And then everyone saw my butt.

Hello, I’m writing this to you with one hand, because the other one is mostly shrinkwrapped.

I’ve talked about my anxiety before — about starting sertraline, taking beta blockers, the whole nine. My health is not really something I’m secretive about at all. Too many people have anxiety and panic disorders as it is, and I’ve been dealing with it for too long to give half a shit in a handbag about being ashamed of something I can’t control.

I have not, however, mentioned nocturnal panic attacks.

I’m lucky in that I don’t get them super often — once in a blue moon, really, usually when I’m under a lot of stress. At first, I thought they were something akin to a night terror, but the presentation is actually very different. I’m aware when I wake up panicking, albeit usually confused for a bit. My heart races, I feel a sense of impending doom. They suck super hard, but, as I said, I don’t get them often.

Then this afternoon happened.

We upped my dose of sertraline last night. I’ve also been on Bactrim for the past few days, which made every joint in my body feel as though it had been beaten by a team of enthusiastic pixies with cricket bats. Both of these can potentially increase anxiety, and panic disorders can be pretty unpredictable anyhow. I lay down to take a nap late this afternoon, and woke up feeling like someone had hooked most of my organs up to a car battery.

So, I did what I usually do: call my S.O. and ask him to hang out on the phone with me until things calm down, in case I lose consciousness, or experience transient blindness, or something else happens that keeps me from being able to call 911. Usually, it takes about twenty minutes for the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and override the adrenaline response portion of a panic attack. I usually spend it on the phone, doing breathing exercises, holding an amethyst palm stone, waiting for things to pass. There isn’t really a way to speed up the process that I’ve found. Most of the emphasis is on riding it out with as little mental trauma as possible.

Twenty minutes came and went. I thought this might be more than I could handle on my own, so I took a beta blocker. (They’re not pleasant, but they’re pretty neat. From what I have experienced, read, and been told, they help me by blocking the adrenaline receptors in certain areas of the body. Pretty rad when your primary anxiety symptom is a racing heart, right?) Twenty minutes after that, my heart rate was almost normal. I also couldn’t breathe and felt like a donkey had kicked me in the sternum.

Welp. Plan B. I called an ambulance.

To make an already too-long story short(er), it was probably a reaction to the propranolol. We’re not sure why I had the original nocturnal attack, but I wasn’t actively having a heart attack when I got to the hospital. In fact, my vital signs were impressively normal, considering the completely dumbass amount of pain I was in. Just to make sure everything was okay, they took an EKG, drew some blood (shoutout to the dude who was able to draw from the back of my hand), and had me strip down and put on a robe for chest x-rays.

Remember when I mentioned taking Bactrim?

Do you know how hard it is to properly tie one of those damn robes on a good day?

Reader, I stood up to hold onto the x-ray machine so they could get a few shots of my heart, and flashed my entire butt at radiology. (To add insult to injury, when I got home, I realized I accidentally stuffed the hospital gown into the bag with my other belongings. So now there’s a permanent souvenir of my shame.)

Part of me berated myself for relying on medication. The fact of the matter is, though, that if you believe in an herb or crystal’s ability to heal, you must necessarily recognize its ability to harm. Anything can trigger an allergy. Anything can cause an adverse reaction. You can have a bad time with anything you put in your body, whether it’s a drug, a plant, or a sandwich. It’s the price we pay for having bodies, which, when you think about it, are both delicate and largely terrible. (Who’s idea was it to put the esophagus and trachea right next to each other? It makes no damn sense.)

Truth be told, butt-exposing aside, this went really, really well. My biggest fear has always been having an emergency when I’m alone, and potentially screwing up the things I need to do to handle that emergency. I was still half insensible with grogginess when I was fumbling with my phone to call for help, I was afraid of taking beta blockers because of the side effects, I experienced my worst fear after taking them, and came through it alright. I can’t say this has inoculated me against fearing these things in the future, but it’s a step. It was terrifying, and I did it, and if it happens again, that’s future J.’s problem.

And that’s something worth celebrating.

Cup Party

Party!

Kind of!

I am currently on enough antibiotics to make a Belgian Blue hallucinate, so I will make today both short and sweet: I drew the Three of Cups again.

Last time I did, it was at a time when my S.O. and I had a number of things in the works. We’d initiated the process of moving into a new place, I’d finished some paintings, and we were working on getting a site up and running. This time, I’m pleased to say that these things are reaching their fulfillment — appropriate for the full moon, no?

The apartment is about done being renovated. I received proofs of the images of my paintings that I sent to the printer, and they look awesome. We have a business license, our site is up, and we’re happily posting bits and pieces of the story of The Teller of Fortunes. It’s time to celebrate!

(It’s the culmination of something else, too: filtering and bottling my raven oil. It takes me a year to make, and I set it up and filter it on October’s full moon. One of these days, I might get around to compiling my recipes and processes into something I can share. This one, in particular, is good stuff.)

Of course, while the full moon marks the culmination of a cycle, the waning moon comes right behind her. Next is the time to work on the tiny, unseen things, followed by the new moon, before the energy ramps up again. I don’t really have much that I need to work on this cycle (well, not externally, anyhow); there are plenty of balls rolling already, it’s time to see where they go.

 

The Star Rises

The weather’s finally cooling (after an inexplicable 94°F) , the trees are starting to change. and I’ve watered my cacti for probably the last time until next spring. We haven’t had any more carbon monoxide scares so far, and, as soon as our next apartment is done being renovated, we’re pretty much ready to upgrade our space.

So, as per usual, I figured I’d do a one-card drawing to see where this week’s going. In the midst of all of this (much anticipated!) upheaval, it helps to have a little extra insight. I didn’t ask a specific question — just cleared my mind, let my thoughts arise as they would, and shuffled until I felt like that wasn’t something I needed to do anymore.

And… I drew The Star.

Not gonna lie, seeing it made me a little emotional. The Star is a tremendously positive card. It stands for hope and optimism, and, since it comes immediately after The Tower, it points to positive feelings that arise from the ashes of whatever was destroyed during The Tower’s phase. I haven’t exactly gone through the kind of things indicated by The Tower (well, not recently), but it still indicates a lot of hope for the future.

This is especially good to know because I started Sertraline. I’m afraid of taking pills, so I held off as long as I could, but my doctor(s) and I came to the agreement that it would most likely do more good than harm at this point. I’m only on a tiny dose to make sure I tolerate it alright, and it’s too soon to feel any difference yet, but I have hope that I might not have to go from medication to medication to find something that helps re-balance my neurochemistry. I was especially impressed that my psychiatrist was willing and knowledgeable enough to take my cerebrospinal fluid pressure into account when she prescribed it to me — I can’t tell you how many doctors I’ve had who either didn’t know enough about IH to realize that that was necessary, or shrugged off my concerns when I  brought it up.

The idea of taking it still gives me some anxiety, and my S.O. literally hid the first half-pill in a spoonful of applesauce for me so the action of taking it wouldn’t make things worse. (I know, I know.) As time goes on, I feel more optimistic, though. It’s good to know that those feelings aren’t misplaced.

It’s going to take some time for things to really smooth out, but so far, so good. Wish me luck.

The Libra New Moon (or, Man, That’s a Lot of Cups)

So, last week I drew the Ace of Wands. Aces represent beginnings and opportunities, and I definitely had my share: I started therapy, queued some posts on a new creative project that’s going live very soon, and went through my first (and hopefully only) carbon monoxide leak.

Yeah, I know. It can’t all be fried gold. At least I know I can kind of handle one if it happens again, and came to the realization that we really needed a different kind of CO detector. As it turns out, there is a lot of variability in what will make a CO alarm trigger. When you hear that beep, you can’t always be sure if it’s an “open the windows and turn everything off” 30 ppm that’s been going for the past seven hours or so, or an “evacuate immediately and call 911” 400 ppm that’s spiked in the past four minutes. This news was less than reassuring to me, so I picked out a new alarm with a display that reads in parts per million. Is it as accurate as the detectors the fire department uses? Probably not, but I still figure it can ballpark enough to help me save myself in an emergency.

You know that mental exercise where you’re supposed to reframe “have to”s into “got to”s? I’m trying to do that. It was terrible and terrifying, but everyone’s okay. I had to deal with a carbon monoxide leak, but I also got to see myself go through it and come out alright, and got the opportunity to learn more about how to better keep us all safe. It really could have been much, much worse.

Anyway, with this out of the way, let’s talk about the Libra new moon.

Like Aces, new moons are beginnings. A Libra new moon is a great time for balance, cooperation, and magic for anything related to the two — creative work, justice, partnerships, or balancing the emotions. Instead of doing my usual one card pull this week, I decided to find a new new moon spread to try out. I usually create my own on the fly, depending on the situation, but I do really enjoy seeing what others have come up with. (That’s why I keep a Pinterest board full of kickass spreads.) This time around, I chose this one from Emerald Lotus Divination.

So! Let’s see what we’ve got.

Position 1: What This New Moon Has in Store for Me

The Seven of Cups, from the Rider-Waite deck. Artwork by Pamela Coleman Smith. A silhouetted figure stands in front of seven cups. One holds a blue head, one has a glowing sheet ghost(???), one has a snake, one has a very tiny caste, one has either very excellent jewels or extremely terrible fruit, idk, one has a laurel wreath, and one has a very small blue dragon.

The Seven of Cups, from the Rider-Waite deck. Artwork by Pamela Coleman Smith.

The Seven of Cups. A figure (in my deck, a crow. In the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, a dude) stands in front of seven cups, each filled with different things. It is up to the subject to choose the cups that hold good things, and not, like, snakes and creepy heads and bitey-looking blue lizards.

Many possibilities are open to me, and I have a lot of choices to make. This definitely tracks — October is going to be a month of big decisions and major upheaval. To make the best of these situations, I have to be proactive and make a choice. Fantasizing about some idealized situation is not going to put that cup full of jewels in my hand.

Position 2: My Energy During This New Moon

The Queen of Cups. Alright! As the suit of emotions, the Queen represents a figure that offers care and support. She can be the aspect of yourself that nurtures and provides you with self-care, or someone else entirely.

This card could represent my desire to take care of myself, or one of the people I’ve reached out to for help. It’s worth noting that both of my mental health professionals are female, so, while this position specifically asks about my energy during this new moon, my energy is also reaching out in search of a caring figure to help fix my brain. In either case, I’m reassured by the queen’s presence here — either I am making the nurturing, self-caring choice, or I am reaching out to someone who exhibits those traits. I need either (or both!) of those things right now.

Position 3: What I Need to Be Open To

The Page of Wands. He’s so happy with his giant walking stick. The Page of Wands is a playful figure, and may represent a charming, roguish person, or even just the arrival of good news. He is a bright, lovable, puckish, impetuous character.

I swear, I shuffled this deck well. Still, somehow, he is the only non-cups card I drew. To be honest, whether he represents a fun person or a piece of good news, I’ll take it. It’s hard to find a negative aspect of the Page of Wands (outside of his tendency to rush into things, but I think the Knight definitely has it worse). If this is what I need to be open to, I can handle that.

Position 4: Something That Wants to Manifest

The King of Cups. A kind, compassionate figure, he tempers his authority with understanding. He is calm, sympathetic, and good at listening.

At this point, I am actively trying to manifest emotional balance and creativity. The suit of cups stands for both, so I will take the King’s appearance as a sign that I’m on the right track. Coupled with the Queen of Cups and the Page of Wands, things are looking pretty good.

Position 5: How to Focus My Attention to Bring My Desires into Reality

The Three of Cups. Party on, my dudes (or dudettes, or dudes-as-in-men-and-not-as-a-gender-nonspecfic-term, or dudes-meaning-literal-city-dwellers-vacationing-on-a-ranch-and-pretending-to-be-cowhands). This card stands for reuniting with people from the past, or just straight up celebrating.

While this card can mean that I should party down and enjoy myself, it can also indicate that there’s a happy event to look forward to. In this case, it makes sense that I should both express gratitude and celebrate where I am and what I’ve achieved in life, and maintain an optimistic outlook and keep looking forward to the future. I think I can manage that.

All told, this reading feels great. I have choices to make, my energy is compassionate and nurturing (or attracting compassion and nurturing), I need to be open to fun people and good news, emotional balance is just waiting for the opportunity to manifest, and I should focus on celebrating the good times to achieve my desires. Sweet.

 

The Ace of Wands Comes Back.

I like Aces. They stand for a new beginning, and there’s nothing quite like that feeling of untapped potential — where everything is still possible, and nothing’s happened to screw it all up (yet). Getting an Ace in a reading feels pretty awesome.

If you’ve been reading my navel-gazey ruminations for awhile, you’ve probably seen that I draw Aces and Wands pretty frequently. It makes sense, in its own strange way: I’m at a point in my life where I have a lot of opportunities open to me, but not a lot of resources that allow me to take advantage of them. I feel like this is a bit different, though. Though Wands generally represent creativity, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on the direction my creative endeavors are going in at this point.

On the other hand, this week I’ve got a new lease to sign, my S.O. doing new job things, and my first appointment with a psychologist.
My dance card’s pretty packed, and it’s all brand new.

So, knowing I had a ton of utter upheaval (good upheaval!) and turmoil (beneficial turmoil!) coming up, I drew this week’s card with that in mind. I’m already more anxious than I’m comfortable handling with the tools currently at my disposal, so a little reassurance than I’m not putting myself in a worse position by making these changes could go a long way.

The Ace of Wands card from the Rider-Waite deck.

From the Rider-Waite deck, illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith.

I drew the Ace of Wands again. Before, it came at a time when I was seeking out help from another new doctor, and practically bursting with ideas. This time around, I’m seeking help from another new doctor (albeit of a very different kind), and making some significant changes to other areas of my life. This card is good news and a new beginning, and I could certainly use both!

So much of what’s happening with, to, and around me right now has a lot to do with my partner. In the context of love, the Ace of Wands represents a “next move” in a relationship — often one that breathes new life into it. It can be something like an engagement, marriage, pregnancy, or other move that feels like a step “forward.” I like to think my S.O. and I aren’t tired of each other yet, but I definitely agree that having more space and a change of scenery will make things more pleasant for the both of us.

Tomorrow’s a pretty big day. What do I do if I have anxiety about talking to a new doctor about my anxiety? It’s basically the worst kind of brainception.

 

The Knight of Wands Returns

The Crow Tarot might give me a lot of Wands, Knights, and Aces, but now’s certainly a good time for ’em. (It also definitely means business when it comes to negative cards, so, to be perfectly honest, I was just happy not to have pulled the Ten of Swords again. Yikes.)

Anyhow, this week’s card is the Knight of Wands again, and man oh man am I glad to see him!

Last time, I mentioned that my S.O. and I had just finished a book, and were working on ways to turn it into something more than just a .doc file. Good news is, we’re making plenty of progress on that front! Not only are we fixing what needs to be fixed and polishing up what needs to be polished, we’re actually working on turning another manuscript we finished some time ago into a serial of some form. Though we’ve put a lot of thought into this process, neither of us have experience in publishing and none of my market research has been oriented in that direction. It’s definitely a fun learning experience, though! Besides, even if nothing comes of either of these things, I’m still happy just to have made them.

Speaking of which, I finished another painting this past weekend. Photographing them has been difficult because our overcast days have all been rainy — so, while the clouds do a great job at scattering the light and producing true-to-life color while keeping the glare down, the rain isn’t exactly easy to work around. Ah well. As the weather cools, hopefully we’ll have more cloudy days that aren’t accompanied by summer storms. I love collecting summer thunder water and the way the rain washes the pollen from the air, but I miss having dry surfaces!

The Knight of Wands stands as a reminder that enthusiasm and excitement are justified, but it’s a bad idea to get carried away with ourselves and jump headfirst into things we aren’t prepared for. Overall, it’s a very good omen. I’m going to be mindful to do my homework while my S.O. and I work toward creating the life we want to have. 💜

Three of Cups

Man, who couldn’t do with some good news right about now?

This week marks all kinds of awesome things — I’m nearly finished with another painting, my partner is starting a new job, he and I are starting a(n honestly pretty ambitious) new creative project, I’ve got my own projects, I have some new ideas to blog, and we’re scoping out some new digs soon. It’s good stuff. I still wish my health didn’t impact things quite so much, but you know what? I’ll take it. If “if” were a fifth, I’d be drunk, and eating a lot of lentils and using a desk pedaler ain’t that bad.

I didn’t draw a card for myself last week. To be honest, I didn’t really feel like I needed to. Things have been okay. I have a lot going on, but nothing that I’m particularly worried about or feel I need more insight into. With his new job coming up, though, I wanted to see what’s around me. The situation is, of course, far more stressful for him than it is for me… but I still want to know what kind of energy he’s going to be bringing home!

I drew the Three of Cups. Yay!

It’s a card of celebration, fellowship, and coming together. Traditionally, it depicts three women dancing together, cups held aloft. In The Crow Tarot, it’s a really beautiful, colorful image of three crows drinking from fallen golden goblets. (Which I am honestly kind of kicking myself for not having photographed when I had better lighting to do it in!) There’s fruit. Everything’s verdant and flowering. Basically it is party time, regardless of species.

The Three of Cups is a card of recognition and celebration for your achievements. The soil is the power of creativity, the fruit is its culmination. Cups is the suit of emotion, and most decks feature figures either happily drinking it in, or about to. It points to fulfillment, happiness, and a time to enjoy your success.

I’m excited to see what it’s pointing to!