Tuesday, November 27, 2012

#tweet

you learn something new every day. today i learned what a hashtag or # means.

Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

now, this is for sure not twitter -- and i do not tweet -- nor twit -- nor tweeter -- but tonight i thought i'd use this very cool hashtag to summarize some thoughts that have been jumping around my brain.



#tensiontorelaxation
"tension is who you think you should be. relaxation is who you are."

s so brilliantly wrote this to me one day. truly accepting ourselves for who we are - faults, quirks, talents and all - is a huge step in self love. i have been learning in my life most recently that the more i feel god's love for me in my life, the more i love god and want him to be in my life, the more i love myself, and strangely enough, the more i want to go and help others. i don't even know how i would diagram that if i could. it's a cycle that moves in an upward motion. god's love comes in, i begin to see myself differently and love who i am, i want to go love/serve/help others. tonight i was writing in my personal journal about this strange change in my life. for the first time i am beginning to want to do good things not out of fear or duty but out of love. love for god, myself, and others.

#trusttheprocess

i have had to remind myself that even though this is new territory for me i do not need to run from it. see, that's my instinct as a person who struggles with anxiety. i want to run to the familiar. but if god would be so kind as to bring me this far, i really don't think he would leave me. it's like i've been put in a boat and i'm finally letting god drive, fill the sails with glorious wind, and i'm trusting that where he takes me is where i need to be. trust is so difficult. but with this new love of god, self, and others, it is coming a bit easier. not totally easy, but easier.

#breathe

i changed the name of my blog. i have had two people who mean a lot to me tell me kindly over the past few months that i do not need to be defined by my disorder. for so long i have wanted to. it has been my safety blanket. my ace card. my excuse. and these moments and feelings and uses were okay. they were right. they were part of my journey. but now i'm growing. and i want to be known as a girl on a journey who struggles with anxiety. not an anxious girl. (let it be noted that i do plan to use the ace card when needed for emergency situations and that this is a learning curve ... tomorrow i may just change the name back. but for today it stays). and so when my thoughts begin to tumble and i long to run back to my known, secure hiding places, i will b r e a t h e. and trust that in the end

#alliswell

Friday, November 23, 2012

my job is to ...

_ _ _ _ _

i'm going to leave that blank for a moment while i give some back story as to how i've been handling the first part of this holiday season.

i've been a guest in my parents' house for the past 3 days. it is so easy to fall back into old, familiar, and unhealthy roles. i am pleased to report that i have caught myself 'fixing' problems a few times and S T O P P E D. not every time. but some of the time is better than none of the time.

i describe my personality as one that 'seeps' into others. it takes a while for me to warm up to people. once i do though they are receivers of gifts, time, play dates, etc etc. i love giving gifts. so much. it's one of my most favorite things to do. so part of my seeping personality is to bring you gifts. not as bribery. but to simply let you know how much you mean to me. i love the look on people's faces when they get a gift - or prize as i have been known to call it - and it's not their birthday or any thing special. it's simply a day they got out of bed, and i applaud that.



so i have been breathing through time with family. i love my family, but it's always nice to have breaks. i have also been breathing through black friday. i am NOT a stand outside and wait by the door type of person. so not me. i like sleep. but my family wanted to do some shopping today and i decided to go along. unlike other times today i knew when i needed to say no. when i needed to stop and rest or go to the car. too many people - long lines - waiting and paying for things all stress me out when i'm with others and i'm not sure how they will handle things. i know me and how i will react but i spend my time worrying about others' reactions. one day it may not be like that. but for now it's a part of who i am.

i feel i deserve the loudest, proudest, and longest standing ovation ever. i've done so good these past few days and i can honestly say that i'm relaxed and calm. i know i wrote this in a previous post and i really mean it this time - one day soon i'm going to write about how amazing medication is. until then i will just say that so much of the calmness i have been able to experience these past few days has been from consistent medication, therapy techniques, and the phrases s has taught me. i am made up of these things.



at the end of a long day right before the xanax and melatonin kick in my mind usually starts to freak out. the 'old me' creeps in and begins to thrash my mind with worries and unnecessary thoughts. it is very disheartening.

so i breathe. and remember the brilliant phrase s taught me

:

your job is to relax.

yes, my job is to relax. at the end of the day, when i have done all there is to do, and when tomorrow will take care of itself, my job is to relax. for me this involves a shower, comfy pjs, medication, 4 pillows, a properly propped up bed to avoid heartburn in the morning, and a distracting tv show. i'm too drowsy at this point to read but i can hang on to a familiar show for 15 or so minutes.

it use to take me over an hour to fall asleep. pounding heart and racing thoughts are not conducive to a healthy sleep environment. i never thought i would be able to fall asleep in under an hour. but i can now! i'm so thankful for that.

so my dear readers, remember that tonight it is your job to relax. job entails work and practice. it will take time to figure out what helps you relax and let go the best, but you can do it.

my job is to relax.
your job is to relax.
goodnight, dear friends.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

my journey

today is memorable day in my life.
i have reached a point in my life where i can say "not because it was bad and not because it was good, but because it was."
in order for me to process this all in a positive and quick way, i will limit myself to 10 points about this day, november 18th.

1 - i served a mission for my church. there is a certain amount of time i was called to serve for. i did not make it that length of time due to the health issues which came up. i came home months early and it has haunted me ever since.

2 - two years ago today i flew home with my mom from arizona. i spent the plane trip having seizures. i was wheeled onto the plane in a wheel chair and greeted my dad in texas from a wheel chair. humiliating. i tried to walk but didn't have the physical strength to make it very far.


3 - i met amazing people on my service mission. i lived with a family who became family. they are dear to my heart. i grew close to those i served with. i grew so much during those seven months. it was a challenging time but one that has brought me the greatest joy. and one day i will write more about how the things that are the hardest bring the most reward. not today.

4 - the shame, guilt, and anguish i felt from coming home early is unparalleled in my life events. i would experience my lowest lows - including suicide thoughts and notes - in the next few months. in my heart i felt i had failed god and because i had failed him so completely he sent me away. he sent me home sick and empty.


5 - i was released honorably. no one but myself thought such ugly thoughts about god's timing. while some posed the question, "why her?" they never asked "why god?" i spent my time asking god why and feeling overwhelmed by the failure i was to him. i look back on the me of 2010 with gentleness and kindness. she did not see god's plan. she did not realize that her mission trip would lead her to love the most difficult person for her to love on this earth ::: herself.

6 - god's timing is perfect. he knew of my predisposition for anxiety. he knew it was untreated. he knew that on a mission serving him, i would be in a safe place to experience the trauma of a conversion disorder and full blown anxiety/panic attacks. i would be surrounded by people who loved me. taken to doctors who could help me. ultimately sent home to be well and find myself. my mission became me.


7 - last year this day was not seen as anything positive. it was a dark day. full of bitter pain, hurt, hate. i was still upset with god for sending me home and angry with myself for not being strong enough. today i prayed that god would protect me from the idiots of the world :) yes i did. and he did the strangest thing. he made me s t r o n g e r. hmmmm. what a unique answer to what i thought was a straight forward prayer. in my mind i imagined people falling to the side as i walked by in church. stepping over people who god had struck down. or better being invisible, unseen by all. but instead some talked to me. said things that were hurtful. and the miracle was, i didn't feel anything. i didn't feel anger or pain or hurt. i knew in my brain "fact : it was said. that is how that person feels. but it is not how i feel. i feel calm. i feel ok. i feel safe."

8 - i have put myself in a safe place. i am with my sister b. and my dad is close. it is all ok. i am choosing not to spend this day alone. for this year and all years in the near future. it is a day that can still be laced with unforeseen pain, but for this moment, alliswell.


9 - i am thankful for the people i met on my mission trip and that i am still part of their lives. they are important to me. more precious than anything i own. my memories are treasures. they were worth any uncomfortable moment. i will never be able to express to them how much they mean. if only i could open my heart and let them hold it, then they would understand. i try with words but nothing is quiet adequate enough. still. they have changed my life. for the better.

10 - here are links to past posts that will help you fill in gaps that may be present. hopefully something written will touch and inspire you. today i am filled with a peaceful gratitude.

alliswell. and alliswell. and all that matters is well.








Wednesday, November 14, 2012

one step at a time

sometimes, left foot right foot is too difficult.
so we are gentle with ourselves and change it to left toe right toe.

a few years ago s and i started doing daily check-ins with each other using numbers and colors. my current counselor has encouraged me to do daily self checks to see where i am and how i feel. i can do this as many times a day as i need to. because s taught me a great way to do self checks this has been something simple to implement in my life.

for me, the number represents how much energy i have. i use a 1 to 10 scale. 1 being super depressed, drugged, and in bed. 10 being on an anxiety high with lots of energy and spontaneity with a crash in the near future. 8 is what i chose as my 'normal.' if i have an 8 energy it means i can see 6 patients and go out with friends or hang with family in the evening without a huge crash or let down. 8 is ideal for me. others have used the number to represent the pain they are in or the amount of sadness they are feeling. for a while while i was throwing up every day i used the numbers to show how nauseous and vomit-ie i was feeling. it can be whatever you want.

choosing a color to describe my mood always takes me a moment of thought. there are days when i have been neon orange with green squares. other days, like today, i have been a clear sharp blue. sometimes the colors come with describing words such as confident, jittery, worried, content, and others times it's just number and color.



i really enjoy doing this because it helps me put into a simple context how i'm doing. i have done this with a and always love checking in with her.

and so i would like to invite you dear reader to text me your number and color anytime or leave it here on the blog or message it to me on facebook or send it to me in an email. i am a safe place to send the cold hard facts of how you are doing. it would be an honor to be a part of your journey.

today i was a 7 in energy! i haven't been past a 6 in over 4 months. i was a clear sharp blue. sometimes i shimmer. sometimes i'm silver or sparkly christmas lights. but today i was a crystal clear sharp blue. it was good. i saw 6 patients and went over to my parents' house. my little sister s helped me wash my car and we jammed out to one direction's new cd :) that's right - i'm a fan!



(blank) said (blank) while i was at my parents' house. it really hurt my feelings and shocked me. it was one of those moments where the final piece of the ugly puzzle was put into place and it was sad. i drove home unsure. not unstable but unsure. of how i was feeling. of how to process this information. of what my role in that word being said by that person in relation to the other person was. it was all very confusing and hurtful. i wasn't sure how to say it or who to tell.

i knew i could blog about it but that i couldn't be specific. tomorrow night i will attend a group therapy session where confidentiality is huge and there i will say the word and details of the experience. i am hoping then i can let it go.

while i was driving and thinking a song by jordin sparks came on.

it's how i feel

it has summed up my night.
lyrics are below - music video here.
hurry up and wait so close but so far away
everything that you've always dreamed of
close enough for you to taste but you just can't touch
you believe and you doubt
you're confused and got it all figured out
everything that you always wished for
could be yours, should be yours, would be yours if they only knew

when you can't wait any longer
but there's no end in sight
it's the faith that makes you stronger
the only way we get there is one step at a time

you wanna show the world but no one knows your name yet
wonder when and where and how you're gonna make it
you know you can if you get the chance
in your face and the door keeps slamming

now you're feeling more and more frustrated
and you're getting all kind of impatient, waiting
we live and we learn to take

one step at a time there's no need to rush
it's like learning to fly or falling in love
it's gonna happen and it's supposed to happen
that we find the reasons why one step at a time
remember
:::
be well.
number and color.
don't rush.
take one step at a time.
left toe right toe.
alliswell and alliswell and all that matters is well.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

i remember

it was two years ago today, november 10th, that i had my first non-epileptic seizure. 

we would later find out this was / is due to my conversion disorder.

this is what i remember.

i remember going to a stranger’s house. to comfort her from her recent loss of her baby girl.
i remember seeing pictures of her baby.
i remember the pain. the joy of her little life. the sadness. the flowers we brought
i remember kneeling down by the computer to see pictures of her baby.
i remember standing and stretching out my legs.
i remember thinking "i'm going to fall - this is what it feels like to faint"
i remember hitting the wood floor.
i remember panic.
i remember "CALL 911!!!"
i remember thrashing.
i remember "i can't breathe."
i remember being poked and given oxygen and lights in my eyes and being lifted to the gurney to take me to the ambulance.
i remember the hospital. the doctors in and out in and out. 
i remember thrashing - seizures - in and out in and out.
i remember doubled, blurred vision.
i remember having to pee - and catheter - and infection later that week.
i remember migraine. and CAT scan. and screaming for hours and hours and hours in the hospital "DAD??" where was my protection when i needed it?
i remember going in and out in and out for days - sometimes i'd be alert for up to 20 minutes then seizure.
i remember going to the doctor 
i remember arizona.
i remember being far from family.
i remember flying home. and sitting in a wheel chair. and every light, every noise, every startle sending me into a 5-20 minute seizure.
i remember home. and family. and a crushed soul over 'coming home early' from my mission.
i remember sadness.
i remember questions - unanswered - so many questions.
i remember miracles.
i remember 5 hour test - fasting for it - blood drawn multiple times - my arms covered in needle pricks.
i remember MRI and CAT and scans and needles and scans and needles.
i remember t i r e d. 
i remember not being physically able to walk up the stairs. 
i remember sleep. so much sleep.
i remember buried feelings. so tired. so tired. so tired.
i remember it all. like it was yesterday.

but my journey has taken me from there to here. and it will take me from here to there. and i will be well one day. and the traumatizing memories of this day will not always haunt me in such a way as they do now.

i. remember.

Monday, November 5, 2012

my dear j

i heard you today in your text. i heard what you were saying. i felt the pain of questions unanswered. the fear of anxiety and the power it can have over your life. i understand. i know. because i have not only been there, i am there.

there were three questions i heard you ask. i don't pretend to be an expert in answering these questions, but i want you to have the first thoughts that came to my mind.
how do i handle change?

oh change. such an enemy. different-new-challenging. the thought of change can bring me from a normal ,well day to a complete stop, lying in the fetal position. the thought of change terrorized my nights growing up. i remember when i was 13 lying awake at night waiting for my parents to come home from a date, just sure they had died in a car crash. i would then spend time planning how the changes would affect me and my siblings - how i would support the family - make it through school - pay for bills - and on and on. my heart would pound against my bed - sleep was no where in sight. now when i think of change at work or in moving apartments or in any aspect of my life, my breath grows shallow, my head starts to spin, i feel my heart rate pick up and suddenly all my thoughts are disconnected. my brain is jumbled. my actions scattered. as you can see my reaction to the thought of change has morphed over the years - but how do i deal with it now??

left foot. right foot. one moment at a time. i literally stop my thoughts and focus on the next minute of my life. what do i need to accomplish in it to calm down? usually it's take a deep breath. turn on a distracting tv show. get my cold packs out of the freezer (which are literally covering me now - never ever be too hot - ever). use the bathroom. drink some water. eat a little snack. all of these things help me get through the moment so that my thoughts calm down and my mind returns to a regular pace.

how am i supposed to function properly when i'm panicking and hurting 75% of the time?

i love that you used a percent. i have to use percentages in work all the time to show how much progress each of my children are making. my mind works best when i divide what i'm going through into a percentage of how i'm feeling / reacting. i hear you. hurting and panicking for most of your day is exhausting. and so stressful on your body - physically, mentally, emotionally. i want to address the word proper.

what is proper? j, it's different for each person. do not let someone else's idea of proper affect what you feel is right for you. there is no standard of correct function. it is simply your best. some days my best is getting out of bed long enough to take my meds, then turn on the tv and fall back asleep until it's time for my next dose of meds. and i'm not exaggerating. i can sleep for 18 hours no problem. other days my best is seeing 6 kids and going out with a friend that night. my best changes from day to day. my ability to function is based on how i'm doing inside. and so, be gentle with yourself. when you are overwhelmed with panic and pain, realize that your best may be 10% and that's ok. you wouldn't expect someone with a broken leg to run a marathon, right? i mean they have two legs and to function properly they should be able to run, right? wrong. you have to take into consideration the condition the legs are in. proper is different for each person. and while you are figuring out the balance of proper in your life, be gentle with yourself. give yourself extra time for rest and quiet thinking. it's ok to sit in bed with nothing to do and simply stare at the wall. that's ok. sometimes quiet is what we really need.

do not rush your journey.


how do i know if what i'm thinking is rational or irrational?

this is a little tougher. let me give you a glance into my irrational world. here, i am alone forever. i am loved by no one. i have no friends. no one likes me. i live in a ghetto apartment. i work at a job i don't like for 12 hours a day. i don't have the money to buy the medication i need. i am not happy. it's a gloomy place with no hope for a life of love, peace, and happiness.

when my mind starts using permanent words such as always or never i know i have entered irrational-ville. "i will never be married." "i will always be alone." "i will never be wanted." "i will always be anxious." my counselor has warned me about the dangers of using these words and other words like it. they set you up for one track thinking. when you begin trapping yourself with these words you have driven into irrational territory. the truth is, i will have my turn to have a family and husband. i will not always be alone - in fact i can not be alone anytime i want because i have friends and family close. i am wanted and needed by my kids at work. i am finding that as i work in counseling and take my meds my anxiety is decreasing. i will probably always struggle with it, but i will still be able to find rays of sunshine and peace amidst the anxiousness.

maybe a good way to see if what you are worrying about is true is to ask, "would rachel agree with this?" if i would then worry on! if not, S T O P. it's hard. but use some of the above ideas to get your mind to s l o w d o w n and take a break.



in summary
:::
1 ) use the bathroom every hour.
2 ) drink at least 2 glasses of water a day.
3 ) breathe deeply.
4 ) take a nap, anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours.
5 ) remember that in the end, alliswell and alliswell and all that matters is well.
xo

ps:
i chose pictures of sunrises to remind you that
- there is light behind the clouds -
- a new day will always come -
- hope fills each day -