No rest for the wicked

I can’t sleep tonight. I haven’t really been able to get a good nights sleep since my surgery, but tonight’s been a particularly rough night. As previously mentioned, I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder as well as mild depression. Well tonight, after writing my post, I had a pretty bad break down. I don’t know why, but do those of us with mental disorders ever really know why?
I had taken a pill to help calm me down and then a pain pill for my back but I was so worked up I’ve only been able to sleep for a few hours. My dreams aren’t helping either. Don’t you just hate when your dreams sabatage your sleep?

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Don’t stress. Just breathe.

Anxiety. Something I’ve been dealing with for the last three or four years diagnosed but for at least the last 10 years undiagnosed. I started having panic attacks about 4 years ago around the time that I quit smoking weed. I lived in Northern California at the time, so that was pretty much the norm back then. At first I had no idea what was happening to me, I just thought I was dying or something until my mom told me that the same thing happened to her when she was my age. So I went to the doctor and was told I had generalized anxiety disorder with mild depression. The depression, I later found out, was from an auto-immune disease and had nothing to do with the anxiety. Or maybe it does, who knows.

Anyways, I’ve been dealing pretty good with the help of medication and talking myself out of panic attacks and ,save for a few situations, I’ve done well. But in the last few months, maybe more like 6-8 months, I’ve been having severe mood swings and getting really worked up over the smallest stuff. I know why right now I’m having such a tough time, because I can’t do ANYTHING, but before this I have no idea what is bringing this on. I’ve been too afraid to talk to anyone about it for some reason too. Which is so weird to me because I have such an amazing support system out here that I can count on. I think now that I’ll be off work for the next months, I’m going to make an appointment with my psychiatrist that I used to see out here about the possiblity of changing my medication. With my surgery, I have some pretty strong narcotics, but one of them is for anxiety and works by calming the brain and nerves. My god, this stuff actually makes me feel like my true self again. The fun happy-go-lucky person that I was before all this medical shit too kover my life. I’m talking my teenage self. I don’t want to have to be on medication my whole life, but if this is the only way that I can feel normal then I guess I have to.

I want to talk to my subscribers about my mental issues because I know I am not alone in this. A lot of people deal with mental disorders and a lot have it worse off than me. But we all have a voice and those who can’t speak need everyone else to speak for them. I want to bring awareness to generalized anxiety and other mental disorders, and much like others before me, I want to help those who need it. I have some tips that help me when I’m feeling an attack coming on or when I’m starting to feel out of control (I’m a control freak and thats where a lot of my anxiety comes from).

1. Take a walk outside

Whether you call up a friend to join you or just pop in your headphones and go, it doesn’t matter. Just getting outside helps a great deal. Fresh air, sunshine, nature are all huge helps for me personally.

2. Watch your favorite movie/TV show

A few years ago, every time I felt an attack coming on I would start playing Forgetting Sarah Marshall in my head (its my favorite movie and I have it memorized- its totally normal). But as the years went on and attacks got worse, I needed something better. It was almost like a drug addict looking for a stronger hit. So I started watching 30 Rock whenever I was starting to feel anxious. In desperate times though, I would skip TV and movies all together and just get straight on Imgur and browse the front page.

3. Write!

Even if I didn’t have internet access, I would open up the notes on my iPhone and start typing my feelings. Just getting everything out really helped me. Something that helps for some people is talking about it. I am the exact opposite of that . If I’m having a panic attack or starting to feel one coming on, I cannot talk about it otherwise it will make it way worse.

4. Talking about it (not for me)

Like I mentioned before, talking about the panicky feeling makes it way worse for me but for some people it actually really helps them get through it. So phone a friend, talk to your parents, hell talk to a pet if you have one. Sometimes I do find myself talking to the stuffed monkey M and I have (we can’t have pets in our house- sore subject and soon to change) and that helps me. I guess maybe what helps me is talking to something that can’t talk back and that won’t judge me and I would assume that is why I don’t talk to humans about my problems.

I hope these tips maybe help someone who deals with the same issues that I do and if you have any tips please feel free to let me know. I’m not a professional by any means and my advice won’t work for everyone. Please remember that if you don’t like what you read here, please don’t read. I know my writing isn’t for everyone, just please be respectful

-DF

 

Appreciation

Appreciation is defined as “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.”

I have a tough time showing my appreciation for people when they do things for me or when they help me out. While I’m in recovery, I have everyone basically doing everything for me and I’m forever grateful for that.

But I want to talk about how showing your appreciation for people is necessary, which I know is kind of obvious, but a lot of the time people assume that their appreciation is given. I think that the way that the word is working right now, not everyone stops to actually thank people for what they do; or at least when they do its not genuine.

I think with the younger generations, its automatic for us to say “thank you” when someone helps us whether we mean it or not. But the older generations know what it means to be thankful. I’m not saying that generations like mine don’t know what it is to be genuinely thankful of something, because there are those that do, but I think it’s just become a formality more than an actual act of gratitude.

So I’ve compiled a small list of how to show your appreciation for someone:

1. Return the favor

If someone mowed your lawn for you or helped you bring in your groceries, maybe think about helping them do the same thing or anything that they may need help with. For example: There’s a single mother who lives next door to us who knows that I’ve been having health issues. She offered to trim back the bushes in front of our house so that it was easier for me to get in and out of the house. In return we (ok M did because it couldn’t) helped her move branches from her back yard and took them to the environmental waste dumb near us because M has a truck and she doesn’t. Little things like that are a great way to show appreciation without just having so say thank you.

2. Visit with them

When I was younger, my Nona would take me on so many field trips because I was the grandchild that lived closest to her. She would take me to the Discovery Museum in the SF area and to the Museum of Modern Art in SF. Those are my favorite memories with her, but as she got older, she wasn’t able to do as much and she was confined to a wheelchair it became harder for us to do anything together. But to return the favor of giving me some of the best memories of my childhood, I would visit her. She lived about 30 minutes from my house but it was on my way home from work so I would often stop and visit with her and talk with her about her day or watch a Giant’s game. I know she enjoyed spending time with me from the smile on her face. Spending time with those people that helped you feel good is a great way to show your appreciation because it shows that you are more than just thankful but that you actually care about the fact that they took time out of their day to help you.

3. Make them something

When someone spends their time helping you with something, more often than not, they do not expect anything in return. So making them something, even if its as simple as a handwritten letter, will be a pleasant surprise. Now I’m not saying go out and buy a ton of crafts supplies and spend a ton of money on this project, but just see what you already have around you. I helped my boyfriend through a tough time in his life last year, he was struggling with school, hockey, and his job. All I did was support him and give him the encouragement he needed to make it through the semester and he gave me a very sweet card and a canvas photo. It was very sweet because I know that he didn’t have the time to take out of his busy schedule but he did and I appreciated it very much. So even a simple note can make the day of the person who helped you out.

4. Say “thank you” and mean it!

Lastly, I want to cover this: saying thank you and actually meaning it. I can’t even tell you how many times I say thank you a day. I would like to think that I always mean it but I don’t think that its always genuine. Just now, while writing this for you guys, my computer was dying and due to my physical limitations (see Bed Rest) I couldn’t do it. My loving boyfriend M went to plug in the charger for me. Well unfortunately, our house is a bit on the older side and some of the outlets are loose. Normally in a home I would say contact an electrician or your landlord but we have less than a month in this house before we move on. So he went to plug it in and it was charging just fine until I sneezed and the block fell out of the wall. We tried and tried to get it to stay in there but in the end he had to do some work on the outlet that caused him to miss an important part of the show we’re watching (The Profit). After he get it all fixed and put back together, I said than you like I normally would but then I realized that I’m writing this and I need to actually mean it. So I grabbed his hand and I said, “No seriously hon, thank you so much for helping me.”I know he knows how grateful I am for how he’s helping me and supporting me but making sure that he knows I really am thankful helps.

I know this list of tips seems like obvious choices for showing your appreciation for someone but sometimes the most obvious answers are right in front of us but we don’t see them.

Disclaimer: I’m not here to lecture anyone about how they should live their lives, and if you don’t agree with me that’s fine. That’s called being yourself. Everyone has their own opinion of how things should be and I think that everyone’s voice matters.

Bed Rest

On May 25th I had back surgery. Since then I have been on bed rest and I have been waited on hand and foot by both my parents and my boyfriend. My parents came out here (Illinois) just for the surgery and to help with the recovery. They’ve been retired for several years now and own a motor home that they travel the country in along with my dog, Sadie.

My surgery, lumbar microdiscectomy, had been planned for months. And for those months leading up to the surgery, I was excited at the prospect of laying around all day and not having to work. My job had become more and more annoying during the days leading up to my surgery; we had no manager and two new hires who had no idea what they were doing. I work for a company that provides cell phone service for people, I don’t want to say which one for obvious reasons. So with the store crumbling to pieces around me, I longed for the surgery that not only would provide me with relief, but would allow me to rest and relax for the next two to three months.

The night before surgery was a little rough; I had not been nervous whatsoever about the procedure or anything. But something changed the night before surgery. Maybe it was the fact I had gone over a week without nicotine, or maybe I really was nervous finally. But I broke down. I was so scared to die. There was such a slim chance of me dying, but I am a blob of anxiety so of course my natural line of thought was death was an option. The next morning as we drive to the hospital, I was beginning to freak out. I could barely breathe, I could eat or drink anything, and the Chic Fil A I had the day before was coming back to haunt me. Upon arrving to the hospital, I took my anti-crazy pills that I take every day and walked in with my boyfriend.

After checking in and getting my IV, I was injected with some fantastic happy medicine and wheeled away. I was taken into the operating room where the last thing I remember was saying “damn, I am fucked up.” Next thing I know I’m waking up in a recovery room where I was told to stop cursing because of the old man next to me. I patiently waited my turn to get wheeled into a room. Oh I forgot to mention that I had to lee really bad. Well because of my back missing part of its spine, it was hard to do anything. They tried some weird lady urinal thing on me but I ended up peeling all over myself.

Anyways, once I was in a room I actually got to use a toilet which was weird. The thought of being upright and walking after surgery was mind blowing to me. Later I learned it was fairly normal and I wasn’t the special snowflake I thought I was. My parents and boyfriend were allowed in my room and that’s when everyone started doing everything for me. I was being fed, I was being wiped, I was being scooted. I wasn’t able to do anything on my own. I had never felt more helpless and useless in my life. Well that is until if or home from the hospital.

I was only in the hospital for one day which was sort of a shame because the room was really nice but not all good things last. Once I got home, I felt like a toddler learning how to walk and funny enough, my parents were there for that too! In the last week I have been left wishing I could help more than a few times. I used to do the dishes every night, can’t do that for 6 weeks now. I used to be able to pee on my own, can’t do that until the doctor says it’s ok. I used to be able to bathe myself, now I have my mother doing that for me (I’ll explain). I just wish I could help those people that are helping me. My poor boyfriend is running himself into the ground trying to help me and I can’t do anything to alleviate his burden. He even built a “shower” for me in the basement because I couldn’t step into ours upstairs. The basement “shower” is complete with a tarp, a garden hose, and a plastic chair for me to sit on while my mother hoses me down and I furiously wash my hair, face, and body before I freeze to death.

I’m very grateful for everyone that is taking care of me but I had no idea that bed rest was going to be this stressful. I was hoping for long naps and relaxation but instead I found lots of bathroom breaks and guilt. Now, that’s not to say that I’m not sleeping or relaxing; I mean they gave me Norco and Valium so you know I’m having a great time. But I was hoping for more of a “vacation” vibe than a “you’re stuck in the house for eternity” vibe.

First things first

Pancakes and confusion!

When a medical situation lands you with 3 months of a leave of absence from your full-time job, what better way to fill your time than to take up one of my favorite hobbies: writing. I’m nervous that I may not find my voice right away but I am hoping that with the help of my fellow bloggers and my friends and family that I will find my way.

I promise right here, right now, to write what I know and to write what I love. I will never promote something that I don’t 100% believe in. I promise to always be honest and open. But most importantly, I promise to keep my thoughts flowing and never let the well run dry.

So in advance I thank you, the reader – whoever or wherever you may be – for giving me the rime of day and reading my thoughts and hopes and dreams.

-DF