Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hello hi how are you.

You forgot.  It's cool.  I did too a couple of times.  But yes, I still write this blog.  Thing is, I'm no longer sure what to write about.

Oh sure, I still have tons of work to do every moment of every day around self care.  But also, did y'all notice how much I was repeating myself?  Like I'm just in an endless loop of:
  • I'm gonna do All The Things All The Time!
  • I can't keep up with doing All The Things All The Time and I feel terrible about it!
  • I'm a complete failure because I can only do some of The Things some of the time!
  • I don't want to be a complete failure!  In order not to be a complete failure I must do All The Things All The Time!
Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Perfectionismwha?

Also I've noticed something important about the list of Things: It keeps getting longer.  And the longer it gets, the more I seem to be blurring the line between “do The Things so that I feel as good and functional as possible” and “make the list of Things so long that I can’t possibly do them all and then beat myself about the head and face for my "failure".”

Currently the list is so long that I have to get up at 5am every day to have any chance of completing it.  On Saturday morning I sat in my therapist's office and ugly cried because I am so convinced that if I don't do ALL The Things - no matter how many Things there happen to be - I cannot be OK.  This, friends, is a non-truth.  But it FEELS SO TRUE. 

OK.  What is the lesson here?  It's one that the universe has tried to teach me approximately 10,047 times that I still have not quite learned: Doing All The Things All The Time is Not A Thing.  The options cannot just be

Do All The Things No Matter What.


Utterly and completely fail at life.

There's a secret door number three.  Oh and guess what?  It's harder to figure out.  It's not prescribed.  It changes every day.  It involves listening, and rolling with the punches, and being flexible.  And letting my efforts be imperfect.  Oof.  It's this: doing enough of The Things that I'm alright, without berating myself for not doing ALL The Things.  Living in the body I have today: it's not just for yoga anymore.

THAT is what taking the best possible care looks like.  It is a constantly moving target.  And that is exhausting and hard, but probably not more exhausting and hard than constantly panicking that if I'm not perfect I can't be OK.

I can be imperfect and still be OK.  I don't believe that yet, but I'm trying to.

So... how are y'all doin?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It's a drag.

Hi friends.  I am feeling some kind of way and don't know how to talk about it.  But I feel the need to try, so here goes.

I've been in some level of fibro flare for over a month.  Something is going on with my neck in particular that is proving to be really disruptive to my life.  As a result of this and other circumstances (such as staring down the barrel of Thanksgiving), Depression and Anxiety are doing their special tango, stomping all over my brain and really just wrecking up the joint.

Thus, I am sort of dragging myself through my days.  All I want to do is escape: sleep or eat or shop or at the very least binge bad TV.  Doing anything else (working, going to yoga, studying, bathing...) involves varying degrees of kicking and screaming from the parts of my mind that would like to avoid engaging with reality at all costs.

I'm still getting things done - though not nearly as efficiently or effectively as I am accustomed to or as I would like.  And so that old familiar demon NotEnough is creeping in, giving Depression and Anxiety big ol' steel-toed platform boots with which to do their brain stomping.  Nice teamwork y'all.

OK but how am I taking care of myself?  Not all that well.  (NotEnough's ears just perked way the hell up.)  Particularly with food, I am literally feeding sickness instead of stability.  The season seems against me: endless carb-and-sugar-packed potlucks are dominating my life, and I simply do not have the willpower not to indulge.  I'm trying.  I'm failing. 

I'll keep trying.  There's nothing else for it.  Here's hoping that self care becomes a bit easier soon.

How are y'all holding up as we head into the holidays?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Still Here.

Oh hello. 


I have realized that I've been in not a good way for about a month now, beginning (?) with the fibro flare that I had on October 15.  I've been in more-than-usual pain since then, and my mental health shows it.

I wish I could say that I was doing everything possible to make it better.  I can't say that.  I can say that I'm doing as much as I'm able.

This morning I am quite anxious about going to work.  There's nothing for it though but to do it.  Usually the fear of getting there is worse than the reality of being there - I'm trying to remember that.

How are y'all doing?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Little Victories.

Hi all.  So, an update on my neck / shoulder pain situation: It's still there!  But it is definitely getting better.  I'm excited, though, and I'll tell you why: I haven't gotten spun out about it.  Even though it has a substantial portion of my attention.  Even though it has disrupted my life in not small ways.  WAHOO!  This is major.

OK so some history to put this into context.  I have been having episodes, not exactly of this medical issue necessarily but of intense pain, since I was 17.  Now, when I was a kid it's expected that I didn't know how to cope with them.  But throughout my twenties and most of my thirties my anxiety was such that having this kind of mind-numbing pain would throw me into a full-blown downward spiral of misery.  Have things finally changed, here at the cusp of 40?  Perhaps!

This episode has been so different.  I got upset and frustrated to be sure, but I was able to put those things down for the most part.  I sought help (instead of insisting that no one could help).  I listened to my body (instead of just panicking that I would never be well again).  I rested when my body told me to rest without feeling guilty about it (mostly), which is a big step for me.  And - here's an even bigger one - I moved when my body told me to move, even though I was afraid.  I was able to follow my body's instruction without becoming paralyzed by fear.  I credit my yoga practice - and my yoga teachers - for this.  After a year of being taught to listen to my body, I am doing it, and not just on the mat.

Even though I'm not done with this thing yet, I know that it is getting better, and I know I am taking the best possible care of myself.  So I'm feeling a little triumphant, and also more than a little thankful. 

Do you struggle with listening to your body rather than your fear?  What kind of support could you use to change that?

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Pain in the Neck

A little over eight years ago I was diagnosed with "uncovertebral joint hypertrophy resulting in foraminal stenosis at C7/T1" on the left side.  So in not ridiculous doctor speak, a pinched nerve at the very base of my neck.  It caused me horrible trouble back then, but has been quiet for years... until now. 

Y'all.  My neck / shoulder are ON FIRE.  My baseline pain level tends to live around a 3/4, and for the past few days has jumped up to a 6/7.  A coworker had to drive me home in the middle of the work day yesterday because sitting at my desk was bringing me to tears.  In the middle of last night it woke me up with an 8 that moved to a 9.

Outside of just being in tons of pain, what's bothering me most is that I don't know why this is happening.  Like, I don't know if I did something to cause this flare-up.  Did I lift something the wrong way?  Do too many downward facing dogs?  Or just jerk my head wrong when I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye?  If I caused it, am I just going to cause it again as soon as it gets better?  Or if I didn't cause it, could I have done anything to prevent it?  Is this just going to happen no matter what I do?  How often?  How long will it last?

These questions amount to one thing: fear.  Pain and fear seem intrinsically linked: for me at least, feeling more-intense-than-usual pain usually leads to some degree of fear response.  I know that I need to not entertain these fear-based, future-seeking questions and just deal with what's happening right now.  But that's easier said than done.

I do have a plan for today: I'm going to head to the urgent care soon (fingers crossed that they don't decide I'm just drug seeking), and then have some body work done by a dear friend in the late afternoon.  Here's hoping something helps.  I likely need to get a new MRI done to determine how much this thing has progressed since '09.

How do you cope with the fear that comes with pain?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Also I cut off all my hair.

It's true!  My hair is very, very short now.  Why?  A few reasons.

1) Annoyance.  The longer hair was a pain in the butt, particularly when I was practicing yoga.
2) Living in the now.  I didn't like how my hair looked long.  I thought I wanted really long hair again, but I was clinging to what my long hair looked like ten years ago, and I just don't have that hair anymore.  The hair on my head right now looks better short.
3) Presentation.  With longer hair I constantly felt like I looked unkempt at work.  This short hair feels much more professional even though it's less heteronormative or whatever.

For the first time in my life I am planning to actually keep up with a haircut: go back to the salon regularly for trims and upkeep.  It'll be a whole new experience and I think it will be quite beneficial to how I feel about my presentation.  It's hard to say how much feeling poorly about how I look comes from how I actually look vs. how I mentally and emotionally perceive how I look, but the knowledge that I am actively taking care of this aspect of my appearance is likely to assist at least as much as actually looking different.

Is there some part of your presentation that you could be taking better care of - not to look different, but to feel better?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Day Planner.

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you've likely picked up on the idea that I am always striving to take the best possible care of myself.  It is not an easy task, and when it gets the hardest is when it tends to be most important. 

For the last couple of weeks I have been struggling somewhat severely with keeping up with my life.  My fibro pain has flared, and my anxiety has worsened.  I've been stumbling my way through yoga classes and getting real familiar with child's pose.  Which is to say, I am taking care of myself, listening to my body, and practicing in the body I have at that moment and not the body I think I should have.

So in the realm of yoga I've been doing a good job of taking the best possible care.  Yay!  What about the rest of my life?  Hmm.  Maybe not so much.  So now you'll hear the tale as old as time: I'm going to do better.  Yes, I've got a plan.  Wanna hear about it?  OK great!

I won't get into the nitty gritty; I'll just outline it in bold strokes.  It involves:
  • Getting up at 5:30am each day, thus giving myself ample time to putz around the house, have breakfast, cruise the internets, do a little yoga and meditating, and head to the gym all before going to work
  • Eating six times a day with a fairly regimented meal plan, but one that allows for foods that I truly enjoy in reasonable quantities
  • Taking four yoga classes a week
  • Having one night a week "off" of yoga or cleaning or studying or anything 
  • Being in bed at the very, very latest by 10pm but ideally earlier
So that's the plan.  Think I can do it?  I was up at 5:30 this morning and yesterday morning (OK, 5:45 if you wanna be picky about it... the time change at the end of the week will help...), so that feels like a good indication.  Honestly, I think it will be difficult to follow but extremely beneficial when I do.

Would a more thorough daily plan help or hinder your self care?

Monday, October 23, 2017

That's why he called it "Be Here Now"...

Oh hai.  How are you?  I'm getting through, thanks for asking.

It's been quite a week.  We last "spoke" last Sunday, I was in the throes of a nasty fibro flare-up.  Well there's good news and there's bad news on that front.  The good news is that the very most terrible part only lasted that day.  I took great care of myself and I think that it helped get me through quickly.  The bad news is that it's still going on, albeit milder.

It's been a complicated week on other fronts as well.  For instance, my husband went out of town for work and we obtained a new cat.  Some major changes happened at work.  Life does have a tendency to keep one busy, doesn't it?

The most important aspect of my self care at the moment is deeply challenging: it is living in the body that I have today.  Not the body I had yesterday, not the body that I'm going to have in a few days.  The body I am living in right now.  This is very, very difficult.  And it will not be a surprise to anyone to learn that this lesson comes directly from my yoga practice.

Ironically, yoga is one of the hardest places to apply this work.  This week especially there's been a constant narrative in my head of "but I know I can do Urdhva Dhanurasana!  I just did such a strong one last week!  Look at everyone else - they can all do it!!"  And then I have to remember that what I did last week is immaterial, and what everyone else can do never has any bearing on what I can do, and that now is the only time that actually exists.  And then I come to grips with the fact that I can't even hold a Warrior II for more than ten seconds, and have to get real about what my practice looks like at that moment.  It's freaking hard, and it is such important work for me to do.

Do you struggle with accepting what you can actually do right now versus what you think you should be able to do?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hello, truck.

Oh friends.  I've really effin done it this time.

I used to call these my "truck days," as in days when I felt like I'd been hit by a truck.  I still call them that I guess, but today took me off guard because I have them so much less frequently these days.  Truck days come in two primary varieties: a) where the hell did this come from and b) I totally did this to myself.  Y'all?  We're dealing with Type b.

It goes like this.  I had a long and exhausted week of both recovering from a cold and returning to a 40 hour workweek.  Thursday I fell asleep shortly after 9pm.  Friday I fell asleep at 8pm.  I woke up at 7am Saturday still feeling like I needed more rest.

But instead I went to therapy (8am), went to a yoga class (9:30am), crammed in some lunch (11am), cleaned up the bunnies at home (11:30am), went to couples therapy (12pm), drove to Lakeview for air filters (1:15pm), drove downtown to drop the husband off at the barber (1:30pm), ran home, jumped in the shower, and headed out the door again (2:05pm).

I then went to a fairly rigorous and challenging yoga workshop for someone of my skill level.  I worked hard, it was hot, I forgot my water, and I left there thinking "oof."

And then I went home and rested.  JK!  No the hell I did not!  I went directly from the workshop to a party!  And I stayed there until after 10pm!  And ate a metric ton of chips and dip!  And drank beer!  And had a great time!  (And, just by the way I don't regret it in the slightest!  Except maybe the chips.)

I got in bed at 11:30pm (a solid two hours after my normal bedtime for those of you playing along at home), happy as a clam that I could sleep until I woke up the next morning - a thing that basically only happens for me occasionally on Sundays. 

Welp, I sure did sleep until I woke up.  At 4am.  Feeling like I'd been hit by a goddamn truck.  Pow.

At this point you may be thinking, what?  That sounded like a kinda busy but pretty normal day to me...  And you're not wrong.  For a healthy person who does not have Fibromyalgia that day coulda been just fine.  And sometimes for me that day coulda been just fine.  But the combination of coming in to the day exhausted, overexerting myself in the workshop, not drinking enough water, and eating a bunch of carbs did me in.

So, back to 4am.  I woke up, and I knew.  My whole body hurt.  My skin hurt.  I felt feverish without having a fever.  I futilely tried to sleep for a few more hours and gave up around 7am.  And now it's now.

So now that I've gotten myself into this mess, what do I do?  Here's my multi-point plan for helping my body recover today:
  • I will drink at least three liters of water.
  • I will drink tea instead of coffee.
  • I will eat just enough of the most nourishing foods.
  • I will go to yoga and TAKE IT EASY, because moving my body will help it not become unbearably painfully stiff.
  • I will forgive myself for causing this, because honestly all I did was feel healthy enough for a moment to forget that I have to be delicate with myself even when I feel well.
  • I will acknowledge the validity of the anger I feel at not being able to go through a busy but not ridiculous day without having my illness flare up, and then I will try to put that anger down because it does not serve me.
Do you have "truck" days?  How do you get through them?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Not just a river in Egypt.

Y'all?  I'm sick.  And I am in deep, deep denial of this fact.  I keep thinking I'm better, trying to function and do stuff, and then getting whammied.  It's, well, pretty foolish.

I think I'm confused because I don't actually feel that bad.  It seems like if I'm going to be genuinely ill for several days I'd feel worse than I do.  Is this what it's like to be sick while in better shape physically?  Does it just not feel as bad?  Or is this some wacky virus that makes you sick but not that sick?  I just don't know.

My whole day today got cancelled because of the hurricane that wasn't (for New Orleans at least), and rather than rebuilding it as is my wont I am going to let it ride and try my best to do nothing today.  Perhaps I can get over this thing once and for all.

How do you cope when you're sick?  Do you try to power through when you should rest?