Tag Archives: conquering fears

So many possible (good) changes

Standard

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.

photo-sunlight slot canyon.jpg

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!

Advertisements

PTSD and a day in May

Standard

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.

Recovering!

Standard

daffodil-56420_640 It’s been 5 or 6 weeks now since the medication change (Risperdal to Fanapt) and I’m finally feeling human. I think that after the withdrawals left, I must have been struggling with sleepiness associated with Fanapt. I’m still struggling to get my sleep schedule back to normal, but at least I’m only sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night instead of up to 18. I’m also still waking up partway through my sleep with awful shakiness that doesn’t always go away once I’m fully “rested.”

I feel like my mind may be more clear than when I was on Risperdal. I’m also not certain, but suspicious that my eyesight may have been affected by it the same way it was when on Geodon and one other med.

My nightmares are indeed “clearer,” and when I write them in my journal (like I’ve been doing for years) I feel like they make more sense to me than they did before. Cautious optimism here. 🙂

My decision today is, once again, whether after not sleeping last night if I want to try to stay awake all day or to give up and get some sleep. The staying awake method hasn’t been working well, with the big exception of when I need to go somewhere I can get there. I don’t have anywhere to go today and I can’t think of anything that will keep me awake. If I try to exercise I will probably trip over my own feet and hit my head on something. Challenge to be continued. I’ve been here many times before and I’ve always gotten through it.zombie-156138_640

The Little Trials: Coming off conqueror?

Standard

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.

 

 

The positive amidst the negative

Standard

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

Establishing Healing Habits

Standard

I was so proud to report how I’m getting better at finding the best coping/healing techniques each day as I go to write in my journal, or at the times of the day when I realize what is bothering me. Today, however, got wrapped up in digestive issues (leaky gut). I’ve had two nights and days of that now, but it’s been at least two weeks since the last time, so I call that a success. For a while I was dealing with it nearly every day in some way or another, for a period of months. I’m blaming it on the blue cheese dressing (full of soybean oil) and thus not FODMAP free. On the good side, dark chocolate, small amounts of onion and garlic don’t seem to be issues for me. Those are the findings for now. I have gained more patience for not knowing all the answers all the time.flower-329587_640

I will write more about different DBT and other cognitive “healing methods” tomorrow perhaps. They are working. It’s taken some time for some of the newer techniques be more second nature when I’m writing. The older techniques from the Feeling Good Handbook became second nature years ago, before I got married. Not to say that I’m perfect at that, either (and I could use a review) but I’m pretty sure that if I tried to use that method alone, on its own, it would drive me nutty. Oh wait, it has. 😉 I think there can come a time in almost any type of therapy where one has “learned that, lessons no longer helping, time to move on…..”

As for the two days of IBS….I’ve lost my appetite and mostly feel like I need a lot of water. It just feels like my body needs to cleanse itself of whatever it was (soybean oil in dressing??). I get kind of funny, meaning actually humorous, when I’m not getting enough to eat and I’m stuck at home and then I finally get out to see people. My filter seems gone and it feels like I’m mumbling slightly incoherently about my kids and my latest insomnia obsession (Hawaii 5-0, never version.) I think I’m starting to think that I’ve actually been to Hawaii….

I have a therapy appointment tomorrow and while I think I’ll be able to get up for it, I’m a little worried that I’ll be able to get down there without constantly running into bathrooms along the bus route.  Maybe I should leave early. 🙂 And no more salad dressing containing high amounts of soybean oil…

Rock Band and PTSD. Yup.

Standard

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

Standard

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.) 😉

presentmoment_lowres

On a scale of 1 to 10…

Standard

number-10I’ve discovered that there’s sometimes still a large disconnect between what some of the people who “know” me think I’m going through, and what I’m actually going through.

Have you ever been asked by a doctor how severe the pain is that you’re going through, on a scale of 1 to 10, or 1 to 100? I finally got the courage to ask one time, “So, what is 10? Is 10 going through labor? Because it’s bad, but it’s not that bad.”  I’m still not sure how to do that with friends, or when it’s even worth it. I have just a few friends that I will try to further explain it, because they’re the friends who have felt comfortable in the past asking for more details, and who seems to mostly “get it” even if they haven’t been through it. I learned the hard way, at a more needy time of my life, that even if I think someone who absolutely doesn’t get it and doesn’t seem to want to, even if they ask me questions, I probably won’t be able to ever talk or explain enough. They’re probably not emotionally ready, and I’ll just end up getting hurt, and maybe they will, too.

I still haven’t figured out the pain scale. Doctors seem to be able to figure out what they need to without me trying to gain clarity for myself.

As for my anxiety, thus far the “10” (and worst) for me was the time I had to go to the E.R. My doctor and therapist know what that means. I don’t think that many people have seen a panic attack that’s that bad, though.cure-297557_640

So, a couple of people asked me what it was that keeps me from church sometimes. (I feel a little vulnerable on this one, for some reason, despite the irony of writing it on a blog where I’ve already revealed quite a bit.) Usually, it’s that my anxiety is so bad that my nightmares have kept me from sleeping very well and I can’t wake up. If I can wake up, it’s more tricky. I’m more likely to go to church, but nervous about how I’ll be able to handle it. Last week I managed, but I had to miss a lot because I had to sit outside of Sacrament Meeting and Relief Society because the noise and crowds were too much. This week, I managed to sit outside Sacrament Meeting okay, but by Relief Society, I just needed to lie down. Some people may think, “oh, just do some breathing techniques” or one of the many other things I’ve learned. Those things help me on a regular Sunday, or in the long run, but when my anxiety is hitting a 7 or 8 (nothing most people ever have to deal with, I don’t think) that’s not going to do it. As I said to a friend, “If you had the flu, and weren’t retaining anything you heard, and all you could think about was lying down so you could calm down and get some sleep, would you stay?” Also, I DON’T LIKE missing things. Yes, I do get embarrassed if I start to twitch or I feel stuck somewhere and my mind is about to turn off because I keep trying and trying to do calming techniques and it’s not working, because I’m “running faster than I have strength.” No one was ever promised that none of us would have to deal with a difficult mental illness in this life. I don’t want to make people have to see it. It makes people uncomfortable. On top of that (and probably more important) is that it will keep getting worse until I find a way to calm down, and sometimes the only way to do that is to be able to lie down in a quiet room, by myself, where I know no one will bother me. dice-10

I had to ask a friend to take me home early on Sunday. It was quite a bit out of her way to drive several miles to drop me off, go back to church, then come home again this way. It was extremely kind of her. When I got home, I said, “I don’t want to be here, but I need the rest. But this means I’m missing church again.”

What did I learn from this that I need to work on? I took a long nap on Saturday afternoon, that ended up being full of nightmares and thus not restful at all. I ended up afraid to go to bed on Saturday. I need to try to go to bed earlier on Saturday nights, and learn not to be afraid. Plenty of techniques I can use with that.

I understand those who mean well who think one or two simple things, applied daily, will fix all this. It’s just not that simple. It’s more like a very long list of things that will possibly work, as I go through it and pray about it and talk with my doctor and my therapist etc., will fix this. Please don’t insult the intelligence or the integrity (even if we’re not perfect….I know I’m not) of those of us dealing with serious mental health issues. And obviously I don’t have it as bad as a lot of people: no hallucinating, no long stays (or even short ones) in the mental hospital. But getting over my PTSD is like having a full-time job: but one with odd hours and no sure answers. The answers are looking a lot better than they were 5,10,20 years ago, but one of the biggest battles is yet around the still elusive corner: (will I get approved for disability?)

Hard day/Good day

Standard

face-640435_640Today has not been a good day. I don’t know if it’s because I found out yesterday that a friend (who was young) passed away unexpectedly, but I wasn’t able to wake up completely until about 5:30 pm and had nightmares all day long and last night. They woke me up partway into the night. I was twitching most of the day while asleep and it feels like my body just won’t stop shaking. I was going to go to a Relief Society activity (women’s group at church) tonight that I’ve been looking forward to, but I’m not sure I feel up to it. Every noise outside my bedroom door makes me jump, no matter how normal. My roommate spent a lot of the morning singing, and it was helpful because it was happy, but it didn’t stop the shaking or the nightmares that I went in and out of. I did manage to get up in the early morning and turn on a BYU Devotional. General Conference talks and devotionals help calm me down and feel more connected to hope and reality. I also listen to scriptures, but I wish there was an easier way to listen to each chapter one after the other without having to get up. You know, like back when I owned a cassette player.
***
sun-157126_640
So, I ended up going to the activity after all. I threw something on, didn’t have on any makeup (not the end of the world, I learned a long time ago) and went with a couple of friends. One of them has a nice, big loud voice, but it didn’t bother me. Always grateful for the small things. Maybe I’m making progress in some areas. When we got there, my shaking hadn’t stopped or even let up at all. My head was still bobbing. I’m not sure I’ve actually left the house on purpose with that still going on, but I was hoping that it would stop. Eventually it did, but it took a while. I hadn’t even told a friend that I wasn’t feeling well, but she leaned over to me and said, “Do you need me to take you home? Are you sure?” When my body is doing this, I feel a bit like I’m 93 instead of 43. Tonight that thought was a little humorous to me.

We shared books (fiction or non-fiction, children’s or young adult or for adults, etc.) and I was near the end of the order because of where I was sitting in the circle. I managed okay. I had sort of hoped that I could go earlier so that I didn’t have to sit there worrying about my ability to be able to speak, but I was okay. Afterwards, though, I struggled. One person was having a hard time hearing me, which meant that my anxiety was making it hard to speak up. Another time I was able to speak up, but my ability to come up with the right very simple words just left me.

So was it a good idea to go? I don’t know. It was wonderful to be out and to get to talk about one of my favorite things with others (books, reading). Seeing the slightly uncomfortable looks on the faces of people who don’t know me as well and haven’t been around me much, when I struggled with speaking etc., brought back bad memories of when I was so terrified to be around other people when even the smallest things with my health went wrong in public. But tonight they rallied back and talked with me again anyway. I did sit down when I knew that my ability to concentrate and function was getting worse. I don’t mind sitting by myself when I need to recover, and I don’t mind it in general, but it was a little embarrassing when someone else thought that maybe I needed some company. But isn’t it amazing that I’m around so many people who want to worry whether others need company or not?

chapel north salt lakeI don’t know if I’ll try this again very often (going out when I’m really, really unsure of my ability to function). I definitely wouldn’t try it when I’m by myself. If I hadn’t been with a good friend who is familiar with my symptoms and what I’m like, there’s no way I would have gone. I did the same thing on Sunday and went to church and had to sit in the hall for everything but our nice and small Sunday School class. (Our ward has multiple small Sunday School classes rather than one or two large ones.) I felt like I didn’t get much out of it doctrinally, but hey, I got to take the sacrament, and I felt the Spirit. I really felt like I got less out of it than the years spent chasing my kids around the building when they were small. Concentrating on much of anything was just pretty much impossible. But, a couple of people I confided in said, “yes, but you were here! Wasn’t that great?” So, I’d prefer that every Sunday I would be there and that I’d be feeling well, able to participate, help others out, and maybe even get something out of it….which I usually do. But feeling the Spirit ain’t bad.