combat PTSD, domestic abuse, domestic violence, mental disorders, mental health, mental illness, ptsd

Morning Anxiety / Coping Skills for Anxiety Attacks

I just reread this post that I wrote in November. I have changed my way of dealing with morning anxiety somewhat, since then, although the ideas of looking at pretty pictures and cute bunnies are still great.

Now, I usually go to wordpress and read my comments in the morning. I also check in with my facebook groups. These are closed mental illness groups. If you are interested I can give you info about how to join one.

What I still do that is the same as in November, is to try to calm down my brain while I am still in bed. Just forcing yourself out of bed, when you are in post traumatic stress or having a severe anxiety attack, is not the best thing to do.

For people that have extreme anxiety every morning, there is something that is causing the brain to become aroused to fear and danger, right away upon waking up. This could be caused from having to have lived in a domestic abuse situation , in which you had to be alert right away upon waking up.

Soldiers who endured combat also may have had to be alert upon waking up in the morning and ready to defend themselves from threat. Enduring the feelings of waking up to threat and danger for an extended period of time, causes this PTSD condition in the brain.

It is not uncommon for men and women from the military, who were in combat zones, to wake up in post traumatic stress every day.

I still have severe anxiety in the morning, especially if I have to go to work. I think that of you have anxiety that is correlated with something like work, then it is probably time to make life changes. I am currently working on changing out of that job.

We have to prioritize our mental wellness. No one is going to do it for us. If we can identify the things that trigger our depression or anxiety then we need to create a plan to make changes.

Making changes feels scary at first but to quote John Lennon “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done…”

GentleKindness

I get anxiety as soon as I wake up in the morning. This is from the moment I open my eyes. It is like an attack of fear upon consciousness.

I have come up with some tools that help me to decrease the level of anxiety, when I remember to use them.

I have tried to find something to do before I get out of the bed that will help. For a while, I was getting on Pinterest from my cell phone. I would look up pictures of bunny rabbits. I found that those sweet silly creatures are healing to me.

I also like to look up artwork like paintings and drawings of fairies and mermaids. The fantasy world helped take my mind out of the stress of the upcoming day.

I also tried facebook, but personally that did not help me because it brought me into the real world…

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anxiety, buddhism, depression, insomnia, inspirational, life, mental health, mental illness, ocd, ptsd, religion, spiritual

Ideas for Lessoning Severe Insomnia

I like listening to talks by Ajahn Brahm. He is a Buddhist monk who gives talks about how to live with a more peaceful mind. His talks are about anxiety, depression and other mental health focused issues. The talks are on YouTube and can be searched by his name.

There is one talk I remember in particular that had a section about insomnia and worrying at bed time. He gave an interesting technique that I would like to share with you.

At bedtime you take off your shoes. Nearly everyone removes their shoes at bedtime so this technique can be used by almost everyone.

You take off your left shoe and call that one The Past. Then you take off your right shoe and you call that one The Future. You set down each shoe and leave them on the floor, outside of the bed. Take off the left shoe and set the Past on the floor. Take off the right shoe and set the Future on the floor.

You never take your shoes to bed, so this way, you remember to leave the past and the future outside the bed. Do not take them to bed with you. They will be there in the morning.

I like this technique because if you associate it with your shoes, then you will always remember it.  You can remember not to take the pain of the past, or the anxiety over the future to bed with you. Set them on the floor and they will be there tomorrow.

Not that I have been able to do this every night, but it is something to work on. It is true that your problems are not going anywhere. They will still be with you tomorrow.

Just as your shoes can wait until tomorrow for you to put pick them back up again, so can the past and the future.

There is nothing that you can do to change the past, recover from past trauma, or to ensure the future, while you are trying to get rest.  Those things just keep you awake. If you could actually just take them off, as easily as your shoes, then you could relax and get to sleep.

Insomnia is caused by worrying about the past and the future.Memories of the past torment you. There are things that should have been …..and things that should not have been….

The future is an unknown and your mind tends to experience obsessive  thoughts about what is going to happen in the future. We have fears of certain things happening.

Sometimes we do not easily identify our thoughts as being past oriented. We think of the past as something that happened years ago. But in reality, anything that happened prior to this moment is in the past. Things that happened at work today and the conversation we just had an hour ago, is in the past.

I am sure it would take a high level of mindfulness (perhaps enlightenment) to  be able to remove the most recent thoughts from our heads, but it is fascinating to me that some people can do that.  Perhaps we could simply allow those thoughts to occur but not feed into them.

I  spend hours each night feeling bad about things in the recent past.  Then I spend precious sleep time   worrying about what events are going to trigger me into post traumatic stress tomorrow.

I am so fearful of being in mental trauma that I fear the triggers of the next day. It is like impending doom. Tonight I am fearful of taking my daughter to therapy tomorrow. I do not like going to therapist offices. I do not like the video camera filming me when I get called in to discuss how I feel about her progress or lack thereof.

The entire situation surrounding her having to go there, is traumatizing to me. Every time I have to go to the office, I a forced to relive trauma . So every week, the night before the appointment, I lay in bed and picture how they will traumatize me in the office tomorrow.

But the truth is that the lack of sleep makes it worse. The more sleep deprived I am tomorrow, the worse the trauma will be. There is nothing productive I can do tonight other than to sleep.

So tonight I will try to take off my shoes and leave them beside the bed, on the floor. The left shoe is my past trauma and the right shoe is tomorrow’s post traumatic stress. Neither one of them belongs in the bed with me tonight.

The  theory of mindfulness says that we should care for our thoughts. Even if  we cannot dismiss them as easily as taking off our shoes, then we can at least be kind to them. Our thoughts and feelings  do not require judgement from us. They are just our thoughts. it is what our mind is choosing to do.

We can be kind to our thoughts by allowing them to exist without judging them or shaming them. If we just let them exist as they are, then  maybe we can not attach so much energy to them. The less energy we give them, the less powerful they will become.

If we can lesson the severity and the energy of the thoughts of the past and the future, at bed time, then it is a good step. It may be easier for us to sleep, than if we fight with our own thoughts like they are our enemy. If they are part of us then so  be it.

Let them exist and then let them rest until tomorrow. We must get  sleep for the sake of our mental and physical health. Perhaps bedtime is the time to focus on our spiritual strength, rather than our mental weaknesses.

I have been pondering these things and cannot do them any better than you can, but I would like to learn. The more we consider mind / body / spiritual connection, in my opinion, the more accepting of ourselves we can become.

Namaste,

Annie

addiction, anxiety, depression, domestic abuse, domestic violence, health, mental health, mental illness, social anxiety, social anxiety disorder

Social Anxiety / Equality and Awareness

Social anxiety is a fear of social situations. It is a fear of being forced to interact with people who will be less than compassionate and sympathetic with us.

If a person with social anxiety was put into a room with a few people that were very understanding, patient and very kind with them, they would feel comfortable in a matter of minutes.

The people would tell them that they understand and are not going to judge their feelings or behaviors. If the person felt that they could have behaviors that were not the social norm and still be accepted then they would be ok.

Social anxiety is almost a phobia of people who are impatient, judgemental and less than compassionate.

There is a standard of behavior, manners, interactions etc that has been created by the mass population. People expect other to CONFORM to their social rules.

Some people with anxiety, do not understand the rules in all situations. They feel that they will accidentally break a rule and be judged and ridiculed and basically punished.

Other people understand the rules , for the most part (God knows they are always coming up with new ones) but they feel that their anxiety will prohibit them from being able to follow these rules.

Thus there is a fear of our own anxiety or depression causing us to be unable to follow the social norms.

Here is one example. Let’s say I am in a waiting room of a therapist office. There are a few waiting areas but the main room is full of people or it has aggressive verbal people in there.

I am getting more and more anxious and fearful in this room.

The secretary asks me to come up and fill out forms and answer questions. I will lose the capacity to think properly to answer the questions.

There is a point at which , if people are arguing near me, that I can’t even read the words on the papers.

My brain simply shuts the part down that allows me to process written language.

I go into post traumatic stress that is triggered by the aggressive voices in the room. I have flashbacks of abuse , and I have to cover my face with my hand.

If I could simply explain this to someone that I was having extreme anxiety in this room and ask to be moved to a different area then that would be fine and i could complete the paperwork.

But what happens is that the secretary will become impatient that i am taking so long. They will view me as either stupid or uncooperative. I feel that a lot of times I am viewed as uncooperative no matter how hard i am trying to cooperate.

So this anxiety is unbearable and then a new anxiety kicks in. I am afraid of what they think of me based on my behavior. I start to become anxious about the next time i have to come here.

Will they remember me and that I was uncooperative? Will they treat in a way i do not want to be treated when i come here again?

Will they make fun of me or talk about me after I leave?

I do not want to come here again and interact with the same people that saw me in the office. I want to avoid ever coming here again.

So the anxiety that occurs before I leave the house to go somewhere like this, is the anxiety of that type of situation occurring. We feel that we could be triggered by something in a social situation.

I will play out the worst case scenario in my mind, that could happen when I get there. I am so afraid of this occurring that I am already frustrated with the people there for treating me a certain way, before I even get there.

I am already feeling weird, abnormal and embarrassed about the behaviors I will have, before I am even there.

We feel that people will become impatient with us and that will further our state of mental torment. We feel we will do something that will cause these people not to like us and not to want to interact with us.

Why can’t we just act like everyone else?

Because our brain attacks us with these terrifying thoughts and feelings. The fears become overwhelming and shut off other parts of the brain that understand social interactions.

Even if we can sort of access the social rules in our brains, we can’t follow them so neatly. We cry at times that it is not allowed. We have trouble following directions once the brain begins to shut down.

We are no more able to stay focused and follow along with the socially appropriate interactions than a person with a freshly ,broken leg can walk.

We can’t walk. We can’t dance. We can’t feel self-confidence. We can’t stick up for ourselves.

It is a terrifying feeling to be trapped in a triggering environment and to know you are being judged about your less than perfect behavior at the same time.

Social anxiety is about the people who do not understand. I feel like I have a phobia of people who do not understand mental illness.

It is a phobia of having to tolerate an intolerable social situation and not be able to ask for help. It is a fear of being forced to interact with impatient, judgemental people.

I am not sure if this can be fixed. I do not know if some kind of awareness campaign would help people to understand. How would you tell them you need help in order to function in the particular situation?

Maybe some education of the public could help. But the issue would remain of how someone would know that you suffer from social anxiety and what would be done to help.

My goal here is for the people reading this to know that they are not alone.

When you start to feel a panic attack while you are on the phone with someone who is inviting you to a party, you are not alone. When you feel misunderstood while you are trying to explain to them you just don’t feel up to it, you are not alone.

When you wait until midnight to go to the grocery store in order to avoid the crowd, you are not alone.

When you get take-out food rather than risk being triggered sitting in the restaurant , you are not alone.

when you are late for every scheduled thing you ever go to because you afraid to leave the house, you are not alone.

When you try to pretend you are not home when someone knocks on the door, you are not alone.

We are all of us suffering separately but together. If we can connect here and try to validate each other , maybe it will help.

Namaste,
Annie

addiction, addictive personality, anxiety, depression, drug abuse, emotional healing, free form poetry, healing poetry, health, mental disorders, mental health, ocd, poetry, suicidal ideations, suicidal thoughts, suicude, Uncategorized

Addiction

My hands
How they tremble
I’m afraid
I’m afraid

My ears
How they ring
I’m afraid
I’m afraid

My heart
In my chest
Will it stop?
Will it stop?

The pain
How it streams
Will it stop?
Will it stop?

My knees
How they buckle
I can’t walk
I can’t walk

I collapse
To the floor
I can’t walk
I can’t walk

I hear voices
Outside
Don’t come in
Don’t come in

A knock
At the door
Don’t come in
Don’t come in

I’m trying
To reach
So much pain
So much pain

The reaching
Is hard
So unfair
So unfair

The bottle
It’s taunting me
Here,
I’m right here

The pills
Have contempt
For their pet
For their pet

The bottle
In hand
Feels so cold
Feels so cold

Trembling
Worsens
Damn the cap
Turn the cap

My hands
How they tremble
Please open
Please open

The pills
How they mock me
In charge
They’re in charge

In charge
Of my life
I feel small
I feel small

Try
Not to drop them
Be careful
Be careful

They
Spill to the floor
I’m afraid
I’m afraid

I crawl
On the floor
Face down
On my knees

Blowing off
The dust
Put them back
Put them back

Just one
Then I wait
Time will tell
Time will tell

If just one
Is enough
This is Hell
This is Hell

Time to wait
For my fate
Passes slow
Passes slow

The voices
Outside
Getting close
Getting close

No where
To hide
Please don’t knock
Please don’t knock

Such terror
Within
Lock the door
Lock the door

If I scream
They will hear
Try to breath
Try to breath

The voices
Don’t know
I’m in pain
I’m in pain

The terror
Increasing
Don’t knock
Please don’t knock

Then slowly
Those pills
Start to help
Start to help

Def con
Goes down
On alert
On alert

Threat levels
down
Just for now
Just for now

My brain
Starts to clear
Very slow
Very slow

Such
Terrible fear
No one knows
No one knows

Completely
alone
In the dark
In the dark

The time
On the clock
2pm
2pm

The others
Would judge
I feel shame
I feel shame

But the pills
Are in charge
How they mock
How they mock

No mercy
Or grace
Not from them
Not from them

Forgiveness
Must come
From myself
From myself

It’s so hard
to find
The way out
The way out

Too much
To endure
I’m ashamed
I’m ashamed

Put the
Bottles away
They will wait
They will wait

They know
I’ll return
So afraid
So afraid

To live life
Without them
Such pain
Too much pain

And so
It will go
It is sad
It is sad

Addiction
Wins over
Each time
Everytime

addiction, addictive personality, anxiety, depression, healing poetry, health, humorous poetry, mental disorders, mental health, ocd, poetry, psychology, spoken word

OCD / Obsessively Compulsively Disorderly Sadly Humorous Poetry

One time
in a row
putting on
my favorite
mismatched
orange
and purple
socks

Two times
in a row
changing which foot
the orange sock
is on
and off
and on
and off

Three times
in a row
walking back up
two flights of steps
to my apartment
to check
to check
to check
That the iron was unplugged

Four times
in a row
unzipping my wallet
to see
to see
to see
If my credit card is there

Five times
in a row
checking my purse
for
The first most critical
The second most critical
And
The third most critical
Bottle of pills

Five times
in a row
checking
my shift schedule
posted on the wall
at work.

And one
additional time
calling from home
to have someone
at work
read it to me
over the phone

Seven times
in a row
checking my alarm clock
To be sure
To be sure
To be absolutely, positively sure
That I set it
For 11 am and not 11 pm

And so—
Eight anxiety books
Nine blogs
Ten prescriptions
Eleven Youtube videos
and
Twelve Yoga postures later

I am saying
good-night
to all of you
And wishing you a
Peaceful Sleep

anxiety, depression, empowerment, holistic, mental disorders, mental health, psychology, suicude

Mental Health Issues vs. Physical Disease / It’s not ” All in your Head”

“There is NOTHING wrong with her! She is JUST depressed. ”

“There is absolutely nothing physically wrong with her. It is just psychological.”

Have you heard this? I have heard a nurse actually talk about a patient this way. I have heard people tell me their therapist told them that their anxiety issues were only “emotional” and not biological.

First of all, depression is a real condition and if someone is clinically depressed , it is not true that “nothing wrong with them.” Depression is as painful and as much of a threat to someone’s health and their life as any “biological” illness”

Second of all, there is no such thing as any disorder or disease being only “emotional” or only “biological.” The mind is part of the body. A very important part , I might add.

Every function in the entire body is regulated in some way by the brain. Emotions are also a function of what is happening in the brain.

Changes in the brain affect emotions, and changes in emotions affect the brain.

When a person has a physical disease or disorder, there is an emotional reaction to it. Furthermore, a person’s emotions relating to their illness, have a direct correlation as to whether or not they overcome the illness and how fast they get better.

I have cared for stroke patients with similar levels of a stroke. The ones that had positive feelings about physical therapy got better. The patients that felt angry or depressed did progress nearly as well in physical therapy.

An emotional disorder has a direct affect on a person’s brain and biology. A person that starts to have depression and/or anxiety develops patterns of feeling certain emotions in response to specific stimuli. These repetitive patterns create actual connections in the brain.

Any habits or behaviors become connections in the brain. Once connected the brain regulates the fact that anxiety or depression is triggered by certain stimuli. So, when someone says, “there is nothing wrong with them. It is just psychological,” it doesn’t ring true.

Once patterns are set into the brain that cause mental suffering, it becomes a biological disorder. People with depression, anxiety, OCD and other mental suffering have as much of a right to be recognized as people with typical physical illnesses.

Tendency of people to discount mental suffering as “it’s all in their head” is very hurtful and dangerous to the people suffering from “emotional” problems. Truthfully it is, in fact “in their head” meaning that it is in their brain.

If this blog does not do anything else, my intention is that anyone suffering from depression and anxiety will feel validated. The condition is real. It is worthy of being treated as real. You have a right to be sick just as much as someone with a physical disease has the right to be sick.

It is unfair that people with anxiety and depression must suffer in silence. It is not an acceptable excuse to call out of work. It is not an acceptable excuse to cancel an appointment.

When someone has severe anxiety about doing something that they know will be a trigger , they should be able to ask for help and have someone do it for them or help them. It should be the same as someone with a broken leg asking for help to get into a car.

Doing the things that trigger the brain to cause painful, disabling emotion are frightening and dangerous. A person should be able to ask for help.

It feels like an invisible disease to the people who have it. They have to do things that will make it worse. The reason for that is because people’s families, friends, bosses, teachers and even nurses and doctors do not understand mental illness.

If you are suffering in silence, please know that you are not crazy. You are not alone. Your condition is painful and sometimes terrifying. It is not your fault. It is not something you made up to get attention or to get out of things.

You know when things are painful or too much for you. There are many of us with the same fears and disabling difficulties at doing the simple things that most people take for granite. We can support and validate each other. You are not alone.

Thank you,
I hope this helps someone,
Annie

anxiety, empowerment, health, mental health

OCD and the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale

I have felt for a while that I have some OCD issues. My perception has been that my symptoms coincide with times of extreme anxiety. The compulsive behaviors come and go based on what is going on in my life and what is happening during the day.

Prior to taking the test, I was not conscious of any symptoms that continued throughout the day or ones that occurred on a daily basis.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with OCD, it is an anxiety disorder in which certain unwanted thoughts intrude upon your brain in a way that the person has little or no control over.

In addition to the intrusive worries and fearful thoughts, there are coinciding behaviors (compulsions) that the person has a strong need to do. These compulsions are related to an effort to relieve the fears and anxieties caused by the overpowering, panicky, obsessive thoughts.

So there are two parts of the disorder which are obsessive, intrusive thoughts and compulsive, unusual behaviors. I say unusual based on the scale of what the “normal” people would think was usual.

To an OCD sufferer these behaviors may seem normal or they may have done them so many times that they become unsure of what “normal” is.

I put the word “normal” in quotes because I have my own personal beliefs about “normal” being a perception that exists within the particular paradigm of individuals and can be a mass, mutually agreed-upon, reality created by the masses. But that is a blog for another day.

Some examples of OCD symptoms can be Obsessive hand washing, excessive cleaning or excessive checking ( like checking 5 times that the curling iron is unplugged, including going all the way to the car and coming all the way back up the steps to check one more time, every day).

OCD compulsions are time consuming and invade our lives at critical times. The result can be lateness to work or for appointments, which can cause problems in our work and social lives.

It may also cause the OCD sufferer to lie as a habit. After all, “My car would not start,” is a more acceptable excuse than the fact that you walked back into the house five times to make sure the water was shut off.

Often people with OCD are aware of the obsessive thoughts being “too-much”, exaggerated or out of the ordinary. They are also probably aware of at least some of the compulsions to the point where they feel they have become somewhat disabled by them.

I did some research late last night about OCD and I discovered the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale. I took the online version of the test. There are 10 questions in which the test-taker rates the level of severity and level the behavior interferes with daily life. There are 5 questions relating to Obsessive thoughts and 5 questions relating to Compulsive behaviors.

I was surprised that I rated a 32 out of 40 on the scale. This put me in the small group of extremely symptomatic OCD sufferers. In the online poll which was taken by people who have OCD symptoms, the results were put into 5 categories.

The categories are ordered in a list of increasingly more severe symptoms.

The categories are very mild ( 0-7 points) , mild (7-15 points) , moderate (16-23 points), Severe (24-31 points) and extreme (32-40 points).

Out of 2,578 poll takers, the highest number of people (1,029) came out as having moderate OCD. That is 39.9 % of the total.

I have placed a summary of the chart below.

Little or No Symptoms 95 people
Mild symptoms 580 people
Moderate symptoms 1,029 people
Severe Symptoms 732 people
Extreme Symptoms 142 peple

The site I got this information from is psychology-tools.com

So, I am thinking that in light of this new information that I will do some more research on OCD symptoms and management tools. But what would be even better is to come up with some coping skills of our own. I am probably not the only person that discounted many of my feelings and behaviors.

Maybe it will be helpful for myself and those of you with OCD to try to get a better picture of ourselves. This is not to diminish us but perhaps to give ourselves some validation and some pats on the back for the way we are able to survive in spite of this issue.

People who do not suffer from any mental disorder do not understand the difficulty with which we get though the simple tasks and situations. People have methods and skills for dealing with their day that are difficult or impossible for us to access.

Even the simplest tasks can be extremely difficult or even impossible for OCD sufferers to accomplish. Others may interpret this as procrastination , laziness or irresponsibility.

So I will try to address some of these issues and together we will find a way to live our lives with greater ease and not feel so handicapped compared to other people.

Let’s come up with some new ideas, holistic methods, combination methods and other ideas to help ourselves. Give me your experiences and suggestions in the comments below.

Who knows what we can come up with by combining our spiritual and intellectual energies together!

Annie