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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Newest Outlet

Rachel has been telling me since the beginning of therapy that I need to find outlets for my excess energy, both physical and mental.  We've tried many things, some which have worked, some which have BOMBED.  For some people, running or other forms of exercise work.  With my sciatica, bursitis, and asthma, that doesn't always work well.  Many times, it makes my body ache which makes my depression and anxiety worse.  I have found a wonderful yoga DVD that works wonderfully though.

I've also found that music, books, and cooking all give me ways to focus my energy on something much healthier than the ruminations that would occur otherwise and also give me a sense that I'm accomplishing something.  Still, I'm the type that gets bored easily.  Sometimes, I just need a different outlet.  So, I'm always looking for something, something to keep my mind busy and off all the negative thoughts, some way to channel that mental energy into something good when my body just can't keep up with it.

My newest outlet is Colourlovers.  It is a website that lets you create patterns or color existing patterns.  It keeps my mind focused while allowing me to feel creative.  Also, I can use those patterns to create backgrounds for Twitter and even this blog.  (Yes, this new background is one that I personally created from scratch using Colourlovers.)  Because I can create so many different patterns and styles in so many colors, it keeps me from getting bored as easily.  Also, I love getting messages that others have "loved" my patterns or even used them in their own new colored backgrounds.  It gives me a sense that I'm being helpful, useful, and doing something that brings a smile to the faces of others.

Will Colourlovers stay one of my major outlets?  I'm not sure, but for right now, I'm greatly enjoying it.

So, what are your favorite outlets?

(To find me at Colourlovers, look for Hoosier_Kat.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Importance of Perspective

I'm not a religious person.  I consider myself more humanistic, sometimes agnostic, sometimes more Buddhist, or even Universalist.  I grew up in and out of Christian churches.  I went to a Catholic college (and attended more masses than most of my Catholic friends due to my participation in choir).  Still, despite my lack of religiosity, this clip from the movie "Soul Surfer" really speaks to me.

It is set during a session of a night time youth group and ends with a Bible verse, but the important message is still universal.  It's about perspective.  It's about the fact that sometimes, we try so hard to make sense of things that we miss the big picture.  It's about the fact that sometimes we just need to take a step back and look at things in a different way.  That by doing so, we are able to gain a different understanding, a better understanding.

I find this very true in dealing with my anxiety and depression.  Sometimes, it just seems like so much, so overwhelming.  Sometimes, I just can't understand the "why"s, the "what"s, and the "how"s that go along with it and with my CBT.  So, sometimes, I just need to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective.  It may not be that my actions were wrong, that I "failed".  It may just be that I was acting on a false understanding.

When I first started therapy, we started with ERP.  ERP totally didn't work for me at the time.  Why?  Because when I couldn't wait thirty seconds before washing my hands, every time, I felt like a failure.  It didn't matter that I was able to do so 50% of the time.  It was the 50% that I wasn't able that mattered.  I failed to wait to wash my hands.  I didn't realize it at the time, but that's not what the purpose of the exercise was.  It wasn't about waiting to wash my hands.  It was about showing myself and my brain that I was able to stand up against my OCD thoughts.  Was I able to stand up against them?  Not always, but yes, I did, 50% of the time.  That's 50% more than I did before, 50% more than I thought I could, 50% more than I realized at the time.  Why didn't I realize it?  I didn't realize it, because I was looking at the exercise from the wrong perspective.  This happens to me A LOT, but I'm working on it.

So, next time you're struggling with the rituals, the obsessive thoughts, the ERP or CBT, try taking a step back and looking at it from a different perspective.  Sometimes it's about the forest.  Sometimes it's about the trees.  Sometimes it's about something else entirely.  You just have to take some time to process it and figure it out.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Riding the Waves

So, this week has been a bit crazy.  My mom has been sick with a horrible flu, so bad that I truly thought she might have pneumonia.  (She is 66, has asthma, and has had pneumonia twice before.)  Just so you don't think that was simply my anxiety talking, I was finally able to convince her to go to the doctor on Tuesday (as she had been sick since the previous Thursday).  The doctor did and chest x-ray and sent home a container for a sputum sample.  He also proscribe a cough syrup and a very strong antibiotic to fight the lung infection.  Unfortunately, he didn't look at the precautions for the antibiotic first.

At lunch, my mom took the first dose of that antibiotic.  About 20 minutes later, I read the package insert only to find that my mom should NEVER have been prescribed this medication.  My mom has a heart condition called Long QT Syndrome which is a type of arrhythmia.  It's something we both have.  This antibiotic she was prescribed has a tendency to worsen this, which can lead to fainting, abnormal heart rhythm, and even death.  Also, this antibiotic was not to be used by anyone on diuretics (she's on two), anyone with low potassium levels (which she has to take potassium for), or anyone on corticosteroids as the combination can contribute to tendon rupture (and she's on steroids for a muscle disorder and also has a patellar tendon that was rebuilt less than two years ago).

Needless to say, I made my mom call in immediately and talk to the nurse about it.  She only told them about the heart issue and asked if this was safe for her to take.  The nurse said she'd speak to the doctor and get back to us.  About twenty minutes later, my mom started to feel very sick.  She tried to go lay down in bed, but started to feel very dizzy, nearly passing out.  These are signs of issues with the Long QT Syndrome.  I've had these before.

I helped her to bed, and stayed in the living room where I would be able to hear her if she needed anything or tried to get up.  About 90 minutes later, she was starting to feel slightly better.  I wasn't!  The nurse still hadn't called back.  When the nurse finally did call back, hours later, she said the doctor wanted to change the medicine.  My mom told her it was a good thing and described the symptoms she'd had.  The nurse made sure she wasn't alone and told her if she had any more of those symptoms to go to the ER immediately.

So, I had to run into town to get the new prescription, all the while worried about my mom at home alone.

That wasn't the only stress of the week.  That same day, my dog was sick, waking me up at 5:30 am and causing me to have to strip and wash my bedding.  When I went to take her out, a neighbor's massive dog was in our yard.  I had to immediately grab my little poodle as soon as we came around a set of plantings.  She was going nuts, I was trying to get the neighbor's dog out of our yard, and the neighbor's dog just kept coming toward us!!!  (For someone who was bit by a neighbor's dog at age six, this definitely sets off a whole set of fears.)  Finally, the dog starts across the road, but then stops, right in the middle, with a semi coming.  So, I get the "Don't let the dog get hit by that truck.  If it gets hit it's all my fault being I was chasing it out of our yard." thing going.  Luckily, the semi honked it's horn and the dog moved before the truck got to the point where it had been standing.  Still, it wouldn't leave from that spot.  So, my sick dog couldn't go to the bathroom in our own yard!  And all the commotion woke up my poor sick mom!

And....I was dealing with all this while fighting yet another two week migraine!

So, it's been a tough week.  Then, Rachel canceled my therapy appointment, because she came down sick.  It's already been three weeks since my last appointment being I'd had to cancel the week before due to the migraine.  Now, due to scheduling issues, it will be five weeks between session.

Still, with all this, I felt relatively good, happy, much better than I'd usually have been.  Until yesterday afternoon when I was finally hit with the wave of emotions that comes after that much suppressed anxiety.  I was feeling sick, battling the same bug my mom had, and was getting ready to take a nap when I knocked a glass of water out of my own hand, spilling it all over the floor, and covering myself with water in the process. That was all it took for the flood gates to open.  I just couldn't hold it back anymore and the wave just came crashing over me.

This isn't unusual for me being I'm a stuffer.  What was different this time is that I knew exactly what was going on and why it was happening, which makes it much easier to accept.  The emotions are still there and knowing me, they'll probably be there for awhile, but I'm able to deal with them, to cope with them.

 I will get through it, and I'll come out the other side with a better understanding of myself and the way my emotions work.  So, I've come to the conclusion that when the waves come and the surf's up, there's not much I can do but hang ten and enjoy the ride.