Playing Hooky

Hello all! I hope this post finds you well. This morning I am watching the cat groom the dog, in a cozy living room with rainy chilliness outside. This week has been a long one. I am still trying to find ways to keep myself thinking calmly and rationally without letting depression take over.

I think it was about five months into my being sick that I began making a conscious effort to enjoy moments. To really enjoy the coffee cup in front of me; to take advantage of the weather and go for a walk without my phone out. And I find myself falling back into those patterns, it helps me be aware of things that put a smile on my face. On Friday I had been immensely frustrated with traffic, so I took a sharp right turn and went for a cruise. While this had started out as a dive out of traffic in a fit of rage, it ended with me going slowly down residential streets and enjoying the view.

I followed this act of refusing to be frustrated by playing hooky from social obligations this weekend. While I recognize that friends are great, relationships take effort and all those other good things, sometimes you just need to free yourself from obligations to keep yourself sane. So I bailed on a party (and the rushing, cooking, baking, pulling money from my visa because I’m too poor for shenanigans, and the hurrying of an overworked tired boyfriend that would have gone along with it.) and made plans with my best friend to go to an art show. I ended up bailing on that also, because I had very little sleep the night before, and my craving for adventure had dwindled. I watched a movie in bed with my boyfriend, after we had gone out for dinner (and bumped into my best friend I had bailed on! At least I was honest and told her I wasn’t feeling up to the art show… that could have been hella awkward.)

Anyway my point with all of this, is that learning to say no is so great. It doesn’t mean you are failing anyone, and it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad friend. It just allows you to take a mental health day, and take care of yourself. Something that I would have felt too guilty to do just a few months ago.

On that note I wanted to mention two apps that I am finding helpful. One is a Depression CBT Self Help app. CBT means Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and it’s basically a way to train your brain out of bad habits.

Please keep in mind that if you are dealing with depression and/or anxiety as I am, it is extremely beneficial to seek out a psychologist. Having a level-headed outside perspective, with the years of schooling and tools in their tool belt, will not only help you figure out why you’re thinking this way, but help you to stop thinking that way. It is worth looking into your insurance and benefits for. It does not make you crazy or abnormal (this fact I have to remind myself of often) and it is nothing to be ashamed of. You can’t be your best, most productive, self unless you are healthy. You wouldn’t push through with a flu for months without seeing a doctor or taking a sick day, would you? Well the same thing goes for your mental and emotional well-being! 🙂 

There is also an Anxiety CBT app that you can find in association with this Depression CBT app:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.excelatlife.depression&hl=en

My favorite part of the app is the Cognitive Diary. It prompts you out of the downward spiral thinking, and pushes you to analyze your thoughts. Once you’ve identified what the negative thoughts are, it asks you to challenge these thoughts with positive ones. Such as “Demands just cause more stress” or “Sometimes things are out of my control” or “I can handle depression even if I don’t want to”.  The Anxiety app also features a cognitive diary, with positive challenges that are comparable to anxious thinking.

I have also been practicing guided meditation and progressive relaxation. I am a fan of yoga, and try to do it a few times a week. [I follow Tara Stiles because I like her approach to yoga] Of course, if yoga is not something you enjoy, it might not be the most beneficial for you to do… but finding something that puts you in a calmer place, and allows you to feel peaceful is helpful at any point in your life. I am also looking into Aromatherapy, but have yet to do some serious research. I know a lot of people swear by it, and I can see the potential in it. And lastly, I am simply trying to take care of me. Eat things that are good for me (not cheating on my gluten-free and dairy-free diet because then I am in a lot of pain and discomfort), get a full night of sleep, taking moments to enjoy, and talking to my boyfriend, my dad, my friend, my boyfriends mom when I am not at a good place mentally.

That’s all folks! Sorry for the length, hope you have an amazing weekend, and that the week is a breeze for you. ❤

UnEdit

I was going to do a well thought out post today. Explain that I came home sick from work today. And calmly relay to you how terrible I felt about it. But I think the piece I wrote for my other blog might explain it better for you.

“Feeling  smaller and heavier as the days go by,
Counting minutes of the hour
With shaky hands over paperwork
Forehead against closed fists I try to stay calm.
Deep breaths, and ginger ale.
Finding a pill for sleep, a pill for nausea, a pill for this or that between my fingertips.
With hot cheeks and hot tears I can’t remain calm.
And frustration with myself and the body I don’t control sends me home.
“I can do the day” is my new mantra,
But it tailspins into a backwards version,
And dizzy head and dizzy heart I leave the bathroom.
How do you tell your coworker who says you’re looking down today,
The words stuck beneath your tongue,
Behind that stupid, fragile smile,
That you can barely manage to arrange on your face anymore.
The house still rumbles when the bus goes by,
And the fan still hums in the corner.
He held my ribs together with his arms.
Passed me kleenex and said I can talk if I want to.
I got out two sentences and then focused on breathing.
I’ll just focus on breathing. “

Vacation Time

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I spent the past couple days at the beach. It was so nice to lose track of time, and to be with friends that are so laid back. We read side by side, chatted about everything. We played catch in the water, on the field, we brought blankets and frisbees and snacks, endless snacks. It was just what I needed to feel like I had tasted summer.

What bits and pieces of summer do you need to make it feel like you’ve enjoyed your time in the sun?

Getting back to the more serious things in my life, I have been seeing a therapist. I have had two visits with her and she diagnosed me with complex PTSD and depression. I always thought PTSD was strictly for people who came back from war, or endured extremely traumatic events. My therapist explained that the anxiety/panic attacks would have come from this PTSD and that the adding of the word “complex” meant that I had endured a lot of traumatic events that come flooding back when I stop moving and allow myself to think.

She gave me CD’s to guide relaxation. It’s funny to think about learning how to relax, but a person like me can really benefit from it. I tried the first one today, and it felt like waking up from a very refreshing deep sleep. It’s called “Letting go of Stress” by Miller and Halpern.

Have you ever tried a guided relaxation? Or progressive relaxation?

I have tried guided meditation as well as yoga, and found that they are both relaxing, but that they do require a degree of concentration. Like any exercise, you are training your body, or in this case: your mind, to follow a certain pattern or path.

I’m also learning more about my past than I ever really wished to understand. My first serious boyfriend had quite the impact on my life, and not in a way that I enjoy. He found out recently that he has borderline personality disorder. (Explanation here) It explains so much of our relationship. A relationship in which I felt like if I could just be sadder than he was, then maybe he could feel better. A rationale that could not have been more wrong, but was none the less stuck in my head. I am thinking more about the ways in which I have adapted to my stepmom, a walking on eggshells life that made me feel more like I was wearing a smiling mask than truly living. I am looking back in a way that feels less painful than before, of how I actually felt when my dad didn’t “take my side” as I grew up. The way I felt like an adult and like a foolish child all at once as I grew up. My relationship with myself was a critical one, and I never stopped moving, even up until the past couple weeks, for fear of facing myself.

The next two days I have to myself at home. I slept in, eased into a day mostly outside. Going inside only for food or to switch the laundry. I’m making my way through a novel called The Vacationers by Emma Straub. It’s wonderful to read for long stretches of the morning or the afternoon. I am also excited to pick something out of my gluten free cookbook to make for a potluck at a friend’s place this weekend. I love food so much, even if it doesn’t like me back!

So on that note, I’ll wrap things up here and go back to my reading and sunshine swallowing. I hope you lovely people enjoy your summers and find some peace in your own little corners of the universe. ❤

 

 

Vacation is Coming

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Well you lovely people. I am starting vacation tomorrow morning after two more hours of work. I am excited to have the time, and hopefully the mental energy, to fill you all in on my world and share some things I’ve learned the past few weeks! So do anticipate a blog post, as it is on the top of my vacation to do list 😉

The Nitty Gritty

When I started this blog, I really didn’t think it would be such a focused blog. I read about how to “successfully run a blog”, but that wasn’t really my main goal. I just wanted a place to type it all out. Maybe get some feedback from lovely strangers… But I didn’t imagine it would be so entangled with my life.

I experienced a panic attack this weekend. It was the scariest, most out of control thing I have ever endured. And my boyfriend was really really helpful about it. Once I’d had a considerable cry, and wasn’t able to stop, he hugged me and asked me to focus on breathing deeply. We sat there for a while, him breathing with me. Then he slowly asked questions: What was bothering me? Why was I upset?

I traced back to my conversation with a co-worker about being sick for so long. He has asked me if I was stressed, and I replied I haven’t had a job this stress-free for seven years. He shook his head and said that he meant life stress too, that stress doesn’t always come from work. Our conversation got interrupted and we didn’t resume it. However, the thought of what could be stressing me out made me think.

For most of my life I have been aware that I am not comfortable with myself. I stay busy all of the time, scheduling every minute of my day has been “just how I am”. But maybe that’s contributing my health issues now.

I spent half my weekend trying to not panic about having another panic attack. I was so worried about it happening again, that I couldn’t focus on anything else. I am happy to say that I did stop worrying about for the other half of the weekend, but even now it’s on the edge of my mind.

If you’ve ever experienced panic attacks, what did you do? I tried the following:

  • deep breathing
  • guided meditation
  • a bubble bath with spearmint and eucalyptus
  • talking with my boyfriend

I also texted my step-mom who had experienced panic attacks a few years ago. I asked her what steps she took. She said to not hide it, that having someone talk to you during an attack helps, and to not worry about it (though it’s easier said than done she admitted). She said they went away after a while, and she did get a prescription from her doctor for a fast acting pill to have with her. She said just having it with her made her feel better, it was more of a safety blanket than anything. We both agreed that in our case, the thing we feared most was a lack of control. It was really helpful to talk to her. She was honest and said that in certain situations she can still get an attack, but she knows what it is, and finds that if she chooses the “fight” option of the “fight or flight” running through, then it often eases up. 

My aunt suggested I see a therapist. I will go and see one. It feels a little bit silly, although I know that it isn’t. I just get hung up on the fact that I only saw a councilor when I experienced big, emotional events in my life. And this doesn’t feel like that level of a problem. But maybe it is. I certainly don’t sit down and deal with problems, I go so far as to acknowledge something that is upsetting and then I move on. 

So there we have it folks, I really truly am going to have deal with myself and get some damn peace! I know it won’t be an overnight change. Hell it might not even be a ten step guide, it sounds more like I’ll have to learn it and re-learn it my whole life. But I’d rather be comfortable with myself I think.Who knows? Maybe it will help with my stomach issues!

 

Hope you are staying happy and healthy folks, I’m off to enjoy some reading in the sun before dinner with my boyfriend and his mom.  ❤

Cat Therapy, Specialists and Day to Day Drama

I know, I know. This update is long overdue. I can’t even remember what I last posted about! I would promise to update more often, but really… let’s not get too serious 😉

So I have been nauseous for about three or four months constantly. I was absolutely certain that it was a gluten intolerance, however my test results came back normal for gluten sensitivity. I was both surprised and extremely frustrated. I have gone to a walk in, went to the hospital (because along with the nausea was a sharp on and off abdominal pain.) and went to see my doctor. I was tested by all of the above for pregnancy (and great news, no babies!) and they all chalked it up to a flu or a virus. About three weeks ago I was a scary level of sick all night, I went to the hospital in the wee hours for an IV, and was given a medication for the nausea. Ever heard of Maxeran? I found out the day after that I am the rare percent that is allergic to it. I had muscle spasms in my face and neck. I felt silly going to the emergency on a Sunday because “my neck felt like it was pulling my head up”, but I am glad I went. I quickly went from feeling funny, to experiencing face muscle spasms and my jaw becoming unaligned and let me tell you… if you ever have a reaction anything like this, seek medical attention immediately. I am fully recovered from that escapade, but still am puzzled by the nausea. There’s many options, and I am being referred to a specialist to get to the bottom of this. In the mean time, I roll with the punches. Some days I’m fine, and some days I spend most of the day in the bathroom.

In other news, my cat also had some doctor face time at her vet appointment the other day. The poor thing hates the kennel and the vet alike, because of last year when she was really sick. She had a clean bill of health, and isn’t even overweight. She still loves me too, I am happy to report!

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And… I’ll save the family drama for another post I think. It’s simply draining to keep up with this group of strangers that expect me to jump into roles with them. I feel like I’m playing a dangerous high-school-clique-land-mine-field. I can’t even think about their latest insanity these days. I just get overwhelmed and frustrated. God knows I am overwhelmed and frustrated with enough things these days!

I do hope your days are less overwhelming and frustrating. I do look forward to typing up a few more posts in the near future. I forget how therapeutic it is to arrange all the day to day craziness and post it to lovely strangers and friends like yourselves! 😉

 

 

Take care.

How to Travel Alone [in Sad Situations]

There are many different kinds of travelers: the vacationers, the family trips, the business trips and sometimes people (like me, today) are traveling  due to family emergency. I have never travelled for any other reason than a positive one, but this trip to see my grandpa has made me aware of all the reasons behind people’s travelling.
I have a three hour layover today. So I decided to write a quick how to post to keep me occupied.

First. When traveling via plane: bring gum. It can help “pop” your ears  as well as keep your breath from offending people. Pick mint flavor (unless you hate minti suppose) as it may keep your stomach settled.

Second. In case of a long layover bring a favorite pick-me-up movie to keep you smiling and engaged in something.

Third. Get coffee and food and sit in the sun. Surround yourself with strangers.

Fourth . Remember strangers can be annoying. Pack headphones. Listen to happy music you could sing along to. 

Fifth. This is very important. Do not think deeply on any subject. Be calm and objective, resting on thoughts for only moments. Notice your surroundings; be as curious as a five year old: wonder how things work. (Bonus points for googling it and finding out how it works)

Sixth. When you reach your destination. Hug your family tightly. Accept sadness. Accept every feeling no matter the sense of them. Support and lean on those around you. No matter how tempting, do not disengage. Continue to live in the now. Above all, love your family and keep in touch with them. Even if you “just don’t feel like calling today”. Do it anyway.