Today I spent the time between 8:15 am to 12 noon in a doctor’s office and hospital. For me this is another example of “just when things are looking up” going bad, or “Why be optimistic when you know something will happen to ruin it?”.

The reason for my appointment and hospital test visit is not important. What was important to me was the instability afterward. The wrench in my newly-tuned System. The “sabo” in my “tage“.

The next three hours, which isn’t necessarily a long time, were an exercise in futility. Panic, crying, possible heart attack, shortness of breath, racing thoughts, self-injury…the whole shebang. It wasn’t until I put in a fitness DVD for 20 minutes that things began to stabilize again. Xanax, self-talk, and grounding techniques were worthless.

I know it happens. It feels like it has happened all my life. It’s as though it doesn’t matter what I try to do, or how well I feel after something positive happens because it will shortly be fucked up.

It’s my pity party for today. It’s my why-the-fuck-keep-trying rant. And my gonna-eat-ice-cream-’cause-I-can-so-shut-up whiny post.

Depending on the test results I might whine again next week too.

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Panic attack (Taken from Anxiety Disorders Association of America: http://www.adaa.org)

“A panic attack is defined as the abrupt onset of intense fear that reaches a peak within a few minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms:

  • a feeling of imminent danger or doom
  • the need to escape
  • heart palpitations
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • shortness of breath or a smothering feeling
  • a feeling of choking
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • nausea or abdominal discomfort
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • a sense of things being unreal, depersonalization
  • a fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • a fear of dying
  • tingling sensation
  • chills or heat flush

Since many of the symptoms of panic disorder mimic those of illnesses such as heart disease, thyroid problems, and breathing disorders, people with panic disorder often make many visits to emergency rooms or doctors’ offices, convinced they have a life-threatening illness. It often takes months or years and a great deal of frustration before receiving the correct diagnosis.” – Hell yeah!

I know that many of us have experienced this, or parts of us have. What I don’t always understand is why, or what is triggering it. The more I think about it, the worse the symptoms become. If I’m alone it can be excruciating trying to decide whether or not I should call the EMT’s. If someone I trust is around they usually know how to help me understand what’s happening and how to bring me back down. That would be only one person and doctors that I’d trust.

It’s embarrassing for me when it happens in public and I have to leave, or I’m near some doctor’s office and I run in there. I feel like I can’t ever return to that store or office. It’s not quite as embarrassing when it happens in front of my family, but I am ashamed when it’s over.

What can help to manage these attacks? Well, many of the same techniques many of us use when we are triggered might help.  Again from http://www.adaa.org:

“When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, these strategies will help you cope:

  • Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
  • Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.

Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress

For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity (such as jogging or swimming laps), or a combination of the two.

  • 5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
  • Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
  • Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
  • Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find it’s more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
  • Recruit an “exercise buddy.” It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
  • Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.”

I look at that list and see that I just might be able to do 10-20% of the ideas on that list. First of all, I am not often aware that I’m having a panic or anxiety attack. I cannot imagine being in the middle of one and suddenly thinking, “Golly. Why can’t I simply accept that I cannot control everything?”, and then finding some relief. That sounds ludicrous. Exercise buddy? Fuck you. I’m lucky if I can get to the mailbox, or make it through the grocery store in one piece, much less try to find someone I trust to exercise with. I don’t want to find anyone anyhow.

I wonder if these techniques ever really help anyone. Many of you have repeatedly written that we need to find what works for us, and that it may take some time. Is that specific to those of us with DID (or my previous diagnosis of schitzotypal personality disorder)? We have to weed through well-proven ways of coping to not-quite-as-well-known ways to help an entire System.

At this point in my life I cope (or at least try to) with frequent panic attacks by utilizing the following:

*ice cream

*Star Trek

*very funny and intelligent movies or t.v. shows

*cleaning gross things like toilets, frog tanks, dog poop, and litter boxes

*brushing my hair really hard

*Twizzlers

*singing classic New Wave songs really loud

*attacking unsuspecting, fluffy, cute kitties

None of those coping techniques are on any list I’ve seen yet. Right now that often works for me. Oh yeah, and sometimes a Xanax.

I hate writing a post like yesterday’s because I know it’s not going to last even if I really, really do not think about it. Yes, I know someone inside is thinking that, too, and they may have something to do with sabotaging those “feel good” times.

Well, I have finished my mint chocolate chip ice cream, written this out, and feel better for it. Thanks for reading.

I’m really trying…

July 14, 2010

If I relax, I remember. If I do yoga or Tai Chi, I focus.

If I allow negative thoughts I beat myself up. If I change or rewrite those thoughts I am positively thinking.

If I do not “turn down” my Emotional Flashback Machine with my Coping Skills Toolbox I lose my time. If I use the Toolbox I have more time with my children, my hobbies and myself.

If I do not communicate internally I do not understand my thoughts. If I take the few moments to understand and listen inside I am healing.

I am really, really trying to help myself, but I’m not happy about it. I have more energy lately because I’m mad and I’m trying to focus that energy positively and for the purpose of living well. It’s working this week, but then I forget other things that need to get done around here, so I feel guilty. Oh woe is I! Not really.

Today is Falzar the Mighty Baby Robin’s last day in the house. This is a good thing because Falzar has turned one room into a pooping palace. Falzar will most likely return here several times a day for up to one month for food, like they would with their natural parents, and we are preparing for that. Our biggest problem is my cat, Julius the Amazing Leaping Bird-Catcher Extraordinaire. It’s his hobby to try and catch birds in mid-air. I’ve tried to discourage this behavior, but with little success. I feel we have two options: attach the nest to a nearby tree where Julius rarely wanders and is near the house, or chain Julius to a chair. *sigh*

Today is also the day I reach my full basic dosage of Trileptal. Huzzah! I’m feeling loopy, I’m still not sure if it’s going to work, but I have been very good and taken it the right way since I started. Usually I give up or take it my way, but I’m giving this medication a chance. I think it’s because I like my psychiatrist and this is the same medication for both bipolar disorder and DID. So even if my therapist and psychiatrist disagree with my diagnosis a tad the medicines are the same for both. Thus far I would recommend Trileptal. Little to no weight gain and fairly easy-to-handle side effects.

Well, I’ve made little to no point whatsoever with this post, so I’ll get back to whatever it was I was doing. Here’s a funny picture for you:

Trust & Therapy

July 8, 2010

At what point do you feel you truly trust your therapist?

How long does it take to build that trust relationship?

After you reach that stage, do you feel you can trust your therapist with anything?

Do you trust your therapist more than your best friend or partner?

What do you feel creates that trust?

Something happened in therapy yesterday that told me I finally trust her, and it’s been nine months. Because of the situation she used different, intervention-like techniques I’d never heard of and they worked. When it was over I felt that I really trusted her, and I do feel I can trust her with anything. She is the only person who completely has my trust now. It was kind of a big deal for me, and something happened later in the day that had to do with what took place in therapy and I emerged in charge, confident, and not wishy-washy. I felt guilty afterward, but that doesn’t count.

It took me nine fucking months to reach this point and I’m still not sure why I have stuck with her so long, or what exactly created this bond/trust. I almost feel like she will expect more from me now, like I just passed a crucial exam.

Now it feels like someone has my back. I don’t know if I like this feeling yet. Now I feel like I need more coffee.

Ramblings, Part 2B

July 5, 2010

A couple of months ago I left two books on one of our bookshelves in the hopes that my husband would catch a glimpse of them – The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook and Got Parts?. I was nervous about telling him my DID diagnosis and I thought I’d be oh, so subtle about getting around to telling him. It turns out that he not only saw the books, he also took a peek. The past week he has been calling me different names jokingly. If he can’t find what he’s looking for he says something like “Maybe it was Gloria who put it away.”, or something similar. We finally talked about it for a short time last night, and although he doesn’t believe I have DID (which is why I was reluctant to tell him) he does believe I have mixed episode rapid cycling bipolar disorder. He does understand my abusive background, and he is supportive of me (even when he is behaving like an ass), and I can count on him when things get bad. He does feel I am extremely dissociative, just not to a DID degree. I knew he wouldn’t agree and I can’t tell him exactly what’s going on inside, and that does hurt. Maybe he will see it differently in the future.

The abusers were at my house yesterday and they brought me things which I promptly threw away after they left. It was very fakey-fakey and pointless, but when they left I felt okay and did not have a meltdown. I made sure that all the younger parts I could round up were in a super-safe place and not aware of what was happening and that made such a difference. You could see in the abusers faces that they knew I was finished with them and that was a relief. Hubby was also there the whole time, but at the end of the day we were exhausted.

I complain about hubby a lot. He is an asshole, very self-centered, and has been abusive in the past (sometimes we marry what we know). On the flip side he is supportive, he loves me and his children, and he would kill for us. It’s confusing. I wish I could confide about my DID in him. There is only my therapist to talk to about that and I often feel lost without someone else to confide in about that. Too bad there isn’t a Buy-A-Friend store nearby……

Recently I started making  jewelry again and I’ve been using broken pieces along with the good pieces since that is how I feel. I’m  also using necklaces or bracelets that have broken and incorporating them into jewelry, too. It’s no big deal, I just like stringing things together and wire-wrapping, and thought that would be a neat theme to play with. Plus, with children, there are often broken things around to work with. Hmm….that may a good project for the kids, turning our broken jewelry into new things…… This is what I did yesterday – the earrings are made from broken necklaces, and the bracelet is made from some broken clear quartz and green flourite and pieces that I couldn’t use in other projects:

I was also thinking, since I am having great difficulty with any other kind of child art therapy, that I may make a blanket out of scrap yarn. A bunch of leftover pieces put together into one. I wonder if I can’t do the coloring, children’s crafts, etc., because I never did as a child so I have no clue. I don’t know.

I’ve rambled on enough. May your day be pleasant and banal!

Stupid, angry post

June 20, 2010

It feels like everything is a lie – me being here, my marriage, my life, my likes and dislikes, my children, my dogs. I don’t know who’s eyes I’m seeing out of but I don’t like it. I’m always ranting, too. Just one time I would like to offer up some intelligent and informative posts.

Today I remembered how I used to comfort myself when I was little and how ashamed I felt doing it, but I didn’t know what else to do. Sometimes when a memory comes through I remember how I used to remember. I don’t remember what I was doing 5 minutes ago lately.

I wish I wrote more intelligently and coherently. My brain just spills onto the computer anymore. I haven’t accomplished shit in this life. I don’t see what the purpose of me is, so one of the kids better win a Nobel Prize or something.

This summer is going to be a real challenge between not seeing my therapist as often, having little privacy or alone time with the kids home, and buffering the kids from the hubby’s stupidity. How will I write in my journals, or write here, or do therapy homework?

I want to write stupid, corny things like, “This is too much. I can’t go on this way.”, “I’m just going to stay the way I am. No more therapy.”, or “Goodbye world. Kids, fend for yourselves.”. But I don’t want to hear about how this too shall pass, I’ll get through, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, because I’ve heard that soooo many times and I think it’s shit. It’s not going to end, or it’s not going to end until I end it one way or another.

I have to go do something active and physical. Maybe that will help.

Today was therapy and an appointment at the Breast Care Center for a little problem I’ve had over the past six months or so. Both were exhausting, triggering, and embarrassing, but I learned some interesting life lessons……..

*If you have chronic, unexplained pain in your body a unique way to understand it is to let that part do the talking. If that particular part of your body could talk what would it say? What message does it have for you?

* Try ice. Cool down. Put it on you or in your drink and get grounded and aware.

* Soothe yourself. Moisturize (physically or emotionally) daily to avoid dry, irritated areas. (For me this referred to using aloe and vitamin E to help the healing process of a body part.)

* Rotate different strategies. Don’t let your body or psyche become numb to the repeated use of one technique.

*Keep track of how it feels and affects you throughout the day – good or bad or indifferent.

* Use what you have.

* Play.

These were meant as physical solutions to a breast problem I have, but as I went over what I wrote during the appointment I felt they could be applied in other areas. I hope you can find some use for them.