Day 6 and the worst is over I hope!

Today, I spent some time trying to piece together the last 60 days. It’s hard. There are lots of big spaces of time I don’t remember much. That scares me. It’s evident whatever happened freaked out my loved ones in a big way. I was on the phone saying so many things that were not at all what I was wanting to say but my brain just was somewhat frying. It just was what it was.

Which of course adds to my shame and guilt.  I have not had that occur since I quit gambling. Yes, I’ve lost control of my emotions before, but I have had no “out of body” experiences like I experienced this time. I sure am glad I write tho, because I can go back and somewhat piece together the build-up, the blow, the loss of time, and then I went straight into detox for the Xanax withdrawal. Not the smartest idea in the book. But hey….who said I was thinking in any congruent way during this time?

Although extraordinarily fatigued with pain increased,  I think I’m doing pretty well. I am stronger than I remember sometimes. While I was feeling so weak, I had some idea of what I wanted. I have been on a journey to get off these pills for nearly 2 years. I wanted to get my overall health and strength a little better because I knew I was getting to a place I was ready to deal with some more of my “stuff”.

I did know I was having some PTSD triggers There were some encounters with people I cared about where I felt under attack so decided to disengage from those relationships. That is not something I do lightly. Yet, in retrospect it showed I was getting stronger because I was able to say to myself, “this is not healthy for me”.

In late February or early March was one  occasions and I handled myself with composure (maybe showing a slight displeasure but that is all) and then returned the next day to discuss the situation and stated what behaviors I could handle. That is a HUGE thing for me.

As time passed and other situations occurred I knew I needed to do some digging to see why I so easily get triggered by certain personalities. To be frank, I believe it’s because of my mother and our relationship and her behaviors. There are certain behaviors in women I just cannot tolerate at all. It gets my ruff up so bad and I have to just clench my teeth. Pointing, especially if someone pokes my chest, intimidation posturing, badgering, and overly aggressive. I have a tolerance and then it just is gone. It was like I was doing okay, handling each situation the best I could while trying to be professional in my role as “property manager”, and then it was over the edge.

I had told a few folks about my encounters and how they were affecting me. I had thought I had stated I was getting very stressed and overwhelmed, but again, I believe others hear it as “whining”. It was in late March that I picked up paperwork to get back into counseling. I didn’t get it turned in until mid-April after recovering from the flu. I didn’t get back in until  about the end of June for intake. Back in late March I knew I was over-stressed and had taken on more than I could handle.

In my perception a great deal of the stress came because what I perceived as agreed conversations on what was going on with the property and tenants wasn’t happening. I also had a situation with a friend and it was just the last straw.  I was so overwhelmed trying to get this property ready for renters. I had to help pack up a house that was full of many collections. Tapes(VCR and Cassette), books and mountains of electronics. The entire second story was just storage! I also had to get ready for an Estate Sale. I had never done one before and what a TON of work that is. I also had to help Mr. Chicago’s brother find an apartment and then I had to help him figure out how to make a home for himself in his new place. January was exhausting.

Then in February I was still doing okay after taking a little break, but that is when some of the encounters with PTSD triggers really started. After the first one I was shook up and tearful for a couple days. Then I tried to rectify things in an adult manner and carried on. Then there was another encounter in March. Again, I held my tongue, waited a day or two and then tried to rectify it. I also was telling my family and loved ones about the stress this was bringing me. Yet, no one is around me to actually see what those affects looked like. Often when you have PTSD triggers in my mind I feel like I sound like I am “complaining”. But what I’m trying to convey is I am getting over-stressed and I can’t make prudent choices and I need some help.

I had my trip to Chicago in late March and then came home and landed in the hospital for 4 days with the flu and pneumonia and when I came home and got well enough I had to stretch myself again. I was interviewing potential land renters. I had to run ads and make phone calls and then talk with these people at length regarding their needs and what we could provide for them. I am not a good salesperson. It makes me very uncomfortable, so I was stressing about that. More stress. I am feeling like I am falling behind here. There is so much work to be done and I am coming home after a nearly 2 week absence and it’s time to start the gardens and I still have things to haul to the dump and things to sale and continued encounters that were less than comfortable with some people.

Then came May. I did forget to mention that I had a very serious family issue that occurred in January that was an ongoing concern and stressor until early June. Those of you who follow my FB page remember, Mr. Chicago came out for my birthday in May. It was truly the BEST surprise I’ve ever had for my birthday. The BEST.   During the time he was here I was able to show him a little of what the issues were but by that point I was definitely at a point that any more encounters with triggers was going to set me off. But to him I’m sure they seemed small, each little instance.

That is not so for someone with PTSD. I’ve only had one occasion where it was a single incident that triggered me. Even at that time, I had been under a LOT of stress. Typically when I go into a meltdown mode (post gambling…completely different scenario) I have had a number of stressors on top of a number of triggers. I can only take so much. Which, is another reason I have been trying to get disability.

Having a disability like this doesn’t mean I can’t function or that I’m not smart or capable. It means I can’t take the daily struggles like a person who doesn’t have a  disability. Over the years I’ve tried to explain so much.  I can do a little physical and deal with the pain, but then my stress will get up and so I can’t deal with people or additional stress. Or, I can be medicated and take it gentle on my body and not do a bunch of hard things and my brain works. In fighting chronic pain as well as mental health issues life gets very overwhelming at times.

After Mr. Chicago went home, I thought we kind of had things under control. But that was not the case at all. There were still unresolved issues that came up and a number of incidents that made me uneasy around the 12th of June and that was when I started going over the edge.

After my first blow up, I had a few days where I just was telling everyone “I’m done”.   I am not able to make these decisions. I was trying so hard to take care of the area here and do a good job. I went up and down and up and down for a couple weeks and then settled down a bit. But by then, I was really struggling inside with a lot of things.

I didn’t feel safe anymore. Because I had “acted out” I was scared and embarrassed and pushed everyone away more. I didn’t want anyone to see me unhinged. The lonelier I got and the more I tried to figure out what I could have done different I just got more and more distressed.

I tried to “pull it together”, but I had forgotten that back in May I had purposefully come to the point that I wasn’t gong to refill the Oxycodone anymore.  That had been my goal and I reached it and was doing okay. I didn’t take into account how that my affect my mental health when I was already under stress. I continued to rage and then cry and then rage and then cry. I’ve said “I’m sorry” so many times in the last 2 months and then gone and done the same exact thing.

That is what happens when you have a PTSD breakdown. You feel okay for a few minutes and think you are okay to be around others and then Every Little Thing bugs the hell out of you. Drivers that are speeding and reckless caused me to be the same…trying to chase them down to tell them what crazy drivers they are. Ha ha ha….and who was the undone woman chasing them? Yes…that was me! Hence the limited driving these days.

So June ended and July rode in and yet another big stressor met me on the 5th. Something that made me think of bad things from long ago. I tried to explain to the other my feelings but was met with resistance. This made me feel even more unworthy and increased my angst.

So on 7/12 I had ran out of Xanax and decided not to go to town to pick up my prescription the next day. I had made a choice. Not wise, with my thinking at the time, but it was just me here and I was going for it. The first night I found out some information that truly just made my head burst. My head has been racing and my heart has been racing and I became obsessed with this information and it was rough that first day or two. I was not only going through Detox and PAWS, but I was in the midst of a mental health breakdown and kept getting news that left me feeling so alone and so WRONG for everything. Lots of thoughts of “why am I here?”.

That’s the mindset of a PTSD person. When I am in a PTSD head, I am in total fight/flight mode. I feel horrible. I think I am the worst person in the world. I want no one to see me. I don’t behave in ways that are typical for me. I get quite mean (to push people away) I’ve been told. I typically am NOT mean! I am a lover and a giver and a smiler. But under duress from a PTSD flare I can dish out some verbal bashing and be quite harsh.

I hate that. Which is a big reason for going back to counseling. I know I still have learning to do. I am hoping by completing my detoxification off the narcotics and benzodiazapines my head will be clearer for doing the work I have in front of me.

I know nothing about my future right now. Neither do you…if truth be told. I remember my counselor telling me that I learned early in life, it can all change overnight. In the meantime I am hunkering down and just trying to take care of myself. I deserve it. So do those who love me. I despise scaring them so. Evidently, as I was recently reminded, it’s been going on for some time.   When I get to my lowest I have very pronounced suicidal ideation. I forget about it for the most part when I’m well. I know how that feels as my mother suffered with the same. It is very hard for those around a person feeling like this.

Today has been the clearest my mind has been in a very long time. A very very long time. Even with the fatigue of not sleeping the last two nights (going on being awake for about 58 hours now) my brain is clear. I truly am grateful for being able to finally get off all that.

The cannabis is working. The dosing is not exact, yet. Just like me. I’m working on it. Thanks God for a gentler alternative that comes form the earth!

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Day 5 – I’m gonna live!

 

I do not think all medications are bad. There are situations where pharmacological medications are curative or the benefits outweigh the potential risks or side effects. At this time in my life, having been on a variety of pharmacological medications with less than optimal results, as evidenced by my struggles (breakdown) the last month, I am wanting to go a more holistic way. It started with medical cannabis and I now am more interested in what nature has to offer.

One of the main reasons for doing gardening and animal care when I am in such a challenging financial and physical and emotional situation is they give me purpose on days I struggle. I am so grateful that I started that.  Putting in a garden and attracting butterflies and hummingbirds gives me something pretty to watch and look for. Being out in nature and getting a little exercise is one of the BEST medicines there is. On many days when I am in pain or just overwhelmed, having those things I MUST get up for …makes me still have a life. Hey Sigmund has done a nice outline here of a more holistic approach for mental health strategies.

http://www.heysigmund.com/the-non-medication-ways-to-deal-with-depression-that-are-as-effective-as-medication/

I started off using the medical cannabis (MMJ) mostly for pain. I was on fairly high doses of Oxycodone and it wasn’t working. At least not enough.  This contributed to my IBS for certain, causing severe constipation.  MMJ has been a wonderful option for getting off opiates. It also has improved my mood greatly, until I get into a panic situation or PTSD gets triggered. I still having to do some learning on that. I have a couple strains that I have been given or bought (thank you to the growers) and it works. But the medication I need now needs a special license to process and so I can’t get it as easily. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) was the BEST cannabis medication I have had to date that helped me the most.  I was calm and pain was much better controlled than with the opiates.

To get the strains that I need for anxiety and PTSD challenges I have to now go the dispensary. In one week I went through $100 worth of RSO and other types of MMJ products in addition to my usual use of the tinctures and butter and flower I have already at home. I can’t afford that. I sure hope they don’t take out the OMMP because of recreational. This is my medication now.

I had it suggested to me to try some skullcap when my belly settles a bit more. It’s a nervine. Nervines are an classification of herbal remedies for mental health conditions that have evidence of high anxiety. I was also told a student of herbology that nervines such as Skullcap can actually help in the healing of my brain after long term use of various medications. Hearthsidehealing in Portland, OR presented this article on nervines written by Jon Keys.

http://www.hearthsidehealing.com/nervine-herbs-for-deep-relief-from-anxiety-and-stress/

While the last few days have been incredibly difficult emotionally, I have no desire to take those pills again. I do not crave them at all, which is a bit strange based on dealing with my gambling disorder and the drive I had for that. I feel that with the medications I was more dependent on them, whereas the gambling for me is a true addiction. But in all honesty, I really had no idea I had an emotional attachment to the medications. They were prescribed by my NP for my various ailments over the course of the last 5 years. Some of them I had been on for nearly 20 years off and on.  When one has a number of medications like that there is always concern about them being discontinued, or brands changing (can be very difficult for some), or your doctor saying after a number of years prescribing, “no more, we have to stop this”. Or there is confusion about getting it refilled. It is really a painful experience to be taking 60-90mg of oxycodone a day and then not have it for 36 hours! Very painful.

I think this is the 5th night since my last dose and while life isn’t bubblegum and rainbows, it’s better than it was 24 hours ago. I even ate! That is one of the big side effects with my withdrawal is NO appetite. Additionally, I think I have only had about 6-7 hours of sleep in the last 3 days. For tonight I’ve made myself a nice hot cup of cannabis tea. I feel very tired. But not as despondent  and sick as I was off and on the last week. Yay God!

Only two sleeps and I will see the counselor that I have seen before.  As well as my NP was to be putting in a referral to a psychiatrist for me.

I really appreciate those who are following. I hope you share this all over the place! I really want people to know what detox from a benzodiazapine after on and off use for 20 years looks like. I want people to know it’s possible to improve from a dependency, an addiction, or a number of mental health ailments by making just a few lifestyle changes. And help me remember that the only person I really need to take care is me. 🙂 Peace!

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**This is no way an endorsement for taking yourself off medications.  I have discussed this with my Nurse Practitoner and it has been a slow taper over 18 months.  One medication at a time.

 

 

Self Care for PAWS

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Up and down and up and down and around the bend and back again. Battling through PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) is like being on a roller coaster ride, on the mixer, walking around in the funny house and sick with the flu at times. Add to that my PTSD being triggered and it’s been a rough couple of weeks.

To be honest, there are periods of time I don’t really remember much. I have pieced some things together from those that I’ve talked to on the phone or who saw me during those days as well as various texts and emails.  I wasn’t very nice.  I lashed out at those I love the most during the worst of it. Including myself. PAWS can be a serious medical condition. There are times I have felt very disconnected and it’s taking all my ability to maintain some semblance of “normal”.  I’m sure there are a few of my people that would have liked to see me be hospitalized for a few of those days.

While I did have a long morning in the ER after one of the most rough days/nights, (un)fortunately they let me go home. There had been paperwork filled out to put me on a hold, but I know what the hospital means if you are detoxing and/or going through PAWS. It means being stuck inside, put on benzos and who knows what other meds as well as starving because they don’t have any food I can eat. So I pulled myself together and talked with a little intelligence and very nicely and they literally dumped me out in the waiting room. They know what the PAWS crazies are like. They wanted me out of there!

I don’t want it to sound like I take this lightly. I don’t. I am scared out of my sometimes too smart mind. I just can’t see any way through this other than just doing it on my own using medical marijuana. I can’t go to a treatment facility because they will put me on pharmaceuticals and that is what has been making my life a living hell for the last few years. I can’t go to the hospital because that’s all they have to treat me also. I still am taking my anti-depressant and would be happy to consult with a psychiatrist about my PTSD if I could get a referral. I was supposed to have one over 4 months ago, but that’s how it’s been with my PCP, we talk about it and then a year or two later after me reminding her multiple times it finally gets ordered.. Right now I just am doing my best and trusting that those that love me will still be around when I come out the other side. Cuz this ain’t pretty!

 

I’ve been through PAWS before with my gambling addiction. I vaguely remember the jitters and the crying jags and the frustration with having my brain not working right. I remember getting upset easily and feeling a little “out of body” at times when I first started trying to live life without my addiction activity. What is different about this is I didn’t realize that I had any emotional attachment to my medications. Also, when I was detoxing off gambling (yes, you detox off gambling just like alcohol or drugs, it is truly miserable) they were giving me pain medication and anti-anxiety medications.   I was just doing what the doctor ordered. I was taking medications in order to be comfortable living life. Now that I have been off the opiates for nearly 60 days, I don’t crave the pills…but I wish so much for something to make all the bad feelings go away.  I am not feeling comfortable at all.

What am I doing to take care of myself through this you might ask? I admit, I haven’t been that great to myself. One thing is I have absolutely NO appetite and so making food is a challenge. Fortunately my son has been around and so I occasionally feel a motherly calling and will cook for him and then I’ll eat too.

Tonight I was finally able to drive to town to get a few things at the grocery store. I bought some good healthy foods to cook and eat, including a few easy things like soup and cheese and crackers and avocadoes. Things I don’t have to think about to create something to fill the empty spot in my belly. I also found some specialty teas to help me relax and to be positive. Additionally, I am following suit with millions of others around the world and have embraced the idea of coloring for therapy. I bought myself a coloring book and some colored pencils. Combined with a little medicine that should be a great way to be creative and reduce my anxiety at the same time.

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I am really proud of myself for driving to town. Driving has not been a good thing during this particular time in life. I either find myself extremely anxious while driving or I get road rage. These are new things for me. So, I have not drove much at all the last couple weeks. But, I needed groceries and food for the plants and animals too!

The other things that are keeping me grounded are my furbabies and the other wildlife around here and my gardening. I have my dog who is the best. I freaked her out a little the night things got so crazy for me, but she came around in no time after she saw I was home and okay. Then there is my partially feral kitty that was indoors but escaped just about the time everything else took a dive for me. I am slowly encouraging her out of her hiding spot under the deck. I also love keeping the hummingbirds happy by having their feeder full and water nearby for them to drink or play in. They are so beautiful and I love to hear them buzzing around. Then there are the butterflies and the snakes and lizards that catch my eye. They are beautiful and I thank them for letting me get so close to take their photo. Watering the gardens and tending my first few medicine plants helps keep me focused outside myself also.

Many of the things I have growing were started from seeds. I love watching things grow. It gives me hope. Even the flowers that are less than perfect or the cilantro that bolts before I can get any of it…..they all are such a support and source of encouragement to me. They give me some purpose when I am feeling so out of touch with the rest of the world. The living things that rely on me for their care give me so much back. I am so grateful that II have been able to stay here, where I can grow things and be in nature.

It’s the end of the day now. I have much to be grateful for. I know I have a number of people that are praying for me. Thank you. That is another of the challenges with PAWS and the PTSD.  It seems to darken the spirituality part of my life. I trust your prayers will be sufficient, for praying is a challenge for me right now.  I still have hope and I know that comes from something outside myself.

I thank those who have not been scared away but have said “I love you, how can I help?”. I’m grateful for being able to drive myself to town and for a full fridge and pantry. I will do this!!! If there is one thing I know about me, I perservere! I don’t know what it’s all going to look like on the other side, but I choose to view the future as very lovely and peaceful and full of promise!

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Something new…for me…House sitting!

1:36 AM 5/16/2014 I am experiencing a FIRST! Those are always something worth mentioning as far as I am concerned. So much of life can often be very repetitive and become part of a routine. Right now my routine is all messed up. But, I am looking at all the good. I am house sitting for a friend I’ve known for about 2 1/2 years. This person has only known me in a state of not actively gambling. Yet, this person has heard my stories of lies and manipulations and embezzlement and all the things associated with my behaviors of compulsive gambling. I’ve been in this house a couple of times, yet I’ve never been here overnight.

This person told the woman I am providing my expertise to in organization and delegation (the woman where I live) that of all the people he knows I am the one he would trust with all he has. Which he has done. What an honor.

So, here I am in a wonderfully appointed nicely equipped state of the art home. This is something I have never experienced living in during my entire adult life. I have a car and two trucks at my disposal. I have a wonderful roof over my head. I have 2 bathrooms that have showers and tubs and toilet that flush and good lighting that are available for use 24/7. There is a gorgeous sink and a fridge/freezer/water/ice machine that is gorgeous. And a dishwasher that I can run quietly whenever I choose. I also can do laundry 24/7. If you are a large majority of the US, you think this is typical America. Even the ghetto apartments in inner cities have a majority of the amenities that I mentioned available if there is they funding for them. It is very nice and comfortable for certain.

I am enjoying having internet 24/7 where ever I choose to be in this house. I can be in bed, or on the couch or in the recliner of on the patio or at the kitchen table. All in this one place. I have done 2 loads of laundry with drying included in the 5 hours I’ve been here. I’ve also used the TV and Cable and Internet. Oh, and I stopped by a store and picked up a few things and then decided I wanted something for dinner and the store is only about 1/2 mile away and so I went and got myself a mini pizza (gluten free to boot). Yes, living in town and having ammenties is quite nice…..

Yet, I have not head the bird song or the frogs or the crickets. I have not smelled the dirt and the cedars and pines heated by the rays of the sun beating on the trees tops surrounding me. I haven’t been able to enjoy going to my own place and seeing my own things with all the wonderful background sounds.

I am grateful for this opportunity to enjoy a very different living environment. It affords me an opportunity to see how it is for mainstream America as well as an opportunity to gain income to provide for a need.

The amount of compensation I am receiving for this gig will pay for my nursing license renewal, the last one I will be afforded without some repeat education for the next 2 years. I am required to have a specific number of hours in 5 year period. I am still within those guidelines and so I can renew, after being compensated for house sitting in a very comfortable environs.

I also have another situation I am pursuing tomorrow morning. I am going to make a series of health related videos to market a First Aid Kit. 🙂 I will share a link when I have it. There will be 14 videos, each a short vignette of an emergent health care situation.

So, different environment being in someone else’s home, different routine (have to set an alarm to get up and drive myself to another town in the morning, 30 minutes commute. Different bed.

I am really tired and having a hard time settling in for the night. But…my energy and my attitude this week have been very up and I am grateful for every opportunity being put in my path. God is providing for each need…one at a time.

BTW….Shasta, my best friend ever, is with me and she is doing fine. She enjoys looking out the back window and watching the kids at the school grounds just across the way. She has done her necessary things going out in the front yard where there is grass, being allowed a small arena, yet her sniffer is on overdrive. She finds and spot and does her thing and then is off to sniffing again. The life of a dog is all about their front end (nose and mouth) and their back end (defecating and urinating). As long as she’s healthy and happy that is all I am concerned about.

I suppose it would be best if I would try to get a little sleep before my acting debut! I haven’t been in a “stage” presence since 2002 when I took a credit class titled “The Total Performer”. I really needed to boost my GPA and I figured this would be an easy A. I ended up working my rear off!!! The class required 6 hours of class time and about 20 hours of off class time. I did get the A tho!. That is a long time to have been away from the acting environment, yet I did love drama in HS. I also have applied to be in a car ad later in the month. I may have a new career. 🙂

Being flexible is affording me so many options. Options I may not have otherwise considered. God is providing for my needs and I am also finding entertainment and enjoyment from many of the venues I am pursuing. God is good, all the time.

My “remarks” to the Social Security Administration

I finally completed the Adult Function Report that was necessary for my application for disability.  It literally took me a few weeks to complete it.  At the end of the form is a place for remarks.  This is what I wrote. 

 

[Trying to explain how my life has changed in the format you have provided proved to be extremely difficult for me.  If you were to look at my work history through my entire adult life, you will see that I have always worked in physically demanding jobs.  Waitressing, landscape maintenance, pre-loader at UPS, CNA, nursing.  Often I was working a second job or going to school part time in addition to working a regular job. I did all I could to provide for my 3 children after I become a single mom when my kids were 1, 4 and 5.  I did not get help from their father or anyone outside the home.  I participated in PTA and Scouts in addition to caring for my children and my home.  You also would be able to see how over time my income slowly but steadily increased.  It took me nearly 10 years to obtain my goal of having an Associates Degree of Nursing since I was putting myself through school while raising children.  It had been my hopes and goals to continue my education after a few years of paying off some debts while working as a RN.  I had hopes of obtaining my BSN and eventually my Master’s of Nursing.  I dreamed of working  and buying a home.  I hoped to do some mission work to share the talents I had honed in nursing.  For the first time in my life I had finally been able to earn a decent wage and my children were grown and gone from home and I was able to financially have a good life.  I had some options.  I had health care.  I had the beginnings of a retirement account.

Because of my physical limitations I have been unable to work at all the last 2 1/2 years.  I waited a full 2 years before applying for benefits because I kept hoping I would get better.  I used up what little bit of savings I had to struggle along financially as well as I could.  I kept trying to do what exercises I was able to when I was able in addition to eating well and eliminating stressors in life hoping to get well enough to work.  It never happened.  I am no more able to work on a consistent daily or weekly basis today than I was 2 1/2 years ago when my physician determined I was unable to work.

I have found myself homeless 3 times.  If not for the kindness of friends and those that care about me I would have had to live on the streets.  I have not been able to spend the time with my family and friends that I used to because I either hurt too much to even want to be around others, or I am too tired, or unable to focus.  I have had to miss out on activities that I used to enjoy because I don’t have the strength to do them. 

I used to be so outgoing.  I used to socialize weekly.  I used to enjoy entertaining. I loved to travel.  Now, I would rather sit in my quiet home alone than be around others because I don’t have to energy to put out for others and I just get so tired.  My only socializing comes from my weekly visit to my support group and spending time with my boyfriend.  Once in a great while I will attend  a function, but it comes with the price of typically ending up completely down for a couple days after I return home.  I have not entertained in my own home but for maybe 1/2 dozen times in over 2 years.  It requires too much planning and effort as well as there have been times I have planned something only to have to cancel it the day of the event because I had an exacerbation of pain that made it impossible to do anything, let alone be a good hostess.  Traveling is only every couple of months and it also comes with the price of typically ending up in bed for a couple days when I return home because my pain increases and I’ve used up all my energy reserves.

I truly believe there are many people who if they had to deal with my pain on a daily basis they would just give up.  I am a very strong person.  I have given birth naturally to 4 babies, two of them at home, with no pain relief.  I broke a bone in my foot and continued to work on it as a pre-loader at UPS as well as doing landscape maintenance for 4 months before finally going to the doctor because my foot hurt.  The bone had been so damaged from my continued use of it that I had to have surgery to have the bone removed.  I have a very high pain tolerance as well as work at having the most positive attitude I can in my circumstances.  Some days I do get depressed, but most the time I try to view the glass 1/2 full!  I am only able to get through this struggle with pain with the support and encouragement of my closest friends and my support group.  If not for them and my own internal belief that life is always worth living…I would have given up some time ago. 

I am tired of being in pain.  I am tired of being unable to get medical care.  Without insurance or income it has been nearly impossible to get any help for my conditions.  This last year, after I received a small cash settlement, I sought care from a nurse practitioner, a chiropractor, acupuncture and physical rehab, all out of my own pocket.  I have had some temporary relief, but nothing longstanding.  If I were to be granted social security disability I would be able to get more help to get better so I could maybe eventually work part time.  That is my  hope.  But now…I know I can not  work because all of my energy and abilities going to maintaining my simple life and taking care of my basic needs. 

Thank you for your time and consideration in this process.  It has been a challenging endeavor for me.  I used to be able to articulate and complete tasks such as this form without any effort.  Now, as I’ve stated before, this has been a great effort of a few weeks of time to complete this the best I could.  I hope I have been clear.]

I typed my responses to the questions asked on the form.  It was typed and single spaced except for a space between questions and answers.  When all was done, it was 10 pages long.  The process of contemplating all my limitations as well as the changes my conditions have brought upon my life were at times very depressing.  Most of the time I really try to focus on what I can do and have gratitude in my life.  Yet having to realistically and honestly look at all I’ve had to give up…well…it just is so sad. 

In other times during my life when I have had to recount difficulties to another I would just roll it all off and be done with it.  I remember after nearly 2 hours time in giving my life history to a psychiatrist, when I was done he looked at me and said, “You have had a life full of much trauma and many losses and yet you tell it like it is just a story out of a book you read.  Does it not bother  you?  Are you aware that you have endured much?”  Well, of course it has been upsetting to live through some of what I have, but it’s my life.  It’s the only one I have had.   Getting my panties all bunched up over it doesn’t change it.  That was my attitude going into this dissertation of my health conditions and how they’ve changed my life.  Yet it is different now.  In the 18 years since that visit with a mental health professional I have done much work on myself.  I have learned to allow myself my emotions and feelings.  I am able to look at myself and realize not everyone has endured these difficulties.  

It took me being out of work for 2 years to finally accept that I wasn’t going to be able to work.  I kept hoping I would get better.  I kept hoping it was “all in my head”, like some people think it is.  I kept hoping if I would dig deep I could PUSH through the pain like I have so many times in life and just do it…work…live…get past it.  But I couldn’t.  My pain is real.  I do have limitations that not everyone else does.  And no matter how much I may WANT to work, I simply can not work.  So now that I’ve written it all out and really looked at what I have had to give up, I will allow myself some time to grieve. 

I will grieve that I didn’t realize how amazing my body was and how strong I was.  I will grieve that I spent so much time working so very hard trying to gain approval from others in my life, that I missed out on doing many things that I wanted to do.  I will grieve that I didn’t work smarter rather than harder.  Yes…I will grieve….and then I will move on.  I will accept those things I cannot change and find courage to change the things I can.  I will be grateful for the life I have been given and live it as fully as I am able.  I will live today the best I can!

 

I still get “stuck”.

Today when I was working with my physical therapist she asked me to move in a specific way.  I couldn’t do it.  I listened to her directions and thought about what she said and tried to make my body follow the instructions and I couldn’t do it.  I was stuck!  There was a block in the neurotransmitters making it so I could not send a “move” message to that particular part of my body.  It brought tears to my eyes.  Realizing I was stuck and have been for who knows how long and that being stuck is potentially a big part of my pain, at least the pain in my back was really mind boggling.  I was really blown over by the emotions that were attached to realizing that I have been STUCK for possibly a long time and I didn’t even know it.

We get that way in life sometimes.  We go along and find a way of doing something and it works for that time and so we do it the same way over and over not realizing that there might be an easier or healthier way. We often are completely unaware that our “body mechanics” are a bit off, or our way of seeing things is with glasses that only have pinhole openings. Or we were taught by our families and friends that “this is just the way we do it”, and so you listen and follow the examples you’ve been given and get stuck doing it the way everyone you know has done it for years.  Even if it hurts.  Even if it causes pain that limits movement.

My therapist has me doing Stott Pilates, which is based on mindfulness of body movement.  Breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, scapular movement and head and cervical spine placement are the key focus areas.  Today we were working on my pelvis which is where, based on multiple MRI’s, I have a bulging disc at L4-5.  It is an area that has been injured over and over.  What she asked me to do was this:  I was lying on my back, breathing through my back, keeping my entire pelvic area relaxed and loose, like a bowl of jelly.  I was doing pelvic tips, like rotating the bowl of jelly.  You have to be able to think a bit creatively to do this.  Anyhow, I was able to do it one way, but when she asked me to reverse it, my brain couldn’t get the message from the thought through the neural pathways to the muscles.  The path had not been used for so long it didn’t recognize the message.  I had created another way of using my back muscles that did not include moving the way I was being directed.  Weird, huh?

So why did it make me cry?  Because realizing that my brain can’t make my body work by doing a movement that should be natural somehow triggered my limbic system.  That old reptilian part of the brain, the one that connects movement and emotions.  Makes sense if you have a basic understanding of the limbic system.  Having it make sense doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not going to have the same response that I did.  It was a bit mind blowing actually.  To realize I had lost control of movement and hadn’t really been aware of it.

I didn’t know all of that before today.  I didn’t know that I had mindlessly used my back in a certain way because it worked, but over time it really was preventing me from moving correctly.  The positive thing about all of this is I know with this knowledge I now can work at retraining myself to do something that I can’t even imagine yet!  That’s how mind boggling this kind of work is.  I can’t imagine what it will feel like to make a specific part of my body respond to a command to move a specific way that it isn’t even recognizing right now. I have taken my movements for granted too long.  I now have to actually think and in some instances re-think the way I move!

I was able to see a relationship between this physical being stuck and how I have been stuck in behaviors and characteristics that have hurt me in many ways.  Some of my behaviors were a means of coping with a situation at a time that worked, and then over time it became unhealthy.  The same can be said of my characteristics.  They have evolved, and at some point, some of them became unhealthy and I was stuck.  I was doing what I needed to do at the time, and it worked then.  Since I have been working a recovery program, I am more mindful of my behaviors and character.  I have an awareness of where change is needed and have worked at practicing new things.  It feels so foreign at times, and even today, more than 3 years into my recovery, my pathways to the old thoughts and pathways can still be triggered because they were used for so long. The new ways, my healthy ways, can still sometimes feel so foreign and odd.  So I keep being aware, taking a good cleansing breath and really thinking about it, and move on to doing it the way that brings me to balance.  For me, balance comes with being mindful and exercising my soul in ways that move me with ease through life.

I am so grateful for an opportunity to be living my life both emotionally and physically with mindfulness.   I need the awareness of where I am stuck and some help in moving with ease the way I was designed.  I am finding that help with the connections God is placing in my path.  Thank you God for knowing what I need to be Unstuck!