Sunday, May 22, 2016

5/22




Well look who got dressed today. Despite never posting outfit photos, or even updating my blog, I do still get dressed... occasionally. I'm thinking of starting an Instagram account for all my outfit photos-- or even life-related things. Sound interesting? Not so much? Let me know... if anyone's out there even reading this haha.



Friday, May 20, 2016

An Anxiety Update

Elindebol, Sweden [1 633px × 2 439px]       



  A little over a year ago, I made an appointment with a doctor to get back on medication for my anxiety. I was finally talking to a guy who I had liked for almost a year and I knew that if I wanted it to amount to anything more, I would have to get my anxiety under control. I didn't want to get back on medication, but I was desperate and didn't know what else to do. I could barely hang out with him without getting out-of-body anxiety, I had gotten physically ill multiple times before seeing him, and the first time we got coffee sent me into a three-day panic attack where I wound up in urgent care. So I went, because I couldn't ruin this relationship before it even started, and was prescribed an anti-depressant that I had been on years before. The difference between being on medication years ago and trying to get on medication now was that my anxiety had yet to evolve into being afraid of taking medication. Back when I was 22, I was open to any medication that might help, but at 27 and a few less-than-favorable experiences with medications under my belt, the fear of the side effects gave me more anxiety than not being on it at all. The week spent trying to get back on it was so awful that I couldn't get myself to even wait the two weeks for it to regulate. I had to find another way.

Rewind to October 2014, to my three-day panic attack followed by weeks of uncomfortable residual anxiety that made it hard to sleep and would leave me restless and awake at 3 in the morning. Laying in bed, flipping through the channels on the TV, I see a program called "Attacking Anxiety and Depression". I normally would never think about stopping on an infomercial, but I really had nothing better to do, and I was curious as to what could possibly "attack" the situation I had found myself in. During the next hour I hear different people speak about how well this program has worked for them, and a woman with a soothing, reassuring voice explaining how different my life could be. That was enough for me, by the end of the program I had ordered it. (Reading reviews later on, I noticed that the majority of bad reviews I had read about the program was not about the program itself, but about the company that sent out the product through the infomercial. I actually didn't order it through the infomercial, but through Amazon here.) It arrived a couple days later, I opened the box, looked through the workbook and CD's, put it all back in the box, and for the life of me I don't know why, but put the box next to my desk and never touched it again.

Fast forward to April 2015, after spending a week trying to get back on medication that I couldn't get myself to take, the day I decide to stop taking them I tell myself that I will start doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy instead, or maybe that program I bought and never did. I really don't think my anxiety is a chemical imbalance that requires medication (meaning a daily anti-depressant. I was taking Xanax as needed). Being too anxious to go see a therapist for CBT, I decided to try the program instead. So I got the box back out and pulled out the CD's and workbook and started the program. It's a 15-week program that has a CD you listen to for each week, as well as a relaxation CD you do every day that involves breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided meditation. Lucinda Bassett, the woman with the soothing, reassuring voice is the one who started the program and who you listen to through out all the CD's, as well as other people who have taken the program and have recovered, as if you are listening in on a group therapy session. Even a medical physician is on a few of the CD's to explain the physical aspects of anxiety which I found helpful. It has a workbook that accompanies what you learn each week and carry-along flashcards that have key points from that week's lesson. The program doesn't tell you anything different than what is probably written in a ton of other books (including The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook that I would also work in while doing the program) but how it's presented. Lucinda talks about her own experiences with anxiety, and brings people in who also talk about their's (and what helped them), which gives you a type of reassurance of knowing you're not the only one who has gone through it. They talk about specific symptoms, or unusual ways of thinking or even avoidance behaviors that make you think "holy crap, me too!" And you realize that you aren't crazy, nor are you going crazy, all of these things are normal effects of anxiety.

Don't get me wrong, it is not a magic pill and it is not a quick-fix. It is work. It is retraining your mind to think differently. It's pushing yourself to recognize and stop patterns and to be compassionate with yourself. It isn't easy, but it's doable. But you must put in the effort. The first few weeks were high and low; you question if it's really working, if it's even worth doing. But as the weeks went on I started to see changes. By week 10 I was feeling so good that I started to forget to do the next week's lesson. I was no longer having daily anxiety or feeling spacey at work. It was a 180 degree change. (There were even a few occasions where my mom texted me asking what the name of the program was because she had seen such a change in me she wanted to recommend it to some co-workers that she thought could also benefit from it.) By the time September rolled around the guy and I had become official. Sometimes I would think, "Wow, I'm actually in a relationship. And I'm going out and doing things... a year ago I wouldn't even think this was possible." It was exciting. But unfortunately, sometimes life (and relationships) have a way of bringing its own anxiety, and when you start to neglect what you've learned, you can fall back into negative thinking and patterns. But like the program taught me, you might still get some anxiety in life, but that does not mean you have lost your progress. You never really go back to square one, you're just presented with another opportunity to learn and grow. It's funny that the thing that brought me to this program in the first place, the anxiety of the beginning of a relationship, is bringing me back to it, except this time for the anxiety of that relationship ending. But I'm going to start the program again this week, and revisit everything that helped me the first time, and remind myself that change is possible, and sometimes even necessary. I just wanted to share what has helped me so much in my journey to recovery, because one of the most shocking things I've learned while dealing with anxiety and panic attacks is just how many others deal with it too.

Some other things that have also helped me tremendously that I must mention: "At Last a Life" By Paul David as well as his website Anxiety No More. Claire Weeke's "Hope and Help for Your Nerves" that I kept in my purse and took with me everywhere I went. She really does have a way of making you feel like everything is going to be okay, and it helped me so much to take it out and read it whenever I was anywhere I had to wait and was alone with my thoughts, like waiting rooms or before appointments. And I'm currently in the process of reading Lucinda Bassett's "From Panic to Power" to see how similar it is to her program, so I could recommend that to people since the program is rather pricey. But honestly, I think there is something about listening to her speak so reassuringly and hearing others speak about their experiences that really helped me. And the workbook helps put techniques into practice.

Everyone's different, and what works for me might not work for everyone, but I can only write and recommend based off of my own experience. I hope this helps anyone that might be searching for relief from anxiety. Or at least show you another option.

*Photo via Imgur and pretty much what I picture during guided meditation ;)


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Fig Tree



              Yesterday, it was brought to my attention that there is a fig tree growing outside my bedroom window. A fig tree nobody ever planted. A tree, that up until yesterday, we all thought was just an annoying, oversized bush that I always asked to be cut down because it obstructed my view of what was going on outside. Not until yesterday, when the fig buds were pointed out to me, did I realize that I had been hindering it from bearing fruit by always asking for it to be cut down because I couldn't see beyond it.
             This reminded me of the parable (Luke 13:6-9) of the man who plants a fig tree that, for years, bears no fruit. When he asks the groundskeeper to cut it down, the groundskeeper tells him to leave it be for one more year, that he will dig around it and fertilize it, and if it still doesn't produce fruit in a year, he'll cut it down.
             I'm not sure what correlation there may be, if any. All I know is that once I stopped asking for the useless, annoying bush to be cut down, it turned into a tree that started producing fruit. It's not that it suddenly turned into a tree; it was always a tree, I just didn't know it. It needed time to do what it was supposed to do, and I needed time to see it for what it was.  The bush I thought was ruining my view was actually a productive tree trying to give me something.
             Perhaps the things we see as obstacles, the things we want so much to get rid of in our lives because we can't see past it, if we just let it be, and give it some time, will give us something we couldn't even fathom it was capable of bearing. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Some Like it Hot


Last week my family and I spent the day down on Coronado. With clear skies and temperatures in the 70s, it was hard to believe it was actually winter. It was nice to just sit in the sun (with SPF applied twice, rest assured), have pizza delivered to the beach (!!), and just be around good company.

But let me be honest; for as beautiful and sunny as it was, it was not easy. When my sister text me that morning asking if I wanted to come hang out, my immediate response was a decisive "no."  But the more I thought about it, the more I told myself that I probably should go. Not just to be with my family, but to not avoid situations simply because they're uncomfortable for me. So I went. There were enjoyable moments, and there were moments when I felt like, okay, I've been out and around people long enough, I'm ready to go now. Only to look around and see that everyone else was having a good time and was most certainly not ready to go yet, and not wanting to say anything for fear of being the fun sponge. It's a trapped feeling. My sister was kind enough to let me sneak off to her room to get away from everything and recharge somewhere quiet for awhile. Imagine having to take a break because the beach is too stressful, haha. But that's just how life is right now, a mixture of having a good time and being overwhelmed, the wanting to stay and wanting to go, and trying to enjoy things, even if it means sometimes having to go off to decompress in the middle of it.

xx

Out of the rough oyster-shell of difficulty she extracts the rare pearl of honour, and from the deep ocean-caves of distress she uplifts the priceless coral of experience. When her flood of prosperity ebbs, she finds treasures hid in the sands; and when her sun of delight goes down, she turns her telescope of hope to the starry promises of heaven.
C.H. Spurgeon  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Indiana Jones and the Dressing Room Selfie



Outfit posts are like bald eagles, rarely seen around here. But I liked this outfit and I was in front of a mirror, so I took the opportunity. 

Dress & hat: Forever 21
Belt: thrifted
Sandals: Target


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Year in Review




Years always seem to split into two, and by the time December rolls around, looking back on things that happened in January and February seem as far away and foreign than if they had happened the previous year. This was especially true for 2014. The first part of the year feels like it happened in a completely different decade than the last half. The first five months or so were good; I was working a lot, exercising almost daily, really focusing on myself and my relationship with God and I felt like I was in a good place. But then over summer, right around the half-way point in the year, things changed. I got a promotion at work. And while this should have been the pinnacle moment of the year, something I had been waiting for for the last 3 years, it turned out to be quite the opposite.  This made the last part of the year go to the birds. It's like I completely checked out. I spiraled into a hole that I'm still trying to climb my way out of. With the promotion came idleness, confinement, and weird hours, and it knocked me off the steady foundation I had created of busyness and routine. Looking back, this event taught me a lot about myself. 

I always thought that I was a person who didn't like routine and the idea of being a slave to a set schedule, but not until I settled into one did I realize it was actually a perfect fit. I liked having the same hours everyday, not working an early shift one day and then a late shift the next and screwing up my sleep pattern. I liked getting up at the same time every morning, and actually being tired when I went to bed at night. And I liked knowing what to expect. Expectation, in a weird way, gave me freedom.  I know this makes me sound old and boring, like routine automatically equates to a dull and stagnant life, but I really can't think of anything more exciting than being fully prepared and present for the day because you're comfortable and well-rested.

The next thing I learned is how much keeping busy helps me. Albert Einstein's words ring true, "Life is like riding a bike, to keep your balance, you must keep moving." In my prior position I was constantly physically doing something--walking around, doing different tasks, keeping myself busy. Not a busy that was exhausting or unhealthy, but one that kept me occupied enough not to get trapped inside my own thoughts. And one that wore my body out enough that I wasn't physically capable of keeping myself up at night with incessant thoughts and worries. This also spilled over into my everyday life and  I found myself being more productive outside of work. Because I was used to it, it wasn't as hard for me to do. After I stopped being able to be busy at work, and with my hours cut to where I was at home all day until I had to work at night, I found myself slipping back into the idleness. And you know what they say, "idle hands are the devil's workshop."  

The last thing I learned from this particular event is how much I crave being outside. My previous position allowed me to be outside a lot, by myself, walking around, taking in the sky and the trees and the fresh air. Now I'm stuck inside all day. I try to go outside on my breaks as much as possible to keep sane. This isn't just at work either. If I've spent too long inside my house, I make it a point to at least walk into my backyard and watch a sunset or take a couple breaths of fresh air. A couple days ago I was sitting in the car waiting for my mom and sister to get done in a store, having an underlying feeling of anxiety that, while common for me, is still uncomfortable. And as I sat with the feeling of dread, I looked out the window and saw these clouds that were illuminated by the late afternoon sun and trees gently rustling in the breeze and my heart filled up with so much joy I thought it could burst. And I laughed at the simplicity, that even in a moment of uneasiness, how much the beauty of the outside world soothes my nerves. 

These are all things that I write for myself to remember. (I've also learned this year that if I don't write things down, I tend to forget them--this goes from grocery items to things I've been taught to deal with my anxiety that I forget in the moments I need it.) But I also want to acknowledge the moments throughout the year that I look back on fondly, like the day, pictured above, when I went hiking with my dad. We talked about God and birds and I learned that even amidst rocks and weeds poppies still grow. Or something as simple as going shopping with my mom and just being content. I'm thankful for all the people I've met this year-- people who make me laugh and think and challenge me. 

I've learned more than anything that I am a person who loves the process, maybe even more than obtaining the goal itself. Like how sometimes getting ready is more enjoyable than going to the event, or the car ride more fun than the destination. This became clear to me when I got to where I thought I wanted to be, and realized it wasn't what I really wanted at all. It was the working towards something that I wanted, the possibility of something that made everything I did to get it seem worthwhile, even if it was unpleasant. Like Freud said, "In hindsight, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful." It's in the struggle, in the process, where the pockets of calm and peace hold their sweetness. The moments of solace hold deeper meaning and are treasured more than anything else. And those were the best parts of 2014 for me. I'm excited to see, not what goals I can reach, but what process is in store for 2015, and how I will change and grow from it. And how many sweet spots of serenity it holds for me along the way. 

Happy New Year. 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Ocean and You




I've always liked the sentiment of this quote until I realized it doesn't make sense because it isn't true. For as vast and powerful as the ocean is, the thing it does not have is power over itself. It is completely at the mercy of outside forces. It's temperament is dependent on the weather and the winds and the pull of the moon. So here is a truer statement: like the ocean, you can give yourself up to the storm you are in and let it toss you around relentlessly, knowing that it will eventually pass and the waters will be calm again. Or, truer still, look at the immensity of the ocean and know, despite its size and strength, you can do something it can't: choose how your circumstances will affect you. The ocean can only be calm after the storm's end, but you have the ability to be calm amid the storm simply by knowing there is an end. Isn't it nice to know that you possess more power than the ocean? 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...