Art Show Anxiety – Past Wins, Future Failures? Am I Good Enough?

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Ok, so this past year I placed and won an award in a pretty prestigious art competition. One of those fancy ones where you have to pay hundreds of dollars to even go to the art show and sale, and the auction bids can get pretty crazy. It was for charity though, so I didn’t mind the high price stuff related to it. This was definitely the most “high-brow” art show I have been a part of.

Now they have announced that the first year’s show was such a success that they are doing the competition for 2020 too. I plan to enter and am excited about it, but also really nervous and filled with self doubt. I keep feeling like if I don’t place at all next year or at least place as high as I did this year that I will somehow be failing.

I tell myself this is ridiculous. There are so many talented artists out there and if I don’t place again it won’t mean that I am less talented, it will only mean that they preferred someone else’s take on the contest subject matter. Also, I want other artists to feel the happiness I felt when I found out I had been selected as a winner. I don’t want to be selfish.

I know deep down this is probably about my perfectionistic streak and low self-esteem. Part of me feels like it was just a lucky fluke to be recognized by the “elite” art world at all. I wish I could not put this unnecessary pressure on myself. I know it isn’t healthy or helpful. Any suggestions for how to let go of the fear of failure?

That Shaking? Oh, It’s Just My Essential Tremor…Yet Another Diagnosis

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Yesterday I had my regular neurologist visit to follow up about my migraines and while there I was also diagnosed with Essential Tremor, a genetic condition that is often confused with Parkinson’s from the symptoms. It most commonly affects the hands, head, and voice, but can affect any body part. It can also affect balance, mood, and possibly memory.

My balance, hands and voice are already affected pretty bad at times which scares me since it can be a degenerative condition and it can eventually become hard to speak, eat, write, or in my case, make art, since I am an artist.

My tremors started out in both hands a few years ago and have definitely worsened. At first, I only noticed that I could never take a good picture because I couldn’t keep the camera steady enough to take one. It has worsened since then and affects more daily activities, such as writing, typing, pouring/drinking liquids, dropping almost everything, etc. I noticed the voice tremors starting probably a year or two after the hands.

My balance has noticeably worsened to the point that I often start to fall over while just walking around the house or even standing still. It isn’t unusual for my husband to push me back up as I start to fall over like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

For a long time I tried to dismiss it because I didn’t want to think something might really be wrong. I tried to blame it on anxiety or weird medicine side effects. I am glad that I don’t have MS or Parkinson’s which I feared sometimes. What finally made me bring it up with the neurologist is that the geneticist I saw for my Ehlers Danlos testing a few months ago seemed concerned by how much my hands shook.

The last thing I want to do is take yet more prescription medicines, but I am considering it in hopes that it might slow down the progression and alleviate the symptoms a bit. The only bad thing is that all the meds they use to treat this condition can worsen my depression, so the neurologist wants me to get the ok from my psychiatrist before we decide on a med to try.

Stressful Week So Far

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This week has been stressful. I’m not sure if I’m just overreacting to things because I’m autistic and hypersensitive to everything (especially changes in routine), or if this would even throw many normal people off their game, but since Monday:

  • I had to wait hours at the BMV to renew my driver’s license and then sweat it out when they weren’t sure if my two forms of address verification were acceptable. (Thank God they ended up accepting them in the end so I didn’t have to do the whole process over again.)
  • Our electricity went out Monday night (along with 3,000 other homes and businesses in the area, eventually they did get it restored.)
  • My husband’s birthday was on Monday and I ended up going to 4 different stores looking for a birthday balloon for him because everyone was out šŸ˜¦
  • My psychiatrist appointment got moved up today from 3pm to 2pm which meant I had to alert my husband who drives me. He then had to check to see if the school could get a substitute teacher in earlier to relieve him so he could take me.
  • I almost got kicked off Instagram again (I got warnings again but luckily they haven’t kicked me off yet. I think I may have discovered the issue. I have used an app to track unfollowers and I think that might be what they were picking up on as a “3rd party”. So, I’m just not going to use that app right now.)

Mixed State or Hell?

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The past few days have not been the greatest. I’ve been both super anxious and fairly depressed. I guess it is probably what most people would call a mixed state in the bipolar community. I feel on edge all the time. My brain is constantly telling me something is wrong and that I need to fix it, but I don’t know what it is. The depression is telling me that I am worthless, no one really likes me anyway, and everything I do is pointless.

The depression is making me feel never good enough. It is times like these that no matter what I achieved, I would probably still feel a failure. If I suddenly won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry or had my art showcased at the Louvre, I would still find fault with it and myself in this particular mood. It is a hellish feeling.

This depression is interlaced with anxiety that pushes me to want to achieve, achieve, achieve right now, but in this state I am so all over the place that it is hard to concentrate on anything for long. Not to mention that the depression makes me feel like it is all futile anyhow, even as my whirling mind is telling me that I’m not trying hard enough.

All of this is heightening my chronic pain. I hurt so bad deep in my muscles, I feel like I have been tortured on the medieval rack.

Suit Up for Battle

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Have you ever had a relationship in your life, whether it be a family member, coworker, boss, neighbor, schoolmate, or other social acquaintance, who makes you feel like you need to prepare yourself for for battle every time you come in contact with them?

Perhaps they are masters of the subtle put-down, love to give sneaky guilt trips, always manage to make you feel inferior and “less than”, or simply bring out the worst in you, leaving you feeling regretful and exhausted after the encounter finally ends.

I have a meeting like this coming up soon and it has been stressing me out. While I was laying in bed a couple nights ago stressing about it, I suddenly realized how much effort I had to put into steeling myself before the encounter. I have to put on emotional and mental armor and make sure none of my weak spots are showing. I have to be strong and hide any reaction to their attempts to get to me while in their presence, otherwise it will only encourage them.

It made me sad to think that it has to be this way. It also made me realize why the whole experience causes me so much anxiety and exhaustion. Preparing for battleĀ isĀ exhausting!

Things I Worry About

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  1. Are we destroying this planet to the point that it will be unable to sustain life? Will our arrogance, perpetual fighting and greed end up in our mutual destruction? Are we a foolish race causing our own eventual extinction?
  2. Did any of the narcissistic abuse of my childhood rub off on me? Am I narcissistic? I don’t want to be. I don’t want to hurt anyone or cause anyone else the kind of pain I have felt.
  3. Are we headed for civil war in this country? The polarization seems to be becoming more and more severe and dangerous. Which is more likely to happen first, our own country being torn apart by civil war, or our world being thrust into WW3 – likely over the natural resources we are bleeding dry?
  4. Will I someday find myself alone and have to make the decision to either end my life or survive on my own (the latter which happens to be my biggest fear). As terrifying as the idea is, I hope I would have the strength to try to survive. I would hate to think I would give up that easily.
  5. Am I irrevocably broken? I feel like something went very wrong in the attachment process and I am unable to create wholly secure and healthy attachments to other human beings. That is a hard thing to live with and hard (if not impossible) to fix. Attachment styles are something that is formed when we are very, very young. I have an anxious/avoidant style that makes all relationships feel insecure. Even if I can fix my conscious thoughts (as I have been able to do with my husband) I cannot fix my subconscious (and my fearful/paranoid dreams constantly remind me of that fact).

Should We Move or Not?

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My husband and I have been discussing potentially moving, which is stressful but also a little bit exciting. There are big positives and negatives to consider.

On the plus side, right now we live out in the middle of nowhere and everything is pretty far away. Our doctors, shopping centers, and my husband’s work are longer commutes than either of us like. Due to my anxiety and other issues, my husband has to drive me to many of my doctors’ appointments which means he has to take off work often. If we lived closer to my doctors I could probably take myself. Our internet options are also limited where we live, so we had to settle for satellite internet which is horrible service at a ridiculous price.

The negatives of moving would be that we do like our neighborhood. It is a beautiful, peaceful area out in the country that is well kept and our neighbors have been great so far. The areas we would be moving into would be closer to urban areas and would definitely not be as nice and would have higher crime rates since crime seems to be about zero around here. We also like having more space out here and not having neighbors too close. That would definitely change too.

Tough decisions.