Today was a lot easier on me.

Don’t get me wrong; my shoulders still feel tense. But other than breathing difficulties, I did okay today. Now I know why people breathe through paper bags. I don’t do it. Yet. But I may have to do that in the future if this continues.

I did a bit of stretching and the elliptical today. And of course, my usual meditation, which has become part of my day now. I’m starting to feel a little more normal although the big test continues to be how I would feel on the road whether I’m a passenger or a driver.

I talked to said friend from yesterday who is also going through a rough patch (that’s an understatement). Honestly, talking to her felt good for the both of us. We actually had travel plans for next month but I am in no shape to travel at the moment. Until I can feel normal on the road again, I don’t think I’ll be doing any traveling.

And even then, flying is stressful to me no matter what shape I’m in.

A couple more people (I hadn’t talked to one of them in years, really) checked in on me and I can’t put into words how wonderful that felt. I usually pride myself on keeping in touch with some people but I didn’t do a very good job with this woman. Anyway, I need to do a better job in reaching out as well.

In between all of this anxiety being on the road, my class reunion is coming up real fast. It’s on October 13th (the 14th of that month is what I dread). I helped organize a couple of get-togethers with a few people in our class. My plan to attend Lakers Media Day isn’t going to happen; I’m sad about that. But I am looking forward to attending this class reunion. It’s going to be good for me. I came away feeling so great after those get-togethers with a few of my classmates in the last few months.

I feel like I’m taking life back. How so? I’m actually talking about things that don’t have anything to do with my mental health.

But I’m not going to force anything. I’m going to keep letting it flow.

For now, though? Breathe in. Breathe out.

I am upset. And being upset is not good for my health.

I learned that a friend just went through a rough and scary time. I wanted to lash out so bad but I knew that by doing so, I’d probably melt down and I’d probably get some sort of heart attack or whatever. My body isn’t equipped to dealing with anger especially in the last few years. It’s why I just hold back a lot of the time (and it’s why people see me as “laidback”).

It’s not just that but it’s tough to avoid the news. That thing that is running our country continues to ruin things. If you have some sort of common sense, you know what I’m talking about. And him being inside the White (Supremacist) House have encouraged the stupid. Ugh.

I guess the good news is that I didn’t get to the point of wanting to throw and smash stuff inside my room. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I did something like that but once again, I always feel getting super angry and stressed is not good for my (anyone’s) health.

It was my fourth straight day of driving. My stomach was turning, my heart was beating fast, and I was still breathing hard. I almost feel like there’s no end to this.

But to me, there was one breakthrough. My hands are back to my usual driving style (I tend to have my hands on the lower part of the wheel for the most part). So there is that.

I still see the road as dangerous, though. I mentioned last night that my friend, Nick, picked me up and we went to Monterey Park to hang out with Beerman. It would be my first time on the freeway since my accident. I was still nervous but felt a bit at ease as there was surprisingly little traffic (and fewer cars!) on the freeway. And of course, Nick got off some jokes that got me more in my comfort zone. Yes, kids. The jokes were of the Kevin Durant variety because we’re hip to the NBA world, ya know.

As for my opinion of this entire Durant thing (I’m not going to write a dissertation at TNLP because there is no need to for me), everyone has insecurities. And he wants to be liked. Just like we all want to be liked.

As I write this, I feel like I’m going to vomit. It’s so weird. The body and mind just function in strange ways.

Anyway, part of the reason why I didn’t get volatile today? Well, I made it through one week of meditation through Headspace.

I sound like an advertisement, I know. But it’s really helped me through these tough times.

I’ll just keep repeating to myself. Better days are ahead. Better days are ahead.

Especially to this country because my goodness, does it need them.

At this point, I’m like a broken record. I drove for the third straight day but I’m still hyperaware of everything. Lot of sweating. Lot of hyperventilating. I was super tense. I didn’t cry, at least.

The different thing today has something to do with my body. Over the last few days, my right elbow had increasingly become sore. I added that to my list of ailing body parts; I already have back, neck, and knee pain. The back still bothers me the most. Different areas of my back have pain seemingly every hour. It’s manageable but it’s annoying as hell.

My friend has invited me out. He’s picking me up in about an hour and it’ll be my first time on a freeway since the accident. I already hate being on the road. That’s why I’m going to be on it for a good 40 more minutes in a bit. Ugh.

The funny (is that the right word to use?) thing was that my accident two weeks ago (it felt like eons ago) happened on the surface streets. Three blocks away from home. So should I actually worry about the freeway?

Back in 2004 (yeah, I keep bringing it up), my accident happened on the freeway (near the end of 710 North). It happened in October and I didn’t drive on the freeway again until December. But I did go on there as a passenger and I was petrified. My then-girlfriend would hold my hand while I was in a car for like a month or so.

I have no hands to hold here this time around. That’s why I said this one seems a little harder to deal with than 2004.

But this is what I have to do. If I have to move on, I have to face fear instead of letting it take over me.

Thanks, Eleven.

I did a much more difficult drive today. I drove to the clinic, which was two miles away from home. The road to the clinic is pretty much a straight line. I make a right then I make a left and the clinic is to my right.

But I was shaking and was in tears for a bit. In the moment, it’s so hard. Once again, I was hyperaware of everything. I remember getting all panicky when the car behind me was going fast before deciding to overtake me. I also had a few stop-and-go moments, which luckily happened to me at the school zone that happened to be empty at the time.

It was a relief to arrive at the clinic. The physical therapy instantly made me feel better. And it was back to the road after about 45 minutes.

The ride back was a bit easier. But it was still pretty tough. Not as many stop-and-go moments. I made it through.

I’ve decided that I’ll only drive if I have to take myself. As of now. If I, say, want to go hang out with a friend, I’ll have the friend pick me up.

And I hate that there’s a count in my head concerning when I’ll be okay to drive normally again. Especially since I remember that it took me two months to drive on the freeway the last time I had an accident (I was driving myself to the clinic then, too, but I had my accident on the freeway in 2004).

I wish I had a chauffeur.

The one behind me should suffice.

I see you sneaking around…

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I will conquer this fear. I don’t know when. But I will.

I drove earlier today.

It was just kind of a last-minute decision on my part. After my fourth straight day of meditation, I decided I needed to get out there and face the music.

It was tense. When you’ve been in an accident (in my case, a few times), you just become hyperaware of everything. It’s ridiculous. You notice if a car is getting too close to you. You notice if a car is driving too fast. You notice the pedestrians even more as they try to cross the street. And I become super careful about everything. Even though driving carefully has given me some bad luck over the years. I had my hands on the wheel on those ten o’clock and two o’clock positions.

But I did it. I drove around for a couple of blocks. I had my iPod off so I could concentrate more. Ugh. This is all so silly. When I parked back at home, I turned the music on and did a bad falsetto of Ring My Bell.

Then I walked into my room and I started shaking. But this was something I had to do. I’m gonna try to drive myself to the clinic tomorrow (this one’s considerably farther; about two miles). It’s mostly a straight line to the clinic as well but for me to move on with life, I have to do this.

I still feel tense now. Paranoid. A bit jumpy, even. It’s like I’m driving for the first time again. But I have to keep going forward.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

This is stressful.

But hey, I still have the dog getting in my way of watching basketball so not all things have changed.

And now I’m nervous for releasing a basketball article for the first time in months. Even THAT is giving me anxiety now. Sheesh.