Month: February 2012

Surgery Change

Real quick update- so I’ve been having a problem with my ribcage and been exploring it with my doctor.  Had blood work done today and yesterday.  My pour arm looks so battered and abused. 😦

They actually think it may not be fibromyalgia after all and that it might be pleurisy or something else. It may also be chronic pain but we will know more in the next few weeks, months. After a year plus of doctors telling me I had the flu or it was exercise pain I finally have found a doctor who is taking this seriously.  I feel like if there is an answer to be found we will find it.

So with all this pain and change I’ve talked to my eye doctor today and we decided together to put off the strabismus surgery to a later date.  It will probably happen in May or this summer.  I hate to have more time to stew on it but it will be a good test of my new resolve to have a calm, happy focus in my life.

Thanks for all your help and support through all this.  Will keep you posted on everything!

 

 

 

Body Image

For those who don’t have pinterest- I really liked this. I think she’s right on (and I normally not the hugest Tina Fey fan.  I don’t think 30 Rock is funny…!). In reading my old journal it is also amazing how much I talk about losing weight and my body image.  I just assume that if I had a certain body type I would be happier.  I’ve learned it is not true.

There is always something to feel bad about yourself if you let it. I used to think that if you were skinny you’d get married and live happily ever after.  To be honest I am not sure how the happily ever after happens, especially as far as meeting the special someone is concerned, but I am positive it has nothing to do with being skinny.

I don’t think we are fated or victims in life but I am increasingly convinced most of the test of life is trying to squeeze joy out of events, good and bad, that happen to you; and in the end becoming the person you are meant to be.  I’ve spent a lot of my life stressed out over things I have no control over. I’m working on that. You live and learn!

Looking Back

So life has been a bit challenging for me lately.  Healthwise, painwise and otherwise.  I just spent most of my day today getting blood drawn and xrays done to try and determine why I am still having so much pain in my ribcage area.  Plus, there is the issue of my looming surgery on my eye and everything else.

I have decided all of the stresses in my life are out of my control.  The only thing I can control is my response.  Working on that.

I started to think about my life and particularly my teen years.  I’ve mentioned those times many times on this blog.  They were time I relate too because in like your 30s, your teens don’t have a specific job to do but get older.  Both times have brought significant health and family challenges and been introspective.

Sometimes I bet you wonder- was the teen Rachel really the girl she describes- itching to be independent and free, insecure and confident at the same time?  I was just reading over my high school journal and if anything I’ve toned it down a notch.  I was a great person!  I really believed in things and I wanted so much out of myself.  I still do. Here are some highlights:

“I wish I was more forthright.  Oh well! That’s something I can work on”  October 19,1998.  (I think I’ve worked that one out- what do you think? 🙂 )

“I love late night chats with Mom and Meg.  We talked about high school and the kids we knew with problems and why we were different.”  October 22, 1998.  (Good parenting in my book!)

“I have been accepted.  I am so excited! I started to scream and weep when I read the exciting first words ‘we are delighted to inform you…’  I have never been so thrilled, relieved and satisfied, at the same time.  For once in my life all my hard work has paid off.  I was always somehow disappointed but this time I was not to be thwarted!” Feb 16, 1999

“Maybe my brother and sister are right.  Maybe different is better.  It certainly is far less stressful…” March 1, 1999

“I’m just ready to go.  I’m sick of waiting around.  I’m ready to be on my own away from my family.  I love my family but I just want to be able to control my own life and do what I want to do when I want to do it.  I’m sick of always being tied down by little kids…” March 8, 1999

“I feel worn out and yet there is still so much to be done that I do not feel justified in my fatigue…” March 20, 1999

“I was once asked in class if I could meet anyone who would it be? My answer was decidedly sure. I’d meet Jesus.  There is no one who has done more for me and for all mankind and I am so thankful” April 2, 1999

“Today marks under one month until I go away to school.  I am so excited.  Finally my dream is coming true. Finally I have achieved something in my life that I really wanted. I never thought I would be able to go to BYU.  I always thought I was too stupid for that.  But surprise, I’m not.” May 21, 1999 (You know Sue on the Middle?  That was totally me.  I never made anything I tried out for until BYU).

“I am grateful for My Savior and the sacrifice He made for me.  I am thankful that he was born on Christmas morning with the sole purpose to save my soul.  Christ is the light and moral compass of my life and I love Him with all my heart.  I pray that I will always look to Him for everything.” December 25, 1999

“I hope when I’m reading this 30 years from now I will be able to say ‘Rachel goes into any situation undaunted and unafraid of the unpaved way that lies before her”  (Still got like 16 years to work on that)

More quotes to come but got to work tonight!

Random Thoughts Feb 2012

Wrote this last night-

So I’ve been posting a lot lately for 2 reasons- I’ve had a lot of pain lately and a lot of insomnia.  Here I am with both of those conditions. Here’s some random thoughts

Pain-

Quick note- I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the fibromyalgia facebook wall but those in the blogosphere do you normally have localized pain or is it all over?  I actually don’t have pain all over.  It is specific unless I’ve particularly exercised another part that day.  I ALWAYS have pain in my ribcage- all over the ribcage, sternum, side.  It is tender to the touch.  Hurts to wear a bra or any clothing. Swimming is oddly fine but it is sore no matter what I do.  I live with a minimal level of pain but some days like today it was so sore and when I touched it the muscle feels puffy and swollen…I’m going to the doctor Monday but I’m just curious if anyone has heard of anything like this? The odd thing is my doctor gave me muscle relaxants to take in an emergency and they seem to do nothing.  Its like the bones hurt.

Friends-

However, I pushed forward and had a good day anyway.  My friends have kept me really busy lately which has been a HUGE blessing in so many levels.  I will never be a girl who complains about not having enough friends- at least I shouldn’t.  I have my swim friends, my church friends, my long-time friends, my friends who live away from me who I chat with via facebook, my siblings and family.  My cousins are my friends. Even my Grandma is one of my best friends. I just think of all the sad people I used to meet on my mission who would let us in just so that I spoke to someone during the day and I remember how lucky I am. I work really hard at my friendships but still I am very blessed.

Food-

Ok.  Lately I have been struggling with food.  All food looks gross to me. I have no energy to cook and especially clean. I love having people over for the company but also because it forces me to cook! I’ve had mixed luck with the crockpot of late. I think it works great for roasts and bbq pork but other dishes have been mixed at best.  I usually end up eating out or at Harmons. Sometimes I wonder if this saves me money.  I was thinking about that yesterday when I got a salad at Harmons and for me to buy portabello mushrooms, chicken, mixed greens, bell pepper etc would have been a lot more than the $7  I spent on my salad.  Plus, I would have had ingredients left over I wouldn’t use and it would take me forever to cook, chop up all those ingredients.  Thoughts?

Oscars-

So the Oscars are tomorrow and I could really care less about Hollywood and its awards (Is there a more self-congratulatory group in the world than Hollywood?  There is an awards show every day).  I do like the fashion.  This year is fun because I have actually seen 5 of the 9 movies nominated for best picture- Tree of Life, The Artist, The Help, Hugo and Midnight in Paris. If it was just me picking I would give the prize to The Help and I would have nominated Harry Potter for best picture, but I loved The Artist and Midnight in Paris also.

Also, if Tree of Life doesn’t win for best cinematography than the category has no meaning.  I wish that the documentaries would come to the theaters.  They sound pretty interesting.

I think The Artist and The Help will win most everything and they are great movies and deserve it.

(Also, I think Jean Dujardin should win for best actor and tired of everyone comparing him to Roberto Begnini.  What you can only give an Oscar to a foreigner every 20 years? Plus, their movies are totally different).

Television-

So today on lifetime (I was resting before my busy day) they had 4 movies in a row (no I did not watch them) about abducted children.  There’s a laugh riot for your Saturday morning…

Fun times-

So today was really fun. My friend Tennille asked me if I wanted to go to the show at Hale Theater West Valley-  Zorro: The Musical.  It was the US Premiere!  I love Hale Theater and jumped at the chance to go.  Before the show we went to my favorite sushi place- Nagoya Sushi in Midvale (this random little place in a strip mall but it is so good. We had 2 kinds of sushi, tempura vegetables and gyoza for $26. There’s no way I could have made all that for $26.).

Anyway, the show was great!  So fun to see a show in development.  I am sure by the time it makes it to broadway they will work out some of the kinks.  The performances were all very good, as is almost always the case with Hale (the last one I saw was a rare miss so nice to see them back on track).  It was fun to see a show that I didn’t know the music for, made it a surprise.

Here’s an article on it from Deseret News-  Broadway-bound ‘Zorro’ a sizzling sensation at Hale West Valley’

Teen Lit

So I’m resting this morning. My fibro pain has been so bad lately.  My ribcage is so swollen.  Tender to the touch.  I already made one QVC purchase and figured better get on my blog before I did anything I’d seriously regret!

I’ve been thinking about teen literature lately.  First off, is it just me or did this genre invent itself in the last 10 years? I can’ think of a single series that was popular when I was in high school 94-98.  I can think of things like Baby Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High or even RL Stine which was popular when I was in middle school but nothing in high school.  The only books I remember reading in high school were the one’s assigned to me at school.  I remember liking Arthur Miller plays, Silas Marner, Shakespeare (especially the sonnets) and To Kill a Mockingbird. Those were all books I read during school.

Surely I must have read something during summer break but I can’t think of anything? What are the 90’s teen lit books I’m forgetting? I didn’t really become excited about reading until college and then I veraciously ate up Jane Austen, Harry Potter, and other books.  I read the 4 major Jane Austen books (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Emma) in a 6 week break I had in the winter of 99.

So, that’s my first thought.  Second, I wonder how helpful the teen lit genre is for actual teens.  Here are a few concerns.

1.  Even the best teen lit books, Harry Potter, Lightning Thief, Hunger Games, all portray characters who basically act like adults and are required to make adult decisions.  I like these books so quiet down but don’t you think this is true?  In the Twilight books Bella basically has to decide by the time she is 18 what she wants to do with her life in immortality.

A few weeks ago I saw a sign at the library saying “Teens: Do You Hate Cupid?  Are you down on Love?”.  I seem to be alone in finding this sign amazing.  Should teens really be worried about love, let alone be down on it?  If you think about Twilight and Harry Potter and Hunger Games all of the major female characters basically have to decide on their true loves as teenagers.  Plus, they all have to save their families, and in Harry’s case the whole world from ultimate evil.

Shouldn’t teens just be worried about getting a date to prom or learning to drive?  I have 2 teenage siblings and I think there is a lot of pressure on them to ‘succeed’ and to already know who you are.  I didn’t figure that out until college.  (It also doesn’t help that most teens are played by 30 year olds- ie Glee).

If you look at something from my generation for teens- Clueless.  Obviously the wealth and characters are over the top for comedy-sake but at the core its about making friends, fashion, crushes, learning to drive, dealing with teachers, parents and cliques, and trying to mature.  Even at the end Cher doesn’t fall in love for all time.  She says ” I am only 16, and this is California, not Kentucky.” (I love that movie btw)

2.  All of the books mentioned above feature characters that have a specific magical destiny.  Most of us just lead normal lives.  I think there is a lot of pressure to live some amazing dream life.  Then when you don’t know what you want to do or aren’t supremely talented at something you feel depressed.

Not all of us can be Michael Phelps and have a solo vision in life.  I think in the past the vision of teens was to have a family, live in nice house and be happy.  Now you have to do something impactful or at least be famous.

Teen movies show this.  I recently watched the movie Monte Carlo with teen queen Selena Gomez.  In the movie the Gomez character graduates from high school and goes to visit Paris with her 2 sisters.  The first 25 minutes are actually pretty good with a teen trying to get along with her 2 sisters and adjust post-high school while experiencing a new country.   Then they have to go make her switch identities with a socialite who looks just like her and live as this queen, pop star for the rest of the movie.  You see what I mean?  Just being a normal teen isn’t good enough. She had to be famous, amazing, rich, noticed to be happy.

3.  Most of these teen books are amazingly dark.  I think of Judy Blume, a teen lit of my era, her books trite as they might be involved teens and dealing with friendship, family, school troubles, parental divorce, girls dealing with their periods, and other real teen concerns.  Regardless, there is a lightness to her books that is appealing.

The Hunger Games is especially dark with brutal, violent, children-on-children combat.  Compellingly written as it may be, shouldn’t we a bit concerned that all this darkness is going to lead to dark, brooding teens?  A teen I know just said ‘I am depressed’.  With all this reading I don’t blame her!

I was not a big fan of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli but at least it was light, positive and fun.  My friend and I were talking and agreed even the Goose Girl series by Shannon Hale is pretty dark.

I know you can make the argument that all fairy tales are dark but usually those were stories, not huge books (let alone series), and there was always a happy ending at the end.  Hunger Games didn’t even really give you that.

It’s like I said to my friend Forest Hartman on his review of Monte Carlo

“I don’t understand movies like Monte Carlo. Isn’t it enough of an adventure for a girl to go to Europe without her having to become a star at the same time? It sounds just like the dreaded Lizzie Mcguire movie of years ago that my little sister begged me to take her to.
I think you could make a very good movie about a teen experiencing Paris or Monte Carlo and maturing through art, music, fashion. Would that script be so much harder to write or so much less marketable? I dont think so”

He said:

“I think there’s also a lot of pressure on screenwriters to turn out formulaic material. Something inventive is often seen as risky and many producers are afraid to take risks. It’s simpler to take a star and put them in a rehashing of something that’s already been done because the project is seen as safe. Of course, that’s not always true because most Hollywood films lose money at the box office.”

Isn’t it funny that what is seen as inventive is a story about a normal girl, experiencing normal things?  Ever since Harry Potter everyone has been trying to be the next Harry Potter.  I get that.

How about we make the next big thing- the anti- Harry Potter?  Maybe I will just have to write a book about the kind of teen I was.  I’ve never read a book like that.  Hmmmm

Anyway, I must admit at the end of this that I am not a huge fantasy fan, never have been, so maybe I am biased to begin with but what do you think of my 3 points on teen lit?  I’m sure my sister will have something to say because she is much more well read in the genre than I am.

Finally, can we agree no more books on werewolves or vampires? I was looking at audible teen and it seemed like every book was about one or the other.

Secret Super Powers

straight haired rachel
I love this photo.

(One of my super powers is changing my hair from curly to straight at a 2 hour notice).

So I just wanted to write a quick bit before I head off to work.  Do you ever have a talent that you don’t use very much but you are actually quite good at it.  It’s like the 2nd choice in career choices.  You could have gone there but for whatever reasons you picked something else.  I sometimes feel like I stumbled into my career rather than chose it. I took one accounting job after my mission and that’s it my whole life but its worked out pretty well.

Still, its fun to have other things that only the best friends end up finding out.  For instance, my Mom is a way good painter.  My friend Camille, a guidance counselor, is super good at statistics (she saved my but in statistics class for my MBA).  My friend Megan, the teacher, makes really good rolls and breadsticks.

Well, here’s my secret super power- I’m a really good editor.  Its so funny because I stunk at writing and grammar in my younger years.  School in general was a struggle.  I kept okay grades but Ben and Megan were the scholastic achievers of the family.  I had a really hard time crafting the thought in my head.  I remember being so frustrated that nobody got what I was trying to say.

Then something happened my freshmen year of of college that all of these things clicked in my brain.  I think it was the first time in my life that I felt smart, and feeling smart told my brain to be smart.  I just became excited about life and learning.  Believe it or not I was not a veracious reader and that first year of college I couldn’t get enough reading.  (It’s amazing I was able to fit in with my schooling and all the fun I had).

I even taught a lesson on grammar and became  teaching assistant my senior year (the best experience of my life, I’m not even kidding).  Dr.  Bohn even left me to teach his classes for an entire day.  After freaking out I did it and did a good job.  It was one of the best days of my life for sure.

That’s why I love BYU so much.  It taught me that I had all of these super powers, that I was super.

My Grandpa Richards also taught me that I had super powers. He believed everyone was super.

Anyway, my friend asked me to review her paper for her PHD department’s presentation and I was confidently nervous (can there be such a thing? Yes, I experienced it when reading this paper.).

I turned it back to her and her response was great!

“Wow! You way exceeded my expectations. I knew you would be good, but you were stunning! Have you ever thought about having a job of being a copy editor? I can’t believe how many mistakes and places we were too wordy that you found. I owe you a billion swim lessons for this.”

Now, doesn’t that put a smile on a girl’s face! It made my day.

I’m feeling good about life. I have super grammar powers.  How can you not feel good about that! 🙂

What are your secret super powers and talents?

Well, have a great weekend friends.  Love you all!

Privacy is Overrated

So I should be eating but food is blah…so I think I will answer the question why I blog and blog so personally.

I read this quote today and it totally rang true. “I think it is part of the ancient wisdom that releasing your thoughts makes you feel lighter and at peace with yourself. It is therapy. Privacy is overrated anyway (more on this idea soon). We are social animals and we like to understand our world. I am not sure where we’ve got this thing with protecting our privacy in the first place. It doesn’t make sense unless you have something to hide. And hiding something is like holding a weight on your shoulders.

The feeling of lightness and relief that come with the knowledge that you do not have to hide anything is amazing. So much energy saved for better, constructive purposes!”

That my friends is why I blog.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I almost never mention other people in my blog, except a passing glance or a positive profile on a birthday.  It is all about ME.   It is the one place where I can say what I want, when I want, because it is mine. It is a creation of mine and nobody else.  There is power in that.  For once the thrill of authorship is available to everyone who can type.  Its great! And as wonderful as being a team player is, sometimes it is equally empowering to just be you alone, and have your voice heard. (not only that but I’ve learned to craft, defend and fine tune my voice.  I’ve learned a ton from my blog).

My blog makes me feel like Oprah every time I write.  Like I have a forum and the 100-200 daily hits are my audience.  Just as Oprah had shows on movies, religion, music and other topics, my blog jumps around from here to there.  And honestly who doesn’t want to be Oprah?

I just want to make a difference and be understood  by the world.  I think my blog let’s me do that.  Thanks for reading friends and making comments (and please make more!).

It’s like Emerson says, “A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.” I hope I do that for someone and I certainly get that from myself and others in the blogosphere. There are startling minds all over the place!

The two cousins who are closest to me in age have already passed on, so I know life is too short to hide what you are and believe.  Be bold with the world!

The great thing is the post where I have been the most brave about my weight or anxiety are the one’s that get the most hits and positive feedback.  It is amazing.  I had nearly 400 hits in 2 days on my anxiety piece because it was honest and people need to hear that they are not alone in the world.  I need to hear that.  I need to feel it from writing. Its like Emerson says ‘“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself”.  Its really true.  Blogging myself is what brings me peace.

Without my blog I’d just be a little girl who lives alone in Utah.  With it, I can touch the world. Be brave.  Make your voice heard.  We need your perspective.  I need your perspective.

Anyway, that’s my explanation of why I blog, and why I am as personal as I am on my blog.  Its the only way I know how to live.

Emerson- ““To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Amen to that!

Ok.  Now I better find something to eat…blah.

Downton Abbey

So everyone who follows me on facebook knows of my obsession with Downton Abbey.  I know it is totally trendy but what can I say, I love it!  Its actually been a great release for me with recent stresses.  What better escape is there than to an Edwardian estate?

For you 3 people who don’t watch it, it is a BBC television series set in a British manor house called Downton Abbey from 1912 onward (the first episode starts with the sinking of the titanic).  According to the website there are 33 developed characters within the series because we get to know the Lord and Ladies upstairs and the hard working servants downstairs.

What is so refreshing about this show is that wealth and status does not define goodness with the various character profiles.  There are the villainous and noble of both classes. In fact, it is amazing how well rounded every character is. In these economic times I find it is an easy out to make the rich guy the villain.  For instance, in the much touted Social Network Mark Zuckerburg is immediately under suspicion because he is rich.

It is also historically accurate including such nuances as having Lady Grantham be an American heiress, which at the time was very common.  With land prices reducing in value pre wwI British nobility relied on American women to save their fortunes and estates.  There is also a great sense of waiting in the gentry vs work and business in the servants quarters.All the details in sets and costumes are superb.

So, two seasons have come and gone (stupid BBC and their short seasons! Now we have to wait a year.  What’s a girl to do!).  To read an update on the various characters go to http://enchantedserenityperiodfilms.blogspot.com/2010/09/meet-characters-of-downton-abbey.html.  They are all wonderfully acted especially the Dowager Countess played by the amazing Maggie Smith.

I think what makes the series work so well is the tension and humor on so many levels.  The house in many ways is a kind of min-world experiencing all the problems and victories of class struggle, relationship drama, sibling rivalry, health issues, forbidden love, spite etc.

You also have the fascinating role the outside world plays on the mini-world of Downton.  With the waning importance of the upper class and the greater options to working class families for education and employment reliance on the Grand House was not the same as it once was.  With the advent of World War 1 (Did you know that 30,000 people died in one battle of that war.  Wow!) and the death of so many young men ‘service’ as a profession was even diminished further.

Also, the war brought the mixing of classes with servant and Lord battling together for the same cause. In fact, in one scene in Downton the servant William saves Matthew Crawley in the worst battle of the war.  Still performing his duty to the end.

You have characters like Carson, the buttler, who resists change almost as much as Lord Grantham and others like Lady Sybil who yearns for it.  Then you have other great stories like Anna and Bates the servants romance that ends on quite the cliffhanger for season 2.

The Dowager is my favorite character.  She is actually quite modern and has all the great lines in the show.  Here are some good one’s.

Here’s some other funny one’s http://video.pbs.org/video/2196625085/

I was talking with my friend the other day about the chaos in Syria.  We both agreed sometimes it feels like there are too many challenges and sadness in the world.  It can feel like there is nothing you can do to help in the world.  Its kind of comforting to escape to a world that feels in control.

Downton Abbey also satisfies all emotions.  It is romantic, sad, funny and everything else.  The only bad thing about it is I have to wait a year to see it again.  Thank goodness I have season 2 on amazon video on demand (season 1 is available via netflix season 1).  It has been such a gift to me this month.  Seriously I needed an escape to Edwardian England.  Thank you BBC and Julian Fellows and all the actors and everybody involved.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Also, it has been hilarious to watch Downton while reading the tweets of the comic Patton Oswalt @pattonoswalt  .  They were so funny and more so because he’s a die hard fan.  I have found that television is much more enjoyable if you can follow a twitter handle while you watch (I love watching the debates while looking at twitter).  Even the music in Downton is great!

Enjoy and now we just have to look forward to Great Expectations coming soon!

Anxiety

Let me start off by saying this is an incredibly personal thing to share; however, I decided long ago that if I was going to embrace social media I would do it 100%.  You truly know the real me through following me on facebook, twitter or by reading this blog.

So I have good news my friends..  I have slept- from 11:30 last night to 6:30!  I was thrilled!  The truth is Monday night I was having a bit of an anxiety attack.  This is only the second time in my life I’ve experienced such a thing.  I can’t explain it but will just say the brain can become fixated on a thought and it won’t go away.  The crazy thing is that both times this has happened to me were after I thought I had dealt with the situation and had even felt some catharsis that it was over and then BAM!

It’s really hard to understand if you haven’t felt it.  Fixating on something like fibro pain, which has been bad lately, or on possible changes at work, or on other personal changes, and you try to distract yourself but then it keeps coming back again stronger and stronger.  At a certain point I even was getting anxiety about getting anxiety.  Also, the more sleep you lose the more tense you feel.

This chart brilliantly describes what happens when we feel anxiety

The truth is the reasons don’t really matter.  All that matters is that my thoughts changed my feelings into a sense of panic or loss of control.

Like I said, my other panic attack happened in 2007.  At the time I hated my job and felt I had a black cloud over my life.  No matter what I did I felt sad and worthless.  No matter how much reinforcement was given me I felt like a failure.  This was reinforced by the disdain showed me by my boss but it was also due to a feeling of ‘let down’ after being so important on my mission.

There was one particular day where I had finally had it with this boss.  I had planned out my week to the tee and already felt totally overwhelmed.  Then we got this new training on a huge new project.   That was it.  I couldn’t do another huge project. There was no way.  I started crying as the girl in Florida (thankfully over the phone) was giving the training. (And I was not a crier at work)

After the training my boss (who was supposed to be my advocate- or at least that’s how I saw it) turned to me and said ‘well, you are just going to have to get it done.   That was the tipping point.  I just left and stormed out of the office and called my superior boss.  This is a man I’d known for many years.  He calmed me down and we discussed the situation.  He said that he ‘shouldn’t have let this happen.’ (the mark of a great leader in my book).  Then he said ‘we will talk about this on Monday’.

Situation seemingly resolved, I felt calm and went home.  Then the little bug of a thought started in my head.  What could happen on Monday?  What if I lost control?  What if I yelled and screamed?  What if I looked like a fool? etc.   For 2 days I tried to remove those thoughts from my head but they kept coming and coming.  I just couldn’t figure it out.

Finally at Walmart I started to feel claustrophobic and my asthma began to flair up. I felt like I couldn’t breath.  I made my purchases and went home.  After calling my Mom, my brother and roommates came over to help me.  I remember they were all surprised because, like me, they thought everything had been resolved when I spoke with my boss.

Eventually I was able to calm down and everything was okay.  I did go to a counselor after this experience and found some great advice that I have put into practice many times in the last 5 years.

This week was kind of the same in the sense of building stresses, one on top of another, and then once I had thought I had it figured out, I became fixated on a thought.  In addition, I was in pain and when you have chronic pain it is easy to get anxiety about having more pain. I can’t explain it but I couldn’t get to sleep and then began to feel anxiety about not getting to sleep. At a certain point you have anxiety about getting anxiety!

I did everything I could to snap out of it but you know what finally helped?  Talking to a friend who had undergone a similar experience.  She was able to give the perfect advice.  I got out of the house (went to Walmart, the scene of the last crime).  I took some medicine that is for emergency only.  I used my Balance Doterra Essential Oils and I went to bed using as close to good sleep hygiene as I could.  I also ate a very healthy dinner.

All of these things helped but just talking to a friend and feeling understood was probably the most helpful.  Again, anxiety is not about events but its about how we process these events. How we feel about them. Those feelings are usually completely illogical but it doesn’t matter.  Part of cognitive therapy is recognizing those thoughts and then creating a plan for future thought maintenance.

Feeling Good by David Burns has helped me immensely (hey it gave me 5 years in between anxiety!  Pretty good!).  If you don’t have it I will buy you a copy.  Aside from the Book of Mormon (which I will also give you a copy of!) it is the most helpful book in my life.

He says “Negative events grow in importance until they dominate your entire reality- and you can’t really tell that what is happening is distorted.  It all seems very real to you. ”

He then goes on to give 3 Methods for Boosting Self-Esteem (or shutting out negative thought).  They are too complicated to explain here but very effective (like I said they worked for me for 5 years drug free).  But in conclusion Burns says on changing our thoughts:

“How can this be accomplished? You must first consider that human life is an ongoing process that involves a constantly changing physical body as well as an enormous number of rapidly changing thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  Your life therefore, is an evolving experience, a continual flow.  You are not a thing; that’s why any label is constricting, highly inaccurate and global…Your thoughts may be positive, creative, and enhancing’ the great majority are neutral.  Others may be irrational, self-defeating, and maladaptive.  These can be modified if you are willing to exert the effort, but they certainly do not and cannot mean that you are no good.  There is no such thing in the universe as a worthless human being.”

Like Burns says controlling our thoughts takes work and we will have moments where we aren’t successful.  That is okay.  When this happens have a list of resources that you can turn to.  I had mine and they came through for me in spades.  Even just strategies like getting out of the house or making a list of positives can help.

I share this experience with you because I am a smiling girl 90% of the time.  I love my life but like everyone else I have my battles.  There is such a stigma around mental illness in our culture but I believe just like I can get the flu, I can get an anxiety attack.  It happens.  Its OK.  Don’t be ashamed.  You will get through it.  People do love you immensely.   Get the help you need and if the first thing you try doesn’t work try something else.

Also don’t be surprised if healthy people have a difficulty understanding your condition.  To them, they may add up the events and think ‘what is the big deal?’  or even ‘why can’t she be more mature’.  It doesn’t really have anything to do with events.  Its about the thoughts and processing of those events which is completely within your own psyche.  The best advice I can give is to be honest with yourself (no denial, no self-criticism) and then create a plan to move forward.  Also, listing your distorted thoughts and a complimentary non-distorted thought (as Dr. Burns suggests) can be very helpful.

Now here’s to going another 5 years! (Its really kind of amazing I hadn’t had one last year with all the struggles but the previous one took over a year to build up to as well.  Another lesson learned).

There is no such thing in the universe as a worthless human being.

Go to http://bringchange2mind.org/ to sign a pledge to end the stigma against mental illness and to find more information for both helping yourself and your loved ones.

Insomnia

So its 4:30am and I have gotten zero hours sleep.  That’s right zero, 0, none… To try and get some sleep I have read a book, listened to my ipod, taken meds, taken supplements, used my cpap, praying, essential oils, nothing is working. At this point I’m wondering if I should just start the day with no sleep?

The crazy thing is I feel tired I just can’t sleep. I have done the sleep labs and that has helped with the sleep apnea but not the insomnia.  In fact, the mask makes it worse because its hard to sleep with the darn thing all over my face.  Part of the problem is all of my senses become heightened when I am getting ready to sleep.  The slightest light, like the light of my power strip or phone, will drive me crazy.  The sounds of birds or the stupid geese at the pond outside my window will keep me up.  Honk, honk, honk…I think I’m the only person who isn’t thrilled by the sounds of birds chirping! (How I am ever going to get used to sleeping with another person if I get married I have no idea…)

My heater is also quite loud and the air blows above my head.  That can keep me up, but I have it at a low temperature. I can’t freeze!

I also have the problem where I can’t shut my brain off.  I’ve had some weightier matters on my mind today, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about them no matter how hard I tried. Even things like the family home evening got my brain thinking and I couldn’t shut it off.

The downside of working from home is that I can always work.  There is no clear cut off between home, social life, work, etc.  It all kind of blurs together for me.  This is usually a great advantage but it has its negatives.

Anyway, I’m at my whits end.  Does anyone have ideas that might help?  The worst thing about it is its effecting my workouts.  I mean I was going to meet my swim coach today at noon but how can I do that if I have had no sleep?  It also makes me more prone to infection and illness.  I have felt something coming on me for the last few days.

Seriously, I need ideas. What can I do to get a good night’s sleep?