Just not doing well. The past week I’ve had high levels of anxiety about 18 hrs out of each day. I’ve managed to relax a few hours out of every other day or so. I’ve had a lot of paperwork to do for myself, my son, and my daughter (all for good things) and keeping track of it and what needs to be printed out, mailed, notarized, and faxed has been a challenge. I don’t own a printer or a fax, so it’s meant a lot of bus rides. A friend helped me out yesterday.
I was up most of last night with digestive pain, but now it’s all gone. 🙂 I played “Rock Band” with friends at activity night at the church on Tuesday: unless you had good observation skills, you wouldn’t have known that I was anxious. I had to leave once for a while because it got too noisy for me, but by the end of the night my anxiety level seemed like the lowest it’s been in a long time. We had an activity the night before, but that one didn’t go so well for me, and I had to leave early.
The good side to all of this is that I’ve been able to spend time calming myself as much as I can and trying to figure out and write down where it’s coming from. The odd part is that I can go to bed feeling so much more relaxed after being with friends or going for a walk, then partway through the night the nightmares and/or tremors begin, with my head shaking or my arms twitching; or in one case last week, I had bad nightmares I couldn’t wake myself from until about 10am when I woke up partway with my arms pinned to me, and I couldn’t move or completely wake up. This lasted until about 3pm.
So life goes on. Will getting a set date for my disability hearing, and getting it finally over with, help solve this? Is it showing me just how much fear I have inside me that I need to heal? I have no idea. I missed my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday because I could not speak or get up and my body was shaking. It’s been rescheduled. I’m working on getting a ride to my therapy appointment so there’s less chance of missing it. I am very blessed that there are so many people (even strangers, people from church who don’t know me) who are willing to help. I get to where I just want to prove that I can make it myself for a while, then I go through a bad spell again and have to humble myself and learn to accept help again. Do any of us ever really learn this lesson?
It makes me laugh that I can still type so well when I’m still having trouble speaking. I absolutely had to make a phone call for my son’s college plans for next year, and the lady at the other end was extremely kind and patient.
I may have mentioned that for some reason I have had pretty bad depression and anxiety the past couple of weeks. At first I attributed it to
- Not getting to be with my kids for Christmas because I had the flu (would have been a two week trip)
- Getting to finally see them for one day during a quick three day trip (one day traveling there, one day with them, one day back) and then the subsequent let down
- Realizing that I’ve been here (a couple states away) almost four years when I thought it would be 6 months to 1 year
- Waiting on my disability hearing, which is supposed to happen this month….but I’m thinking it may not. It’s been a two year wait. I just want it over. I have a lot of emotional work to do on this one, I’m realizing, and I need patience badly.
My stomach has been hurting for days, I got my days and nights all mixed up last week (but not in any kind of “regular “order) and yesterday I just couldn’t eat anything. I didn’t sleep at all the night before, and I was hoping that would get my sleep schedule back in order (something people who know me really well have probably heard 100 times, especially before I got put on sleep meds). I fell very happily asleep early last night, after a fun singles home evening at our place. I woke up at some point to use the restroom in the morning, then slept fitfully with lots of nightmares until….5pm. Yup. I will do another post sometime about my fatigue and sleep issues over the past 23 years. It could be a long one.
So, between not having eaten much yesterday and then sleeping for a really long time, I woke up with really low blood sugar and unable to speak much. A good friend brought me McDonald’s (I eat the hamburgers without the buns….gluten free) and it helped a lot. I had no desire to try to go anywhere, but my roommate came home and said that she was going to volleyball/game night at the church and was only going to stay to play a few games. With as little as I saw anyone last week, I figured that maybe I should go. It was perfect. No one had turned on any music during the amount of time we were there, so it was quiet, and I was able to just sit and watch and realize that the world is still moving along and that I’ll be okay. I joke with people that my brain isn’t functioning enough to do certain things sometimes, which of course people laugh at because they relate, but I need to say it less often, I think, because it’s so very true for me so often. I didn’t try to play board games because I knew that I couldn’t. There was no way I was up to volleyball. I can just imagine the ball coming towards me and me ducking and saying, “Help!” which is kind of funny but possibly a little disturbing.
One of the PTSD support groups I’m in was rather helpful today. There can be so many posts in that group that it seems like most of them go unanswered, but in reply to someone asking a question, someone replied with this great post on a website that is a lot more informative than most that I’ve been on. It seems like most web pages about PTSD (or other mental illnesses) are really general and don’t give any hint of how complicated each illness/category is and how everyone experiences it in so many different ways. I’m going to use it for another post that explains more how my PTSD is the same and different from some of the things they mention. It really made me happy. I feel like it was the direct result to a prayer, as well.
I have so many blessings, and it can be easy to forget them when I’m experiencing things that just seem way too much. My home teacher mentioned a few days ago that that’s when he needs to look at the past for all the ways the Lord helped him then, so that he remembers that things will get better again, and that he’ll get through. Such a good reminder.
I think that PTSD, or “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” is most often associated with war veterans, but anyone who has been through any kind of trauma can end up with PTSD. I have more than a few symptoms that seem to cycle in and out. It can feel like I’ve conquered one or more, then the symptoms show up again. There are three that I’ve had continuously since my early twenties, and some that I’ve had longer: anxiety and tremors, insomnia and other sleep issues, and fatigue. There are many more that I could list, but for now I’ll leave it at those that I’ve dealt with the longest.
But not all of them come from the brain, at least not directly. It’s common for those with PTSD to have problems with digestion. I only learned this a few months ago, after years of dealing with it. During my divorce about ten years ago, my stomach hurt nearly all the time for over a year. I was told that it was stress. It stopped, and only came back occasionally, during times of stress. Then this past year it got worse, and a few months ago it seemed like everything I ate made me sick. There are times when I can’t keep much in me. It’s called IBS. (You can look it up if you like, I’d rather not describe it.) Even though I had to go gluten-free about 18 years ago, and found out that I was lactose intolerant just prior to that, I could be strict with both of those issues and still get very sick for a couple of days. I could go into a lot of detail about the elimination diets I’ve been on (which were helpful) as well as the several times I’ve tried the Candida diet (for me, not so helpful), but I’ll leave it at that. And for those who think that no one really needs to go off gluten and that it’s just a “fad,” I wouldn’t try saying it to my face. It may be a fad for some, but when I stopped eating it 18 years ago, most of the doctors I went to for my fatigue had never heard of it, but it made an enormous difference for me. Several years later I was also able to see a doctor at UCLA who was on the National Board for Celiac Disease.
There are those who say that IBS is not affected by stress. The lives of thousands of people with IBS say otherwise. I’ve been managing it by going on the FODMAPS diet, which frankly is even more complicated than going gluten-free. I frequently have no idea what I’m going to eat, because if you talk to a few hundred others dealing with IBS on Facebook, they’re all “triggered” by different things. The different medical centers who list the “can and can’t eat” of the FODMAP diet online don’t agree on everything (try John Hopkins’ and Princeton’s lists for a comparison.) It means more elimination diet and having to accept that I’ll get sick sometimes. Because I’m hungry nearly all the time at the moment (but losing weight, yay….?) I still experience difficulties cooking at times because I’m going through medication changes and I often feel confused. I used to struggle being in the kitchen with someone else, but these days it’s helpful because having someone there helps keep me focused. Usually. If they try to give me to much unasked for advice, I just get confused and my mind goes blank.
By Mariana Ruiz Villarreal(LadyofHats) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons