Choices, Choices Everywhere, and Not a One to Make

I just ate an orange. Some choices are easy. I haven’t had much of an appetite lately. The only tough part was peeling it. 😛 I also bought one of those Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, even though I really haven’t had a yen for chocolate much. It’s like — too rich or something.

Being indecisive, being unsure of what I want or need is so frustrating. Yesterday on the way home from getting my cast put on, Mom and I settled on a restaurant for brunch. That was also easy: The Honey Tree, within walking distance of our home. Even so, I stared at the computer for ten minutes or so before I decided on corned beef hash with over easy eggs. Whew. Plus, nobody makes corned beef hash like The Honey Tree.

Today, though, it’s been harder, and I’m not sure why. Part of it is I have so much on my mind. Things are bad in some of my relationships, I keep rewinding things in my head to figure out what I could have done differently — for God’s sake, choosing a t-shirt or sweatshirt has become a minefield. So, I was on Netflix (instead of writing) looking for a movie I might like: thriller or horror. In dialectical behavior therapy, they tell us to use opposite-to-emotion thinking when problems arise.

So, because I felt overwhelmed and sad, horror or thriller, I thought, might bring me out of a funk. Except that there were too many choices, and too many movies looked good. I’d pick one, start to watch it, get bored after about 15 minutes, try another one, ad nauseum. Finally, I just turned it off. The silence felt good, and I took a nap without feeling a lick of guilt, because I know we heal more quickly in our sleep.

What sorts of decisions are hard for you to make? 

 

How Are You Taking Care of Yourself?

Happy New Year, one and all. I hope you are doing well so far as we approach the half-way mark of January. Did you make any resolutions/promises to yourself? How’s it going? Were they realistic, or did you shoot for the moon? Have you kept them? If not, don’t lose heart. You might need to lower your expectations. For many of us, the word “lower” is negative, and sounds an awful lot like “loser.”

Is that how you feel? Well, I haven’t managed to keep my promises to myself, totally, yet. Sometimes I might hit one or two. But I figured out today that – yes – I was shooting for the moon, hoping to at least reach the stars.

As I’ve mentioned before, I finally came to the realization after, literally years of bitching about my alcoholic sister or father or what have you– Sob, sob. Poor me–the truth of the matter is codependency has to be all about me, or I will never change.

Dictionary.com has this to say about two (or more) sick people:

adjective

1.

Of or relating to a relationship in which one person is physically or psychologically addicted, as to alcohol or gambling, and the other person is psychologically dependent on the first in an unhealthy way.
To my understanding, that means not only is the alcoholic sick, but my bonding/relationship/behavior toward that person also makes me ill. It also means, even when the alcoholic gets better it doesn’t necessarily mean I will too.  Whether or not I change and grow is entirely a separate thing.

I have to take care of myself first, in all things. Which brings me to the title of my post: How are you taking care of yourself? I recently enrolled in a year-long (or more, depending on how much progress I’ve made) course of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy).

According to Marsha Linehan  “dialectical” means a synthesis or integration of opposites. The primary dialectic within DBT is between the seemingly opposite strategies of acceptance and change. For example, DBT therapists accept clients as they are while also acknowledging that they need to change in order to reach their goals.

There are many phases of DBT, which is why it is a year-long course. The core of the whole thing is mindfulness;  learning to connect the extremes of emotion mind and logic mind into a center called wise mind, a mid-point which takes all those thoughts and emotions into consideration when making a decision.
There are also acronyms in DBT which help us to remember what we need to do, especially under stress. The acronym to make sure we are taking care of ourselves is PLEASE, and it stands for this:
  • Treat Physical Illness
  • Balanced Eating
  • Avoid Mood-Altering Drugs
  • Balanced Sleep
  • Exercise
So, risking repetition, I’ll ask one more time: How are you taking care of yourself (not anyone else)?
For any loyal readers who are still out there, I’ll be posting three days a week from now on: Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. 😀
Peace out,
Chris

How Do You Respond To Stress? Part One

saving-cry-for-help-ecard-someecardsYou’ve heard talk of Type A and Type B personalities. The first part of this two-part blog series on stress is about the Type A personality.

Here are 25 things you might not know (or might!) about this complicated personality:

1. They don’t procrastinate. They hate the idea of wasting time so they do things the moment they come to mind. Why wait and do it later when you can just do it now?

2. They always have a task list — a never-ending one. If there is another day to be lived, then there is another set of tasks to be accomplished.

3. They have several alarms set throughout the day so they always stay on top of things. They wish they could remember it all in order to save time, but this is the best next thing.

4. They have trouble understanding the stupidity of others. They don’t believe themselves to necessarily be exceptionally gifted or genius. So why is it that they are competent when almost everyone else seems like an idiot?

5. They don’t understand the concept of not being capable of doing something. To them, if something can physically be done, then why would they not be capable of doing it? If they need to learn something, they will.

6. They understand that laziness is a choice. Most people talk about laziness as if it was some sort of disease. Type A’s look at such people as idiots. Laziness isn’t more of a disease than is ignorance.

7. They often become passionate. If they are going to do something, then they are going to do something they believe to be meaningful. If it’s meaningful to them, then it deserves their fullest attention; passion is inevitable.

8. …But not always for too long. Unfortunately, because they are so passionate, and because true success takes patience, any sort of early failure easily discourages them. They are likely to pack up and change careers in a heartbeat.

9. They can be very emotional. Type A’s seem to be more strongly rooted in reality than most people. They seem to understand the world around them better, and because of this, they are more influenced by the outside world. Worse yet is that they are just as likely to be found lost in their thoughts — a very dangerous combination.

10. They’re prone to stressing. Put simply, they worry a lot. They do their best to see into the future and can’t shake the fact that things can always go wrong. Plus, being as passionate as they are makes them dread that ever possible and looming, crappy outcome.

11. Although they know they should take more time to relax, they don’t always find it appealing — and when they do, they simply can’t find the time. For them, they feel most at home working and doing their thing. It’s difficult for them to understand that getting away and slowing down is in their best interest.

12. They love sleeping, but have trouble stopping their thoughts from racing. It’s not easy to fall asleep when your mind just keeps on running through thoughts and images. Stopping them is no easy task.

13. They can muster superior focus. When things need to be done — for Type A’s, things always need to be done — they are able to focus intently and block out the rest of reality. They call it getting into their “zone.”

14. They’re perfectionists. It’s not that they are trying to be perfect, but blemishes, mistakes and inconsistencies frustrate them. They find them ugly and appalling, not being able to allow them to pass their inspection. If they could, they would – but they simply can’t.

15. Doing things efficiently is their first priority. As little time spent getting as much quality work done as humanly possible? If you just got a hard-on, then you’re a Type A personality.

16. They make plans, lots of plans. If you want to achieve something, then Type A’s only find it logical that you should know how to get there. So they make plans. Unfortunately, making plans isn’t always efficient. Once they realize this, they revert to focusing less on planning and putting even more emphasis on efficiency.

17. They center their life on their careers. Their careers are their passion, their purpose in life. Once they figure out what that is, there isn’t much else that interests them.

18. More often than not, they feel that they are too busy to be in a relationship. This is sad, but true. Type A personalities often end up alone because they don’t allow themselves to date. They feel that they don’t have the time, so they don’t bother with trying to make a relationship work.

19. They have a tendency to cut others off in conversation — not to be rude, but to be right. I mean, what’s the point of letting them yammer on with some nonsense when you can just tell them the way it really is, and then you can both move on with your lives, right?

20. They love the spotlight. Some may call them attention-whores.

21. Always having a plan for the worst-case scenario is a necessity. What’s the worst possible thing that you can possibly imagine happening to you? You losing your job? Your pet Pooky getting run over by a car? Cancer? Armageddon? Yup, they have a plan for that.

22. They walk fast and with a purpose, doing all they can to avoid lines of any sort. To them, walking is getting from point A to point B in order to do what needs to be done at point B as soon as possible so that they can move on to point C. If you’re out for a leisurely walk, then find a park.

23. They are punctual and expect others to be the same. Other peoples’ time is worth respecting. The sooner you’re in, the sooner you’re out. That’s what she said.

24. Doing things with a purpose is the only way they know how to live. If there is not purpose behind action, then Type A personalities don’t see a reason for doing it in the first place. They understand that actions are only worth the goal they are trying to achieve.

25. They love solving problems and believe there is always a solution. They believe the world to work in a logical manner – minus the illogical creatures that live in it – and therefore, believe that there must always be a solution for every problem. For the very few that may not have a solution, they should be forgotten.

Source: Paul Hudson, Elite Daily

Have a wonderful day. If you think of it, and if you pray, include me throughout the day. I had kind of a shock earlier this morning, and it’s making for a tough day. Thank you so much.

Ciao.

 

Exposure Is Like A Four-Letter Word

exposureOr at least, it should be, and that’s the word fear. In the book I’m reading about social anxiety disorder, Dying of Embarrassment, there is lots of talk about exposure as the main solution to dealing with most anxious and troubling situations.

The first part of the book helps one figure out what exactly is distressing and anxiety provoking. It’s all very individual, of course. Then we’re supposed to put it in a hierarchy, like from least anxiety-provoking, to moderately anxiety-provoking to severely anxiety-provoking. I’m just reading this book to read it for now. When I sit down to really look at situations and make a list it’s going to take me a while, because my knee-jerk reaction is always “It’s all severely anxiety-provoking! What do you think got me into this mess?!”

Exposure therapy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposure_therapy) as a form of torture began in the 1950s. It’s also known as flooding. Of course, I’m kidding about the torture part (a little). I only say that because I’m actually considering it and I’m afraid. The next section of the book (I forgot the part about the coping skills and changing cognitive distortions) is actually doing it. Exposures take two forms: in vivo (real life) and imaginal (in the imagination). Before we do an actual in vivo exposure, we’re supposed to take ourselves through a few imaginal exposures.

In imaginal exposures, everything is imagined as detailed as possible. All the smells, the sounds, are people sweating, etc., get as detailed as possible. Then go through the situation and let your anxiety rise as you sit through it. Go through the anxiety and stay with it because it will go down again the longer you stay with it, as you remember your breathing exercises and so on.  You might imagine absolute success or you might imagine marginal failure and how you would come at your cognitive distortions in the imaginal exposure.

In in vivo exposures everything is real. The book never mentions this, but to me it is like taking someone who is afraid of snakes and throwing them into a pit of vipers! Of course, it’s not that dramatic, because there’s the hierarchy list; the list of lesser anxiety-provokers and higher anxiety-provokers. So it’s much more within the control of the person with social anxiety disorder. For example, let’s say you’re afraid of public speaking. You might start with saying hello to your neighbor when you’re both working in your backyards. Then a medium task might be giving a talk at the high school. A severe task would be giving the baccalaureate speech for your daughter’s friend’s graduation.

If you read this far, God bless you, Geshundheit, please place your trays in their upright positions, and thank you for not smoking.

coffee

Is It Giving Up Or Letting Go?

 

1decide it’s okay to let go: When I walked away from Maybury Farms, when I let that go, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. You have to know that whatever you are holding onto does not belong to you, living or inanimate. It is not yours. That makes it easier to let go.

2. don’t hold on so hard:  I was holding on so hard to the farm that I couldn’t enjoy myself. I mostly had panic attacks, anxiety so bad that I had to take pills before each tour. I couldn’t even enjoy the children. How do you enjoy tours with 50 children each? I was overwhelmed, too low self-esteem and way little voice projection. If we hold on too hard, all we come away with are empty fists and tense shoulders.

3. decide what you truly want: I know I still want to give back to the community somehow, I just learned that this is not the way. Sometimes we fall many times before we find our way. I know I want animals; farm animals may not be them. I may walk dogs for exercise for a veterinarian or something. When we know what we want, it’s easier to let go of what we don’t want.

4. don’t ask too many people for advice: I only called one person when I was about to leave the farm, and that was my counselor. I called him twice and he didn’t get back to me in time. So I made the decision on my own. The problem with asking multiple people what they think is we often get multiple answers and it muddies up the water. Yuck. No one wants that. 🙂

5. don’t listen to what others say after you let go: You’ll get all kinds of opinions after you make your decision to let go, but really—what do you care? All that matters is how you feel. Do you feel happy, relaxed, free? Then ignore them all.

6. celebrate your freedom:  You just have to do something to celebrate your new found freedom, even if it’s something as simple as going to the DQ. You. Are. Free. It’s not usually simple, and it’s not usually easy, so make a huge freakin’ deal out of this. ❤

Ciao, Bella. xx

G is for: Glassy-eyed, Gone, and Drooling—Oh My!

spockSometimes, I think, if the disease doesn’t kill me, the cure will. Here you see a cartoon with Captain Kirk complaining to Spock about his mind-melding techniques; that he would have expected a little more than “the lights are on but nobody is home.”

The reason I share this is not to poke fun of people ratcheting up the electricity bill in their homes. Not by far. I’m showing you this cartoon because it helps me to talk about something near and dear to my heart; psychiatrists in the U.S. (and perhaps other countries) over-prescribe to their patients. Especially benzodiazepines. Feeling anxious? Here: Klonopin, Ativan, or Xanax should have you feeling comfortably numb in no time. I get it, okay? And this is not a complete and total indictment of psychiatrists all across the country. They are pressed for time. They have insurance issues to deal with, plus pharmacy reps coming in trying to sell them the latest and greatest drug out there.

deadhamsterSo no, this is not a slam post. That was just an observation. The title of the post is much more personal. I’m on pretty high doses of medication right now, trying to get me off a manic phase. (Yes, please God, now.) I’m thinking better, not in so many different directions at once, but I still have flights of fancy (Of course I can do the A-Z Blog month, despite not making all the flash cards for my Maybury Farms volunteer post! I can do everything). Never mind that I had no business signing up for the blog post competition. My mind, which knows me and loves me, also sees shiny things and wants to kill me. So we have this total love/hate thing going on.

When I first wake up in the morning, or even just before I go to bed at night, it’s best to not talk to me. I make absolutely no sense, even when I try my utmost. I imagine myself sounding like the teacher on the Peanuts cartoon show. So why do my closest loved ones stay by my side? Can’t they see that I’m so not worth it?

closedYesterday morning I actually turned to my mom and said, “What did you just say about pickles?”

“What?” she asked, not in a judgmental or an oh-you’ve-really-lost-it-this-time tone of voice.

I cleared my throat, tried to speak more slowly and articulate every word.

“What did you just say about pickles?” I asked again. It seemed really important to me, but—don’t ask me why.

“I didn’t say anything about pickles,” Mom responded, then she went back to her crossword puzzle, and I returned to looking at FaceBook and trying not to drool because—even though I’m constantly parched and thirsty from my meds, one of them gives me excess saliva. Oh, and it’s hard to swallow, so lots of times whatever I’m swallowing (sometimes just saliva ) will go “down the wrong pipe,” causing coughing and choking fits until I can drink enough water to get past it. I look drugged. For the better part of the day my eyes are at half mast, and it drives me crazy. I have to really work to make myself understood, and if I’m excited about a topic? Fuhgeddaboutit. 

I can count on a window of 2-2 1/2 hours in which to get any intelligible work done. That’s it. So it’s no wonder that, around 10:00, when it’s time to take my meds and my second wind starts to kick in, there’s a huge part of me that wants to scream, “I don’t want to take them and you can’t make me. Everyone is asleep, even the dog. No one is pulling at me for my attention. I could get so much done.” Which is why I stayed up past my bedtime last night, and sacrificed sleep for making more flash cards.

But—I see my shrink today, in a couple hours. I’ll go over all this with him. I don’t want to wander around in a drug-induced haze.

Hope it’s spring-like where you are. Feels wonderful here. I’ve made a commitment to go to the gym today, but I might change that up to taking Lucy for a walk.

Peace out. Take care o’ you. xx

Smile and Hello Practice

someonenewA smile is a curve that sets everything straight. ~Phyllis Diller

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. ~Dr. Seuss

They might not need me; but they might. I’ll let my head be just in sight; a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity. ~Emily Dickinson

There are a ton of exercises and techniques I have yet to try in David Burns’s When Panic Attacks. I practically carry it with me wherever I go, and I definitely pull it out to work on cognitive distortions (This is All My Fault, I’m going To Do It All Wrong, I Can’t Get Anything Right, I’m so fat).

Smile and Hello Practice is one of the Interpersonal Techniques to counterbalance Shyness and Loneliness. You might not know this, or you may already know this about me, but I’m very shy. In order to make this a more palatable self-assignment, I thought I would do it at one of the funnest places I know, the Novi Public Librarysmile

The instructions go like this: “If you are shy, you can smile and say hello to 10 strangers per day. Use a 3×5 card to record how many people respond positively, neutrally, or negatively. You’ll often discover that people are much friendlier than you expected—unless you happen to live in Manhattan. I’ve tried this in Manhattan and everyone ignored me! Of course, even that can be helpful, because you quickly get over your fears of rejection.” (David Burns, When Panic Attacks )

This was pretty tough. When I was forced to keep my head up, say hello, and smile, it made me think of how much I look away and avoid human contact.  So, I only managed eight people. Every person except one smiled and said hello back. Plus–I didn’t count them among the eight–when I was at the self-checkout area with my books, there were two little boys with their Mommy. One turned right around and said to me “Hi!” Well, with that cheery face, what could I do except say hi back, and then his compadre said hi as well. So, if you count the two little guys there were ten.

What a feeling! We need connection and contact in this world and I connected in a little teensy way with 10 people.It’s pretty heady. Ever try it yourself? sayhello