Living with Chronic pain is one of the hardest things to do in my opinion. It’s something you have that can’t get rid of and though pain medication can help, if you have a tendency towards addiction it can very quickly become a slippery slope (I am not anti medication just we’ll know yourself and be careful). I also find pain medication can cause my mind to get “hazy” and therefore I’m inclined not to take anything stronger than Advil.
One of the things I’ve realized is you can’t fight chronic pain, it’s a part of life, you just have to accept that it will always be with you. More than that I’ve come to embrace it and when I’m in pain I use it as a reminder that I am alive and despite my pain I have so much to be thankful for. Your whole view on life will change when you come to accept things that you can only do so much to change. In the 12 step programs they say something like “help me change thing I can change and accept things I can’t”. This is a great motto somethings you can change and the things can’t change can remind you of how much you have.
I recently saw that sesame Street had introduced an autistic character into one of their episodes (see clip below)
People with anxiety related disorders often think there’s something wrong with us, that we’re somehow not normal. Well let me tell you that societal norms are a lie and I think the sesame Street episode in someway speaks to this though doesn’t necessarily go as far as they should into the idea. I think they get it right in saying Julia has a “Julia way” of doing things but I think they miss out on saying that when you don’t understand someone’s actions that they may not reflect on you but it’s just “their way” of doing things.
For me throughout much of my younger life I felt like an out cast because I thought I was “different” because I made weird noise and did strange things (Tourettes) and would get anxious when my OCD acted up. I was lucky my mother reached out to the tourettes society of Canada who came in a spoke to my classmates and explained something similar to sesame Street that there was nothing wrong with me it was just “Dave’s way” of doing things. This really helped my classmates sympathize with me and also made me feel more at home with myself. We all have “our way” of doing things the societal norm is a lie.
As I grew up and into my teen years I learned to accept that I had my own way to do things abs the ticks grew less and when they did happen I learned how make them appear as if they were just a weird cough or stretch it was a good kind of “behavior modification”. The thing about “the way” that we handle situations I is that it changes. The “Dave’s way” of my elementary years is far from the “Dave’s way” of today. It really came down to patience, awareness and support (again God bless my mother for being there and helping assure me that it was in fact chemical imbalances and not a problem with myself).
So now let’s get practical. How to get your way: 1) Realize that your condition is a part of who you are but doesn’t define you. It’s just your way of doing things. 2) Realize that you can take steps to change “your way” this is important because though maturity can help you with your issues without action your way can become even more of a problem. As I touched on before cognitive behavioral therapy is one method that has been proven effective along side medication.
My anxiety attacks are scary, and are usually trigger when something happens with something I care about most.first I start to go numb in my arms, hyper ventilate, my mind starts to rhuminate on the problem. Once I get over the initial attack (luckily my panic attacks and panic attacks in general don’t last more than 15 minutes). However for the next 12 hours I shut down and just stare into oblivion, my mind is out to lunch (as they say) and I have trouble doing tasks. Depending on the severity of the attack I may have to take a day off work. Fortunately for me they don’t happen on a daily basis but maybe every few months.
Up until my mid 20’s I didn’t suffer from anxiety attacks and what changed I don’t know, the thing about mental illness is it’s not logical it doesn’t have a rhyme or reason. I have to remind myself it’s caused by chemical I’m balances and not who I am as a person. I do know however it loves to cling the things I care about most.
For me a big part of dealing with panic attacks is recognize what things trigger them and how to avoid these. Secondly I have certain people I reach out to when I am having an attack to be a rational voice when I am having an attack and finally I have learned to practise breathing exercises when I’m having an attack.
If you want to learn more on why anxiety attacks occur this article gives some great insight.
This article was originally going to be for my OCD fam (holla at your boy…But it has to be an even amount of times…Sorry OCD pun) but it really applies to anyone with a mental health disorder. It’s the concept of seperating your rational self from your mental health disorder.
I didn’t want to make this article very long because there’s a ton of good content on it however I did want to touch on it as it is the concept behind why I started this blog. So repeat after me “it’s not me it’s my mental health disorder” now do that as you slowly breathe in and out (I made an app for breathing at www.breatheandbecalm.com). Good for you! Step one taken. I find that by using this mantra always in the back of my mind I’ve really begun to come to terms with the reality that there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m not weak or “messed up” (though sometimes we all feel like a mess) my mental health disorder is a part of me but it’s not who I am as a person therefore it can be controlled. It’s the monster that needs to be fought and though you may never be free it’s symptoms through patience, self control, personal growth, medication (if needed) and therapy if possible (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been used very effectively see resources at end of article) though they may never go away it is possible for the symptoms to become manageable (ie my tourettes which is now managable). Until we speak again, keep fighting the monster.
Uncertainty sucks for someone with mental illness, it’s the things that fuel our fears. For someone like myself who lives with moderate to severe OCD (though it’s gotten better as I’ve learned to cope) it’s the thing that causes my mind to go in circles, rhuminate on a topic as they say.
One of the things I’ve learned through therapy is that accepting uncertainty is a big factor in making living with OCD easier.
This is really hard when you’re afraid you left the stove on and it could burn down the house, even though you’ve checked and confirmed that it’s off 5 times heh. Thoughts like this happen to me many times a day and it sucks but thanks to cognitive behavioral therapy I’ve learned to be more comfortable with uncertainty like this eventually you learn to identify these thoughts and accept them. Accepting that maybe you left the stove on and it could burn down the house is kind of weird but when you remember you checked it already it becomes normal and re-assuring and I’m learning more and more to trust that.
So I sit on the street car thinking about it and write this blog, I remind myself that uncertainty doesn’t always have to be bad. Uncertainty is brings opportunities it’s what fuels exploration, it’s exciting. I need to remind myself of this constantly to get through my day. In the end nothing stays the same and things get better, this I’m certain of.
Until we speak again, keep fighting the monster.