Daily Gratitudes Week 3

 

(Image Source:http://blog.lululemon.com/the-gratitude-movement/)

This week was full of a lot of things for me to be thankful for. I faced one of the things that causes me anxiety in life head on and got my hair cut, by a stylist and hopefully it is the beginning of a relationship that will allow me to maintain better hairstyles going forward. The biggest news of this week was I turned 31 on the 21st. I’ll try to do a post soley on my birthday later, this is also why this post and my Project 365 20 days rehash post is a little late. I’ll get it posted in the next couple of days though. Here’s my last week of gratitude: 

January 15- January 21, 2015

1-15:The ability to laugh at myself while making silly little mistakes. Trying new approaches and new places. A hair salon experience that didn’t totally suck! A new hair cut that I like. Taking a moment to face anxieties and deal with them. Lunch at a tasty favorite due to being blocked in by a truck unloading. Doug and his ability to ease my headache. Goals, ambitions, and plans.  

1-16:Shorter hair that is more manageable. My lunette cup (better review later but so far I’m amazed). Busy day at Sticks and Stones. Beautiful sunset on the way to Harrisburg. Dinner out with the guys. Coconut coffee. 

1-17:2nd day hair that looks as good as 1st day hair. Opportunities. Unexpected flowers from Mellow waiting for me when I got home. How much I am loved. I got my birthday cards from family in the mail, sweet and very appreciated. Evenings at home snuggled on the couch. As Time Goes By. Doc Martin.

1-18:Eggwhite, bacon and Cheddar croissant for breakfast. Super curly hair today. I’ve gone NoPoo again. My hair seems to be more agreeable to this idea this go round. We will see how it goes tomorrow when I go to style it. Granted it’s also a lot shorter this go round. Moving forward in life and the realizations that convos with friends can bring about. Thankful for the good friends I have that are there for me and the support they offer me. I’m even thankful for those that have chosen to leave because even though I am saddened that they have,  I’m more aware today than ever, who has my back and whose back I should have. Music. Spending time just being.  

1-19:Compliments from complete strangers (even if they were blatantly hitting on me), hey he was a hottie, so I consider myself flattered. Apparently my new hair is a hit with the menfolk. Potato Soup. Prepared bacon by adding water to the frying pan and fixing it that cooking it until the water had boiled off then fried it. Made crisp but tender bacon without the popping and danger factor of straight frying bacon does. Thanks Doug for bringing this method to my attention! Early birthday wishes from friends. An evening around the house. 

1-20:Amusing moments in the waiting room of my therapist’s office. The therapists themselves are fairly entertaining folks at times. Good session today, good talk. The beginning of letting go of some unnecessary guilt that I’ve been carrying around. Emotional baggage is hard. Letting go is harder. Moments of reflection on this last day of my 30th year of life. What an interesting journey life is. The fact that diarrhea jokes still make me giggle uncontrollably like a 12 year old. 2 gallons of pumpkin processed and frozen so far, still a little left to puree on Thursday. The ability to say, “nah let’s finish that project later”.

1-21:Life. It’s my birthday. I’ve made it to 31. It’s been a fantastic day. Started off the day with several texts and facebook messages saying happy birthday.Talked to mom for a few when she called to wish me a happy birthday. Next we got my INR appt out of the way. Doc wears glasses, ya’ll….yep, enough said. I’m sure it’s a good sign when your doctor congratulates you for making it to 31 right? haha Seriously I’ve never been congratulated for having a birthday before. It amuses me when someone is as awkward as me with social statements and such. I have a big ‘ol soft spot for the social awkward folks in my life. Then the sugar overloading began with a donut. A trip to Bath and Body works was next, yea you don’t get to judge me today…this may be where my addiction issue lies though..I may have enough BB&W to see me through a Zombie apocalypse atm. Next a Caramel Macchiato, first ever. OH MY YUM! Then there was a trip to Afton Tavern to consume a Cookie Skillet for lunch. Back to Concord Mills to see Into The Woods. Then We went to World Market and picked up an Extra Dark Chocolate bar and Lemon Soda. We then came home and chilled for a bit and waited on Mellow to come home and I skyped with mom for a bit.  Then we went out for Sushi/Asian foods. A great birthday spent surrounded by love and having fun. Yes a bit indulgent but that’s okay once in a while. I’m just hoping my body doesn’t totally crash and burn tomorrow with all the sugar I had today!  So thankful for all the birthday wishes I’ve received throughout the day! Touched by all the love! 

So what you do all have to be thankful for this week? Even the smallest moments in life give us reasons to pause and be grateful. I’ve found that by reframing the stressful, anxious moments, I can even be grateful for those moments as well. It has really helped me change the way I think and face the problems I have. It doesn’t take all of my anxiety and depression issues away but has definitely helped me. I’m excited that I can use this blog as a way to capture this entire year and have an easy way to look back at my posts. Incase you are just tuning into my blog, or you want to look back too, Here are the previous weeks: (Daily Gratitude Week 2, Week 1)

 

 

 

 

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Suicide Hotline Information

Tomorrow is the 3 year mark of my dad’s passing. In memory of him I wanted to do something positive. So I decided to gather a few links to help-lines and other information for Suicide prevention. Please if you are considering committing suicide, or know someone who is at risk for committing suicide please reach out to one of these services.

Suicide.org - Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support

What’s True In Our Minds Is True

I was in a fever induced sleep on the couch Monday evening when I was awakened by my roommate, Doug, announcing that one of his news apps had just released a breaking news bulletin that Robin William had been found dead at his residence. I groggily croaked some semblance of grief and sorrow and fell back into a troubled sleep. A few minutes later I was awakened again by Doug’s chilling words that it was an apparent suicide. I was speechless. Which given the fact that I had no voice (I still don’t have much of one thanks to this round of crud I have fallen victim to), I guess it’s best. I stared at the ceiling for a while thinking back over all the movies and shows. I thought about the laughs this man has brought me, the happiness. I thought about the tears, the sadness, and the other emotions this man who I have never had the chance to meet has been able to evoke from me. The more I thought about it, the sadder I became. My heart breaks for him, for his family, friends, and for everyone his life touched. Most of all, it breaks because in that instant that he made up his mind, he lost his last thread of hope for tomorrow.

As time passed more details were released about his struggles with depression and his addictions. Also as time passed it appears two camps formed. Those that understand and/or are supportive to the people who face such struggles and those who are using this as a platform to say negative and rude things. I will say that my own thoughts on suicide and how depression is faced recently changed due to my own personal dealings in life. First I lost a loved one who didn’t see any way out but to end their own life. Then more recently I have faced the deep darkness that depression, anxiety, PTSD, and the likes places on a person. Both of those have greatly changed my thoughts on how depression ‘is’ and how one could possibly get to the point where suicide seems like the only way out.

Prior to the two events I spoke of above, I like many people who have never faced such things, could not grasp how one could get to a point where suicide was the solution. Then after the one two punch of these two events, I realized it’s not a solution. See, depression and anxiety disorders lie to you. They break you down to a point where your reality is warped to the point that what you are seeing is so skewed that you can no longer see past the negativity. You can’t see that things will get better. It’s a scary place to be when all you are holding onto is one thread of hope. It’s hard to hold on to that last thread of hope when your whole world is growing dimmer with each skewed thought. I know this, because I was there a few months ago. Everyone around me was telling me to just to keep moving forward, to keep going. That things would get better. What I was hearing was, that I was failing and I needed to do something different. So I’d get up the next day, try a different approach, that wouldn’t make me feel better, so I’d still feel bad, and hear my loved ones saying the same words, but my skewed reality was translating it differently. See. Depression, and anxiety, they  LIE. They do so, so well though that their lies become our new truth. That new truth becomes our new reality. It’s vicious, and it happens seamlessly and without realization you begin believing things that weren’t true before, but all of a sudden they are.

There came this moment several months ago where I really scared myself. I held a bottle of medication in my shaking hands and I studied them for a good long while. I knew I held in my hands the perfect way to end it. To end the hurt. To end the fear. I was tired. So tired of being afraid all day long. So tired of crying. So tired of the panic attacks. In my skewed reality I didn’t see an end to the depression, nor the anxiety and fear. I was tired of living like that. All of a sudden it made sense and that’s what scared me. Suicide was not an answer as in it fixed the problem, it ended it. Much like when you get tired of someone bothering you online you block them. This was the ultimate blocking of yourself. With a deep breath I sat the bottle back down, tears streaming down my cheeks I realized I wasn’t ready to block myself. That’s the closest I have ever come to considering it though. What really stopped me was knowing how hurt my loved ones would have been. I couldn’t put them through that.

For them I can hold on to the tiniest thread.

For them, I’ll fight for tomorrow, always.

I’ve since thrown that medication away since I’m no longer on it. I started therapy once I was in a place to actually start dealing with the emotional side of all this and that has been the biggest help at regaining my hope.

So when I say my heart breaks for Robin Williams and his family, it’s because I’ve been there. I know what depression can do to a person. Each person’s battle is individual so I can’t say I’ve been exactly where Mr. Williams was that instant he decided he was ready to end it all, but I’ve been in a similar place. I also can say I’ve been in a similar place that many of his loved ones sit right now, after losing my own loved one due to suicide. My only hopes are that he has found the peace that he could not have here on earth and that his family finds peace and closure during this difficult time. It’s not easy being a survivor of a family member of a person that commits suicide.

I want to end with a quote from one of my favorite Robin Williams movie What Dreams May Come. It is all too appropriate. Even with the skewed realities due to depression and anxiety, that is what our truth is based upon.

“What’s true in our minds is true, whether some people know it or not.”

 

 

Distorted Cognitions

I watched as she hurried around the front office this morning. I was there early so it was interesting to see her move around the place. Normally I don’t see her until she comes out of her prior appointment. Eventually she acknowledges me.

“Sorry, I didn’t have my make-up on earlier. Please feel free to go on back.”

I gather my bag, water bottle and phone and head to her office. I make myself comfortable on her couch. I’ve been here several times so I’m comfortable here, but today I’m fidgety. I can’t quite place why though. I look around the room while waiting on her. My papers are on the small table by her chair already. I’m obviously her first client of the day. There’s a wall graphic on the outer wall to my right. There is a bird and a quote about Obstacles, but it is partially blocked from my view by a toy easel she uses with her child clients. On the drawing paper, are two swans, one right side up and one upside down. I’m staring at these when she enters the room.

She hurriedly takes her seat and apologizes again. ” Sorry again, some days the goal is getting out the door. Then I have to do everything else when I get here.” she almost sighs as she slides into her chair and grabs my paperwork. “Hey, I understand, we all have mornings like this.” I say cheerfully. She looks at me and my session begins. We talked about the past two weeks. It was a lot of ground to cover. The year mark of my miscarriage occurred since my last session. I told her of my poem, that instead of avoiding the emotions of the loss I decided to meet them head on and embrace them. She listened intently and remarked “It sounds like this was a positive approach to dealing with this aspect of what is going on.” I agreed with her.

Conversation then changed to the anxiety I’ve been having over the fact that my Rheumatologist wants me to see the Dermatologist for skin biopsies. I started fidgeting and could not sit still. That part basically has played out that I’ve decided that I will see the Dermatologist for the skin biopsies but I think after that at least for a while I’m done, I think that’s where I draw the line with tests for a while. Unless something comes up that they are absolutely needed. Of course this is all subject to change. We go over the fact that my Hematologist vetted the Dermatologist yesterday, that I won’t see the Hematologist for a year but I’ll still have to go to the same office building to see the Dermatologist anyways.

Next we discussed about my ongoing anxiety over taking pain medication and the newest issue of Aleve. See, my Rheumatologist wants me to take Aleve but my other doctors have told me not to in the past because I am on Warfarin. At my last appointment he said I had to take it so we knew if the anti-inflammatory action of it was beneficial.  So I’ve been taking them as needed, no that’s not quite true. If I took Aleve or pain meds as needed I’d take them all the time. I take them when the pain gets unbearable. We talked about how I’ve been gauging when I should take it and when I shouldn’t. AL said “Perhaps you shouldn’t wait until you are irritable and it is affecting your day so badly. What if you took it a step before that point?” I thought about it and nodded. “You are right, I should take it sooner.”

We also talked about the book I purchased for CBT. Luckily I purchased the right one. We went through the various distorted cognitions. “Which ones do you think fit you?” she asked as she took a sip from her coffee mug.  ” Oh hang on I marked them in my book, Overgeneralization, Mental Filter, Magnification and Minimization, and Should Statements.” I said. She peered up from the papers as she added softly, “Jumping to Conclusions perhaps?” I sighed heavily, as much as I hate to admit it, “:Yes that one as well.” We talk about this topic pretty much for the remainder of the appointment in some form or another. She asks for a few examples and I  can barely get the words out “I still have moments where I feel I should have seen this all coming.” That is a manifestation of  Should statements and Personalization. I still feel I am somehow responsible for getting sick. I know logically that makes no sense, but the thought process still happen. I would say emotions, but what I’m learning through CBT is that emotions are triggered by thoughts. We feel the way we do largely because of how we think. I feel responsible, and guilty over being sick because of the thoughts I have about being sick.

The session wrapped up with her telling me to continue reading my book and to continue challenging my distorted thoughts as they crop up. We headed back to the front office and she scheduled my next appointment for two weeks and took my payment. “OOOO Cash!” She is always so excited when I pay with cash.

Parts of Me

Life is lived outside the doctor’s offices. Life isn’t just about test results, exams, referrals and prescriptions. I do, I live a life outside the appointments. It’s good, full of fun, great people, and normal people activities. It’s also full of thoughts that I wish I didn’t have to think. It’s full of thought processes I wish I could skip over.

There’s a part of my life that I have fought, that I have tried hard to say that I have accepted. I am Chronically Ill, that isn’t going to change. I have to come to terms with this. I have to stop fighting the thought processes that go along with that. I have talked great lengths with my therapist that I’m on the edge of acceptance but I’m not there yet. I still fight it. I still get scared, because what does acceptance of all this even mean? In part, it means letting go. It means letting go of the healthy me that is no longer. It means saying goodbye to what I thought was the future that was ahead of me. It means accepting that I am not completely in control. It means having to learn to be okay with not being in control.

There’s a funny thing about that, I never thought this would  be an issue. Yet here are coming up on what I consider the year mark of when I started getting sick and I’m still having momentary freak outs over the loss of control that these two illnesses have brought into my life.

There’s also an interesting thing that happens when you get a chronic illness, you have to learn how to have that condition. It is true there is no set way to have Lupus or APS, but I find myself occasionally thinking, I just simply do not know how to be this sick person they seem to require me to be. It was pure torture to start taking so many medications at first. I went from relying on natural remedies and holistic cures, to having a miniature pharmacy in my bedroom. Yes, I am 30 years old and I have a pill-box, with AM and PM slots, and a key fob that I carry my pills around with me. It wasn’t a gradual occurrence, it was abrupt, like slamming into the side of a wall. It hurt my soul about as much as well. Then over the course of a few months I found myself on an anticoagulant for the rest of my life, and then a few months later I was placed on a high risk immunosuppressant. Both of which require frequent lab work because they are risky medications.

So what does acceptance really mean? It’s learning to love me again. It’s learning to trust my body again. It’s learning to trust these new people in my life, my doctors. There is a whole lot of learning going on. I still feel like I’m navigating a foreign land with a really shitty map that I’m having to write as I go along. I’ve met an awesome tour guide along the way, and slowly we’ve added others that have specialties. Trust is building. My footing is becoming firmer. One day I will be able to say I have fully accepted this part of my life. One day Lupus and APS will just be, parts of me.

Lost- A sense of losing one’s self

Last week when I posted Lost, a poem I wrote, I had no idea it would quickly become my most popular post. It seemed to resonate with many of my readers. The loss of one’s self seems to be a common occurrence with the chronically ill, especially at the beginning of the diagnosis. I have received many comments, messages, and have been asked by several if they can share my poem on their own blog. I was humbled by this. The words flowed easily as they truly came from the heart. I have struggled for months with this sense of loss. It wasn’t until I began seeing my therapist a couple of weeks ago that I truly knew what to call it. It was at that first appointment with AL that I finally learned what I was experiencing.

Loss of self, and the grief of the healthy me. It seems so simple now. These two phrases explain so well, what I have struggled so hard to explain to my loved ones for weeks, no months. The best I could come up with to explain it to them was to say: It was as if one day I was picked up and sat down in someone else’s life. There literally was this one moment where I went from being completely okay to where I was no longer the healthy woman I thought I was. I had to learn a new language, a new lifestyle, and even my social life has been impacted.

I still catch myself at moments thinking ‘Dear God please wake up, this can’t be me. This just can’t be happening.’ It has been an adjustment. I’m still not there yet. I don’t know when I will be there. I don’t know when I will truly find myself again, but I hope when I do, both parts of me remember one another.

Let’s talk about these differences Lupus and APS have brought into my life: Continue reading “Lost- A sense of losing one’s self”

LOST

by: Nicole Davis

Back before the war,

when life was full of so much more,

before the attacks began that left her lying low,

prior to the red upon her cheeks began to glow

Do you remember her?

Back before the pain became too much,

when life offered a plethora of common touch,

before the tears were cried and the pills were taken,

prior to the beasts within beginning to awaken.

Did you see her leave?

Back before all the tests and results,

when life was pleasantly void of insults,

before appointments became routine,

prior to learning what these medical terms mean.

Is she still in there?

Back before the long list of medications,

when life was full of holistic remedies and meditations,

before being labeled as chronically ill,

prior to the first medical bill.

Will she make it through the battles?

Back before this new life began,

when life was a journey and there was a travel plan,

before things turned upside down, and the way was lost,

prior to my immune system getting confused and crossed.

Will she remember me?