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Freedom like a shopping cart*

My first anxiety attack was in October 1980 , at a Grateful Dead concert at Radio City Music Hall. I thought it was bad pot. It wasnít. I realized this when days later the same series of physical and mental ailments began anew; shortness of breath, a feeling of impending death, the certainty that either my tongue was swelling enough to block my airwaves or my throat had closed up; the feeling of numbness in my brain, as if reality had just left town and I was now and forever stuck in a bad dream. It was all in my head, I was told. I must be anxious about something, they said. I was barely 18, just out of high school, had no real obligations in my life and I was enjoying the hell out of the freedom that holding off on college afforded me. The biggest decision I had to make at that time was whether or not to drive to Jersey the next evening (Halloween) to go see Todd Rundgren (we didnít). I was always a bit high-strung and a bit neurotic. I worry about everything, including the amount of worrying I do about worrying. I avoid social gatherings (which explains why I was standing by the doors of Radio City, almost poised to make an escape, rather than doing some moon-child freak dance in the aisles with my friends), I hate being in crowds. Every situation outside of the house is an exercise in panic avoidance. If we are going to a concert or hockey game or movie, I have to find out ahead of time where the bathrooms were, just in case I have to maneuver my way through a crowd of people to get there - I need to know the fastest, most direct route. And then I refuse to drink anything - beer, soda, water, whatever - making the possibility of having to walk all the way to the bathroom less likely. Wondering why Iíve ditched you every time I responded that I would come to one of those New York blogger bashes? I have good intentions, really. But by the time the day of the get together rolls around I realize that I cannot do it. I canít face a big group of virtually unknown people. I blew a CNN interview the same way. Blew them off at the last minute because I Just.Couldnít.Do it. I I was claustrophobic from an early age (it didnít help when my sisters locked me in a closet to test whether I was lying about my claustrophobia or not). Iím afraid of heights and afraid of water, thus giving me a fear of suspension bridges. You ever see anyone trying to drive over the GWB with their eyes closed? Iíve attempted it. Iím afraid of flying not because I think airplanes are dangerous and not because of terrorism, but due to my claustrophobia and fear of heights. I manage to get to Florida (a 2 Ĺ hour trip) if I have a drink or a handful of Excedrin PM beforehand. But donít ever expect me to meet you in California for any reason. All my anxieties and fears manifest themselves in my dreams. I can remember as far back as ten years old, dreaming about horrifying plane crashes. Iíve always had vivid, detailed, colorful dreams. There are many occurring themes, including the one where I am driving to Yankee Stadium and the Triboro bridge suddenly winds like a roller coaster and dips into the water. As I approach the part of the road that lies under the ocean, I go into full fledge panic attack and I wake up, wheezing and gasping for air. Sometimes I wake up with the feeling that my throat has been filled with ocean water and I canít breathe. Sometimes I have claustrophobia dreams and I wake up with the feeling that someone is sitting on my chest and I canít breathe. Iíve also experienced dream paralysis, where you try to wake up but canít and your legs and/or arms are like pieces of iron laying at your side. Youíre stuck in a dream, unable to move or wake yourself up. And thatís my panic history. I know there are plenty of you who can commiserate with me. Iíve read your emails, Iíve listened to your stories and itís really good to know that Iím not the only one. I never thought I was, but itís certainly comforting to know that there are people smarter and seemingly more together than I am who suffer from the same sense of panic and anxiety. I eventually learned how to get the panic attacks under control. I also learned how to arrange my life so I lessen the chances of going into full panic mode. I stay away from things that make my time bomb tick, for the most part. Well, I did. While the anxiety and low level clinical depression were always there with me, the attacks pretty much stopped. Until September 11, 2001. The events of that day and the subsequent weeks set the alarms off all over again, unleashing all the panic and anxiety that had been hovering just below level, waiting for something to spark their revolution. This was it. In a big way. The first week or two I vacillated, like most people, between sadness and anger. There was also despair and helplessness and a myriad of other feelings that were absolutely uncontrollable. I think there was hardly a person that September that didnít feel all those things. But for those of us with those angry little chemical imbalances, the trigger had been pulled. I waited a long time - until March of the following year - to see if I could get it under control myself. By the second week in March I was having about five attacks a day. I had no control over my emotions. I called in sick way too many days, spent a lot of time at home curled up in a fetal position or lashing out on ASV. I had retreated while my phobias and neuroses made their attack on my system. They won. I finally took the advice of many people and saw my doctor. The rest of that story has been told already. You can look it up if you like. For two years I experienced a combination of medical manipulation. Different doses of Paxil, combined with various doses of Wellbutrin did the trick. I am not going to go on a rant against medication. Itís wonderful. It did what it was supposed to do. I had more control over my emotions. I felt more like I was living on an even keel instead of a roller coaster. The panic attacks disappeared. Completely. I had more ambition, more energy. It was great. For a while. Two years on, I felt like the need for the medication was gone. The misery of the post-9/11 days had lessened. And while I was still experiencing a build up in my emotions, I think they are normal emotions for a politically charged person to have during a war. I no longer liked the idea of being doubly medicated every day. I wanted to be self sufficient. And, the more research I did on Paxil, the less I liked the idea of loading that garbage into my system every day. The other medications offered - Effexor and the like - seemed to be less like poison and more like what I needed, but what I really needed to be clean for a change. I wanted to go back to being myself. While the medicated me was a fairly nice person with a nice personality and all, I knew that deep down I was not myself. Forget the sexual side effects, thatís something you donít even want to know about, let alone deal with. I think my emotions were too under wrap. I barely cried anymore, when I was known for crying at Kleenex commercials. I would end arguments with my husband or children abruptly because I just didnít care. A simple fuck you, idiot was all I needed to get my point across. Thatís not healthy. I knew that. And I knew that burying my emotions was not healthy, either. So I went off the medications, both of them, and you can read all about that if you go through the April archives. Iím almost at the two week point of being drug-free. It has not been easy. It has, indeed, been hell. I have a family member who quit heroin. I joke that he had an easier time of it because at least they gave him methadone. The doctor did tell me that de-toxing would not be easy. For some people, it lasts three days or less. For others (apparently, Iím an ďotherĒ) it lasts much longer. Itís like having the flu, a hangover and drug withdrawal all at once. Iím determined to make it, though. I have the Xanax should I need it, but so far I have not even filled the prescription for it. My emotions at this time are uncontrollable. My tempers is incredibly short. My mood swings are violent and acute. Everything makes me angry, tearful, upset, scared...you name it. I donít like not being in control of myself, which is the reason I stopped doing drugs back in the early 80's. And yes, perhaps those drugs of my past have something to do with my brain of the present. But knowing that wonít make it any different, so itís not something Iím going to think to heavily about right now. I mention this to people and they ask, what kind of drugs? Itís not something I want to get into. Letís just say that I could never run for public office, or do anything in which a detailed look into my background would be necessary. But we all have those skeletons. Some of us let others see them, and some hide them. I see no shame in being human and admitting it. And I do admit that Iíve not behaved in an adult manner lately. I know this, Iím aware of it and I am trying to control that part of me that has that penchant for making enemies. This is a crazy time in my life (looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue, heh). Iím in the middle of buying a house; we have two weeks to pack up and move. Thereís the usual money issues that come with buying a house, plus Natalie needs braces and, while I finally made the last payment on my car, we do need a second car desperately. So why am I telling you all this? Well, Iíve never been one to shy away from the personal aspects of life. While I do write about war and politics, video games and comic books, music and movies, I always interspersed those topics with the personal. Some of you know more about my personal life than my family members do. I feel that because I have kept you posted about my life from the very beginning, itís only right to let you know the reason if I happen to disappear for a while. Iíve threatened this before. I claimed that I was going to go on hiatus only to come back the next day. Iíve said I was going to give it up entirely but found that I didnít have the balls to do it. I enjoy it too much. For the most part, at least. I think Iíll experiment for now. If it wasnít for the fact that I committed myself to raising money for Spirit of America next week, I might have just put up a ďgone fishingĒ sign and packed my virtual bags. But I owe it to SOA to continue with what I started. Weíll start by saying that I certainly wonít be posting anything new until Monday, when Iíll have something to say on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Weíll take it from there. I will always, no matter what I do with ASV, keep Voices open - I will even be expanding it soon. I will always be at Command Post. Youíll see me at Blogcritics from time to time. But this place has not been good for my mental health. Itís funny that Iím finally approaching the 10,000 hits a day range, and Iím thinking of calling it quits. The thing is, I think a lot of people come here for the train wreck aspect. I donít want to be anybodyís train wreck. I donít want to be the victim of rubbernecking brought on by my own drunk driving. I donít want to spend my days arguing and angry, especially now that I donít have the little blue and white pills to temper my emotions. Am I mentally unbalanced? Perhaps. But I think we all are in a way. Itís just a matter of having that Anti-Cupidís arrow of hate being shot in your ass. Some of us get it, some of us get out of the way in time. I have to spend some more time concentrating on ways to make more money, concentrating on my writing and how to turn that into a buck or two. I have to stop spending so much time doing this and doing more around the house to help my husband, who need his free time to make more art to pay more bills. Itís a vicious cycle, one we all have been a part of, or will be at some point. I will be back on Monday, that much is certain, to fulfill obligations that I want to fulfill. After that, ASV will take on a decidedly different tone, if it is still here at all. I think if I took a vote, there would be plenty of ballots cast for concentrating on gaming, comic books and all things pop culture. But Iím afraid there would be many more cast for continuing with the war/politics talk. Let me tell you straight out: that is not going to happen. Either ASV comes back as a pop culture blog or it doesnít come back at all. That is a promise to myself that I intend to keep. If I lose some readers, so be it. There are many wonderful, less bile filled blogs that concentrate on those areas and do it with diplomacy and tact instead of wielding a sharpened sword and slicing at will. Iíve made the Hulk joke many times: You wonít like me when Iím angry. Well guess what? I donít like me when Iím angry. The ASV you have been reading for the past three years is no more. Check back Monday or Tuesday to see what, if anything, is in itís place. Thank you to everyone who has kept this blog company for the past three years. Even those with whom I argue have made this a worthwhile endeavor. Iíve learned a lot from all of you. Iíve learned so much about myself, about politics, the world and the goodness of people. Iíve made tons of wonderful friends, friends who have promised to let me vent to them whenever I get the urge to open up my Moveable Type page and blog politics again. I've lived and learned through this blog in ways I never thought possible. I've "met" people I never would have known existed, and I've read their words and shared their pains and successes. I've had millions of visitors to this place. Millions. I have a hard time comprehending that. To everyone who has graced me with their presence here, thank you. I think I've done more good than harm here. A million click throughs, a million differente opinions, a million different takes on the same subject. I've seen a million faces an I've rocked them all. Iíd like to think, anyhow.
*At first glance, you may not understand why this song applies, but if you stare at it a while, like one of those 3d pictures, the truth reveals. Freedom like a shopping cart, indeed. A Christian, an anarchist-slashprostitute, figures out the true meaning of freedom Not freedom like America, freedom like a shopping cart Kick back, no tense, you got a bag of grub it cost you about 50 cents No fear, no fuckin feats, malt liquor tastes much better on the streets Crustin, a way of life for heroines and heroes who hitchike the road to Eden Not Eden like the garden state, Eden like the state of mind Kick back, cheap thrills, you'll do anything for a lugh even if it kills you The bridge you took it out, the ticket takers suddenly lost count Sleeping under rays, your teeth crumbling away, say goodbye To all responsibility, you never wanted it man Wasting time whenever you get the chance Which happens to be all the time Kick back, free meals A couple of times a day you make a coupe if shady deals No work, no fuckin pay Cardboard condiminium by the bay You're between the red and black, you're never goin' back Say goodbye, to all responsibility You never wanted it man -NOFX Update: You can download the whole song at Amazon

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Comments

My first was only 5 years ago. I was at work, listening to some music when all of a sudden I realized I had to get out. I didn't understand what the 'out' was, but I had to leave, get away from something. I remember looking for my metal letter opener to end it all, to 'get out'.

Those who don't understand what panic attacks are are lucky, in my eyes. This is why I avoid drugs like the plague. I've already had a near fatal run in with a loss of reality, I don't want to purposely put myself there again.

Michele, you're writing a lot about this lately, has it been getting worse? I tried to cut down to 5mg of Paxil every 2 days, but I started having horrible anxietyso I think 5 a day is working. It doesn't remove the anxiety, it just keeps it at a level I can deal with.

Sometimes, I think maybe I should stop reading blogs and the news. The level of stress might not be worth it. But then I think that knowing I'm missing out on what's really happening in the world would be just as stressful.

Best of luck.

You do what's best for you, enjoy your new home. But keep the logo, I love it!

You've earned it.

Whoo, 2 artists in the same household, that's got to be hard.

But you're going to have to blog on the conventions.

Well, looks like my comment lower down was a day late and a million dollars short. I'll miss the old ASV, but I wish you the best of luck in getting the pesky personal stuff straightened out.

That's a very touching glimpse into what makes up you, Michele. I never thought about the train wreck gawker aspect but now that you've mentioned it I have a thought or two.

First, that's not why I come here. Not by a longshot. I'd much rather hear stories like "Don't piss in the Millenium Falcon" than sad ones. See, I've gotten to know you a little bit by the stories you share so I get the same reactions when I read about bad things in your life as when I'm talking to a friend or acquaintance who's relating bad things in their life. There's some "That blows, Dude (or Dudette in this case)", a bit of "Phew, I'm so lucky", an urge to comfort (exacerbated due to your femalocity), and some guilt for having that second feeling up there.

Seeing as I relate to most things with humor I must often fight against my (generally naughty) natural impulses. For example, my first draft of this comment was "Damn, that's a long post. Where's the Executive summary?" Good thing I have a lot of experience fighting those urges.

Not sure where I'm going with this now as I've fallen into a stream of conciousness. Damn.

Anyway, take care of yourself and do what you need to in order to feel as good as you can.

And stop apologizing so much. You're giving New Yawkas a bad name. ;-)

Do what you need to do, Michele.

Don't ever apologize for feeling the need to take care of yourself.

We'll be here if and when you come back. And we'll still read what you have to say---no matter the subject matter---because we like the way you say it.

Good luck:)

Good luck in your transitional phase.

Get the DVD/VHS ready for the ATHF deluge. "Ve vill melt them into fluid!"

{{{Michele}}}

You take care of yourself. You would need to declare a hiatus in posting because of the moving, so don't worry about it.

ASV has been right at the top of my sites to read daily for years now, for your insight, your stlye, and your wit. Politics or pop culture, it's always been worth my time to stop by. And now, you need to do what's necessary to keep yourself together, and nobody could blame you for that -- believe me, I empathize.

Thanks for everything.

You go. Joke 'em if they can't take a fuck.

I expect you to use next year's bitchin' house-purchasing-related tax refund to vacation in Florida, however.

Michelle, don't worry 'bout us - we'll still be here when you get back. Get yourself together. That's the more important part.

Be well, and be strong.

Catch you at TCP then. Best wishes and all that. I'll try to dig up some A.T.H.F. stuff for you. Stuff you can only get if you're an employee and all that.

Just as a gift for the good read.

Or maybe I'll just send you a big wad of ground beef if I can't find anything else!

Michael, as long as it's shape shifting meat :)

I can relate.

Hmm, seems like I posted before you were done. Sorry to see you go, but I guess it makes my original comment all the more aprapos.

I do think you're correct in a way about the train wreck thing, except it is more like voyuerism. I want to watch other people's minds deal with the same issues I have to deal with to gauge my responses. You've been a great source for that info.

Again, best of luck.

Never apologize for taking care of yourself, Michele. We'll still be here.

Thank you very much for ASV. Be well, and be loved.

(Hmmmm. I'm sure it will shape shift - given time.)

Michele,

I sent you a long e-mail, but for the benefit of the rest of us Yahoos, let me repeat:

Do what you gotta do. We'll be here when you get back, or we aren't worth giving a damn about anyway.

"But this place has not been good for my mental health. ... But I think we all are in a way. Itís just a matter of having that Anti-Cupidís arrow of hate being shot in your ass."

Yes, there's certain unhealthy?, addictive? charge we get out of the negative emotions in online communities. Guilty! Crap, I even caught myself commenting on dKos.

Analysis good; supercharged, emotion-stoking provocations bad!

Too often we (I) let them blend together.

My two cents: Cool down for a few days. Write your own lsit of topics/stuff you'll get into, and stuff you won't. Determine whether to shut off or control comments. Whatever. But, (assuming you come back) do so with some internal guidelines about blogging and your own emotions.

Regards,

i won't get into the panic attacks, except to say i've been there, too. missed 3 months of work & went on short term disability. thanks for sharing. i should do the same sometime, on my blog.

i'll be here when you get back, no matter what form asv takes. take care & see you monday.

I'll just join the queue of well-wishers here. I still lurve ya, Michele!

Mental imbalance? I think it's required for long-time, high-profile blogging.

I mean, just look at me. I go through the trouble of creating 7 fake personalities on the site to fabricate a group-blog, I fire five of them, and I recreate five new ones.

And you think you have the right to call yourself crazy?

Come on, eh. Take your meds, put on the chicken suit with the tear-away butt-flap, and let's go fight some crime!

Get well, enjoy your new house, and have great fun.
Best wishes,

Michele, we barely knew ye.
So long, kid.
See you in the funny papers.

You did good political work Michele so sorry to see the page become a "pop culture blog" -- if that. But ya gotta do what's best for you. Don't be afraid to take a week off and rest and relax, it might be good for you. Everybody needs a little time away. Best wishes -- JDH

There's nothing you've said here than I can argue with, lots I can agree with, and even if I could argue with any of it, I'd still have to concede that you gotta do what you gotta do.

Oh--and if anyone deserves to be paid for her writing, it's you.

So why do I still think this sucks worse than anything has ever sucked before? Because I'll miss the ASV I knew and loved, I guess.

But it's been a grand long run, and I'll get over it in time. And I'm just enough of a pop culture junkie that I'll keep on reading anyway.

Funny what you said about agreeing to meet up with other bloggers and canceling at the last minute. I'm not prone to panic attacks (crossing fingers it stays that way), but I definitely have what my aunt and grandmother on my paternal side call "the leaving-the-house thing." We'll schedule things we're DYING to go do, can't WAIT to go do, but sometimes the day comes and we just can't do it. Worse, then people you've agreed to meet think you're just trying to screw them over, and of course it isn't that at all.

My grandmother just makes herself go most of the time. That woman has will to spare. My aunt only drops the ball sometimes. I drop the ball all the time. There's a reason I have a job working from home: it minimizes having to leave the house.

Because they both have it I figure it has to be inherited, right? But it's weird that it seems to affect only the women in the family. Unless maybe the guys just aren't admitting it like we do.

Ack, sorry to ramble. You have a great weekend!

Yay for comics, gaming, and pop culture!

Do what ya gotta. It all comes down the style and story, not necessarily the subject. And you have style for miles, kid.

Have a good break!

Best of luck!

I did prozac for a few months when I went off the deep end in grad school. Horrible unhealthy place. Coming back off it was hard, but it's nothing compared to paxil, from what I've heard.

I miss prozac. Having a baby messed with me, and it's hard to cope. But I'm too chicken to go to the doctor. I don't WANT to tell some stranger all my problems and plead for drugs. They might say no.

Enjoy your new home, relax, rest, and best of luck in whatever you choose to do in the future.

Here's a vote for whatever incarnation you decide ASV to be.

I come here for the author not the subject.

Hey Michele -

For what it's worth, I don't come here for the trainwreck. I come here because I find your commentary interesting. Well, that and the ass fucking. Wait. Was that here? Hm.

Anyhoo.

Being a Zoloft guy, I can relate. I mentioned in another thread that I had to go off it for a week once, and that was really bad. So I have an inking of what you're going through. Remember - it does get better.

In any event, I hope you don't give up blogging, because I really like it here.

Just wanted to say "thank you", you've been a great read.

Hey Michele, good luck wherever you may choose to go, and what you may choose to do. It has been so, so great reading your blog. Just... take care as always.

Say 'Hi' to Rachel Lucas...(Waaah!)

Michele, I have been more of a lurker than a commenter, but I do visit here several times a day. I find just about every subject you write about to be insightful and thought provoking (even when it is just a stroll down memory lane).

For what its worth, I never thought you stepped over the line even at your angriest and it pains me to think that the losers and assholes of the world have actually had a negative impact on your "real" life. So, like most folks who come for a daily dose of wit and wisdom, I will selfishly lament the loss of quality time with you (what does one take for ASV withdrawal symptoms anyway?). Alas. Take care of yourself. You have touched many more lives than you know.

For about a year now, i've been meaning to drop you a line telling you how much I enjoy ASV. Better late than never, I guess. Sorry to hear it, but your mental health certainly comes first. I'll be back to write whatever's here after you get it all sorted out. Thanks Michele, you're one of the best out there.

I meant 'read' whatever's here of course :)

If I ran a newspaper or magazine, I'd sooooooo be looking to add the Michele Catalano byline to my rag.
Anyway, good luck on the house and all. I just bought one, and my normally sane wife literally ripped the shirt off my body (and not in a good way) a few days before closing. That in mind, I don't blame you one bit for shedding anything remotely stressfull. ASV has entertained me in many ways. I will always thank you for that and I look forward to whatever road your future writing takes you on.
Good luck and peace.

Thank you, Michele. Do what's best for you.

Just wanted to know that you're on my list of favorite blogs to visit for a good reason - you're brutally honest, unflinching, and you like Faith No More (that alone earns my utmost respect). While I'm going to miss your political side, I know I'm going to appreciate and enjoy whatever you choose to do with ASV because it's always been about the person behind the blog.

Should I quit bugging you about the Yankees, though?

You do whatever is best for you. This is just a blog. Blogging should really be just a hobby. Take care and good luck. :)

Thanks for what you've written in the past, Michele. It was always good, politics or pop culture. Thanks for writing this post.
I hope it all works out for you and I'm sure we'll all be hanging around here like kids hang around the ballpark after the end of the game. You might have to chase us off with a stick.

I understand.
What more needs to be said...?

ilyka wrote:
I drop the ball all the time. There's a reason I have a job working from home: it minimizes having to leave the house.

::: gasp ::: A little self-realization there. Yipe.

Michele, if you posted your GROCERY LIST I would read it, fercryin' out loud. You have the most wonderful ability to describe things so that I can see them in my imagination. From what I understand, that's called being a Writer.

Love,
Em

One less druggy scumbag polluting the web. Boo fuggin hoo. Maybe if you'd kept your nose clean you wouldn't be such a headcase now.

I love you, too. Thanks for dropping by Tom. You have brightened my day just by validating my reasons for giving this up.

Nose? Wrong drug, try again.

Haven't commented here before, but you are a "must read" both here and at TCP. Go, if you must. You have caused ripples in the cybersphere that will bounce back and forth who knows where and for how long. You have changed some minds for the better, pointed out and rightly mocked some fools, and just flat pissed some people off. What a great legacy.

(Uhhh, that last is supposed to be a subtly witty compliment, but I never did get around to looking up the definition for either subtle or witty, so how about just thanks.)

Well, just make sure you keep doing limerick and poetry contests from time to time. I don't know what I'd do without those. Probably play with my feces, rolling them into little balls and trying to flick them into a baseball cap or something. You can't let that happen Michele!!

And, 10,000 page hits a day? Holy shit stick, woman. That's some powerful mojo you're radiating there. Gawd, I'm happy to surpass 100 page hits a day, with most of those hits being me visiting my own site.

Well, whatever you come back as, I'm sure I'll enjoy it.

"dream paralysis, where you try to wake up but canít and your legs and/or arms are like pieces of iron laying at your side. Youíre stuck in a dream, unable to move or wake yourself up."

God I HATE that. It happens to me all the time, and it freaks me out every single time. That and when I'm not quite fully asleep, and something causes me the shake my self back awake. Gahh!!!

Wait, before you go, can we have another Uma-Oprah thread? C'mon, you know you want to!

Well, I'm kinda new here, found you through allah, and though I've only been reading for a month or so (your blog, silly) - I'm gonna have to say I'll miss it. So, this is fat kid wishin' you the best.

Have you tried Whippets? They work to calm me down. ")

You have my sympathy. Do what you need to do to make yourself well, or better.

Blog if you can. If you can't, we'll miss you.

Michele, reading about you brings to mind the image of a ballerina dancing on the high wire; a beautiful artist tempting fate to bring pleasure to her audience. Yes, there's always going to be people in crowd hoping to see the ballerina fall, but the great majority of us are here to enjoy the show and catch you if you should lose your balance. Take care, Michele, and I'll be waiting in the wings to see the ballerina dance again.

Hi Michele,

Been here since way back. You've lived the dream, baby. You're a trailblazer.

As much as I enjoy all of the bloggy goodness out there, I often wonder/worry about the people behind them and the huge amount of time and effort it takes.

Take care of yourself and know that you have done incredibly, amazingly well in using your unique voice to let everyone know how you feel and think. You're a brave person to put yourself out there as you have.

Best of luck,

---Brian Perry

I've only been coming here for a couple of weeks, but I've enjoyed your blog. I think doing a purely culture oriented site would be great. I'm still waiting for you to post an mp3 of Lawrence Welk covering "Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden. :P Good luck with your chemistry.

Michelle,

I for one have no problem if you turn this into a pop culture blog. More pop culture = more Achewood posts, right?

And if you do abandon ASV completely, you'll be missed, but it'll be for the best. Best of luck getting into that new house of yours.

As one of the silent millions who have enjoyed every one of your words for the last couple of years, I too, wish you well. My morning coffee and 'breaking news' web searches will never be the same.

I feel like my really cool neighbor, the one that threw the pool parties and use to help with the BBQ's, just told me they're moving to Cleveland.

We will miss you, and will keep an empty lawn chair open for you at the 4th of July picnic.

Send us a postcard every now and then.
LV

I have found that participating in specific activities cause personality changes and make me prone to anxiety and panic attacks.

I discovered this as a teenager when I was in art school. When I am dedicated to drawing and painting, I become very introverted and experience serious social anxiety. This will eventually cause panic attacks -- for which I've been hospitalized.

If I do work that involves public speaking and working within business groups, I don't have a problem. That's why I changed my major from Art to Communication.

I've decided that it has something to do with the creative part of my brain. Doing fine art triggers something that results in the awakening of a dark side of my personality. The themes of my artwork become very serious and I can spend hours in isolation. My dreams will literally become vivid nightmares. I have even had dreams in which I have conceived and completed entire paintings.

Doing Web design and commercial graphic design doesn't do this to me. Creative writing, gardening, and blogging don't either. I haven't had to take any medication since I gave up fine art. It has been many years -- since college.

Panic attacks are pretty common Ė everybodyís afraid of something. I know pilots who canít watch ER because they faint when they see an operating scene.

They really do need to invent some sort of temporary medication to get us through events that we know will be godawful stressful but we know we canít do them drunk. Moving is one of those things.

This is a good time to take a break. Weíll miss you, but I donít think many people come to see a train wreck. We come for the wit and the writing, and the nice company. Sometimes a troll pops up. Whacking them can be fun, but tiring after awhile. And they leave all that green goo behind when their heads explode. Who can blame you for wanting to take a break.

Best of luck with the move..

Michele -

Someone above wrote: "I would read your freakin' GROCERY LIST if you posted it". That just about sums it up for me as well.

You have deeply touched my life with your writing, and how you share yourself with all of us.

Michele --

Instead of closing up shop, why not hang a "Gone Fishing" sign in the window and take a break? Right in the middle of detoxing is the wrong time to make a decision on anything.

You have many, many people who read you every day because of your total emotional and intellectual honesty. Anyone who has a problem with that can go read someone else's blog and leave yours alone. (Tom? Hello? Are you paying attention?)

As for trolls, just refuse to engage for a while? Don't read them. Don't answer them. Just delete their happy asses. They only have the power to upset you if YOU give it to them.

Take a break. Catch your breath. And then come back and play with your friends, okay?

be well, michele.

I told Stuart Buck to take some time off after his strokes, and what'd he last, like a day after he was home from the hospital? This is no easy habit to give up, although between your frazzledness and Instapundit's comments the other day about being weary sometimes of following the news, you can sympathize with how people like Rice and Powell are so burnt out by now actually doing what the rest of us just talk about. But do what's best for you.

I can definitely sympathize on the panic attacks - I've had a much lesser case, and mostly in the immediate aftermath of September 11, but between the panic attacks and the teeth grinding I've absorbed a good deal of stress the last 3-4 years. I gather the answer to panic attacks is really different for each person (Howard Dean got therapy for them, and tied it back to his brother's death . . . insert your own 'primal scream therapy' joke here).

Anyway, we all appreciate what you do around here. Be well.

Never let the asshats get to you. Ignore them - you have to, you can't shout them down because they reproduce to fast.

Michele -
10,000 hits, sixty-some comments . . .
You've been a blessed person to have touched that many people. Feel proud. And we'll wait right here if you ever feel like comming back.

As a relative newcomer to ASV all I can say is I'll miss it considerably. I do understand exactly how you feel about the meds (been there, done that, got the t-shirt). Just remember that for every asshole that comments here there are probably hundreds of lurkers who love what you do. Take care of yourself.

This isn't just because the Yanks have trailed the Red Sox the entire season, is it?

Good luck and get well, kiddo. We'll be here when you get back.

Michele, I don't need to read the previous comments (I will, though) to know that I am not the only person who thinks you should do whatever you and your family (but mainly you) feels is good for you. I'd bet that most of us come here because we like your voice, and that really doesn't change much from topic to topic (except maybe for deeply personal stuff like this post).

Write what inspires you, and we'll be happy, and hopefully so will you.

As far as panic attacks go, I've had many light ones since before I was 9 years old, but nothing as major as I've seen described here and elsewhere (I can generate a mini-one pretty easily by thinking certain thoughts). I have "crowd claustrophobia" in some situations, and you don't want me to tell you about the time I got stuck sitting in a plane with no ventilation for an hour on the tarmac (AFTER the flight landed, of course) with some lady's nasty perfume gagging me. Oh wait, I just did, sorry.

Michele:

I was going to recommend a while back when you were talking about how much work it is to run the command-post and ASmallVictory and how tiring it is, that if you can't make it your job and get paid for it, just stop woprking. Even Glenn Reynolds has said that if it ever gets to be a chore for him and too much work, he'll just stop.

(A tangent: Glenn isn't extroardinarily good or that relevant of a commentator. Why he is so important is that someone had to serve as a major blogging news index for blogs, and Glenn was the most sucessful at it eary on, and so everyone referred people to Glenn for blog news, and since most of Glenn's visitors come looking for blogs to read, he gives them more than what they want, and the fact that he is widely read for his links means that he is the best weblog traffic-getter, so many people vie to get him to link to them. Its a momentum thing really, as once Instapundit really got going as an index it grew in readership so much that no one could keep up with him who was also doing wewblog indexing.
Useful note: don't try to get famous by becoming a general weblog index. You're competing with Glenn Reynolds, and until he stops blogging you will have much better luck with focusing on a niche index, such as "gaming, comic books and all things pop culture." Not that that is a suggestion.)

I have noticed, even though I have read regularly for only a few weeks, that many rants have been increasingly high-strung. The Wonkette something was something that originally was supposed to be a joke, but really degenerated into something very ugly. I'm not blaming you for this. I think Wonkette failed to see how much the thing bothered you and how much the web reaction and reaction to the web reaction and the reaction-reaction bothered you. I read Wonkette occasionally, and I do think that its 95% fluff, but occasionally its very entertaining fluff. (see Thursadays with Tina Brown)

I couldn't agree more that you have been writing too much about and getting too worked up by news and politics. I would like to see you continue to write about music, even though my taste in music and your's barely intersect anywhere. I think the only thing we both agree is really good is the Pixies, which is one of only three of my favorite bands that started after I was born. The ones before are the Beatles, "Yes", Talking Heads, and Bob Marley. (If you think thats eclectic, you wouldn't believe what the two started after I was born are.) With a music blog, I'd be interested to see you try to convince me that today's rock scene isn't the wasteland it apears to be.

Just remember, no one is forcing you to blog. If blogging doesn't bring you some enjoyment, take Glenn Reynold's advice and just stop. Your readers will survive.

Gracias Michele. Take care of yourself, we will be here if and when you get back.

How about a rousing chorus of that Night Ranger song to send you off?

No?

(have been playing Vice City & that song is in heavy rotation... I crack up and think of you every time I hear it... and then I change the station)

Get well, girl.

Whatever form ASV takes, we'll be back

All the best and good luck.

You've given of yourself so freely - it's only right that you pull in the reins and focus on yourself and your family.

Only you can say what's the best course for you. You have my respect and admiration for this act alone, much less your insight and ability to touch lives through your words.

Thank you for allowing me to participate in this wonderful site. If you decide to continue it as a pop culture venue, I'll be here with bells on....I know that when I think of the time left between now and November, and how nasty people are becoming, I really think I don't have what it takes to stay involved.

I think this is another time to stand on the side and watch the fire burn itself out. Come November, I'll vote for the best man left standing, but until then - I'd rather not be a witness to the verbal vomit. Life's too short to invite mean-spiritedness and hatred in....some might argue that opting out is equivalent to playing ostrich, but not me - it's called preserving the sanity, and God knows you've been in the line of fire more than you deserve.

Peace, Michele...and thank you.

good luck...god speed

Yeah, what most of them said, expect for the few wankers. Well, there was one wanker I remember.

Writing should be fun. It should make you feel better, not worse. If it stops being fun, or fulfilling, or becomes a non-paying occupation that always feels like work, then you stop. We'll keep clicking by to see what's going on, if anything.

And ignore the people who talk shit. They aren't worth the time.

Michele,

I've suffered off and on from panic, so I can relate to everything you're saying.

Take care of you, and the rest of the world will adjust.

I wish you the best.

Michele, why do I get the feeling that I'm going to inherit your trolls?

Anyway. Be well, and do what's best for you.

Ooh, like Richard Marx sang: I will be right here waiting for you.

Sorry. Watched VH1's The Revenge of I Hate the 80's Strikes Back or whatever it's called. Your influence, y'know.

Good luck, Michele. Thanks for so much.

http://www.fhu.com/meditation.html

Hi Michele.

As a long time devoted ASV visitor, just want to take a moment to thank you for ALL you've given and shared here with us. I have to agree with some of the others... should you post your grocery list, we'd read it. Why? Well, because of YOU. Whether or not I've always agreed with everything you've said, what you've said has always, always been interesting. If you shift the gears on the site, I know I'll miss your take on the world at large... politics, the war, etc. But it's been a wonderful ride, and I'll definitely still be on board. Thanks again for your time, your intelligence, your humor and your backbone.

Please take care of yourself. For yourself. For your family.

(And just remember, these days, blogging IS pop culture!!! )

I totally relate to your panic attacks and general social anxiety. As a matter of fact, despite months of lurking around here and thoroughly enjoying your site, it took me until this week to finally be brave enough to peak my head out my cave and leave a comment on one of your posts. Leaving a comment was almost as difficult for me as speaking to someone in person, as silly as that may sound.

(On a related note, Rachel Lucas also decided to stop blogging a few weeks after I finally commented on her site....hmmm.... okay, I get it, I'm going back inside my cave now. I can't risk losing any more of my favorite bloggers.)

Thank you for all you've done here, Michele. No matter what you decide to do here, I will continue to read anything you decide to blog about.

Good luck with your new home - be well and be happy!

Well, if you want to rest and avoid politics when you come back, I don't mind.

As for the trolls, the Burninated image should be used with extreme prejudice. (Too bad you can't put soundfiles with Strong Bad shouting "DELETED!" in here.)

Meryl: You might get Michele's trolls, mainly because they are very sick and in desperate need of attention.

Paxil is a bitch; the withdrawals gave me "brain zaps" for days.

Take care of you, Michelle, and thanks for all the good writing.

Crap -- one L in Michele. Sorry.

Hi, Michele. While it bums me out that your blog may be on hiatus for a while, it's your blog, and your physical and mental well being take first priority. Having struggled with anxiety and how to deal with it (Is this a clinical matter? Do I needs meds or not?), best of luck to you. I'm sure the transition to the new house will work out ultimately. And I'll be right here whenever you choose to resume your postings. :-)

What you have is anxiety. Shrinks can call it panic disorder or social phobia or generalized anxiety disorder, but it doesn't matter, it's all just different sides of the same cube. But you aren't mentally unbalanced. It feels like that right now because with all of the sh** on your plate, you're overwhelmed. (you've tried and abandoned the awful meds--have you been talking to a therapist? It doesn't make you insane the way meds do...)

You feel things more than other people do. Things affect you more than they affect other people. You get overwhelmed more, and your emotions react more. You live with the volume turned up way high, and when stress happens, there's precious little you can do about it--but you wouldn't have it any other way.

Rest. Enjoy your new home. Recognize that MOVING!!! will induce panic in ANYONE, and it doesn't mean you're unstable. (But therapy really can help...it takes F'ing FOREVER, but it does help.) And concentrate on your life.

Putting yourself out here for us is something we've adored, but it's taxing, draining, and makes your jaw tense up and and your head ache and your stomach clench and you just feel vulnerable and under siege all of the time. So go give yourself a safe home for a while--or ever, or whatever you need. But most people who are afraid aren't as brave as you are. They don't pour themselves out into things, they don't stand up naked all of the time in front of everyone, so to speak. You're incredibly brave, but the more and more you push yourself to be brave, the more ragged you feel.

it doesn't mean you're going nuts. it doesn't mean you aren't brave, either.

A lot of us are afraid the way you are--a lot of panic, anxiety, etc. Feel free to write about those things as much or not at all. We wtill respect you just as we have. And if you don't want to write anymore, we will still wish you the best.

Everything you've written has helped someone else out here who has felt alone. Truly know that you've given us a gift--your bravery. Being afraid all of the time, it doesn't feel brave. But it is. And we've been stronger because of you.

Thank you.

Michele,
Take care of yourself - I have gone through a lot of the same emotional things you have, and I know just a little how you might feel.
Moving can be so overwhelming. Take it easy, move, unpack, arrange your new home.
You have an incredible talent. You write beautifully, logically and with passion. If you decide to stay away, many of us will miss you, but we will never forget you.

Shit. I'd rather see you turn comments off than restrict yourself this way, but I really want you to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. You've shown a lot of courage, and I know you'll get through the next few turbulent weeks and months. And when you're back, we'll be here.

You're a talented writer; be sure to let us know when we can get our hands on your work in dead tree form.

Know that we're grateful to you for your charity work and your devotion to projects like Voices.

Godspeed. I'll keep checking back to see what you're up to, and I'll look forward to reading you at TCP and (we hope) here in the future.

Oh, and--panic attacks. Yes. Bad. Usually claustrophobia, but crowds sometimes as well. Don't like that trapped feeling. Planes--Okay, but I usually have to talk myself through takeoff. Tunnels--not good. I'm always sure there will be an earthquake when I'm in one. (LA girl.) This is why I'll never commit a felony: couldn't stand being locked up.

Michele:
I seem to be Synchronicity challenged; I just found ASV less than a week ago, and miss it already.
As many who have known you far longer than I have said with greater skill: Do what you must, and best of luck in whatever that might be.

I have family members far more brilliant than I'll ever be who sometimes fight this panic thing. It may be the price truly good people pay for their talent; that makes me selfish for wanting to see the results of that talent anyway. Take care; I look forward to anything you care to post in days to come.

Rob

Do what you need to do. I'll keep the light on.

if i could have someone to sit down in the morning and have cawfee and a nosh, it'd be you, cos out here in the sticks there doesnt seem to be anyone like you, or even me, for that matter for me to have any kind of even vaguley interesting conversation with.

But do what you hafta do, (or "Ditto everyone elses comments!") and we'll see you when we see you.. right? Right. Ok.Mebbe when you get into your new place, i've got this Feeler album that wants to go back east...

(i had my breakdown in August of 01... and then.. September happened... and i was held together with duct tape and baling wire til February of this year. )

Get moved, have a nice rest and come back if you miss us.

do what is best for you.
reading this post was like reading a page out of my own book... i can relate all to well to the feelings you express.
take time, take care.

Michele, I can't begin to understand how you've managed to become almost like a friend during the last two years, nor can I comprehend how you have figured out a way to make something so simple -- words & pictures on a computer screen -- such a fascinating, enlightening, witty place to come each day. But I thank you. And wish you lots of warm, fuzzy, happy thoughts. I hope you return to "us" eventually, in some form, here at ASV. If you don't, well...we'll get over it, but we won't necessarily like it.

The bottom line: thank you for sharing with me, with us, so many wonderful things.

Be well.

What they said.

Take care of yourself & your family. You'll be missed.

:`(

Use your time off like a Stooge:

Eat, drink and beat Larry.

Michele: I'm sure you don't have time to visit the Micky Mouse blog of Indigo -- but if you could take a minute to see Tuesday, March 30. Read John Two-Hawks' post on "the buffalo calving moon" and perhaps it will help you as it did me. Honestly, young friend, there's a whole lot of such "stuff" going around. John has a new and different analysis on the syndrome -- but it's the same thing. He says "You may feel cornered or trapped or helpless." Sounds familiar to me!!!

This is my first post here but I've read your blog just often enough to miss it when it's gone. You're perfectly entitled to turn down the volume when you've got too much noise in your life.

And you don't have to do the world's most perfect moving job, either!

Michele, I've wondered for a long time how you managed to keep all those plates spinning. And some of the left vs. right sniping had recently been getting very unpleasant.

Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself well, and let the chips fall where they may. My vote would be for keeping ASV open in a more relaxed, less contentious mode, but my primary concern is is for your welfare. ASV is the first blog I ever read, but I wouldn't have kept coming back if the hostess wasn't very special.

Take care.

much love, many thanks.

Just started reading your blog, liked it, will come back when you return!

Wow. Just got home from Dallas (12:23 AM) and read this post. Had no idea this was where you were headed when we talked the other day. Then again, maybe neither did you.

Well, all I can say is, blog or no blog, I have a friend for life. And that, indeed, is much more than A Small Victory.

I'm really sorry about that CNN interview. There's always VH1! "Behind The Blogs: the battles and Victories of Michele Catelano". :^)

I hope you are not gone long. I started out a very off-and-on sort of visitor, but your writing's gotten so good the past few months I've been coming here twice a day, and I finally bookmarked you 8 days ago.

I'm not here for the "train wreck". I'm not even here to croon bad "Raven" knockoffs at Lenore, contrary to rumour. I'm here because, well, you've got an incredible gift for writing, you share your feelings, and you're really really smart. And your commenters kick ass, too; your place feels like a community, like Tacitus's place.

But I don't want to drag you on a huge guilt trip on top of everything else; so even if you don't come back, my life is richer for having read your blog for as long as it's been here; and I wish you nothing but the best in life.

The Lord bless thee
And keep thee
The Lord make his face shine upon thee
And be gracious upon thee
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee
And give thee peace.
-- Num 6:24-26

It always strikes me as interesting when people say "it's all in your head". Of course it's all in your head. How could it not be? Your head is your entirety, your you, your universe, you can't live outside of it, ever. Don't downplay, dismiss, or fuck with your head. It's important and deserves proper attention and respect. People who think you can just think yourself out of problems that are "all in your head" ignore the simple fact that your brain is more complicated and complex than the entire rest of your body.

People downplay mental, emotional, and social difficulties a lot but they completely miss the fact that this stuff is fucking hard. Harder than rocket science. Seriously. If it were merely as easy as rocket science we would be sitting pretty. We can launch rockets into the proper orbits we desire with a fair degree of success, and we've only had a few decades to fiddle with them. In contrast, look at success rates of building and maintaining successful and trouble free friendships or marriages, or satisfying and rewarding personal lives. Is there any tried and true method for any of this? No. Not yet. Not even close. As I said, this stuff is freakin' hard. Respect that difficulty and maintain a level of seriousness and commitment appropriate to it.

Anywho, as to advice and whatnot. Hang in there. I've been down, I've been at the bottom and found new bottoms below. It sucks. A lot. But you've got to stay strong, stay calm, collect yourself, and concentrate on doing what needs to be done to get through and out. You probably already know what you need to do anyway, what you need is to reassure yourself that you can do it and just do it. Keep at it. What I try is to work hard at replacing old habits with new, better habits. Work one step at a time, each time might be a struggle but it makes it easier to do it again until eventually you're used to it.

Miss Attilla had a idea -- the commentless ASV. Hate to lose your creative bile.

I don't have much need for pop culture commentary. Since I pulled the plug on our TV in 1996, dumped the Yankees in the spring of 2003 (since rooting for them in the Petersen/Kekich glory days) and wince at my early 1980's college music from when I was angry and single.

But screw all the above and do what it takes to take care of yourself. I oughta follow your example.

I hope there's someone out there wise enough to hire a talented writer. Hardly enough of them.

And your new layout is the best (hate that graphics-stands-still scrolly thing).

Maybe you can find Rachel Lucas after the fall equinox and come back as the Angry Phoenix Chix. Female pro-W voices are going to be ESPECIALLY needed in a close election.

Screw all that.

Do you get the feeling I'm having a hard time saying "see ya"?

PLEASE keep posting on your post-Paxil progress.

Or don't.

Damn. [sigh]

Just the best M. Great fortune, great house, great life.
Blessed are the cracked for they let in the light.
Matthew

When I want to see (read about) a train wreck - I go to Acidman's place. I come here because you have some insightful stuff (not that I always agree with you - but it does make me think) and I like your writing style.

Whatever you decide to do, do it for yourself. I'll certainly miss you if you go, but will understand too.

Thanks, Michele. Rest up.

And take endless pride in what you and your colleagues achieved with Command Post - it was trailblazing, the only reliable and up-to-date source of Iraq news last year. A huge move forward, releasing us from the maws of the mainstream media. Many many thanks.

Take care.

Read all the comments... pretty much agree with what they said (minus one asshat).

And I thought I saw John Hawkins quoting "Chicago"?

I think I'd sum it up by paraphrasing Lou Reed...

Do what ya gotta do, 'cause we love you, Michele.

Michelle,
As another faithful reader, I will miss your insight and wit. I will miss the perspective that ASV has supplied. Did I always agree? Heck, no but there was more than enough eloquence and agreement for me to return over and over and to enjoy the "Victory" part of ASV.
That said, I would never want you to do something that had become hurtful to you. And while I may miss your prose, I will always carry with me a piece of your work and will remember how to look for a small victory in the face of everything the world throws.

Take a rest. Take a stroll. Write, when and where you want to -- we'll be waiting.

(Me, I am hoping you feel like continuing with pop culture; there can never be enough posts about giant robots. But I am, I fear, a bit of a geek... g )

Michele - Rest up and take care of yourself. And don't feel guilty for not blogging. We didn't come here for "the train wreck;" we came here for your insightful and incisive comments. And we're always willing to think a happy thought for you. And we'll be here whenever you are.

Be well, come back to us when and if you can, but be whole most of all. Godspeed.

Does it matter that this post is giving me panic attacks? Good luck and be well!

Gary Larson developed a good technique for simultaneously confronting the fear of heights, snakes and the dark that might help you, if drugs and God fail.

Michele, I know what you're going through. I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and severe panic attacks back in 2001. It had gotten to the point that I couldn't be in an elevator alone and not have a panic attack. After talking with my doctor, he put me on Celexa and it really helped. It was a struggle.

You can get through this. And I'll be one of your faithful on the other side, waiting patiently for you to come back, in whatever way you decide.

Most of all, rest up, take care of yourself and your family and be well.

As one who did not come here for the politics, I look forward to your pop culture and parenting insights, if/when you return to blogging. Rest well, Michele -- you deserve it.

M,
Thanks for all you have done thru ASV. You are definitely one of my daily reads.

I can empathize with your bouts of anxiety (my wife suffers from it also and is also on Paxil). Never apologize for taking time to take care of yourself. As the saying goes...Always look out for #1. As far as the stress of buying a new house...I can definitely relate to that also. That has to be one of the single most mentally draining events in a person's life. Working out the financing; deciding which stuff gets packed, what gets pitched, and what goes to Goodwill; it can all be very taxing on your mental resources.

Good luck with everything. I'll be stopping back next week to see the new ASV.

I think the first time I came here, I don't remember what you posted about, but it was political and made me angry. I fired something off in the comments and came back looking for more. But what's this... cool music? Comics? Funny... passionate... you totally won me over. (Something smart here about respect, and bridging the political gap by being real, and we need more of that.) Politics is surely not good for anyone's mental health. Take care, and best of luck with SoA.

Michele, I am really going to miss this. I hope that after you get through all that you have going on now, you'll come back. You are witty, insightful and brave. Where else can you get such a cool assortment of "stuff"? Strawberry Letter 23 and political commentary and funny stuff?I've been coming here about 6 months and you are above Andrew on my daily reads. Don't go but if you do, please come back soon. (I've got to be selfish about ASV because I am addicted to this site!)

Wow. I'm almost kinda speechless.
You go on and do what you gotta do -- we'll wait up for you.
Best of luck to you!

Michelle: I echo the sentiments of others, that you need to do what's best for you. Your health is #1.

Damn.

Double damn.

:-(

I much prefer the politics to the pop culture. But that might be a sign of my age (don't ask, don't tell). Let's just say that I am apparently close to the age of Kim DuToit. ;-)

I'll come back to see what you're doing, but somehow it won't be the same.

Get well soon.

David

Get Well soon! We'll miss you--your blog was and is one of the best! And yes, you're better than Wonkette although my mother says "Women ought to use what they got". Thats one of the few things I disagree with my mother on. (My mother likes Ana Marie Cox.)
I may be wrong--but isn't blogging supposed to be fun and not pressuring? Aren't blogs beneficial to mental health? Maybe you can blog once a week to let the steam out, and balance it around a bit so you don't feel you have to blog ten times a day. Look at ejectejecteject.com --he blogs monthly and his posts are genius. That way, you can still maintain your hits, but produce lengthy posts on a weekly or monthly basis so your blog is a anticipated treat.
Just saying.
I've had panic attacks all throughout my childhood until I reached twelve or so. I never took meds, which made it harder, but I learned how to control myself. I have relatives who suffer from severe acrophobia, General Anxiety Disorder, depression, schizophrenia among other illnesses. Best wishes,
C

Write what you want.

That's why we come here, to hear you, not any specific thing.

Write when you want.

We'll be here, waiting to read it, whatever it is.

Michele:

Put me in the 'bummed' column.

But to do what you've done for 3 hours, let alone 3 years, is superhuman - and I write for a living!

But I know about meds, too - never had an anxiety attack, but people who have have filled me in, and I don't need to start. Nope, just clinical depression for me........

You have many kindred spirits and even friends out here - except, I suppose for those in BosoxLand. Whether you want to talk about wars, politics or the songs they used to play on 'LIR, that won't change. I'm privileged to have witnessed a miniscule part of it.

You go take care of yo'sef, hear? A slice at Pietro's always picks me up ; - )

WG

Given your war support, it's hardly surprising you're having a nervous breakdown. The average warmonger is an idiot, and it seems you have just proved this. Your own internal struggle with yourself is eating you up!

Good going! Although it won't bring back any dead Iraqis, maybe you will suffer one millionth of what they're going through

Wow. You just won the idiotic comment of the year award. Congratulations!

Another cowardly asshole who can't leave a real email address. Big surprise there.

No way that this blog is a train wreck...now that honour belongs to the likes of Gut Rumbles.

Take the time you need because your 10k daily readers will hang around til you return because you're good and your writing offers something.

Well that and the fact that there's someone who actually bowls worse than I do.....

Which reminds me, I never posted my bowling scores from the other night.

Looks like I picked the RIGHT time to quit blogging :)

There is really not much I can add to whats been said above. I only discovered your site recently and have thoroughly enjoyed your work. But "real life" always takes precedence..and it should. Best wishes to you and your family.

Jess, you are a fucking idiot. Do you go to funerals to piss on the casket?

Michele is much more to us than war and politics. We worship her words because no matter what the subject, she makes them worthy of it.

Panic attacks are for pussies. A tough neo con like you should be about to ride 'em out no problem.

Tell you story when you grow a soul, sweetie. And let me know when you put on a uniform and start exercising peace through superior firepower. If you can't hold up under a panic attack, let's see how you do putting bullets into brown people.

Then you can whine. Until then, take your buspar and stfu.

Michele,
I just discovered ASV recently, but I've enjoyed it thoroughly. But unless you're working for NRO or something, a blog is just a hobby, and hobbies are supposed to be good for us. So if it's not... then it's not worth it.

Like everybody else (with sense) has said, go and do what's right and best for you, and I wish you all the best for your life. Be who you want to be, and enjoy the ride!
Peace,
Maddog

Mr. Lonely, you should probably give seem deep thought as to why your name and email addy are what they are.

Now wipe that foam from your mouth. You're slobbering all over my comments.

Hey Michele, Jess and Mr. Lonely are just upset that they won't be able to troll here anymore - although I wouldn't put it past them to grab at political strings if you put up the lyrics to 'Happy Birthday'.

Besides, how bitter do you have to be to call yourself Mr. Lonely? Tells me all I need to know.

I don't usually care for the flaming, but these guys are just the pits. Be glad you'll be free of 'em.

WG

I still love you, mama. Always have, always will.

Ya done good, kid. Rest. Come back if you will; if not, ya still done good.

I'm down with your commentary on pretty much anything, and appreciate all the work you do. If keeping sane means losing the politics, go for it!

Hope you're back in a better place soon!

Indymedia wins. Bye.

Hey, time off is a good thing. You'll come back refreshed and ready for action. (One word of advice: I'd close all the comments here if you're going to be gone for a long time. I can just see pitiful losers like TomJessLonely using this blog to squat in and dump their trash all over the place.)

And Indycrapia. What did they win, coward? A medal for having the website filled with the most lies?

Michele,

I've never commented and I don't suspect I've ever agreed with with a word you've written. But you have always made me think and reconsider and think again.

If the other side is you then I'm wrong and there is hope.

While I didn't find a pot of gold at the end of the psychopharmaceutical rainbow, I did find some generally solid ground.

As shall you.

Be well.

Okay. You may have swayed me. Once. ;)

You take care of you. You've been an inspiration to many of us "new" bloggers. Good luck.

Shit dammit. Yours was the first blog I ever read, and now I am a blog whore. You don't owe anybody anything, so don't feel bad for quitting. Do what you gotta do. (But rest assured, the hole that you leave, will not ever be filled by any of the idiots that gave you shit. They can't string two words together, and are jealous because they know they will never measure up. The bar has been set, and you can leave it there.)
You are a legend in your own time.

Hey Michele,

Trust me, there are blogs that I do look at for the "train wreck" aspect, but yours has never been one of them.

Please don't think that this is why anyone reads ASV.

You should take as much time as you need to sort out real life issues. Much more important than the blogosphere.

Do what you need to do. I think Ryan spoke for many of us when he said we come here for the writer.

One thought I don't think anyone else here has raised: The iron-limbs thing? Could be a sign of sleep apnea. Read up; if you think there's the slightest possibility you've got that, talk to your doctor.

All the best --

Michelle,

shell (my Michelle) and I have been reading your blog for a couple of years and are sorry to see you go.

My Michelle has mental health issues that are similar to yours, and has blogged about them, so we can totally empathise with you.

We're in the fiortunate position of having a partner to take up the blogging slack when one of us needs a break.

Be well. Do what you have to do.

The trolls can never win - they're fucked before they even open their mouths.

Michelle - Hm. Detoxing from paxil and welbutrin? What FUN!

My wife (who also has panic and social phobia issues) had to detox from prozac and klonopin a few years ago and much fun was had by all.

A note from a long-term mental health consumer (I rather like mental health, and have become somewhat epicurian in my tastes) - these drugs are great at making it possible to deal with stuff, but are no subtitute for dealing.

On the other hand - if perhaps you suffered one or more profound, chronic depressions in your life, it is possible that there was a permanant biochemical change. That is my case, apparently, and I have to boost my neurotransmitters artificially. A very low dose of paxil does this for me.

Otherwise - well, the rage disorder I've had since I was a very, very small child reasserts itself. And while that might be the "real" me, in that particular case, I'd rather fake it.

Hell, I also depend on tobacco and caffine; both of which alter my personal mental state in useful ways. I've kicked nicotine twice - and both times became a tobacco-free, unaddicted insane person unfit to live with.

And I'm a social drinker. I need a drink to be social. Otherwise you will find me behind the farthest potted palm.

Same for caffine, in different ways.

As Mark Twain once remarked, it can be a dangerous thing to neglect one's vices.

But he also remarked that one should restrict the number of one's vices so that one could give them the attention they truly deserved.

I do hope you continue to indulge the vice of writing. :)

And should your ambition to keep this blog focused in future on popular culture require an oulet for your baser desires to rip some fool a new one - you are always welcome to a byline on Graphictruth.

Michele,

I am another who has never posted here before but have read this blog almost since the beginning. You will be sorely missed. Your take on 9-11 is what originally led me here. I lived in NY at the time and, in a way, you helped me sort out my emotions about that day by allowing me to read about it from different perspectives.

Good luck with whatever you decide. If you go, I will miss reading your daily thoughts first thing in the morning. I'd rather give up coffee than give up reading your blog.

And F the Trolls.

Michele:

Every day I work with people with Panic Disorder and Depression and PTSD in my counseling practice. There is help out there besides medication (By the way, I'm not in a hospital practice any more, but when I was, Prozac was the medication of Choice for PD) Panic & phobic reactions can be helped with systematic desensitization and the gawd awful dreams respond to dream rescripting. Find a psychotherapist with experience in these areas and give it a shot. Medications help, but they aren't the total and/or only answer. Effective therapy works, but you really need to feel comfortable with the therapist and you need to believe that he is competent (it even helps if he is ;-)

God Bless and I will miss your blog.

Michele:

Every day I work with people with Panic Disorder and Depression and PTSD in my counseling practice. There is help out there besides medication (By the way, I'm not in a hospital practice any more, but when I was, Prozac was the medication of Choice for PD) Panic & phobic reactions can be helped with systematic desensitization and the gawd awful dreams respond to dream rescripting. Find a psychotherapist with experience in these areas and give it a shot. Medications help, but they aren't the total and/or only answer. Effective therapy works, but you really need to feel comfortable with the therapist and you need to believe that he is competent (it even helps if he is ;-)

God Bless and I will miss your blog.

Went there, did that, got diagnosed as manic depressive. Then we discovered that my thyroid was misbehaving. Thyroid trouble is frequently mistaken for bipolar syndrome, and vice-versa. Three days after starting thyroid meds, I felt better than I had in years, and everything's just fine now.

Might want to get that checked, if you haven't already.

Michelle, Heck i think you're one of the BEST. You write thoughtfully and honestly. You have it all over the rest and without having to get down in the gutter like the W.

Embrace the newness of your new found freedom. Make it work for you. It's the angst that makes you write. Creative types always struggle with themselves. I know I'm married to one. If he doesn't want to kill himself he runs at 100MPH. He's figuut. You will too. You're too valuable an asset kid. Hang on. It'll work out.

Michele,
Please take it easy on yourself.
Yes, we like your blogging.
Yes, we like your political commentary.

But most of all,
All of us like you.

Please do whatever you have to do to enjoy life. Then all the friends you have throughout the world will be happy.

High blood pressure, like Panic Disorder, is a disease. There are sometime things like exercise and proper diet which can alleviate the problems of the former. Other times that's not possible so medication must be taken to fight the disease.

The anaology is obviously poor, other than the obvious fact that both are diseases. Please know when your blood pressure is too high. Take the medication to save yourself, your real self. The medicated self may or may not be different. Diseases,, like their medications, limit what those who have them would prefer.

Too many people would be disappointed if you should fail to realize when it was time to take your meds. They've be disappointed for your sake.

All are hoping it won't be necessary. Good luck.

Happened here through a series of links and totally get where you are coming from (the panic, not the former drug use, but I would never hold that against you, it's in your past, you dealt with it, end of story). Wanted to say that those heartless trolls that think that you can't handle stress because of the panic attacks are full of shit and I bet you a million to one, they have never experienced a panic attack once in their lives. To go through the day never knowing when it's going to hit would put anyone on edge, and it has NOTHING to do with your intestinal fortitude! That feeling like you will DIE if you don't get out (wherever out may be) is very real when it is happening. Just because it's all in your head (mine to occasionally - gotta love prozac and xanax), doesn't mean a sack of beans when your heart is pounding and the brain stops functioning except to play that "Gotta get out" record over and over. I'm sorry I didn't find you sooner, but you can bet that you are bookmarked and I'll go through the archives to get a clearer picture of who you are. Do what's right for you don't live for anyone else. To do that just adds to the insanity.

Well hell. Now I'm gonna have to find a new blog for political jousting. Damn.

Good luck with the pop culture blogging. So far so good, IMHO.

And to all the lefties (and I'm speaking as someone who was all the way down in the lower-left corner on that political compass test), who feel the need to come here and do their little self-righteous war dance around the corpse of Political ASV:

Some people are driven to do what they think is best. Others carry out an agenda so they can avoid serious consideration of morality or integrityó overwriting the troubling ambiguities of life with a party line, and evaluating complex realities in the simplest possible terms.

Michele has, in my brief experience, generally done and said what she believes is best. Many of you, on the other hand, obviously do what you believe is right and give yourselves license to hate what you believe is wrong.

It is, of course, extremely satisfying to hate someone for opposing your agenda.

But it also has a tendency to become an end unto itself.

I would suggest you reevaluate your approach. Because your attitude and your presentation is almost perfectly counterproductive.