soon as I got home, I took a shower to get the gym floor dirt off of me. Did I mention the burpees? I pretty much ate the floor during those. So, I also did three loads of laundry to get the gym off of my clothes, carrying the full basket up and down the stairs with minimal tenderness in my thighs. I thought I was a warrior.

Want to read about what happens the rest of the week?  Come on over to Knot So Subtle.


To my Homeowner’s Association

Dear Neighborhood Overlords,

I just received your certified, return receipt requested letter regarding the color of my mailbox. I apologize that it is one shade too light. Maybe I should just set it on fire and start over with a new mailbox. I was going to paint it myself, but in your first warning letter, the one that was taped to my front door even though the bylaws prohibit the use of adhesives on doors, you stated that if I didn’t attend to my eyesore of a mailbox you would send a painter over and bill me for the work. This made me giddy. I waited by my door, with my checkbook in hand for that fabulous day when someone else would paint the godblessed box. He never showed up. I ate a bag of peanut butter cups to soothe my disappointment.

There’s more! Come on over to Knot So Subtle to read the rest of my letter to my cookie cutter neighborhood overlords. Look for me in the Laughing section.

IBS with Benefits

I have IBS-D. I specified the D because there are two types of IBS.  People with IBS-C have chronic constipation, whereas IBS-D sufferers beg Santa Claus for constipation every year.  Seriously.  Constipation would be a fucking gift to someone who goes five times a day on average.  Having IBS-D is like constantly reliving that one time you ate something from the roadside stand in Tijuana.

I’ve had IBS my whole life, so I’ve learned to cope with it. Even though shitting yourself silly can suck, there are some benefits to having IBS.

Never Obese – It’s like having bulimia, but they won’t put you on Intervention for it. I’m only mild to moderately overweight, not scooter level obese according to my doctor.  Just kidding. Doctors don’t talk to patients that way.  What I’m trying to say is I’m a little heavy around the haunches, but I’m nowhere near being on a Discovery Channel show or having Richard Simmons cry at my bedside during a Deal a Meal commercial. I eat enough to be bigger, but I just shit it out constantly.

Come on over to Knot So Subtle to learn about the other benefits to having IBS.

Now my bathroom smells like cinnamon spice and poop.

Now my bathroom smells like cinnamon spice and poop.

The Parents Behind Science of Parenthood

Norine and Jessica

Norine and Jessica

When I first met Norine and Jessica at Blog U in 2014, I instantly admired them.  Their blog, Science of Parenthood was, and is, the most unique blog I have ever seen.  Their clever cartoons put everyday parenting issues into a humorous and “scientific” format.  It is brilliant.  Now, Jessica and Norine are publishing a Science of Parenthood book.  In preparation for this exciting event, they agreed to an old fashioned Q and A session.


What’s Science of Parenthood all about?

Science of Parenthood started nearly three years ago as an illustrated humor blog. We use fake math and science to “explain” the stuff that puzzles parents every day. Things like …

Why are broken cookies “ruined?”

Why does it matter what color the sippy cup is?

Why can’t you put the straw in the juice box without your kid having a melt down?

Why will a kid whine-whine-whine for a toy, then lose all interest in that toy once they have it? 

Where the eff is my phone?  

We’ve come up with some pretty hilarious theories.

Our book, Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, is like our blog … but like our blog on STEROIDS! We utilized the blog to road test–perhaps we should say “field test”–material, and now the book contains the kinds of cartoons and writing that fans love to find at Science of Parenthood, along with all new cartoons, infographics, flowcharts pie charts and quizzes that we created just for the book. About 90 percent of the book is brand new material.

Divided into four sections–biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics–the book lives in the chasm that exists between our collective hopes and dreams and expectations of what parenting will be like … and the brutal, slap-you-upside-the-head reality of what parenting actually is. We cover all aspects of pregnancy, birth and the hilarious frustrations that come with early childhood (tantrums, picky eating, diaper blowouts, illness, sleep issues, play dates, toy creep, homework battles and encounters with crazy parents (not you, of course, we mean other parents). And you know what? You don’t even need to be a scientist to “get” it.

Our goal is just to make parents laugh. Because when you’re a parent, you NEED to laugh. Humor is a survival tool. After your tot has gotten the top off a jar of Vaseline and smeared every surface within reach–as happened to our friend Gail–or tried to “help” you paint a room and ended up covered in blue paint–as happened to Norine’s sister Shari–you have to laugh. Or you’ll end up sobbing. Or wearing one of those fancy white jackets that buckles up in the back.


Is any of the book autobiographical?

Pretty much all of the book reflects through our experiences as parents. Take the piece “Experimental Gastronomy: A Study in Potatoes” from the Chemistry section. It’s written like a scientific paper about an experiment in which a researcher tries to determine if a preschooler who likes French fries will eat mashed potatoes. Raise your hand if you can hypothesize the outcome (see what we did there?) The piece is completely based on Norine’s inability to get her five-year-old, who loves fries, to even taste mashed potatoes. Says Norine: “I tried everything! I even offered him extra chocolate for dessert, and he still refused to take even one tiny nibble.”


Why science? Are either of you scientists?

Not at all. We’re moms dealing with the same kind of crazy stuff everyone else is. Science just makes a great metaphor for the frustration, exasperation and humiliation that comes with everyday parenting. Think about Einstein and how he explained his theory of relativity: “Sit on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour; sit with a pretty girl with an hour and it feels like a minute. That’s relativity.” Well, that’s parenthood too. One minute you’ve got a newborn covered in goo and then next, you’re watching teary-eyed as they skip into kindergarten without even a backward glance or a kiss goodbye. And yet, when you’re into your third hour of Candy Land on a rainy day, time seems to stand still. (If you haven’t played Candy Land with your toddler yet, trust us on this. The scars never really heal.)


Where did you get the idea for Science of Parenthood?

Our “eureka” moment came when Norine’s son, Fletcher, came home from school talking about one of Newton’s laws of force and motion: An object at rest stays at rest unless acted on by an external force.

Says Norine: “That instantly reminded me of Fletcher with his video games. He’d sit on the couch and play games all day if I didn’t confiscate the iPad. I jotted down, Newton’s First Law of Parenting: A child at rest will remain at rest until you want your iPad back. Later, I posted that on Facebook. It got a good response, so I started posting other parenting observations and giving them a math or science twist, like Sleep Geometry Theorem: A child will always sleep perpendicular to any adult laying next to them. Both of these are fan favorites and two of the very few cartoons we pulled from the blog to include in the book.

“As a writer, I’m always looking for new ways to tell stories. And in that eureka moment, it struck me that math and science make fantastic metaphors for telling the universal stories of parenting. Like scientists, we parents are always fumbling in the dark, searching for answers, wondering if we’re on the right track and second-guessing our methods. And because a picture is still worth a thousand words, I knew that these science-y quips would be a lot more popular on social media if they were illustrated. So I called Jessica and asked if she wanted to illustrate a book of these funny observations.

“Jessica was the one who saw that Science of Parenthood could be much bigger than a single book. She saw the potential for a blog and a social media presence and ancillary products. She quickly secured a domain name for us and created a Facebook page and Twitter feed. She began illustrating the observations I had already banked. Two weeks later, we debuted on Facebook; a week after that we rolled out the blog. Now we’re three years in, and along with Science of Parenthood, the book, we have mugs and magnets and posters featuring our images. Earlier this year we published two collections of humorous parenting tweets—The Big Book of Parenting Tweets and The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets.  


Where can readers find Science of Parenthood?

Science of Parenthood is available for pre-order as a soft-cover and e-book on Amazon right now. (http://amzn.to/1DcVllh). When it’s released November 17th, readers will be able to find it on Amazon and in bookstores.

And you can always find Science of Parenthood on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/scienceofparenthood), Twitter (www.twitter.com/sciofparenthood), Pinterest (http://www.pinterest/sciofparenthood) and Instagram (www.Instagram.com/scienceofparenthood).


About The Authors

Norine is the primary writer for Science of Parenthood, the blog, and Science of Parenthood,the book. A longtime freelance magazine writer, Norine’s articles have appeared in just about every women’s magazine you can buy at supermarket checkout as well as on The Huffington Post, Parenting.com, iVillage, Lifescript and Scary Mommy websites. Norine is the co-author of You Know He’s a Keeper…You Know He’s a Loser: Happy Endings and Horror Stories from Real Life Relationships (Perigee), Food Cures (Reader’s Digest) and a contributor to several humor anthologies, including Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding(Demeter Press). She lives with her husband and 9-year-old son in Orlando.

The daughter of famed New Yorker cartoonist Jack Ziegler, Jessica is Science of Parenthood’s co-creator, illustrator, web designer and contributing writer. In her “off hours,” Jessica is the director of social web design for VestorLogic and the writer/illustrator of StoryTots, a series of customizable children’s books. Her writing and illustration have been published on The Huffington Post, Vegas.com, InThePowderRoom.com and in Las Vegas Life and Las Vegas Weekly. Jessica was named a 2014 Humor Voice of the Year by BlogHer/SheKnows Media. She lives with her husband and 11-year-old son in Denver.

Together Jessica and Norine published The Big Book of Parenting Tweets and The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets earlier in 2015.


I can't wait to read this!

I can’t wait to read this!

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