Busy is the new Happy

Know how when you try not to think of something, that ends up being the only thing you can think about?

That’s pretty much how my weekend ended up.

I keep thinking about everything that happened & didn’t happen. I miss him & still love him. Even have thought I have seen him a few times only to take a second look and it ends up being someone slightly similar. I know it is over but it still hurts.

I decided to get out of the house and do something rather than just wallowing in missing Mr Man. Distraction action!

10338836_10203720205908013_8233438421581331992_n

Spent some time at the beach. Starting my list of things I want to do… although not sure what the time frame is, this summer/before I start trying to find the next relationship? Also discovered that most of the time, if there is something I want to do, I just do it. No need to wait for a list. Which is pretty awesome. In fact some of the things I thought of and added to the list Friday, already happened this weekend! Checking off already! List to come soon.

Tossed the cheap pedometer that wasn’t counting steps any better than if I was trying to mentally count them. You get what you pay for sometimes. Turned out the FitBit Ones were on sale so back to a real deal I can trust. Goal is each day get more steps than the day before. This weekend though, I just focused on getting thru the days.

Attended group therapy (always interesting) & am looking forward to getting up with a friend there & possibly helping her with a resume. (old HR skills come in handy) Also learned of a yoga group that meets for the new moon that sounds incredible that I may join her for.

Accepted an invitation to a Kentucky Derby party & actually placed a bet on a horse.  Samraat didn’t win, but he/she came pretty close. Still proud. Ended up figuring out that the floppy hats got tossed during the purge, so had to make due with my trusty mouse ears.

Met up with a few friends after that downtown for the Port City Comedy Fest Top Comic Finals. We all could use a few laughs. Pleasantly surprised by some of the talent there. Definitely going to have to check out the local stand up scene more often. Still as I sat there, I just kept thinking how much I want to crawl in my bed and be held. I laughed, but sadness was still there. So when the contest was over & it was time to go dancing, I bid everyone a good night & headed home. Just didn’t feel like dancing & certainly didn’t feel like dampening their mood.

Woke up & hit the beach again. Sadness and missing Mr Man more and more. What do I stumble on while trying to park? TWO BRIDES. Dagger to the heart. Ended up tossing the towel a long distance away from the weddings and enjoyed soaking up some sun & listening to the waves.

Next up was to finally check out the crystal shop that I have been thinking about going to for a while now. They had a TON of stones that were just beautiful. Some that I really wanted to come home with me, but were beyond my meager means. Discovered some crystals I hadn’t even heard of. Before I went I thought about getting something to help with meditation & something to alleve this miserable muggy fog about me lately. Maybe a rose quartz or new amethyst to charge. Maybe something grounding to help ease the emotional wreck I have been lately. I was surprised by the selection & had two stones that I just couldn’t leave behind.

This stunning auralite 23 and blue fluorite!

20140504_203553

Smitten kitten. I basically just want to hold them forever. As soon as I got them home & sat feeling their energy, I felt peace. The tears stopped and I felt calm.

Both are healing stones and help with insights and growth.

Funny enough as I was leaving, the expert who was selling the stones mentioned that the blue fluorite was also called the student’s stone because it was excellent in helping to focus the mind. PERFECT. After the troubles this semester, I certainly needed this boost. Sometimes it seems the stones pick you.

As I held the auralite, I could almost feel a pulse emanating from it. Just a really beautiful, powerful crystal! It’s energy is inspiring & comforting. Yes I am in love.

Alas I had to separate from my new rock star friends for a few because I had agreed to another event & I was making myself go. Now is not the time to slip back into the staying home and avoiding crowds tendencies and this one promised to be a crowd.

1506854_10203722678609829_2971371697760945630_n

There was a rally downtown to support keeping the local film industry here. State politicians are threatening to end the incentives given to lure productions to the state and without them, the jobs will be lost to the 44 other states that DO offer incentives. Wilmington is a HUGE productions town, in fact a movie was being filmed in a restaurant just a few blocks up from the rally. Many people here benefit from the various TV shows, commercials, music videos & films being produced here. From the families that directly work in production to the people who serve them when they take a break, it all helps the local economy. To lose it would greatly impact the character and life of this city. Simply put FILM = JOBS & we need them here.

Attending the rally was inspiring but also exhausting. Sensory overload and a lot of people.  Still no panic attack & no need for a klonapin to get me through, which is a major plus. In fact I didn’t have to deal with any panic attacks or feel the need to pop klonapin to avoid them all weekend. I’m dealing and even if I haven’t a clue what is next or how to make life better at the moment, I’m healing.

Just got to get over this aching and back to better days.

Maybe tomorrow will be the day I wake and everything feels better.

Advertisements

Mellowing Me

Dealing

images

A lot of crying.  Lot of anger. Lot of dreaming. Lot of hoping.
Few revisions of life.

Lucky to have family,  past and present who show me about survival.  And what real love looks like.  If my Dad can survive losing my mom and  If my grams can survive losing my grampa, after all those years of devotion and being together everyday, I can deal with losing someone who never cared for me an inch compared to their miles.

Relationships come and go, but when it is real, it stays and grows.

I still love him. But that will mellow.  I’m still angry that he could leave.  But that too will mellow in time. I cry for the memories of when we were together and I cry for the plans we had that will never happen.  I miss him during the night.  I miss him sharing meals (which I realized tonight may be part of why I have been forgetting to eat lately). I miss so much.

But there is so much changing in my life anyway that hopefully the distractions will keep me sane. If not there is still a closet and junk draw to clear out. Feeling another purge session. There is a freedom in letting go of the clutter in our lives.

My schedule is changing since the semester is over & summer session will be day classes.  Changing habits that I let slip trying to wait to get time to do them together. Pedometer goes back on today! I have a 5k coming up (in September, but surely there will be another before that). My lack of recent meditation sessions certainly can’t be blamed on him, but time to bring them back. Getting together with friends & accepting invites that before I would have wanted to check to see if “we” had plans or wanted to go. Photography has slipped away unless you can count phone shots, which while fun just isn’t the same. I’m journaling again & reading more. Helps the time pass.

Sooner or later it will feel better. Always does.

Also as much as I dread touching anything dosage wise after the last fiasco, we’re changing my meds again. See if it helps. Also going for a physical to see if there is anything else going on that may have changed things. Not sure I want a positive confirmation but with diagnosis you are more likely to better know how to treat.  Hope so. Scary but also I know something isn’t right. Figuring out how to make it better has to be better than just waiting for another meltdown.

IMG_598492949842605

Discovered another Ali who went through a breakup & changed it into a positive recently. Her blog, The Break Up List, chronicles her life changing from the pain of having a 9 year relationship end to the pleasures of creating a life lived to its fullest. She even continues the list beyond the original 100 things and keeps going years later. By living life by her list she kept herself and (spoiler alert, but come on anyone sees this coming) she finds a new relationship that respects and encourages who she is.

So who knows. Maybe I will take time to create my own list. Certainly wasn’t as earth shattering a split, but I do miss my friend. It is time for a reinvention. Refocus on getting back to me.

IMG_40572108598582

But what happened?

Know what the #1 question that gets asked when someone finds out you have PTSD is?   Something along the lines of “Oh wow, what happened to cause it?” as if that is what you really want to discuss.  Many times it comes across like they are judging if your PTSD is an appropriate response to whatever actions lead up to it.  We also recognize that you are afraid that it could happen to you.  It could. Don’t worry. It isn’t contagious.

While I highly encourage you to lend an ear to anyone who would like to talk about traumatic events and realize that by their opening up to you, they are placing a huge amount of trust in you, I do not suggest that when they are opening up about their battles with PTSD, you dig up past events they are trying to escape.  It just doesn’t work out that way. We need to deal and share on our own time.  Not be judged or probed.  As a friend, they are looking to you for support not some evaluation.  There are professionals for that.

f409e5df767ada02fdcb3c09acd755cc

Also don’t assume that just because someone takes medication they are weak.  For most it took a long road to open up to the fact that they may be better off by taking those medications and finding the right combinations to do what is needed is pure hell at times.  Their prescriptions are none of your business and yes some of those can be abused if they are not needed, but most of us strive to feel normal when taking them.  We are lucky if it works out like that.  Getting high isn’t the goal for most of us.  There are certainly easier outlets that can be cheaper & less stigma attached than popping pills.  Each medication I am on was fought and popping the first dose is scary. Will there be interactions?  Will it work?  Will it make matters worse?  Is it addictive or will my body build up resistance and then I will need stronger medication?  There are a lot of worries involved with committing to trying to find a solution.  Yes there are other natural options and many of us with mental health illnesses also try those prior & tend to use them in addition to the pharmaceuticals.  If they did the trick for us, we would have stuck with them.

What you can do is learn what it means for them to deal with the illness.  What they experience and how they would like understanding or support.  Learn to accept that sometimes they aren’t going to be exactly like everyone else and not to take it personally.

Each person is unique and each situation is very unique.  In fact from my experience and hearing about others’ experiences, it changes.  Sometimes the changes are blessings and others not so great for us.  Still this is our lives and we have to keep trying to find what will enable us to live the best life possible.

c779e76f4020b69546c16e2a8b795d8c

If it was as easy as “snapping out of it” or “thinking positive”, we gladly would have taken that option at the get go.

I don’t know anyone who chose to have PTSD, anxiety, depression, agoraphobia or any other disorder.  We hate that we have it.  We hate that it is a constant war and even when we win battles, there is a bigger possibility than not that we will have to fight again and again.

You can’t see it, but it is far too real for us.  We miss who we were before this started.  Most days we just hope that sooner or later we can love ourselves for who we are now and the coping skills will get us to normal.   We know we are damaged beyond repair and not normal by your standards.  Still we fight on to try to be.  What is the other option?

Surviving another day is sometimes a big deal.  Then we know tomorrow (if we are lucky enough to wake up) we have to go and do it all again.  What if you knew every morning you would wake up & find a wall of bricks had overnight appeared around your bed.  Every day you had to figure out how to get thru or over the wall & do the daily stuff like using the bathroom, getting food, etc.  Then at the end of the day, you go to sleep and again when you wake another wall.  Would you give up?  Could you keep going?

Because frankly I am exhausted.

…& the last thing I need is having to explain to one more person why.

59f57e62cd9c5883664d679fe46cba95

Still here I am.  Fighting on & dealing with the “why can’t you…..” suggestions.  Sometimes I feel like I should just stop taking my meds and then people can see how far I have come.  Not that they would stick around for the journey.  The reality is we fought hard to come to terms with what we are dealing with.  If we open up and share tales from our travels or open up to trust you, know that it is a major act of trust that we don’t take lightly.

We know where we have been, what we have overcome and that we would gladly give anything not to have to deal with it.

 

Once a Month, no not THAT

Maybe I am nuts but there is something about having a goal that just makes life better.  I need something to look forward to and work towards.  Something that matters to me that I can make happen or get ready for.  A focus.

Sure the holidays are heading our way faster than a cheetah into a herd of zebras.  (or whatever it is they rush into)

This weekend I found myself going through the swag given to us at the Race for the Cure 5k and one item in particular peaked my interest.

557247_10202159498851312_705897473_n

Yes the morning after, when I should be regretting it the most, I was longing to do it all again!

Which got me thinking.  Why not do one every month?

At least for a year.

So here goes!  Can’t wait til the next one and judging by what I had seen online, if you have the time and the cash for the entry fees you could do a 5k every week.

Not Going Back There

One thing about dealing with anxiety is that it seems to always be lurking.  When you think you are finally back on your feet and doing good, it slips a trip wire in your path.  You are too busy enjoying life to notice then next thing you know you are down.  That quickly sometimes.

Friday night I met up with a few friends for dinner and to see a free concert downtown.  As the sun set, the crowd grew.

018

Still I had fun.  I even dared to think how awesome it was to be in a crowd that size.  How at one point not long ago, this would never happen.  Felt so accomplished in dealing with the attacks and thought maybe the agoraphobic part of my life was finally over.

Course shopping the next day reminded me that it can strike back harder any time it wants.  A simple bit of clothing shopping had me in full blown panic in less than 15 minutes with maybe an eighth of the size crowd. Unfortunately I didn’t have my trusty back up to call on (klonpain) so it progressed & I ended up staying inside the rest of the day exhausted & a little depressed that I was back to this. Frustrating.  Still I knew I had been here before and survived.

So next time I went with a friend.  (one who knew about my anxiety issues)  We shopped a little, had lunch then went to another store…. where it hit again.  Even with the klonapin, it hit hard.  Still I was determined.  We changed locations and still no good.  Getting dog food was necessary though so I fought on.  But I was done. Over it.  Lost the fight, but I will win this war.

What happened at the pet store got me thinking though.  Interaction with a seriously rude know it all cashier.  As she rang up the bag of dog food (& I focused on breathing & not subcoming to the urge to dash out the door and just keep running away), she judged my purchase.  Judged as she rang it up.  Asked if my dog liked this food.  Um… well he eats it & has yet to learn english and complain or leave any comment cards, so yeah I guess so.  Then she goes on to say “You know this is the most expensive food in here? ……. and it isn’t the best.”  Who asked you b*tch? nearly escaped my lips but in the attack all I wanted to do was pay & leave so I just looked at her with I’m sure a look that said “Is this happening?”  She then gives me my receipt and a final “well I guess if he loves it”.

Bizarre.  Just really bizarre.

Back home it pissed me off the more and more I thought about it.  The former retail manager in me thought that she really needs to learn to just sell the products from the shelf.  If it isn’t any good, why are they selling it there?  and telling a customer it is the most expensive food in the store just makes the customer feel like they are being ripped off.  Just as two dog people, I have to think she feels like she is trying to help, but really wrong approach for me.  I could see it maybe if we knew each other or if I had asked for her help with something prior, but she didn’t know me.  Just burned me.

4991b34778aaa98a353017e67a6662f8

Got me wondering though.  Honestly I hadn’t given his food much thought since we got him & the vet suggested that brand & type.  Maybe there was something to what she said.

So I went online to a couple of pug rescue groups that interact with and posed the question about what they feed their pugs.  The information I got back was overwhelming but really appreciated.  Lots of people knew a lot about their dogs’ diets and what brand foods were good or bad.  Sadly Baxter’s food, not so great.

He has had a few issues that I assumed were just part of being a pug.  Turns out he could very likely have a food allergy.  Seems they are common.

Hit me that I am currently more aware of what I am eating and trying to eat healthier, why shouldn’t his diet get a revision?

IMG_20130719_125300

So I did research and yesterday he started a higher quality food that is grain-free and more protein based, less fillers…. and joy of joys cheaper for me!  His treats also are getting switched up.  We will try it and see how he does.  So far he LOVES the new food.  Acts like I have served up a bowl of treats for his meal.

So evidently we all are getting healthier around here.  The parrots better watch out!  Kidding, though they are enjoying the increase in fresh fruits & veggies from my salad making.

Now if only I can get these panic attacks under control again so that I can go get the food.  Will happen.  I have done it before and will do it again.

Can’t wait to go back downtown for another show…. that pet shop, not so much!

To Tell Or Not To Tell?

So today I feel accomplished and truly grateful for being alive.

Also I’m struggling.

While the emotions of the day are certainly a factor, how can anyone not feel at least a few moments of grief in remembrance and gratitude for all those heroes and the connections that have occurred since that day?  Absolutely have had tears and flashback moments to the fear and confusion, even from watching from several states away.  Truly there is no way we ever could forget.

My dilemma is this….  to tell or not to tell?

Public Speaking is most likely the MOST dreaded class I have in this program.  As hard as talking about wills, estate & probate laws are right now, it is easier to handle than public speaking.  I got a great professor, who truly does seem to care & is honest about how he will be grading and what is expected.  From the get go he has said that he will judge us on how we personally improve rather than comparing us to each other or to professional speakers.  Still part of me wonders.

While I am very open about having PTSD and hope that it breaks some of the stigma in hiding away in shame or fear or what others would think, I don’t right off the bat tell someone.  Usually I don’t mention it at all.  In deeper relationships with friends and family, we discuss it when it becomes an issue in some way or if they ask.  Same with work experiences prior.  To date I have yet to mention it on campus or to anyone at the college.  Not intentionally hiding it, but haven’t seen a need to do so.  I’m not asking for any disability services or special treatment.  Sure I have noticed other students stare at my finger and am sure they have their ideas on what has happened to me in the past, but my past is my past.  Its not discussion material.

Today was it was unnerving to be giving a solo 2-6 minute speech to a class of around 30 people.  We are talking front of the room, all eyes on me, speak loudly and keep their attention without looking like a dork SPEECH.

Not something I have on my list of things I want to do in life, but necessary and it is a skill I need help with.  A LOT of help.

The scared speaker

To the class I’m pretty sure that I looked nervous and my hands shook, noticeably even to me as I showed props.  My voice wavered at times and I said the dreaded “Um” several times.  Lost my place and had to think silently for a couple of seconds to regain the train of thought.  I didn’t make eye contact with enough people.  I couldn’t make eye contact. But I did make it through the time frame I was aiming to stay within and I did it.

YET… I’m so very proud.

When I sat down in my chair, I wanted to vomit and pass out.  My body shivered and it wasn’t from cold.

YET… I wanted to pop open a bottle of champagne.  Not to kill the fear but in celebration.

Thought to myself you just spoke to a room of strangers and clearly got across the points I was trying to make. Kicker is, I was completely me.  In my “Oh Gawd its almost my turn” panic I discovered in my rush to get presentable and get coffee, I left my klonapin at home.  I’m over having to take one just to be in class, but today I had pretty much planned on probably needing one and was ok with that.  Not having them was not happening.  What was I to do?  Too nervous to tell the professor that I couldn’t go since I forgot my meds.  Had to wing it.

This NEVER would have happened a few years ago.

It wouldn’t have been an option.  My body would not have made it.  Somehow today, I could.  To me this is huge.

I have pushed myself a lot lately.  Heck the large crowd at the Revolution premiere was slightly jarring, but I wasn’t speaking in front of that group & klonapin made it easy to relax and just focus on having fun instead of fighting the urge to run or make sure there was a clear exit route and no one around me looked malicious or suspicious.  Even that event wouldn’t have worked for old me.

The agoraphobia was crippling. WAS.  Now I’m in charge again.  Which I am proud of and fully recognize the work it takes.  There will be slips backwards and I know everyday isn’t a good day, but I have good days.  Lots more than bad ones lately.

Sure my speech wasn’t professional quality or even as good as some of the other students, but for me – it was exactly what I needed to achieve.  I got through it.

No one knows how much it means to have done it.  My sister called to check on me to see how it went today & she flat out asked “Have you spoken with him about your anxiety issues?”  Nope.

Part of me wants to push it and do it same as everyone else in that room.  In a lot of ways I have an advantage.  I have experience in smaller groups training and typically I have my klonapin if the nerves get too out of control.  Some nervousness is completely normal & I know it adds fuel to propel us on to do things, but I also know that I can let it get out of control, so I at those times try to balance it back out.  Today, I didn’t have to.  Maybe I would have done better if I had, but would I be as proud of myself?  Maybe not.  Maybe I still would be.  Never know.

I do not want special treatment or accommodations.  Those options would be available easily by speaking with the department at school.  Would like to play by the same rules as everyone else.  Still I know, to me, it means more.  I know that if I feel like I didn’t earn the grade I get at the end of the semester, it isn’t going to be good.  He doesn’t strike me as someone who just would give me a good grade from sympathy or apathy, but you never know.  If the grades really are based on how much we improve over the semester, things should go well.  If its going to be a bell curve where the ace student makes the rest of us look badly…. I’m may be in trouble.  Could be helpful for him having insight into my situation and knowing that I am doing truly my best, which I am going to do.

Then again… I have no idea what the others in that room are going through.  Chances are someone else has anxiety issues.  Public speaking is a fear most people view worse than death in a lot of polls (according to the professor death only beat public speaking as feared most one year – 2002, the year following the 9/11 attacks).

So which is it?  Share that I have PTSD which brings on the agoraphobia at times and the panic attacks with the professor privately so he is aware that I really am trying even if it doesn’t appear to be like I am any good? or just keep it hush hush & hope that I can soar high enough to where no one will even know.

Walking 5 feet may seem like nothing to the average adult, but to a baby just learning it is epic.

Going to take some thought.  It is all a matter of pride.  Wondering which path to choose…. or rather, which one I will most regret not having taken later.

OH & FOR THE RECORD….. & slightly off topic.  I had to laugh when a couple students started talking about the “online” portion of the hybrid class.  There isn’t one yet.  The professor stated he didn’t feel public speaking had any need to have anything to do with being online.  There would be some assignment since it was a hybrid class and he would comply with the rules, but he would prefer less book work & more in class time.  I nearly laughed out loud (or LOL if you prefer).  See as you can probably tell, I’m perfectly comfortable with expressing myself publicly in an online format.  Its the face to face that gives me issues.

In this age of people tethered to computers and cellphones… maybe there SHOULD be class time devoted to online public speaking.  Be it blogs, twitter, facebook, skype, webinars (I seriously hate that term) or any other online format, there can be a lot of controversy made by ineffectively expressing oneself.

Why I Pop

Recently a new co-worker, who expresses her opinions WAY more than any of us care to hear, ranted on about how the world is over medicated.  She went on to go about how no one should be prescribed any of these drugs and the proof was right there for us all in these deaths like Whitney Houston & Michael Jackson.   She went on & on about how she would never take any drugs & neither will her kids.  Said that are natural options and that there are other things to be done to stop all the problems.  Her opinionated rant even dived into the “Your Body Is A Temple” range… where I excused myself from the room before I found I wouldn’t be holding my tongue.  I had work to do.  I don’t hide my prescription pill use & even take my first round at work at my desk many days.

I don’t think she was directing the statements at me, just think she is insensitive and ignorant.  So what if the body is a temple? Does that mean when the pillars start to crumble, you just let them? I prefer to bring in some tools & fix the problem to keep the temple functional as long as I can.

I admit that I don’t think people should just take the medicine to take it.  Other work has to be done to try to resolve the underlying issues if possible, but if we live in a world where this relief is a reality, why would we suffer?  Sometimes the assistance is needed to allow us to get to where we should be or to breakthrough to where the help can work.

Besides, is the world so clean?  There are chemicals in the air, land & water… but we don’t think our bodies may be chemically imbalanced?

Initially I was extremely hesitant to start any of the medication I am on.  One by one, I have tested, found the right dose and felt the feeling of  finally not dealing with the torments I struggled to fight daily.  Sometimes they didn’t work.  Sometimes they did.

I have gone from nightly night terrors leading to insomnia to actually sleeping regularly.  I am getting energy and the ability to concentrate back.  Do I still push it & wish I wasn’t on the pills? You better believe it.  Last night, after a comforting night around strangers (which is a win in & of itself), I found myself completely exhausted.  My body was beat.  Thought perhaps I could sleep the night through naturally.  Nope.  The old haunting dreams came back in full force.  Waking every 2 hours through the night. Drinking the massive amount of water before bed didn’t help, but the bladder was not the only thing screaming to wake.  So tonight I will take my ambien & be grateful for the relaxation it brings.  The calm, serenity that slows down my thoughts.

Do I realize that being on multiple medications is dangerous? absolutely.  Especially if I choose to drink, which I haven’t lately.  The first few nights I had the sleeping pills in the house, I didn’t want to take them for fear that I would never wake up & no one would find me for weeks.  Then I started to realize, it didn’t matter.  It was a chance I had to take.  Risk to reach the reward. 

So one day, I may never wake up.  At some point I may not get through the night, but for now at least the nights of sleep I do get and the days following are worth it.  Besides if I die before I wake, I’m in some good company.  Add Marilyn to that list.  Sure they may have had much more to offer the world, but in the end they are no longer in pain, terror, stress.. what ever their afflictions.  They have their peace.  Now so do I.

With the assistance of the medication, I have been able to fight off the constraints of the agoraphobia, anxiety and all the symptoms that kept me from being me.  Its a daily choice and a daily struggle.  Do I still have the occasional nightmare or panic attack?  Sure do.  But instead of daily, it is rarely.  The medication doesn’t always work, but it certainly won’t if I don’t take it.  I have been au natural and frankly it sucks.  I don’t get high.  I don’t experience any surreal effects or anything that would be anything worth describing.  Well as long as I take as prescribed, which I do.  There were moments while trying to find the correct doses and combinations, but that isn’t anything I want to repeat.  I take them to empower myself to be where I need to be without the symptoms that held me back.

Risk to reach the reward.