Tag Archives: good anxiety

Recovering from Good Stuff

Standard

Cinderella shoe cakeI had the opportunity to help throw a bridal shower for a friend this week. I’m paying for it, but it was worth it. There’s some more good news in that regards, but I’ll get to that later.

I had plenty of time to plan. I don’t do complicated. I also had a partner in planning who did all of the things well that I’m not very good at. If I were to be a party planner the rest of my life, I would want her for my partner. It was that much fun. She even talked me into helping her icing the cupcakes with one of those fancy icing bags. I’m better at invites and games and that sort of thing.

I have to carefully allot my time during the week, but the past three weeks have been a lot better. My doctor upped my Risperidone and it’s helped a ton! I’ve been sleepy all the time, which I think is passing as I get used to it, but I’ve been awake a lot more. I’ve had less nightmares and everything else. It’s made life so much more bearable and I’ve also been more able to count my blessings without getting as depressed. My therapist said she could tell a difference, and my friends have been remarking on it, too.

Thus, I felt I had the courage (and ability) to help throw the shower. It was also at our place. I didn’t clean much beforehand as it’s already clean here, but it could have been better, yet I survived. My “have to clean everything perfectly” anxieties were thus lessened in that area. (Our front rooms are usually clean, my room is usually messy…a lot like growing up.)

So, while we were getting ready yesterday, my mind still halted occasionally but it wasn’t bad. I could tell I was headed towards bad anxiety just a couple of times, and after either eating or taking a break I was okay again. It was such a relief! One of the things that’s difficult to explain to people about anxiety disorders is that the “usual” methods of calming oneself don’t always work. We feel “stuck” in the anxiety with very little that helps lower it.

But….not this time. Some loud music someone played briefly on their phone almost got me while everyone was talking. I was leading the game so leaving for a break would have been awkward.

I fell right asleep last night. I did, unfortunately, have a lot of nightmares last night, but they could have been worse. I still felt like I had some control of the dreams. I ended up shaky with my “insides shaking” but I had no limbs flapping. For as much as I did yesterday, that’s quite a feat. Also, I couldn’t get out of bed today until after 1pm. Considering that at times after something so large I could have been wiped out for a few days, that’s also something. I’m fully hoping to get to go for a walk later. I could really use it.

Advertisements

Missing things.

Standard

disappointmentThe past two weeks have been very eventful. I think they’ve been way more positive than negative, even if my PTSD symptoms seem to have a mind of their own. I’ve been able to make it to the most important events of the two weeks with one glaring exception: my son’s high school graduation was a Tuesday evening followed by my daughter’s middle school graduation on a Wednesday morning. So, guess what I missed? Yup, the middle school graduation. I don’t think it was good emotionally for either my daughter or for me. I think my Facebook post will sum it up the best:

Slightly personal. One of the joys of having PTSD: (and no, I won’t tell you where I got it from): I had a good time at (son’s) graduation, but it was a very large, happy (good thing) noisy crowd. I was happy but a bit of a shaking mess by the end. (Daughter’s) Middle School graduation was this morning. I could wake up, but I was semi-paralyzed and could hardly move or speak. I managed a text that I wasn’t doing well, then I missed her graduation. These are the times when having PTSD really stinks the most. I slept for several more hours, having nightmares about trying to get to (daughter’s) promotion. There is no way I can take it back. Then a certain family member was giving me a hard time about having gone to (son’s) graduation instead of Libby’s. Because, you know, as a Mom I always want to make choices like that, and I’m omniscient about consequences. It’s now 3:30 and the tremors still haven’t completely gone away, and I’m still struggling to speak. And (daughter) didn’t have her mom at her graduation.

Mental illnesses aren’t different from physical illnesses in this way. Oh, because wait…mental illnesses ARE physical ilnesses! There’s this weird misconception, which is probably understandable, that because they’re “mental” that people who have them haven’t done the intense mental and physical struggling to try to be everywhere they want and need to be. Just like everyone else, I have to miss things that I want to get to go to more than anything else. I miss things that I didn’t want to go to, and I feel bad about that too! Basically, I have to constantly work on the shame and guilt and good guilt and bad guilt of all the places I both want to go to and don’t want to go to. And some of the things I don’t want to go to are easier to go to (some meetings, for instance) than things I want to go to (I can’t currently do any movies in theaters….how’s that for fun…you want to go there?)  But missing my daughter’s graduation takes the cake. For the rest of my life, this will be one of those things that I remember with much more frustration than having to miss a bunch of movies in theaters for a couple of years, or however long it ends up lasting. I can’t make it up. So, my daughter was really understanding. She was upset and disappointed. It was one of those things that incites a combination of feelings. I can’t get into her head and tell you everything that went on, but I can tell you what I know from what she told me and other family members. I can tell you what it was like when I was lying in my bed with most of my body stuck there and not wanting to move, and my head wanting to believe that it was 1am instead of 8 or 9 am, and wishing that someone could stick me on a stretcher or at least offer me a Skype session of it. I’m trying to work on my anger with people who don’t understand. With the people I don’t know very well, it’s not an issue. With a couple of family members, it bothers me and I do take it personally at times. Then I talk it out with a friend or my therapist and the forgiveness comes back. In the meantime, I’m grateful I wasn’t able to slug the person who suggested that I somehow could have made it. I could have, probably, had I missed my son’s graduation. He was in a graduating class of over 1,000 students. How do you decide not to try to make it to that? I had done okay for the few days prior, so I was  praying that I’d make both. I had made it to his Baccalaureate and my daughter’s awards assembly. It’s so easy online to see the enormous evidence of how much we all judge others based on 20/20 vision and hindsight. I’m the one who is going to spend the rest of my life knowing that I missed my daughter’s 8th grade promotion. Everyone can….I want to use words that I shouldn’t. I love my family and I love my daughter and I’m going to make it past this somehow. The rest of you who are mostly healthy and get to go to both the things you want to and most of the things you don’t…..think about your health. Don’t make it to everything you want to? Welcome to the lives of everyone else on the planet. And I was touched by how many people understood how I was feeling and reached out to both me and my daughter. And this post ended up long, about just one thing, so I guess I’ll move on to another post for the rest. For what it’s worth. I have way more blessings than I have disappointments. At the very least, I believe this phrase that I heard once, “The sorrows may outnumber the joys, but the joys will outweigh the sorrows.”  My blessings here on my trip to CA have far outweighed the sorrows, despite the frustration of missing my daughter’s promotion. And I kept myself from swearing (slightly swearing) over the subject. 😛

Life, exciting life

Standard

stones-167089_640It’s been a month since I posted, but I could have posted dozens of times since then with all that’s been going on. I’ve just been too exhausted, and it’s been a whirlwind of seeing my doctor and therapist several times and starting a new medication (Risperdal) and getting ready to go to CA to see my kids graduate. I’m still yet kind of out of it today, but not completely (especially since getting a nice big fattening dinner, thanks to a very kind friend) so I’m determined to post at least a little post. To sum up:

  • I finally got a court date for my disability hearing! Yay! It’s in August.
  • My anxiety levels were still going up, and I hit a level “10” several times and only through the help of friends did I manage to not go to the E.R., which would have been expensive. A level “10” for me means that I’m not functioning, barely able to talk or not able to, have difficulties moving around my room etc., very little or no ability to concentrate, racing thoughts, difficulties sitting up and moving my head an difficulties or an inability to walk due to extreme dizziness/disorientation, and it lasts for hours or on and off for a day or more.
  • My doctor put me on the Risperdal and it was a lucky first time hit. It helped a lot within just a week. The only downside is that it seems to inhibit the receptors in my brain that tell me when I’m full. So far I just drink a lot of water to make up for it, but I did gain ten pounds of the 25 that I’d lost in the few months before. I think I have it under control, unlike my awful experience with Zyprexa, which helped my anxiety but made me really really hungry constantly. So hungry that it was pretty much really odd.
  • I spent a week so excited at my upped energy levels and with the depression gone again that I overdid it and wore myself out several times.
  • I was able to go to a conference this past weekend where one of my aunts was the keynote speaker and the president of the association for the year, and it was about the same subject that I majored in in college, and it was being held locally, so I got to go: along with my parents and another aunt. I definitely overdid it, even though I only managed to attend about half the conference. It was kind of a once in a lifetime thing, in a way, and I just didn’t want to miss out. So….
  • I hit a level “10” again Sunday and Monday, managing to stay out of the hospital (an Ativan would have been nice, but the withdrawals and possible retrograde amnesia after wouldn’t have been).
  • So, I was stupid and after about 12 good hours decided I’d try and help do some yard work with friends, for a friend. I was basically useless and couldn’t even put a shovel into the ground. My best friend, fresh off a cruise and who is still feeling like she’s on the ocean, got out a ton of weeds. I watered the ground underneath the weeds to soften it and got mud on myself (which is usually fun…maybe it still was) and after about 30 minutes it felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I did manage to get the weeds into a garbage bag. I guess my service will have to continue to be in other ways.
  • But, in a few days I’ll be with my kids and friends and family again. I’ll have to keep it lower key, which seems to be the theme of the past year in a much greater degree than I’d ever anticipated. Learning my limits much? Yuck.
  • The good part: I went a week with no nightmares, and I’ve had significantly less since starting the new med.

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.

The Holidays and Anxiety/PTSD

Standard

I know that this isn’t relegated just to those of us with anxiety and/or PTSD: the holidays tend to bring up my anxiety to the worst levels of the year. On the good side, it’s usually for good things. (See my post on good anxiety and bad anxiety here.)  This year I have added to it that it’s been harder than in the past few years to find a way to get down to CA to spend it with my kids, and to find a place to stay: and also looming, again, is the supposed-to-be soon Disability Hearing.

I also have a December birthday. When I lived at home with my kids, I don’t think it bothered me. Several years I even forgot about it until family reminded me that day. Away from my kids and with the “bad stress” of this year (Disability Hearing) or even without that, I have to admit that I haven’t looked forward to my birthday since moving to Utah almost 4 years ago.gift-2677_640

My friends have gone out of their way this year to make sure that I’ve had a good birthday. It’s actually not until a few days from today, but I’ve already been sung to twice, received a boatload of clothes from my parents, been taken out to lunch by my amazing little sister, and on my birthday I get to go to a choir concert with one of my oldest friends. I’m a huge choral music geek, and I sang with this choral organization for several years, and my daughter sang with them one semester, and their concerts are amazing, so I’m pretty excited.

I got to do a white elephant party last night with friends, in just the style I’ve needed lately: small, laid back, not crowded, and mellow: and lots of laughs. And singing. I was kind of a mess before the party (holiday PTSD, hello) much more unorganized than I’d like to be, wrapping white elephant gifts at the last minute even though they were planned ahead, forgetting to eat dinner, not getting to the pharmacy, forgetting what I was doing every other minute (squirrel…)   (squirrel…..). But I decided that although “good anxiety” is still anxiety, and still makes you tired, at least it improves your mood. I had insomnia after, and then slept for 16 hours (ugh) and had weird, complicated dreams that were thankfully only partly-nightmarish. I still had some “super hero” abilities in the dreams, which for me I think is a sign that I’m not feeling like things are completely out of my control. And this is why I haven’t been doing things on Saturday nights: ruins my Sundays.

As usual, I will miss my daughter’s band/orchestra concert, because it’s in CA and I’m in UT. I’m going to see if I can bribe someone to record at least a few seconds of it.holiday music

My step mother is yet again on another kick of asking me “why can’t you at least take a part time job? You know, at McDonald’s or something?”  I’m still so flabbergasted that she asks, even after having seen me at my worst so many times, that I just have to remind myself how worried she is about my Dad getting older (he’s in his mid 80’s, she’s younger) and ignore it. I think this is one of those things that worries me the most about my upcoming Disability Hearing: I’m kind of a disaster. I need to get out sometimes to help keep my sanity and my sense of hope alive. I can barely handle planning a trip to CA and inexpensive gifts for my family. There seems to be a huge contingent of people who think that if you can breather, you can work. When I work, both my employer and customers (if the job involves customers) catch it quite easily when my mind goes blank (which is frequent) and wonder why I’m trying to work. I had a group of holiday shoppers once completely freak out, and several of them insist on going to find managers to tell them I needed to go home and rest, when I was subconsciously channeling “I’m okay, I’m okay” in my head. When I try to work, (or do school, even, unfortunately), everything goes downhill. Even when I’m not working, I’m struggling. I have a really hard time not feeling anger for people who don’t understand.  I try to remember what another family member said, that “people just don’t know.” If they have someone in their lives who is dealing with mental illness, especially (but not just if) it is debilitating, I wish they would make more of an effort to read up on it, especially the latest research. Sticking one’s head in the sand and being determined to stay in the denial and anger stages of grief over a loved one having a mental illness can be so detrimental to the health of everyone involved.  I still am trying to be understanding, though. When I don’t just let it go, it consumes me. However, when I start to trust too much, it often ends up biting me again.

“Good” Anxiety and “Bad” Anxiety

Standard

The therapist I saw in L.A. did her Ph.D. specializing in anxiety. One of the things she taught me was that anxiety makes you tired, whether it’s “good” anxiety or “bad.”  I can’t claim to understand everything behind this, except that I do know that those who suffer from large amounts of anxiety tend to be more tired than most people. It made the fatigue I’ve experienced since my mission make a lot more sense.poinsettia-490853_640

I have to be careful yet again lately what I do on Saturday or Saturday nights, or I can’t wake up on Sunday mornings, or if I do manage to wake up, I’m shaking too hard to be able to go anywhere. I went through at least a good six months where I didn’t have to worry about it, so it’s frustrating. Last year around this time I only made it to church maybe 3 or 4 times in a period of 4 months. I think that’s the worst that particular problem has ever been.

On Sunday night I was able to go with my roommate to the First Presidency Christmas Devotional at the LDS Conference Center. Her parents are currently church service missionaries and live across from the Conference Center, and near Temple Square. I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. We left just after church and drove to Salt Lake. I was okay, but by the end was pretty tired. I joked that I’d see what time I woke up the next day. It ended up being 5pm.  We had home evening last night and there was no way I felt up to it. I ate and went back to bed, waking up around 2am and 5am to eat. I’m still feeling overwhelmed. I think I need a good, big meal. On the good side? I had made it to church. It makes a huge difference in my week if I can make it to church on Sundays.

poinsettia-225324_640 actual

If getting tired and anxious from a devotional isn’t “good anxiety,” I don’t know what is. I’m also getting nervous about the rest of the Christmas season. I’m just going to have to take it easy at least half the time. Meaning, not going somewhere every night, even if it’s mellow. Which, with my PTSD, it’s pretty much always “mellow.” I’m no party girl. I’ve been blessed to have found a ride home to be with my kids, now I just need to work on where I’ll be staying. I know that a lot of the stress I’m feeling is still over the unpredictability of my coming disability hearing: both when it will be, and how it will turn out. They only will give me two weeks’ notice. For something so stressful that can change my future so much (I really am in a lot of trouble if I don’t get accepted), I wish it could just be over with. The courts are backed up, so…been waiting almost two years now.