What, Me Worry?

by Caryn Alper under Date Night,JDate,Single Life

Confession: I’m kind of a nervous person. I worry about stuff. I think a lot. And I also tend to internalize my thoughts and worries. This results in uncomfortable physical manifestations of worrying, which sounds like the subtitle to a new Woody Allen movie, but it could also pass for my own personal summary statement.  Add this feeling to a high-pressure date with emotions fueled by either alcohol or too much caffeine – and you’ve got all the ingredients for a stomachache or panic attack!

I think we’ve all been nervous before or during a date – it’s a pretty common occurrence.  I know one friend who can’t eat on dates because she feels nervous; another occasionally gets sick right before due to nerves! And I’m sure we can all relate to that sinking feeling in your stomach when you find out an ex got engaged, or you catch someone cheating, or in some cases, just see an old crush. Or what if your skipped lunch in an effort to squeeze into your dress, followed by the two glasses of wine you downed while waiting to meet your date, produces gastrointestinal distress requiring a quick trip to the bathroom in the middle of shared appetizers? What if the girl you’re meeting doesn’t like you? Or worse – what if she DOES and becomes a crazy clinger? What if he looks nothing like his picture? What if she is 20 years older than she said? This shirt is uncomfortable – what if I have a wardrobe malfunction over dinner? Did I remember my wallet? Aackk, it’s no wonder the stress of dating can make even a normally calm person feel nervous.  I love being part of the chosen people, but sometimes I wonder if we were also chosen for specializing in anxious neuroticism!

Unfortunately, for lots of people, nerves are just part of the territory when it comes to dating.  But, they don’t have to be.  Allow me to suggest breathing techniques to help you achieve total zen, or at least make it through your next date without sweating through your shirt.

Seriously, practice breathing.  Make it a part of your routine each day to take 10 long, slow breaths. Inhale through your nose and out through your mouth. And try to inhale from your belly more so than your chest.  Keep your eyes open or closed – you can even do this at work or on the train – and just let thoughts pass in and out of your awareness. Practicing this on a regular basis will help you more easily be able to achieve the same calm when you need it. That’s kind of how meditation works – you learn to train your mind to achieve a relaxed state. But you can always use your breath as an extra boost of peace right before a date. Remember that your body can’t panic if you are slowing down your breath.  If you wish to practice a longer relaxation session, try progressive muscle relaxation where you continue to breathe deeply while tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups.  Or add yoga moves or mindfulness techniques to your breathing to optimize your relaxation.  This isn’t some new-agey weirdness – in fact, it’s a very old, tried and true method, and it works! I’ve been practicing while I’m typing this, and wow, does it work – I’m starting to experience a  relaxed state so powerful that at any moment now I could just drift int…

Smug and Stuff

by JeremySpoke under Success Stories

The moment you become smug and content is the moment you begin to lose everything. You have to choose between contentment without knowing you can lose everything and constant neuroticism without knowing there is nothing to lose.

Realistically, everyone lives somewhere between these two extremes. I am always on edge. My life is constantly getting better and I can get just as anxious as I’ve always been. I suppose that the better my life gets, the more I’m scared I can lose everything. I suppose this because this is what people tell me, and I trust people because they’re smarter than me. Right now, I have more to lose than ever. In just one, maybe two, stupid moves, I could lose it all. I don’t think I’ll ever reach a level where my anxiety will be somewhat relieved. The only thing I can think of is complete personality reassignment.

I do not deserve my fiancée, but work every day to make that up. I think the last time I was content was ironically when I had nothing. I knew I had nothing to lose, and thus had nothing to worry about. I didn’t have to work for anything, and though got no reward, also felt no disappointment. Disappointment only comes from effort. If you don’t care, you’ll never be disappointed.

I’m still not sure which is better, but I’m pretty happy with my life right now. I constantly feel like I’ve reached the pinnacle of what I will achieve. If this is true, I should just live it up and not worry. Maybe tomorrow I will get regular Lay’s instead of the baked variety.

Pushing Through

by JeremySpoke under Success Stories

Anxiety is a funny thing. Just kidding it sucks.

It’s difficult to push through the day when you have a heavy, sinking feeling in your chest. Deep anxiety makes doing everyday activities difficult.

It just took me half an hour to turn on my computer, and it only takes my horrible computer eighteen minutes to start up. That left two hours of lethargy and apathy. That’s two minutes I could have instead spent putting in my password and pressing ‘Enter’. What a waste!

So I somehow managed to open WordPress and I’m now writing this.

Finding someone to share in my misery is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. For example, for many people suffering from some sort of anxiety and/or depression, the morning can be especially difficult. Sometimes this stems from loneliness. Whatever the case, getting a text message immediately after waking up evokes the best feeling ever. It gives me just enough motivation to get out of bed and drive to work.

I know there will be ups and downs, but this ride is great so far. Things are far from perfect, but if I had to write this same blog post one year ago, I would have managed to open my laptop halfway and then gone on an icing-eating rampage which would have devolved into just eating sticks of butter.

Dating a Morning Person

by JeremySpoke under Relationships

I am not a morning person. If you say you’re a morning person, you’re lying. If you think you’re a morning person, you’re drunk. If you are a morning person, go back to sleep.

Since adolescence, I’ve hated mornings. I remember loving mornings as a young child. I would get up right when I woke up and just run around the house like a lunatic. Now, if I have nothing to do, I just go back to sleep.

If I wake up on a workday, I am overwhelmingly depressed until lunch. A wave of depression washes over me as I force myself out of bed to get ready. I wait as long as possible before going to bed the night before because I know my next conscious moment will be when my alarm yells at me. I can’t hit “Snooze” because the anticipation of the next alarm is just too much. I have never been able to snooze. Once the original alarm goes off, that’s it, I’m up. That is, if the alarm goes off at all. Usually, I end up naturally waking up one minute before the alarm goes off thinking it’s three hours earlier. If you are human, you know this is the worst feeling you will ever feel in your entire life. It is even worse when you struggle with anxiety/depression. However, when I don’t set an alarm thinking I’ll naturally wake up at the same time I always do, I end up oversleeping at least three hours.

I love my job, and my life at the moment, but I hate mornings. They affect my mood so much, it’s often hard to recover and enjoy the rest of the day. That’s why there’s always beer.

Are you a morning person dating a night owl? Or perhaps you like to stay up late and are dating someone who gets up early? If so, tells us how it impacts your relationship in the comments section below!

Donkey Suit

by JeremySpoke under Entertainment

Emotional wounds do not heal, they are simply treated. There is nothing that will happen in your life that will have no effect on you whatsoever. Everything has repercussions, even if you are not aware of it at the time. Your past will always catch up with you.

The best analogy I can think of is a horror movie where the protagonist thinks he’s done with the nightmare scenario until the walls come down and he finds out that he’s deeper into the nightmare than he could have imagined. If you try to ignore your past, it will come back to haunt you in a big way. However, if you learn to live with your past, it will still bother you at times, but it will be manageable.

Accept who you are. If you are in a bad place and make a conscious decision to change yourself, don’t forget that bad place you came from. I have suffered from severe anxiety. Though I am now a much more well-adjusted person, I can’t hide the fact that this anxiety is a part of who I am. I can’t push all of my needless worry aside or pretend that it does not exist or else it will flare up and be worse than it has been in years. I just have to let the anxiety exist in the back of my brain but not let it bubble up to the surface.

This past week, I consciously forced myself to stop worrying. I was physically and emotionally tired of all of the extra time, effort, and stress that it causes, so I literally pressured myself to change the subject when I found myself obsessing over something. But for some reason, my mind could not handle, or was not used to this, and eventually it pushed my anxiety into overdrive until I almost could not function. I guess this is my mind’s way of telling me to not forget where I came from or who I am. I have been defined by this anxiety, and to deny it, even to myself, would be to deny who I am.

You can’t cure anything mentally related. The mind is too powerful to forget or pretend that experiences did not happen. The best you can do is live with and contain them.

People that deny who they are don’t seem to be happy, at least from what I’ve seen on television. Right now, I am watching Spanish-language infomercials because I have to hit ‘3’ in order to turn my television on and this is the Spanish channel. The remote control is at least two feet away so I’m not changing it anytime soon. Though I have no idea what they are saying, I think I can draw the incredibly ignorant, culturally insensitive conclusion that Spanish language personalities do not hide anything about themselves. This one guy has been non-ironically wearing a donkey costume for the past twenty minutes and could not at all give a s**t.

My donkey suit is less tangible, but just as real. I can’t run around all the time in my donkey suit, but I still have to keep it in my closet, because I love my donkey suit, and if I lose all of my other clothes, I will have to wear something.

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by JeremySpoke under Entertainment,Success Stories

I don’t think I will ever be comfortable. I have moments of comfort. Lying in bed after a long day of work. Lying in bed after a long day of lying in bed. Lying in bed between different times that I’m lying in bed.

It’s not in my nature to be comfortable. I know too much. I know what it’s like to be miserable, and I know that no matter how happy I may feel, misery is close by. I think I’ve found a medium between the two. I say that now, but in an hour I may be curled up in the corner of my room. I probably won’t, though, because I wrote the previous sentence an hour ago, and I’m still sitting at my desk, and I don’t actually have nervous breakdowns in corners. I think that’s the medium I’ve found. Fearing the worst, and accepting the ordinary.

But would you rather break down from anxiety or be anxious about breaking down? I’ve chosen the former over the past few years, and it’s been for the better. Anxious people are a lot more successful than people that act on that anxiety. I think, for example, that Woody Allen’s career path has had much more of an upward trajectory than that of Howard Hughes. I don’t think that either men have ever felt comfortable, but for whatever combination of reasons, one was fortunate enough to just worry about his worrying rather than acting on it.

My blog posts have veered way too far from topics related to dating. On the same token, they really haven’t at all. It took me a very long time to condition myself to act properly while out with a woman. Now, of course, this did not exist within the vacuum of a series of horrible dates. It was a culmination of my weight loss, heightened self-cognition, life-changing events, and other factors that gradually helped me change the way I conduct myself around others. My personality is the same, and I still generally say the same things, which are mostly awful things. However, the way that I say them, as well as my calmer demeanor and attentiveness to my surroundings, which allow me to act appropriately in different situations, have really helped me find someone great. Two years ago, if a woman asked what I did that day, I would reply quickly and loudly with some self-deprecating diatribe that probably sounded like a monologue from Gilmore Girls if Lorelai hated herself and had severe weight issues that she was not aware of. Today, I would simply say, ‘I woke up, went to work, and then came here.’ It’s a lot more boring, but it doesn’t radiate self-hatred and leaves no room for immediate rejection.

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Both Ways

by JeremySpoke under Single Life

It is very difficult to write while upset. Okay, let me qualify that. It is very easy to write while upset. It is very difficult to write something happy while upset.

I could go off on horrible, horrifying tangents right now. However, I’ve found, through the evolution of the different blogs I’ve maintained, that people respond more to positivity. However, by ‘people’, I mean ‘that one guy that accidentally went to jdate.com/blog instead of jdate.com’ and by ‘positivity’ I mean ‘not talking about nervous breakdowns.’ People dislike self-pity, and they dislike seeing this self-pity being reflected in themselves even more.

A great escape for me when I’m depressed is television. I know that the intellectual solution to depression is reading, but I think a lot of people lie when they neglect to mention that they watch television when they’re feeling down. Of course, not all television is good for depression. Reality shows are generally terrible. Not for depression. They’re just terrible. Also, anything that airs on MSNBC on the weekends is horribly depressive. I’m not being political here. Watch MSNBC on a weekend. It’s either a documentary about prison life, To Catch a Predator, a documentary marathon about sex slavery, ten-year-old Dateline episodes spotlighting serial killers, or this caught on camera show about people dying in the worst possible ways. Otherwise, television can be therapeutic. There’s always a sitcom in syndication on somewhere. Television law states that at all times either The Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is on.

It seems like the better my life continues to get, the worse I feel. I don’t want to go into detail about all of the great things about my life right now because A. I don’t want to jinx anything and B. I don’t want you to get all jealous about my brand new tie and the dollar bill I found on the ground yesterday.

Two years ago, I was fat, single, and broke. Everything was awful, yet I didn’t feel all that bad. I wasn’t overly anxious or depressed. I just thought to myself, ‘Yeah, life sucks, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this enormous bacon hamburger.’ Now my life is completely opposite, yet I’m inexplicably anxious and depressed, and I have no idea why. Maybe I can’t have it both ways. I choose this lifestyle. For now.

Priorities Intact

by JeremySpoke under Date Night,Online Dating

I answered the IM but was in the midst of talking to another girl with whom I really felt a connection. Without realizing what I was doing, I think I set a date and time for a meetup with some girl I didn’t even realize I was talking to. When you subconsciously set up an entire evening with someone, and you just think you’re watching TV, it’s time to reevaluate your life. I did not evaluate anything, except for the fact that I knew that the man on the television could in no way eat a three pound cheeseburger.

The date that I planned thankfully didn’t materialize. I was still completely in love with the other girl I was talking to. When the girl I was ignoring texted me asking if I wanted to catch a movie, I accepted because I didn’t want to spend another Friday night watching TV in bed. We decided to meet at the movie theater lobby. I got there a little early, but surprisingly was not nervous at all. I really didn’t give much, if any, thought to this girl who was currently secondary to that other girl. Oh the other girl, I’m glad I eventually never met you.

The theater lobby was crowded. I suddenly looked to my left. She was standing right in front of me. All of my anxiousness and insecurities came flooding back in an instant when I saw her. I didn’t know what to say, and I had no idea why. Usually when I get nervous on a date, I start talking loud and fast. She was not what I had expected at all, and we were both yet still to speak.

I really did not expect to see what I saw. She was beautiful. Not in the sense that her prettiness made me feel giddy or even that I was sexually attracted to her. It was more in the sense that I just felt comfortable and safe. She ultimately didn’t want to go out on another date. That is probably good, because I probably would have eventually ruined something great and obsessed about it for the next ten years.

Wow, that story is extremely sad. It’s probably best to bury the experience into the back of my mind. That, global warming, and my parents’ divorce will all get resolved sometime in the distant future. That is, if there is a future.