Tag Archives: blessings

PTSD and a day in May

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tulips-1352561_640.jpgMy nightmares haven’t been as bad the past couple weeks: in fact I think I went a whole week without any. I still have intense dreams without the nightmares, but I can live with those.

I am feeling rather weak and I’m not sure why. My sleep schedule has been way off and I suspect that as the culprit. When I can’t sleep at night, I turn on General Conference (LDS Church) and listen to it. I haven’t had much exercise and perhaps that’s made me weaker.

I’m applying to finish my BYU Bachelor of General Studies degree (independent study) and I think that’s helped give me more empowered dreams. I’m really excited about it. In the past three years I’ve had trouble and writing and reading more serious subject books due to problems with focus and being “foggy-brained” but I think maybe I can do it now if I pace myself. When I was on campus, I had to go full time, and that was a no-go. I think writing two blogs has helped ameliorate my issues with perfectionism, so hopefully now I can just put my thoughts down on paper and get papers written. I’ve struggled for years with the fear that I’ll never be able to finish school and support myself.

I’ve also been a bit bored despite having projects to do, and my therapist sees that as a sign that I’m getting better. Now I just need more normal sleep and more exercise. It’s beautiful out there today: can’t wait to get out.

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.

Still Better

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easter-1237585_640.jpgIt’s been two months since the start of my med changes, and I’m finally feeling back to “normal.”  In the last few days, the last of the unpleasant side-effects of the changes has tapered down. I’m still feeling more tired than before, but I’ve been making it out every other day or more, which is a huge improvement. Tonight I was able to walk three miles with a friend. I’ve been doing my dumbbell exercises throughout, but I still think my arms feel wimpier than they did two months ago, but I believe that will get back to normal. I’m most excited about the pretty effortless three mile walk. I’ll be trying my dance workout from YouTube again. 🙂

More Springtime Recovery

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flowers-747206_640.jpg I’m so happy that it’s spring. I really wanted to go for a walk today because it was so beautiful outside, but every time I stood up I felt discombobulated. I also have a head tremor today. 😛 I’m working to get my days and nights back to normal (more on that in a bit), and I’m sure that’s a large part of why I’m so “off.”

So, my latest attempt at day/night normalization:
(It’s currently Thursday evening.)
-On Wednesday morning, after being up all night, I decided to once again stay up all day. We had a Relief Society (church women’s organization) activity Wednesday night and I figured that if I could stay awake, I’d have that as a reward. Plus, I miss getting out something terrible. Add Spring Fever and there you go…
-I don’t remember what I did all day yesterday (Wednesday) but it involved a lot of Hulu, Netflix, and putting away laundry.
-By about 1pm I just.wanted.sleep, so I turned on General Conference (it relaxes me) and lay down. Happily and for my own good, I didn’t fall asleep. My body was a jittery mess. I’ve never had coffee, but I imagine that maybe this is what your body feels like when you haven’t had your caffeine?
-By 3:30ish I was feeling like I could go to sleep, but I figured if I could just hold out until 6, it would be close to a normal bedtime and maybe I’d even feel up to the activity.
-By 6 I wanted to go to the activity, but when I’d stand up it wasn’t good. I let it go until 7pm, then I crawled in bed and fell immediately asleep.
-At around 7am I woke up briefly, but my body was in full anxiety panic attack mode and I couldn’t move, so I went back to sleep.
-I woke up again around 11am. I spent the next two hours, until 1pm, in a nightmare and unable to lift my head but wanting badly to be awake. It was one of those “trying to find my bedroom” nightmares again where things kept stopping me from getting home. At 1pm I opened my eyes and decided there had to be some way to get up. Sitting up took all my willpower and I sat there for a long time, shaking my head and rubbing my eyes and reminding myself that the nightmare was over.

So, hopefully I can fall asleep tonight. I managed to go for a walk! About 1/4 mile in I was thinking that I should just go home, but a McDouble at McDonald’s later I decided to try a bit farther. It was pretty iffy, but I got out! And spring is here!! There were bulbs poking their leaves out everywhere. Soon there will be tulips galore. There was a bush full of singing little birds, and at one neighbor’s the daffodils were already blooming! I love spring here so much. And as usual, the mountains were there. No matter what day it is, they always seem to look a little different, and they’re always majestic.

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A few days in my fourth week of medication change problems

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heart addictedSuch a long title, but I can’t think of anything shorter.

Let’s see if I can spell this right again: Risperdal. Or generic Risperidone. I was on it for six months, so you’d think I’d remember the spelling, but it still mutates in my head.

My doctor started tapering me off of it three weeks ago, almost four. Today was the first day since then that I was able to go out all by myself, and even that was a bit iffy. I won’t get into everything my body has been doing since then. I have been looking for synonyms for “disoriented” just for fun. Off-kilter, out of it, unsteady, rickety, wobbly, discombobulated. I’m liking “unsteady” (a friend gave me that one when we went for a walk) because it might be a more understandable to others. I have struggled to otherwise adequately explain this most common symptom of my anxiety to others. I think I came a little bit closer a couple weeks ago when I told a friend who was visiting, “If I went out to drive right now, I would get into a car crash within minutes.”  Just “dizzy” doesn’t explain it adequately. Just saying “my brain’s not working” invites understanding nods from others (and it’s my favorite explanation for most occasions) but it isn’t an adequate explanation of the difference between a healthier person’s mind after a rough day (which brings a type of fatigue I actually wish I could have more often) and my “unsteadiness.”

Yes, I’m still struggling with simple ways to explain this to those who want to understand better. And I’ve had a lot of unsteadiness this past month, but after a better day today I am still believing that it’ll get better soon.

So, the pharmacist said today that withdrawals from Risperdall (should I spell it differently just for fun? I do think it’s kind of a fun sounding name…for medication) usually last two weeks.  I’ve doubled that. So, I could (1) be on the long end of the exception or (2) the Fanapt is causing me problems. Or (3) some other explanation.

So I know this sounds crazy, but I’m grateful for the patience this past month has been teaching me. I used to complain when I’d get one or two days of this or a week, but with an entire four weeks, I’m having to dig deeper. I haven’t been able (until today) to go to the grocery store by myself or sometimes at all. I’ve had to get rides to the pharmacy and my doctors’ appointments. I’ve had to tell myself that it doesn’t matter when, at the doctor, they said I’d basically skipped out on my therapist appointment when in reality I was fighting nightmares and discombobulated unsteadiness at home. They weren’t trying to tell me personally that I was a failure. And….yeah so I corrected them quickly and they were understanding, but sometimes I wish they wouldn’t jump to conclusions so quickly when someone might be so sick that they can’t use the phone until after the appointment is over. Geesh, I’m sensitive. Still working on that.

I’m feeling less hard on myself than I was at the beginning of the month. I’ve had to ask for so much help and yet everyone who has helped me has insisted on checking up on me and following up to see how I’m doing and acted somewhat indignant when I’ve apologized too much. This world is not all a bad place full of scary people. Why I continually need this lesson, I’m not sure. It’s incremental, not an all at once thing.

I’ve also been patient with my need for a lot of Netflix. I’m not sure how many episodes of Gilmore Girls I’ve watched, but it’s helped calm the anxiety and I’m no longer telling myself that I’m such a horrible person for watching fun stuff when I’m not feeling well. Compassion for myself has bigger boundaries than it did.

I’m refusing to edit this. I’m too tired. It’ll have to do and that’s that.

 

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.

The Little Trials: Coming off conqueror?

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snowman christmas-316448_640.jpgIt’s Thursday. I just off the phone with my 14yo daughter who is, as usual for this time of night, busy with her homework. Life keeps moving.

My life view has been more optimistic since being approved for disability.  I’m not even sure I blogged about that! It was such a weird feeling: relief, but still with the unknown financial aspect that was finally communicated to me this last week. I was so happy, and the worst was behind me, but…there was that 60 day window they had to figure out what I’d get. I also was unsure as to when: so was my lawyer. Lots of big possible time frames.  I am so grateful that this is all done and behind me. I’m also grateful for the “little people” at Social Security whose job it is to do this sort of thing. Sounds like a lot of stress to me.

So, as getting around in the cold was the theme of my last post, so it is with this one. Thankfully I haven’t had to deal with the cold, biting wind again since then. It’s been cold, but without medication issues and without the wind it’s actually possible for me to walk around in the cold and even sort of like it. The past two days I did a lot of errands getting on and off the bus and walking distances of up to 1 1/2 miles/time. I’ve been feeling pretty well this week. Today I really needed to rest from it, but I’m so happy with my ability to get out and get some things done. I think that when it comes to my morale, having snow on the ground makes me happy and somehow makes it easier than just the cold without the snow, even if there isn’t a lot of it. It also helps that there are Christmas decorations everywhere. So much more cheerful.

So I’m feeling extra grateful today. Today was a clear-cut “need to rest” and also a day where I felt like I could pat myself on the back for having done some semi-hard things during the past two weeks.  I still don’t know for sure if I’ll be able to get a car with my disability back pay, and to be honest I do still have my hopes up. But….I’m getting around. I’ve been feeling kind of cut off from life again the past week or two, but with the coming holidays there are a lot of things planned, so I’ll be able to get out again.

 

 

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.

Counting Blessings after Nightmares

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I got over-tired again last night, but it was in a good way at least. I was playing Phase 10 with friends at church and watching others play volleyball. We were being pretty silly and it was a lot of fun. I also got to talk on the phone with my son who has just started his freshman year at college and it’s so much fun to live vicariously through him a little and to hear what he’s up to and that he’s enjoying himself and working hard. I got to hear from my daughter a couple nights ago. I’ll be bugging both of them again soon.

I had more nightmares last night, but they weren’t as bad as the night before. I took a long nap this afternoon and it was nightmare-free and very restful. I’m still a bit shaky, but hey, I can type.

List of blessings:

  1. My kids are doing well
  2. I have friends who know how to be silly and have fun
  3. I’m learning how to do the genealogy portion of family history a bit better and it’s fun
  4. Got to speak with my aunt (mom’s sister) on the phone last night about family stories (my mom passed away when I was 8)
  5. My disability hearing is coming up soon. This part is almost over.
  6. Our three week heat wave seems to be over. 100 degree weather is hard when you walk several miles a week to get places (doctor etc.)
  7. My roommates are great
  8. My kids are wonderful and doing well
  9. I found the second book online by Peter A. Levine that I want to read. I’m learning a lot from the one I already have. This is the second book, now on my wish list: trauma-through-a-childs-eyes-awakening-the-ordinary-miracle-of-healing_2481617

The positive amidst the negative

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I really need to post the positive here more often. I use this blog perhaps too frequently just for venting, and my life isn’t all just PTSD and anxiety.

So, I made it to all of church yesterday. Then I realized last night that even though it had been probably at least 2 weeks since I’d had any bad nightmares, I hadn’t shared that either. Then last night I had bad nightmares, the kind that pin me to my bed and make it difficult to move or wake up. *But*, it had been quite a while. I don’t think I’ve gone that long without them. Upon reflection, I’ve been focusing on not getting over-tired, and I seem to get more nightmares when I’m over-tired.

So, I needed today for sleeping. I’m still shaky and a bit out of it. Doing anything complicated isn’t an option. But…there’s our single’s group home evening tonight. It’s a small group gathering tonight, and while most will play ping pong (not on my list of things that I’m good at or enjoy), it means I can enjoy just sitting and watching and talking to friends.

Yesterday I was able to get a hold of both my kids: one on the phone, the other texting. That always makes my day.

I’ve been reading this book a little each night and feel like I’m learning a lot from it. It’s answering some questions I’ve had regarding different healing modalities used for trauma victims. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of it. He mentions in it that he will be publishing an entire book devoted to childhood trauma victims, and I think that book may be out by now.

Waking the Tiger still