My dear readers. I’ve welcomed you into my world of imperfection and so it’s only fair for me to be open about all my imperfections! I suffer from anxiety and have from the time I was a child. I’ve had tics and coughs and other little glitches like OCD and they’ve all surfaced from worries and doomed thoughts.
Well, that could be my middle name!
Have I deliberately chosen to have anxiety be a part of my life? Nope! But, anxiety has chosen to snatch onto me like ivy on a stately old home. I’ve learned to live with it. Overall, I’m a happy person and I take things in stride. But there are times when my worries overtake and imprison my body and soul—and even though on the outside, everything seems very well—my spirit aches and becomes broken; all of this due to thoughts that I sometimes have no control over.
Oy! The worry and the stress–it ends–but always comes back to visit!
Here are some examples of the anxiety army that invades me:
I’m a failure and I will never be successful: This is a worry that has recently been festering because I’m still unemployed. In reality—I’m NOT a failure (well, I don’t think I am). I have raised three wonderful children who have grown up to be empathetic, caring, intelligent and successful adults. They are fiercely independent and strong and good people. I have been successful in raising them. What I AM worried about is my track record with work—the past two jobs have left me unemployed because the companies closed the locations. It is not my fault. My work ethic still remains stellar. I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked back on second and third interviews. Why didn’t I get the job? Most likely due to my age or the fact that someone else was a better fit for the position—that is still not my fault. What I love to do is write—and I wish that could be my life’s career. I may not be paid for any of my writings but it is what I love—so therefore I AM a success.
I will lose my home: This is a thought and a worry that keeps me awake at night. When going through my divorce, I did lose my home. It is a life event that I would not wish on my worst enemy. Almost overnight I was forced to find a place to live—not just for me but for the two children who were home with me at the time. The cocoon of comfort and warmth was gone. No more nights filled with the happy noise of teens and music and TV sets and laughing. No more days of friends or neighbors popping in to say hi. Over—with the snap of a finger. When you lose a home and have to find another place to live in an instant—it’s usually not a great place to be in. My children had to deal with that and I can only hope they do not despise me for what they had to suffer in the aftermath.
My present home is my castle. I love it. Monsieur Bonaparte and I made it a warm and welcoming place for family and friends—but I fear that Bonaparte will get sick—or I will get sick—or I will NEVER become employed again and will lose home number 2. Try as I may, I suppress this house anxiety, but every now and then it surfaces and it surfaces in the form of constant worry. The worry is stifling and makes me close up emotionally to those I love. It’s awful and I need to overcome it. If I lose another home, I’ll just move on to home number three!
I am the WORST Parent. EVER: This ties into losing the house. When we lived in the apartment, I had nothing for a while—not even a job. Then I became employed at a job that paid less than minimum wage. I sought the help of Catholic Charities. They turned me down. I sought the help of the government to acquire food stamps to feed my children. Even though I made less than minimum wage, I still made too much money to qualify for food stamps. Sometimes the water was shut off because I was unable to pay my bills. The people at Trenton Water Works knew me by name—how bad is it when the people who shut your water off become your friends? The electricity would be turned off from time to time and we would have pioneer nights of living by candlelight. How could my kids look up to me when I was unable to take care of them?
I cannot pay my daughter’s student loans. I cannot say to my kids—”Hey, I’m paying to take us all on a big family vacation”—lots of my friends do that with their adult kids—and they are able to pay. I feel like a failure because I am unable to do so.
I cannot foot some of the bill for any of my kid’s rents. Living in NYC is expensive. I do know of parents who help out with their kids’ rent bills and/or groceries and other living expenses. I fear my kids hold it against me because I am unable to do so. My fears may be unfounded, but my fears and worries are still with me. I worry about the future because I will be unable to pay for their weddings. Will they hate me for that? Will the person they marry hate me for that? Will that person’s family hate me for that? Honest to god, I’m not lying—these thoughts feed on me like a malignancy. These worries—they suck because they stop me from momentarily being happy. I really have to slap myself upside the head and, like Cher said in “Moonstruck” “Snap out of it!!!!”
Will my Pap, Skin, Mammo be OK? I’ve always been worried about my health. After Mohs surgery for a skin cancer, I’ve been out of control. Not a day goes by when I’m not checking my skin with a magnifying glass or playing around with my breasts. When I get a clean bill of health, I’m fine. For about three days—then the worries start all over again. I had a colonoscopy this past August and polyps were removed. Every time I get an ache in my stomach, I think something went wrong when the polyps were removed and the worry gets worse. I need to stop worrying about things I have no control over but I cannot help it!
Do my sons not call me because they hate me? This is a good one. My daughter Oona and I speak almost every day—to the point if I don’t hear from her I think something awful happened to her then I text her. The mother/daughter relationship is much more open than the son/mother relationship. I need to accept that. My sons just have nothing to say to me. They are busy with their lives. I gave them independence and they use it well. My sons do not hate me. Get over it. (I HOPE they don’t hate me)
I need to know where everyone is at all times because if they don’t let me know I will think the worst: This is another great trigger of angst and anxiety. I need to know what Bonaparte’s schedule is because if he is out with a client and doesn’t make it home because of traffic or other problems I think he is somewhere in the emergency room with a heart attack or someone with road rage shot him and he is slumped over on 422 with a bullet to the head. When my kids go away for the weekend or if they are on their way to visit and they are late, I fear the worst. Did the Bolt bus break down? Did Amtrak derail? WTF is going on with the airlines? (And this is probably why my sons do not call me all the time—I’m a pain in the ass!)
Sometimes people laugh at my worries. That’s fine—it’s far better than being impatient or angry. But the thing is, I’m not alone. There are hundreds of thousands and more people who share these same fears and thoughts that I do. Some go into a deep depression about it. I’m lucky that I’m able to function and still remain pretty much a happy person. Although I despise these anxious thoughts and the palpations and tics that go along with it—I’ve accepted that it’s a part of who I am. Years of therapy haven’t cured this anxiety but have given me a better understanding of it and have given me tools to help get a grip on this issue.
My all-time favorite cartoon by the fantastic Natalie Dee. Does she know me???? She sure does have me pegged! I AM able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound–and I’m an optimist as well!
My only request is that others be patient. Please readers; please be patient with your loved ones who suffer from any form of anxiety or depression. Understanding counts. Don’t be short or curt with them. Don’t judge. Don’t feed into their fears by telling them they are “crazy” or “sick” or use any other words that may make them feel worse. My relationship with some of my siblings is non-existent. And it is purely because they just don’t “get” it! And that’s fine—it is what it is. I’m lucky to have Monsieur Bonaparte to come to my emotional rescue when I get all “anxietied out” and by my fears and worries. He is my rock and helps me through my darkness. He’s my 100 watt lightbulb!
So if you know of anyone with anxiety—be nice to them. We, of the anxieties, still love you. We just have a hard time opening up when our worries and fears overtake our being!
Chippy always seems to understand me too! His look says it all!
I have two great recipes for you. Last night I made chicken with morels and chanterelles and dessert was a fantastic Grand Marnier Soufflé recipe. Just for you!!!!! READ ON FOR TWO GREAT RECIPES!
Chicken with Morels and Chanterelles (my version adapted from a recipe from “French, The Secrets of Classing Cooking Made Easy by Carole Clements & Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen)
I purchased this book years ago at the now defunct “Borders” bookstore in New Jersey. it was $6.99 and has proved to be an invaluable book–every recipe I’ve made is excellent. I did adapt this recipe to my own tastes. If you see this book–grab it!
Ingreeds: Dried Morels, Dried Chanterelles (you can get these in packages at the supermarket), 1 cup chicken broth, 1 stick butter, 3 large shallots, peeled and diced, fresh thyme, 1/4 cup cognac, 1 cup heavy cream, 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, 1 tsp grapeseed oil or any mild oil, 3/4 sparkling wine, rice flour, salt and pepper for seasoning.
Put the dried morels and the chanterelles in a small bowl and cover with water to reconstitute, strain the mushrooms then put them in a saucepan with the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
In the meantime, get a mallet and pound the chicken breasts flat. Cover with cling and refrigerate.
Pound the chicken nice and flat.
Melt half the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook till softened, stirring frequently. It’ll take about three minutes. Add the morels and chanterelles and season with salt and pepper.
Add the thyme, cognac and 1/2 of the cream. Reduce heat and simmer until any liquid is evaporated—don’t forget to stir occasionally.
Morels, Chanterelles, cream, thyme, butter, cognac–not only looks great but smells fantastic!
Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Take the chicken from the fridge and dredge on ONE side in the rice flour.
Spoon a small amount on the unfloured side of the chicken breast and fold the chicken over so that the mushrooms are almost in a pocket.
Melt the remaining butter with the oil in the skillet you used for the morels and chanterelles. Add the chicken and cook on one side for about 5 minutes until the bottom has a crust. Then turn the chicken over with a spatula. Do this carefully so that the mushrooms stay intact. Cook the chicken about two or three more minutes then transfer to a plate.
Morel and Chanterelle-stuffed chicken cooking in the skillet.
Add the remaining cream and cook until the sauce thickens. Add the chicken back to the skillet and simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes.
Plate the chicken with the sauce over it. Serve with rice or pasta. Enjoy!
Chicken topped with Morel and Chanterelle sauce–Jasmine rice on the side is a great dinner.
This is my Weight Watchers version. I didn’t have as much sauce! Maybe I saved–like 5 points!
Grand Marnier Soufflé (Recipe adapted from “My French Kitchen” by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde)
NOTE: This was originally a Kirsch Soufflé but I substituted Grand Marnier and I also added the zest of one orange.
Ingreeds: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. Plus additional butter for the soufflé dish, 9 tablespoons of sugar, 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup milk plus 1/4 cup milk (whole milk), 4 large egg yolks, 1/2 cup Grand Marnier, 7 large egg whites—at room temperature, cream of tartar, confectioner’s sugar.
Preheat the oven to 375
Rub the additional butter inside an 8 inch soufflé dish. Make sure you get the bottom and all the sides coated really well! Add two tablespoons of the sugar and tap it round the inside of the dish, getting the surface covered with the sugar. Set the dish aside.
Souffle dish–all rubbed with butter and sprinkled with sugar sets the tone for the goodness!
Place the flour in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of the milk whisk really well to make a smooth paste—it’ll take a few minutes of elbow grease because you don’t want any lumps.
Whisking really well will ensure a smooth, lump-free paste!
Heat the remaining milk and 7 tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Zest the orange and add the zest to the milk/sugar/butter mixture.
When this comes to a boil, take it off the heat and slowly whisk the flour paste into the mixture. Whisk till complete smooth, return to the heat, and stirring constantly, bring to a boil. When it comes to the boil, take off the heat and add the Grand Marnier and the egg yolks whisk the hell out of it until smooth and set aside.
If you want, you can add a bit more Grand Marnier!
Beat the egg whites—make sure the mixing bowl is clean and clear of any oils so that the eggs whip up nicely. Once the whites are foamy add a couple of pinches of the cream of tartar. Continue beating until the whites become voluminous and form stiff peaks.
Souffle ready for the oven!
Add the Grand Marnier mixture to the whites by folding in until all ingredients are evenly blended. Keep folding—it’s all in the wrist action. And while you are folding, turn the bowl around—I find it makes for more even blending.
On the cookie sheet–as the soufflé bakes, it gets puffier and puffier! It’s fun to see!
Put a cookie sheet into the oven and place the soufflé onto the cookie sheet. Bake for ten minutes then very carefully, open the oven door and sprinkle the confectioner’s sugar onto the top of the soufflé. Close the door gently and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes. Sift some more confectioners’ sugar on top of the soufflé and serve immediately.
The top gets more sweetness with confectioners’ suger!
AS A SIDE NOTE: I also made a crème Anglaise to serve on the side and I sliced oranges very thin. Here’s the crème anglaise recipe:
1 Cup heavy cream, Vanilla extract (to taste), 4 egg yolks (you can use the left over yolks from the soufflé plus another yolk) 1/3 cup granulated sugar.
Creamy , custardy Crème Anglaise adds something extra!
- Heat cream and vanilla in a small heavy saucepan until it gets bubbly at the edges.
- While cream is heating, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until smooth. Then slowly pour a small amount of the hot cream into the yolks whisking constantly, gradually add the yolks into the cream whisking constantly. Continue to cook until thickened. Pour into a bowl and spoon the crème onto the plates in which you will spoon the soufflé onto.
A light, flavorful and wonderfully easy dessert!
Listen to me. I realize this looks like a lot of work—but honestly, it isn’t. Take your time, have all ingreeds at the ready, put on some good music, have a glass of wine and have fun!!!
Anxious? Here’s a great one by Ol’ Blue Eyes Himself! That’s Life! Basically-stuff happens and this is a great song to make you feel good again!
Hope you still read and follow my posts despite my anxiety!