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Friday, October 13, 2017

Post-Iceland Vacation (Part 2) - Dealing with Emotional Overload in Traffic and Being Drained Thin


            Coming back from vacation is also a challenge to the brain in many ways. Granted, I would like to stay on vacation or get people to Go Fund Me for an awesome island trip through Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the Shetland + Orkneys, but there is more to it than that, especially for people like me with Parkinson's.


            For one, travel to our destination is stressful, and it's worse coming back. For instance, Iceland is mellow on the roads. Baltimore’s loop (695) positively sucks during the day or night, but it is especially bad at night (I’m keeping it mellow since this is a family environment). I never liked driving it (even before Parkinson's), but now, it overloads me even as a passenger.


            Keep in mind, when I say overload, I mean anxiety and stimulation.
           LIGHTS! 
      NOISE! 
      MOTION!
            Americans are a rage-filled people from a rage-filled culture. Behind the wheel, we’re nasty. People tailgate and flip off others, even when they’re in the slow lane. Drivers do the 2 to 3 lane swerve and close call it all the time with emergency braking. As a result, my wife does the heavy driving while I stick to routine / distance driving. As I said before, she took over more driving, though not all – I’m fine even in routine traffic, but Baltimore and D.C.’s loop of death… no way.
            So on the way home from Iceland (after minimal sleep, eating, and space mixed with maximum exertion and distance), I could feel the symptoms creeping up. I needed isolation from tourist lines and traffic. I felt tightly coiled. My stomach was raging toward nausea. My mind was in that siren mode. 


            All I could do was go silent as the sounds of the traffic and wind raged as the car motored over the highway. Finally, we made it to Primanti Brothers and ate. Things were better, but that time in the “zone” sucked.


            Fortunately, I know what to do when I’m there – nothing. I say nothing, and I drift away or get away. I don't poke the (Pookie) bear by being GRRR around my wife or others. Please note, normal life doesn’t cause this situation (this is usually rare), but some things in it can move toward the "zone" (like self checkouts – I’m not joking; this is real, and I felt over-annoyed using one today because I hate computer voices and having to do something at a store when they don't pay me).
            However, sometimes, like today, I realize that this is life, so I suck it up.
            The key is that people in my life know what’s up, and I don’t take out my angst from the moment on them (or at least they know that it’s not personal). Frankly, it’s like the Snickers commercial.


            KarlRobb has a good list of things to avoid with stressors (and personal experiences), so I include them here with my thoughts added to his recommendations (since there’s no point reinventing the wheel) as well as a list of anxiety symptoms (here):
TURN OFF THE NEWS.  I.E. No Trump-related news, which is tough because he’s messing something up daily (though John Oliver is a good antidote to him). Kim Jong Un doesn’t help either. Ugh to both sides.
ELIMINATE VIOLENT AND MINDLESS TV AND STRESSFUL VIDEO GAMES. I only play Charm King and Gummy Drop. They’re addictive and frustrating, but they aren’t first person shooter games, and they actually do relax me (though they waste my time - lots of my time that I should be writing here or here).
MINIMIZE EXPOSURE TO NEGATIVE PEOPLE. I know I’m sometimes the biggest one, but I’ve found I need to just chill alone or cut stuff out (like the Indians who blew the game in the 3 minutes I watched it the other night). This is why I'm trying not to post or read too much political antagonizing. This is also why I'm trying not to think about my Yankee hating ways.
LEARN SOME RELAXATION TECHNIQUES.  SEEK SOLACE IN MUSIC. Check (though limit music to no Slayer unless I absolutely have to, and then, limit the quantities (same with Yankees playoff baseball)).
STAY PASSIONATE. Check (surround myself with trees and my bed where I can unwind as well as my wife).
STAY OPEN-MINDED AND RESILIENT. Check (PD is not getting the best of me!).
EXERCISE AWAY THE ANXIETY. Check (the pool is a great thing - gotta love water weights).
SOCIALIZE. Sometimes harder than others, but I’m trying. God love me, I am.
LEARN TO LAUGH. Check (Def Jam, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, and so many other hilarious comedians are on Netflix). This is no problem at all.

ANYWAY… Thanks for reading. Enjoy your weekend! Do something fun, and stay mellow!

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