Tag Archives: anxiety

School anxiety

I’m preparing to go back to school. Or rather I’m trying to prepare to go back to school. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to hack the anxiety just leading up to the first day much less the anxiety that will come with classes.

I’ve tried school twice before since leaving treatment. Once after laureate and once after Cfc. Both times I ended up having to withdraw. I don’t want to have to repeat that scenario for a third time.

But I want to move on with my life. I’ve been focusing exclusively on healing for two full years. It’s time to do more. I want to do more. But I’m scared that this anxiety that is looming now is only a sign of things to come.

And it’s not simple anxiety. It’s anxiety that’s making me question my body, alter my mood and tonight prevented me from going to the store.

I want to go to school so badly but am I being naive in thinking this could possibly work? There are other obstacles to. We’re trying to find someone to drive me since my dissociation has made it
unsafe for me to drive long distances. We’re not having any luck.

I’m going to try to make this work. I’m going to so everything in my power but I just fear that won’t be enough.

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Filed under anxiety, Independence, life events, Recovery, school

it’s a brain thing

Lately, I’ve been reminded that a lot of my psychiatric illnesses are largely due to a chemical imbalance in my brain. My psychiatrist and I have been messing around with my medications for the past two months or so after taking me off one that was causing more side effects than it was worth and it has been causing havoc with my life, messing with my anxiety and depression. After four plus years of treatment I’ve gotten pretty good at using coping skills. And I have been using coping skills out my ears but nothing was touching the level of anxiety I was having. Nothing. This caused me to be starkly reminded that while there are some things I can do to effect my mental illness there are times when sometimes I can’t because when it comes right down to it – it’s just that an illness. A biological illness similar to diabetes or cancer except this illness originates in the brain.

This has become more and more apparent as we try and find the right combination of meds for me. It’s a balancing act as we try to find meds that stop nightmares, help with sleep, catch my anxiety and combat my depression. And part of this balancing act is sometimes stays in the psychiatric hospital. I had a short stay right after Thanksgiving where we made some changes to my meds. These changes unfortunately resulted in me being extremely sedated and sleeping for 16-17 hours a day. Not good. And didn’t help my depression at all. In fact it made it worse. Therefore, resulting in a second stay last week lasting until Christmas Eve.

I am blessed to have access to a good facility about 40 minutes away. And I am lucky that my regular psychiatrist (who is a genius with medication) was the doctor on call. During this second stay I stayed longer while we messed with my medication and I dealt with some side effects. And there are usually side effects to medication. Some more benign than others. I was relieved that this time the side effects weren’t so great as to pull me off the new medication. It seems to be helping. *crossing my fingers*

So back to the beginning of the post – my depression and anxiety is at least partly chemical. Honestly, this scares me more than if it was simply attributed to my trauma. If it was only due to trauma I could “get over it” but a biological basis? Well, I can’t control my brain anymore than someone can control their blood sugars or the number of cancer cells in their body. I’m having to surrender my control. Take each day as it comes and hope and pray that this medication change is at least a temporary fix.

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Filed under anxiety, coping skills, depression, life events

holidays and mental illness

We are headed into the holidays and many people may not realize how tough of time this can be for those who suffer from mental illnesses. Not just eating disorders but all mental illnesses. Holidays bring wonderful things  – family, friends, traditions, fun and a multitude of other things but they also bring stress. I think that even a person without a diagnosed mental illness would agree with this.

In this case of eating disorders I suppose it goes without saying that Thanksgiving wouldn’t be that person’s favorite holiday. I am thankfully at a place in my life where I can enjoy the day spent with family and even enjoy the food but I spent several years anxious and unsure during the meal. In fact two years in a row I spent Thanksgiving inside a treatment center. However, Thanksgiving can also be difficult for someone suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD or other psychiatric illness. Large groups of people  can cause anxiety for some, seeing relatives that you haven’t seen for some time and a fear of being judged can be very fear provoking and just an upset in routine can be destabilizing.

In the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas I have been known to crash and crash hard landing in the hospital or treatment (I spent three consecutive Christmas’s in treatment – that sucked). This year I feel more stable and ready to enjoy the holidays than ever but I remember those days and look around me at others with a lot of compassion. Also, although I feel stable and 90% sure I won’t need the assistance of the hospital I also know that it could be hard to manage some of the stress that comes up. I love Christmas so very much that sometimes the anticipation simply becomes too much to bear. Odd right? But this adds to my anxiety level and I can become destabilized because of this. As the holidays approach look around you at those who could be suffering. Understand that it is not that they don’t enjoy being with you or dislike the concept of the holidays – it is simply the change in routine and the anxieties that Thanksgiving and Christmas can bring that can cause symptoms. I love the holidays but as much as I do I struggle with them and I think I can speak for many when I say that I wish I didn’t. I wish I could simply sit back and enjoy them. However, I have to fight through a lot of things in order to do this. At this point in my life I’m capable of doing it. But at one point I wasn’t. So have some compassion. Show some understanding  and simply be there for others this holiday season.

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Filed under coping skills, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, family, friends, life events, PTSD, Recovery

it all started with a tree…

In treatment I had to write my autobiography. I am afraid I gave the assignment little thought except to figure out how to write a lot while saying nothing. A couple of nights ago I was questioning how in the world I ended up where I am now. A person who spent time in treatment and is being treated for several mental illnesses. I decided to go back to my childhood. I just started writing and this is what developed: 

I suppose you could say it all started with the tree. The tree that stood towering over all the other trees in our neighborhood and who happened to be in our backyard. I don’t know when I decided the tree would fall on the house but one day I did and from that things were never the same.

I was born in 1988 to middle class parents. I fit right into the average category in those early years. Caucasian, white, middle class, first child, parents well educated but not too well educated etc. etc. The only measure which I didn’t end up straight down the middle was weight. I was small. Normal small the doctors said. Genetics made her that way. Nothing to worry about.

And it wasn’t I ate like a horse, played and romped happily in the backyard and lived the active life of a normal child. And then the tree came along.

“Mama, what happens if the tree falls on the house”

“It’s not going to fall on the house”

“But what if it does?

“It won’t.”

“But if it does we’ll be squished. We’ll die.”

“The tree is not going to fall on the house Kate. Eat your peas”.

And so I ate the peas but in my mind the tree falling on the house was not only a very real possibility but one that I felt like I had to prevent. From then on the tree falling on the house was a conversation replayed over and over in our household.

I was seven at the time. A tom-boy who played with my cousin and brother. Dug holes and then filled them with water so we could dance in the mud. A girl who played with dolls and matchbox cars. Leggos and paper dolls. And Beenie Babies. Yes I was a true 90’s child.

A true average, 90s child.

I went to a rough school to put it nicely. In those days a polite way of saying that many underprivileged children attended a school was to deem it an at risk school and identify those children who were ‘at risk’ so they could achieve services.

Since I was profoundly average I was not at risk. 90% of my classmates were but I was one of the ‘lucky’ 10%. I did not need the extra attention or tolerance that the school demanded an at risk child needed.

I look back now and cringe at the labels already being applied. We were first graders and were being separated by status. The ‘at risk’ kids needed attention. The kids like me didn’t. Seven year olds find it hard to understand why some students receive more attention than others. It’s impossible for them to understand what ‘at risk’ means. All that is seen is that one student is liked more than the other. And that is what I came to believe.

Early on in that school year I became sick. It started with the stomach flue and then without a break progressed to chicken polks followed by a respiratory infection which in turn prompted testing where it was discovered that I had asthma and was allergic to milk. Suddenly, the average box had changed.

I was no longer a ‘healthy’ little girl. I was a girl who struggled to breathe and needed to avoid milk at all cost in order to maintain my health. I was sickly and thin. Very thin. And it was then the comments began.

Instead of having comments directed towards my pretty dress or hair or anything at all grownups responded to me as oh you are so tiny. So skinny. I suppose it must have been then when I decided that skinny set me apart. Skinny made me different. Made me special.

My school year continued on. Added to my tree fear was being sick. After having been ill for so long I constantly worried that I would become sick again. Even more worrisome to me was that my brother might become sick. I read books about disasters and was convinced Kansas was due for a hurricane any day now. The situations that were being created in my mind were rapidly spirally out of control. At home I was a fearful almost panicky child. This only increased as my school year progressed.

Seven years old (with Amelia Bedelia)

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Filed under family, Identity, life events, PTSD, survivor, the past, trauma

introducing “my gracious gift of God”

OK so here in Kansas  – it’s hot. Really, really hot. In fact, my city has had the highest temperature in the nation several times in the last week. Oh what an honor. We seriously reached 112 the other day. Way, way too hot.

Anyways, moving on…because of the hot weather I haven’t had much to do/felt like going anywhere since as soon as you step outside the door you sweat. So I have undertaken a new project. A few months ago I wrote about tumblr and was rather um critical of it. Mostly, this was because I seemed to be found by a lot of individuals who were activley engaged in their eating disorders. I didn’t mean for this to happen but since I was posting about recovery it seemed like individuals naturally found my blog.

Well, I have started an new tumblr account. The title is My Gracious Gift of God and it focuses on my new journey to help my dog Shona become a licensed service dog. I’ll be pulling some posts from my tumblr and putting them on here but in this blog I’m going to document Shona’s and my journey. I know, I know, – it’s tumblr. The reason I chose tumblr is because of the ease in which i can post both pictures and text and since I plan to use both to tell our story that is essential. And yes I am eating my words from that one post. However, I would like to say that I am being very careful in who I am following and what I am posting. So far I remain in a safe, happy dog loving network of people.

Do not feel obligated to check out this blog/follow it or read it. It really will not have much to do with my day to day life or emotions. Right now it consists of a lot of pictures and short little posts. When I feel like I have something important to say I’ll either post a specific link here or simply reblog the information on this site. It is a much more informal blog and one of my main focuses for it at this point in time is simply to inform people about PTSD, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and so on and so forth. It has been amazing to me how few members of the public really know what these illnesses are. I think it is vitally important that people do know and hopefully I’ll be able to educate a few people.

There will be a slight twist to this blog though. While I am planning to explain in depth what the illnesses are that I struggle with as well as common symptoms I am also going to share how Shona insticitivley knows how to help me. Her intuation and at times life-saving skills are what leads me to pursue her service dog liscense. So, if you are watching the blog I will eventually be chronicling her progress.

I hope everyone in Kansas is staying cool or as cool as they can. Have a happy Saturday. 🙂

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Filed under dogs, PTSD, Recovery

thunder and fear

It’s been a long week so far. By the time Monday finished I really thought it was Thursday. So needless to say today does not feel like Thursday. Honestly, it feels like it should be next week. I’ve spent a lot of time in Wichita the past three days. Four appointments in three days makes my brain feel like lead and my emotions feel like they have been rug out like a wash rag. I did this and more in treatment but trying to live life and manage therapy is much more difficult.

I have had a lot of time this week though to spend time with friends. I’ve gone to the park  and store with Cassi and Miss Adelynn and had a wonderful time with Alli on Tuesday. I also got to talk to Verna and have plans to see her soon which gives me something to look forward to.

Right now it’s beginning to thunder outside. Thunder has always made me nervous and for some reason today some of that old fear is surfacing. I’m 22 but still afraid of thunderstorms. Yes. Lovely. Sometimes I feel like I am afraid of everything. And in all honesty I am a afraid of a lot of things. I don’t know if it is my personality, my anxiety disorder, life events or something else entirely. Perhaps it is just the way God made me.

The thing about fear though is that you have to trust that it will go away and the thing that is causing the fear will eventually vanish. Beth told me yesterday that the person who is in a tornado that is traumatized is not the person on their front step video tapping the whole thing but the person underneath a mattress in their bathroom convinced they are going to die. Fear is an adaptive and normal response. If we didn’t have fear we would be even more reckless than the human race already is but for some people (i.e. me) the fear response kicks in overdrive. The result is a very fearful person, a person more likely to be traumatized by events, be more caution, more anxious etc. etc.

So what I have gathered for me is that fear can only be conquered by faith that I am safe or that it will end. For me that means trust and faith in God. When I am in the depths of fear, overwhelmed by terror I can only utter save me God. Help me God. Save me. I’m so scared.  I don’t usually enter into these prayers with any faith in safety. But I think that’s okay. God, the Holy Spirit I think will move and give me the assurance and comfort I seek.

This brings me back to thunderstorms. When I was little and scared to get out of my bed becasue of the lightening and thunder all I could do was cry in the dark and pray to God to save me. Eventually, I fell asleep while the thunder still boomed. I can’t help but think that as an adult that God will somehow give me the same relief. One minute I may be scared for my life but the next I will find relief whether it be in sleep, another person or simply peace of mind.

So today the thunder is a good reminder. God is there. God is my protector. He is there to turn to in times of terror.

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Filed under faith