Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Change Is Possible

Image Courtesy of usamedeniz / freedigitalphotos.net
O my goodness! It has been ages since I have written here, but I do check in every once in a while. I just do not have as much time to write, because being more active and getting out more means less time on the computer. Also, my sleep has improved, so I am not up in the middle of the night, writing blog posts as much as I used to do. In fact, I really need to go do some house cleaning right now, so I am going to get off the computer soon. My lesson here is that I could feel guilty that I am not posting here daily anymore, but my family is important to me, and I need to care for my family and home--so I Do Not feel guilty. Also, one of the things I have been working toward in my particular journey is getting out around people more, and that takes time too.
Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net
Actually getting out is far different than being in the house all the time, which was my plight for quite a few years. One of the projects I hope to get to this summer is to write about what I think has helped me to be able to do that. I am still working on getting out regularly. I don't know if it will never get to the point that I do not have to actually think about the process of how to get out around other people or not. I am just thankful to God that I am able to do it now; and right now, I still have to use the steps that help me do that -- baby steps.

Baby Steps can lead you into real change, but you have to be willing to do the work, which includes actually moving your body more (I am talking about getting off the couch and doing some housework or running some errands.) I am not suggesting you get into a workout program, especially without the proper physical therapy support. How you move more or where is up to you and your medical team. I found the most practical thing for me was adding a little bit of movement every day or every week, as appropriate to my physical condition. I do mine through everyday actions: cleaning, adding a few extra steps, etc. Maybe eventually, I will add in more formal physical exercises; however, I am experiencing real change, because I have been willing to move more. I have to add that the natural products I take helped me with that. To leave that out would be leaving out something that I feel was a huge breakthrough for me. The supplements I use have been fairly easy for me to get the right mix, something that would have been so hard to figure out on my own and hard to buy quality I felt I could trust in the stores. (If you want to know more about the products I use, please message me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChronicFatigueandCreativeDecluttering1 )
For those of you who deal with illnesses, you may say to me that I do not understand; however, I do. It has taken years, finding the right supplements and meds, as well as working on the mental aspects of my life that had changed through illness and other things in my life. It has taken spiritual assessment and re-surrendering to Jesus/God. I am still a work in process: I will be until the day I see Jesus face to face.
Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net
Finally, I would say, "Do not give up." Even a small amount of progress is progress. The steps backward will happen, and you will be tempted to say that this is an impossible journey; however, nothing is too hard for God. I have had plenty of steps backwards, but that just opened up an opportunity to take another step forward. It is easier than it was when I started, but every step forward leads to added achievements (small achievements add up). Sometimes, I fall into a funk and feel like a failure, but I know things are better here than they were. I keep chipping away. It is worth it. Again, I say, "It is worth it!"

Image Courtesy of WorldWideStock / freedigitalphotos.net

It is not just one thing that has helped me. It is a combination of things: spiritual, psychological, supplements (natural products), medication (I am actually taking less medication now), and action. I put spiritual first, because God is first in my life and I believe God has led me through this maze of life. I am on the path. Jesus is my Savior, and He did not say we would never see trouble, irregardless of what some prosperity gospel advocates and gurus seem to spout.
One of the hardest barriers to break has been panic attacks involved with going to certain places and agoraphobia. There are real psychological barriers that become entrenched in our brains. I am not going to even attempt to explain that here, but I have read about the loops that we can get stuck in; and, my understanding is there is a neurological, physical thing here involving neurons and synapses in the brain that can be broken through behavioral conditioning. I feel like I have had a small battering ram to get past some of the cyclical loops, then they tried to close in behind me to get me stuck again. I found a book that has been helpful. Also, I have a couple of other tools listed below that have been very helpful in breaking the cyclical loops caused by chemicals in the brain that affect fight and flight syndrome (anxiety and panic attacks). The reason I mention this is I know the things that hold us back can be complicated because of the mental and the physical things we have gone through (are going through). Even writing about this is starting to give me a bit of a headache: going over the past over and over again does not change a thing for me, but looking forward and taking baby steps has helped tremendously. Fearing what might come next is a fruitless exercise; but, living today as it is and taking small steps forward is life-changing.

Scriptures, Articles, and Books You May Find Helpful

This is not an exhaustive list. I hope you find something here you can use. There are other coping techniques that have been helpful for me in the past, but I have listed the two that I use the most now along with scripture.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Procrastination, Fatigue, Overwhelmed?


Let me begin this short thought piece with this clarification, which is you know your body better than anyone else.  Well, hopefully you do.  Maybe, there are some people that are not in touch with their bodies, so they are not sure when to rest and when to be active;  but, I fully believe one can learn to know.  Also, when in doubt, take baby steps and see how you feel.

Today, I have a job to do that I put off for
  • when I wasn't tired.
  • when I didn't have something more important to do.
  • when I felt like it, which has nothing to do with how my body feels.
What I have found is putting off what needs to be done, just makes things worse.  Whether it is picking up in your house, cleaning, writing a letter, making a phone call, getting that new router up and running, filling your weekly pill container, or any other chore you can thing of, it helps to pick one job and start it with a small step.  One little step is the beginning to moving forward.

If I have hit a rocky road on my path to moving forward, I am still ahead of where I used to be, because I am building on the habits I had begun to establish.  Even if I have steps backwards, I can use the same method of baby steps to return to keeping my house clean, getting rid of clutter, or any other job that needs to be done.  Wallowing in guilt or failure is really not an option.  It just keeps me frozen.  I cannot wait until I feel "mentally" ready to get the job done.  The step seems to be the thing that has to come first for me;  then, the mental readiness gets easier.

This is written from my personal experience.  It is my opinion, and it is not meant to be a diagnosis for changing anything in anyone else's life.  I am simply sharing that by actually taking a small step to get something done, I am able to feel less overwhelmed.  Taking baby steps helps me to break the cycle of procrastination.  It encourages me to get moving and to move forward in my life.

I hope small steps will help you move forward too.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Relaxing into Change, Not Fighting A Battle

This morning, not soon after I woke up, I started thinking about the title of yesterday's blog post, Fighting the Battle.  Sometimes, the word fighting may evoke angst and anxiety in individuals.  Personally, I think a constant battle would be exhausting, both emotionally and physically;  therefore, I think it is wise to have way to reframe thoughts on the words I am telling myself.

When I used the term fighting the battle, I was thinking of the grit it often takes to get on with life.  However, that grit does not have to require raising one's cortisol level, nor demand pushing through despite any pain and anxiety you may feel.  You may actually prepare your brain better for what you want to achieve by relaxing first.  Here are some ideas I have used.

  • Get comfortable in a relaxed sitting position.  You can gently recline if that is best for you.
  • Take easy, deep breaths.  Breathe in through your nose, and Count 1, 2, 3, 4.  Hold 1, 2, 3, 4.  Let breath out through your mouth 1,2, 3, 4.  Repeat several times.
  • Picture one thing you want to achieve and the steps to do it.
  • Now, envision doing the first step and do just that one step.  You can continue on in this manner through each step, and you may find that what seemed so hard to do is easier than you felt before you changed your mindset about it.
Another method I have used that gives me some visual cues to encourage me when I don't feel like cleaning house is focusing on one or two things that I want to do.  Say I want to clear the dining room table of the stack that has grown there -- I can pick up an item, then put it away or throw it away, as I walk through that room.  After I have done this several times, I have often been able to see the difference and I have not felt overwhelmed.  In fact, I usually want to do more.  

Note that it may take more than one picking up trip by the table to see the difference;  however, congratulate yourself when trying this for taking each step:  it's a good feeling and rewarding to see the pile get smaller.  If you have a physical disability that requires pacing yourself, then make sure you limit the time spent working to your present ability.  After a while, you may find you have built some physical endurance from the activity, as well as having eliminated the overwhelmed feeling you used to get from believing you have to clean the whole table or clean the whole room at once.

These two methods, that include preparing yourself to get a job done or simply picking one focused thing to do, are techniques that can help you break out of feeling frozen in a do nothing or a do little state without overwhelming pressure.  This is relaxing into changing habits by a slow immersion, rather than pushing yourself into an anxiety attack.  These are easily applicable Baby Steps that can be expanded into longer steps as you feel more comfortable with the habits you are working on.  


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fighting the Battle

It often seems like the battle is never ending when you have a chronic illness.  Even when you have been seeing improvement, there are times you feel like you cannot throw off all the cords that have bound you.  It seems they tighten and pull you down again.

The only thing I can say for getting through this is "keep on fighting."  Rest between bouts; then, start moving forward again, one step at a time.

You may think that is easy for me to say.  No!  It is not!  I know this, because I live it.  I am living it right now.  I am having to modify my behavior to fit my situation, and it is not easy.  I start retreating into my little turtle shell, only wanting to be in situations where I feel comfortable, which is mostly at home;  and, my step backwards throws me back into a loop that means I am having to regain ground on the habits I thought I had fixed.

Has this ever happened to you?  Have you ever had a relapse and ended up sitting around in your pajamas too much?  Have you seen your house get a little messier (maybe a lot messier), and you have not cleaned your bathrooms and other areas as often as you normally do?

Have you ever had another member of your family become ill or had some other prolonged situation arise that sapped your strength and emotions?  I bet I could name many things that may affect how you are able to handle your illness and responsibilities.  However, the point I am making is not about what affects you, but what you do when you realize how far you have fallen from where you were.

I can write about the backward steps from experience, because I have lost count of how many times this has happened to me.  Moreover, I am experiencing this now.  I am having to climb my way up again, and it is worth it.  My brain tries to get stuck in the old ruts and loop back into what used to be the chronic illness norm for me, which is quite depressing.  Some of that dread I used to to feel in the morning upon awaking has tried to creep back into my life, and I am having to make behavior changes that include telling myself that the feelings will pass and it will be a good day.  Praying and thinking of scripture before I even get out of the bed has helped too.

The point is not to give up, because there is still a race to run.  It may be a very slow walk with one heavy foot in front of the other, but it is doable.  It can be done, even when you do not immediately see large scale results. In fact, you may never see large scale results, but you can feel good whenever you take a baby step forward.

Here are my daily basic steps forward this week, and I am not limited to just these steps.  In fact, I have already been able to achieve more.  I am not listing obvious steps like self-grooming, eating, or taking medication and supplements;  however, one certainly can do this when planning one's goals for the week.

  • Get dressed in something other than pajamas.
  • Do stress relieving exercises, such as slow counted breathing patterns.
  • Focus on one household chore at a time, and do not think about how much more needs to be done.
  • Enjoy reading my book without guilt.
  • Take a short stroll outside, because it is better than sitting in the house all day.  
  • Do not talk negatively to yourself about all the things you have not done.

These are my goals.  What are yours?