Illness/anxiety/mental problems, the chicken or the egg?

chicken eggToday a friend and I were talking about how all sorts of bowel disorders are linked to anxiety and depression. I have always wondered which came first….the chicken or the egg. Did the bowel problems cause the anxiety or vice versa. There is no way to know.

In the last week I had a major IBSD episode. At least I think it was. The trouble is when you are afflicted with this and have a long and awful episode it easily could be the flu. Associating an episode like that with IBSD is automatic instead of examining the sequence of events and realizing that it had the potential to be something else. In the meantime anxiety appeared and clouded the issue even more.

Now I truly believe that it was the flu. It is unfortunate that anyone with a mental issue can take an event that might have another explanation and attribute it to their problem.

Somehow we have to learn to look at events in our lives with a clear eye and a logical mind. No matter what the decision is we will be in a better place to begin with. Again it is the thinking mind that gets us into trouble. Most people will tell us that it is “mind over matter” but they have never experienced overwhelming anxiety, depression or any other symptoms. It’s easy to offer quick solutions when you have never been there.

keep your head
Jane Seabrook

People who suffer with any form of mental health problems are in a good place to help others. Connecting with people who truly understand can give others perspective and hope. That is why this blogging community is so important. We all need hope and seeing that others have survived and thrived is the best lesson of all.

Thank you to everyone who is willing to share and help others see the daylight at the end of the tunnel and learn that it actually isn’t another train but a real light.

Freedom is a gift

It is dangerous to take human freedom for granted, to regard it as a prerogative rather than as an obligation, as an ultimate fact rather than as an ultimate goal. It is the beginning of wisdom to be amazed at the fact of our being free.—-Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom, 1966

we the people

It is so easy to take our freedom for granted. For those of us who were raised in countries where freedom is the basis of our life we don’t appreciate how rare it is. Freedom should not be considered a noun. It is a verb. It is something that we must strive for every single moment. It could be snatched away from us so easily. We must see it as a very fragile gift that has to be nurtured. If not it will be gone.

Don’t take freedom for granted.

Happy fourth of July!

A day out of time

moment-in-time-imageToday felt like a day out of time. My husband had tests scheduled and left our hotel at 9:30 and came back at 2:30. He says the day was organized and fairly simple. For me it felt like a day out of time. I spent most of the day in the room and re-read a book that I loved (When Breath Becomes Air). It is the journey of a remarkable neurosurgeon, scientist, PHD in English as he receives a terminal diagnosis. It has some sad parts but some amazing quotes. He was an amazing writer and thinker.

For me it was a day to think and just be. I did some knitting…also think time…and a little TV. I think it was the first day in a long time where I had nothing planned and no agenda at all. In my case this would normally be stressful but today it was so calm. What a joy.

I am not sure why the calm settled in since tomorrow we (hopefully) will have a plan in place and normally I would have been anxious about that. The calm was a blessing.

awesome momentsHow often are we blessed enough to feel calm? For me that is not often. I let myself dive into it. Thanks to God for the moment out of time!

On the road

We are now at the Mayo Clinic and hopefully will get a plan for my husband’s knee surgery. What is most cases is simple has been made not so simple by the fact that they will be working to fix or replace a 21 year old artificial knee.

It feels to good to be here and maybe some progress being made.  Not being able to plan really throws me into stress. Just being here makes me feel better. Tomorrow there will be tests and Wednesday meet with the physician. God willing there will be a plan.

Sunset-Prayer-Distance-Healing-e1318216397612

Change comes…sometimes s–l–o–w-l–y

Healing_Quotes2Down somewhere deep inside we know what we would like/need to do be healed. If we are afraid of social situations we know, on some level, that exposure could help us. If we have anxiety because we spend our time thinking ahead and imagining a dreadful future we know that we have to find ways to shut down that kind of thinking. If we have to count how many steps there are from our kitchen to the dining room in order to eat then we need to find ways to let that go.

We may not know or have the answers but we know that healing is needed. We don’t know how we got this way but we want to change. Sometimes the thought that it may never change can spiral us into a swirling chaos.

The truth is that change is possible. It can happen just a moment at a time. Too slow to even be noticed but it does happen. We have to cling with every ounce of strength we have that hope.

slowlyI am proof that things can be different. I hope that knowing I survive no matter what and move forward to the next day will give someone courage to keep on. After 77 years I am still here and life is worth living!

 

Addiction and mental health

addiction1There are so many things that people were blamed for in the past that we now realize are an illness. Addiction is one. When we talk about addiction we immediately think about alcohol or drugs. Recently I have wondered if these addictions begin as an attempt to assuage anxiety and or depression. It is one way to medicate these problems. I also think that many people have no idea why they feel the way they do and taking a drink or an illegal drug seems to be the answer. It solves the problem for the moment and the only trouble is that it adds another dimension to the picture.

I have wondered how many people who seek help for addiction will finally discover that there is an underlying issue to be considered. I know little about rehab programs for addiction and don’t know if they address this or not. Obviously, if someone has been masking a mental issue removing the drugs/alcohol may only bring the primary problem to the fore and if it is not dealt with there is little hope that the person can stay sober.

The more we learn about our mental health and the problems related to it the more we learn how linked they are to each other and to related problems. I hope that as we continue the research we can remove the blame and belittling of those of anyone struggling with these issues.

mentla illnessFor too long both those with addictions and those with mental health issues have been second class citizens. As we learn more we are discovering that a much larger percentage of the world’s population suffers with some mental health problem. I think that the number will grow as more are recognized. We are definitely not alone. Much has been hidden for a long time with people unwilling to share.

For this reason we must continue to highlight these issues, call for more research and remove and stigmas. It must change.

 

Anxiety — we can learn and live

anxiety (1)For weeks I have been gathering the information my husband needs for his doctor at the Mayo Clinic. I need to take this burden from him since I am so familiar with how the medical systems work (or don’t work). This has been so frustrating for me and I have realized how having to confront people over and over to get what I need brings on my anxiety. The funny thing is that I can do it for others but when it is my own family I fall apart. Now we need more records and tomorrow I have to ask to speak to an office manager that I have called on so many times (and she has been so nice) that I am embarrassed and anxious about having to do it again.

I know this is silly and part of my incipient anxiety but there it is. I will force myself to do this tomorrow and I know I will suffer through it and come home drained. I just pray that my IBD will not flare up and cause me to seek every bathroom I can find. Why is it that to do this as part of my former job was not a problem but it is for my husband.

cucumbers-anxiety-l

Worrying about what someone will think of me is still an issue at my age. It doesn’t get me all the time but these kind of  situations will cause it to rear its ugly head. I have just connected this specific incident and now understand why I keep wanting to put it off.

This is a trigger that I haven’t noticed before but now that I am aware of it I will ready myself, use my learned tools and get it done.

Over the years learning ways to cope with my anxiety and manage the situations that I need to get through has changed my life. So many things that were triggers no longer bother me. I think in some ways I have de-synthesized myself and this has been a blessing.

going to bed
Jane Seabrook

Have faith. You are able to grow and find new ways to move forward. My 77 years have proved it. A good life is possible. Everyone lives with limitations it is just that each person’s are different.

Keep growing, keep learning, keep trying. You can do it.