Category Archives: Positive Ponderings

So many possible (good) changes

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There really are so many possible good changes coming up for me: the possibility of finishing my B.A. via independent study (waiting on my acceptance letter), the possibility of getting out of this rut I’ve been in since my awful Risperdall/Fanapt med change by upping the Fanapt. I’m on a really low dose of Fanapt, so it’s a good possibility for change. I was so nervous from the shock of the med change itself (the six weeks after) the last time I saw my psychiatrist that I wasn’t ready emotionally to try anything else.

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I may not be getting my Utah geography correctly, but I think this photo is of the light coming down in a slot canyon (?) in Utah. In any case, I know the places even if I don’t know the terminology, and the simple terminology for it is beauty: with God’s creations and his light shining down. Some days I may be (theoretically) down in one of these slot canyons and even though it’s beautiful, I feel so stuck and alone, until I find a way out; often with help. I feel like I’m getting there. I feel like, even though it’s been hard the past couple months feeling like I have no “good days” physically and I’m only feeling “okay” on some evenings, at least I know there’s more to try and I do feel deep down in my bones and my gut or however you might say it that things are looking up.

I do need to get through some difficult things with my family first, but by a month from now that should all be taken care of. Now I just need to say a prayer that I find a way down to CA and have the money to see my kids during the time when it’s convenient for their summer schedule.

I am feeling  positive. This will work out. And I still need a lot of patience!

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Spring

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tulip-750460_640.jpg Despite having allergies, spring has always been my favorite season. It’s especially so here in Utah. I’ve been here almost five years, but all the new (to me) plants and trees and flowers haven’t lost their novelty. I love their connection as symbols of Easter and the resurrection as well.

Things are going along about as usual. Spring and spending time with others is making it easier to bear. I had really good dreams this morning as a nice change. In my dream I had some kind of job as someone’s assistant. We shared a big office and my desk and surrounding area had a lot of charm. I knew that somewhere nearby my daughter was at school and my son was away at college and all was well. The dream repeated a bit later and I was a graphic designer, which is way outside my range of talent, but it was a fun addition to the dream.

I’m going to cling to memories of the good dream and see them as a sign that I’m feeling hope in my future when it comes to my anxiety. In the meantime, I have more to work on with eating a bigger variety of foods, and two doctor’s appointments coming up where I get to talk about some unpleasant things I’ve been dealing with. Since I’m on Medicaid now, my insurance situation has changed, which I thought meant that I could get a doctor closer to where I am now. However, all the doctors here in Orem had wait lists several months long for Medicaid patients, so I’ll need to go to a different city. I found one near the local bus line, though, so I still think it will be easier.

There are a lot of things to be grateful for, and today I’m grateful that I am feeling the gratitude.

Into the second week….med changes still

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I’m a little grumpy today. As per doctor’s orders, I tapered off the second pill of Risperdall and I’m now only on Fenapt. My body is still adjusting. There is somewhere I would have liked to have gone today and there is something I will probably miss tomorrow. For some reason I’m not feeling the social isolation of about 10 days unable to do much other than two grocery store visit thanks to friends. I’ve been blessed with my visiting teachers calling and stopping by, and the Relief Society President just called me again. Last week a good friend came and visited for a while. So, there’s my answer. I know people care. One roommate did my dishes for me a few days ago and the other one took out the trash. That’s usually my job. Then there are the visits on the phone with my kids…

Repeating to myself: this will be over soon.

Gilmore Girls reruns and hours of listening to General Conference and BYU Devotionals (I also fall asleep to those) have been helpful too. I really don’t know how people handled this sort of thing 20 or 30 years ago. Lots of bad tv? 😉 A nice big window where you can just watch people and nature? I love the view out my window, but it couldn’t entertain me 24/7.

Neither tremor nor tremolo!

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hymn-lgToday has been a good day. Last week I started getting more tired again and having racing thoughts and needing yet more time at home alone and more sleep etc. (it’s all relative….some versus more). But it was frustrating, as things will be. So at my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, he upped my dose of Respirdall, and it seemed to help almost immediately. I still can’t go just anywhere I want to whenever I want to (it’s a l.o.n.g way from that), but the blessing was that it’s better again.

So I rested yesterday (Saturday) and last night, in the hopes of making church today. And I did! I woke up around 8:30am. And I was fine. No nightmares, hardly any racing thoughts. And it was a really good day.

Best part?

For years I have avoided, whenever possible, sharing a hymn book with someone at church and holding it with them (me with one hand, them with one of their hands, for those not familiar) because my hands shake and I’m pretty sure it’s more inconvenient for them to try to read it with my hand shaking, thus shaking the whole book. If my hand is shaking enough, I’ll just hand it to them. Anywhere in between and I feel awkward.

Today in Relief Society (women’s meeting) the woman next to me offered (as usual) to hold one side of the book, and….my hand wasn’t shaking! First time in years! Maybe this Respirdall is helping more than I realized. My hands were shaking this morning while I was doing dishes, but that they can “settle down” is giving me hope.

Rock Band and PTSD. Yup.

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Rockband-drumsetI don’t know that I ever would have guessed this, but someone at church started providing their Rock Band game during our weekly volleyball/game night, and I can’t think of a better way to say this: it kicks my anxiety’s bu*t! Every week after playing, my anxiety is practically gone, enough so that after just the first week I was thinking, “If I get disability and my disability back pay, I’m going to buy Rock Band!” Can you imagine my recovery? “Take one hour of Rock Band drums, vocals, and a little guitar a day, and your anxiety level will be low enough to get rid of at least half of your PTSD symptoms…..”  I don’t know if it would be as dramatic as that, but it’s been a long time since I’ve found anything that made that much of a difference, aside from time with friends and my therapist and doctor.

I’ve been singing my whole life. I have a minor in music, I’ve conducted several church choirs and got to conduct my college choir once out of a stroke of luck (and maybe some hard work, but there was luck involved), and growing up my favorite thing to do at home was to sit at the piano and play and sing. For some reason it’s not the stress reliever now that it once was. If I get to help out by accompanying our church choir when my hands aren’t shaking too much, I really enjoy it, even though I get excited when the better piano  player shows up.  I like to be able to be helpful, but I prefer the other person. When singing, I love to get to sight-read the hard parts. I’ve been able to sing, on and off, in more rigorous community choirs over the past years since college, but sometimes after a semester or two (what they call it, even though they’re not college choirs) if my anxiety levels get too high again, it gets to be an anxiety producer instead of an anxiety-buster. One strange thing about anxiety is that something that is helpful can turn into too much.audio-2202_640

In the most recent large choir I was in, it could be the level of the noise (even if beautiful) or the mood of the director or a sudden burst of claustrophobia with so many people in the room (or a combination of all of it) that would get to me. I’d be doing breathing or inner meditation exercises, but my hands would start to shake harder and I’d start to get dizzy and suddenly I’m overwhelmed too much to stay in the room. The most recent choir directors didn’t like us to sit down, but sometimes I’d sit anyway, because….health issues. But I still felt like a failure. I felt comfortable discussing it with the choir president, but I wasn’t sure that the directors would think it was such a good idea for me to be there, and eventually it got to be too much, so that I knew it was too much, too. So choir, the thing that helped me keep my sanity through my first two years of college, had to go again. I couldn’t sing in choir my junior and senior years of college, either, which is a very long story in and of itself. And yes, it was anxiety/fatigue. One of the hardest times of my life, when it all became serious.

So in the same way that Rutter, Fauré, Mozart, and John Jacob Niles helped me in college: it looks like Queen, Bon Jovi, Green Day and Pat Benatar may help me out of my current funk. When I’m around others, I tend to have a sense of humor and joke around a lot: but when I’m at home, I seem to be too serious, and perhaps more my “over-thinking” self. It’s so exciting to find things that work, no matter how odd it may seem. Rock Band’s drums seem to be especially effective.  They just make me happy, even if I get a terrible score. 🙂  I can live with this!

Exercise, a healthy diet, and…..Rock Band.

On that note, the FODMAP diet has been helping, but true again to my over-thinking nature, I get to where I worry about it and then my stomach hurts from the worry, and not just from what I eat. My therapist and doctor both smiled and said that was really common. The cherry on top of that info? My new primary care doctor (new insurance) has IBS as well! I was hit with a feeling of peace when she told me and I knew that she understood.

cooking-chocolate-674508_640So my stomach was bothering me a LOT yesterday. On the 1-10 pain scale, I was probably at a 6 or 7. I had some paperwork that I had to finish though, so I had to get on the bus and get back to the library to print some things out. So, what did I do? I forgot the notebook with the information in it that I needed to log into the website where I needed to print out the forms. I tried to make myself feel a little better by checking out a couple of library books. I then called several friends to see if they could help me out. The situation was getting a little ridiculous. I have had a ton of paperwork to do lately, but three weeks of bus rides just to get it done was frustrating me, because it feels like I haven’t gotten much of anything else done during the day.

On the way home, I knew it was getting time for dinner, and I just didn’t want to eat anything. It came to my mind my favorite treat that is allowed on my diet, but that I try not to eat too often, a Lindt Intense Mint bar. I thought, “I could eat one of those,” and suddenly my stomach pain was gone. Completely gone. Like that, I went from a 6 to a 0, just from the idea that I could eat one (so of course I did). I wish anxiety and physical symptoms always worked that way! (Believe me, I’ve tried….thousands of time). I was so happy that I was almost giddy.

Live in the Precious Present

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Positive Ponderings:

daffodil-56420_640The downside of venting so much on this blog and trying to explain PTSD is that it’s all come out so serious and depressing. I don’t think that my overall view on life is depressing, in fact I get called an “optimist” and that “I smile all the time,” which makes me laugh, but makes me happy. Thank goodness.

I have learned so much from the past 20 years that I couldn’t have learned any other way:

  • Learning to not care what people think, when it doesn’t matter most of the time
  • Having courage to stand up for myself and others
  • Learning to believe my gut feelings when I realize that I’ve found an answer, and that it doesn’t matter if everyone else believes me, just those who matter, and to not give up on finding answers
  • That there are so many wonderful, beautiful things in life that I can see just about any day, no matter what is going on otherwise

I am a huge Pinterest lover. It’s something that’s easy to do, usually no matter how I’m feeling, and I’ve found so many cool ideas and inspiration there. I’m not a passive Pinner: it goes somewhere. (Thank you humanities skills) 🙂 It’s my present day version of the love I had for card catalogs in the library and going through my parents’ books while growing up, combined with the awesomeness that was encyclopedias. (Thank you World Book, 1980 edition).

I Pinned this to my “Inspiration” board today. It looks like it may have originated from artist Lisa Congdon, who has some pretty cool works of art (including iPhone covers) on her website. She loves color, and I love color (yay bright, fun colors) and I like her stuff. Win win. I would not trade my life for what I thought I wanted, with the exception of being around my kids more. Hopefully as I get better, that will happen. I still have visions of getting to watch my grandkids for my kids, if grandkids happen. (No pressure, kids. You’re too young right now anyway.) 😉

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