Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Anxiety - What does it take to get it under control?

Anxiety. Just typing the word makes my heart beat a bit faster and my breath hitch in my throat. I have two anxiety disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. Fun, eh?

Not so much.

It's amazing some of the things that can trigger an anxiety attack. One of the worst for me is being in enclosed spaces or having my personal space invaded. We went to Busch Gardens today. I experienced both those things. But, I stayed in control and didn't let the fear of an anxiety attack hold me back.

In the following article, you'll find other things that trigger anxiety that are easily manageable. Like cutting down on caffeine or alcohol. Avoiding aspartame and controlling your thoughts.

11 Surprising Causes of Anxiety

Learning what your anxiety triggers are can help you stop anxiety symptoms before they start. Being mindful of your surroundings and yourself goes a long way to stopping anxiety triggers before they start.

Have you ever heard of a Fear Journal? It's where you list you fears, write about them, and then say good bye to them. Jodi Lobozzo Aman LCSW-R gives Five Reasons You Should Keep a Fear Journal.

In the book, Don't Panic - Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks by R. Reid Wilson, PH.D. there is a chapter about changing your attitude about anxiety using The Eight Attitudes of Recovery. The author explains it like this:

"Two contrasting statements reflect each of these eight attitude shifts. The first self-statement in each pair reflects a personal position that undermines the task of controlling panic. It is the most likely way that any of us would think about such a difficulty, so it's no surprise if you think this way. It comes quite naturally. The problem is, it doesn't work. When put into action, it works against your desired goal of healing. The motto I go by is this: if what you are doing isn't working try anything else.

The second self-statement in each pair reflects the attitude I encourage you to explore. It moves you away from being a victim of anxiety and toward the freedom of panic-free living. But I must warn you, it might feel quite unnatural to hold these attitudes in the face of panic or anxiety."

The Eight Attitudes of Recovery

Expected Attitudes                                      Healing Attitudes
"I can't let anyone know."              >           "I am not ashamed."
"Panic is evil, bad, the enemy."      >           "What can I learn as a student of panic?"
"I want to avoid the symptoms."     >           "I want to face the symptoms to gain skills."
"I must relax right now."                 >           "It's OK to be anxious here."
"I must stay on guard."                    >           "I won't guard myself against anxiety."
"This is a test."                                >            "This is practice."
"I must be certain that there is no risk." >      "I can tolerate uncertainty."
"This had better work."                    >          "It's OK if it doesn't work."

Practice these new attitude techniques before you have an anxiety attack. You'll be amazed at the benefits of learning new attitudes toward anxiety.

Take a look at the Physical and Social Effects of Anxiety Infographic page in this blog.

As for me, I have a list of distractions I use. Everything from listen to music, read a book, do a jigsaw puzzle to watch a movie or write in my journal. Whatever it takes. Even if that means falling back on a tried and true method - medication. It's always a last resort with me. I'd much rather find a non-medication way to control my anxiety attack.

Do you suffer from anxiety attacks? What are some techniques you use to get them under control?

Monday, July 29, 2013

An Inside View - Interview with my husband about having Bipolar Disorder

Over the course of this blog I've given you my perspective about having Bipolar Disorder. Today I wanted to show you how it affects the other half of me -- my husband. I gave him a list of interview questions and here are his answers. I hope they are helpful to you or your partner.

ME: Before we met, had you ever been close to someone with Bipolar before?

ME: What’s the most difficult part of my Bipolar for you?
HUBBY: Knowing you aren't happy.

ME: Can you describe a typical day for us, when I’m at my lowest?
HUBBY: There's not much to describe. A typical low day is pretty uneventful. Usually watch one of your favorite programs or talk and wait for it to pass...

ME: Can you describe a typical day for us, when I’m at my highest?

HUBBY: Like being in a tornado. Always something unexpected, rarely the same old thing. Even during a high point, there's an element of sadness or "something's missing". The frenzy is like a frantic search for the missing element. For me, it's usually  a feeling of panic or feeling out of control of events.

ME: Have you seen any improvement or change in my Bipolar depression over the 18 years we’ve known each other?

HUBBY: It's varying. I don't know that it's worse or better. It's hard to tell how much of difference is in you or in my perception and understanding of what is happening with you. To some degree it seems better, but a lot of that is because I understand it better. 

ME: Especially after the ECT treatments?

HUBBY: I don't think the bipolar has really changed, but I do see that you have more control over it now. Instead of a bad day meaning a guaranteed two or three bad days, you can bounce back a lot faster.

ME: What’s the biggest difference you see in me now compared to since the ECT treatments?

HUBBY: Covered that above.

ME: What are 3 feelings that you experience, related to my Bipolar?

HUBBY: Sadness that you have to go through it. Fear of it getting worse. Fear of doing something without thinking that makes it worse or harder for you to handle.

ME: How can I make it easier for you?

HUBBY: By not worrying about making it easier for me.

ME: What’s the best thing you can do to take care of yourself when I’m in a Bipolar episode?

HUBBY: Let me know if you figure that one out. lol

ME: I’ve often wondered in those low moments how you could possibly think you got a good deal in marrying me. What makes living with a spouse with Bipolar worth it for you?
HUBBY: Well, if you focus on the disease, then it's not worth it. But I didn't marry a disease, I married a person that has a disease. It's no different than any other disease. I get kidney stones, you have bipolar. If life were perfect it would be boring. It's hard to answer the question because your having bipolar not even relevant to me in that context. 

ME: One last question. How would you describe non-depressed Vicki?
HUBBY: A kind, caring, giving, goofy, extraverted book-worm. Contradicting, I know, but true.

I can't thank my husband enough for taking the time to answer these questions. I know they may have been difficult for him, but he did it anyway. And I love him for it. This is for all the couples living with Bipolar Disorder. Maybe you should ask each other similar questions?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Broken

It's time for the "Five Minute Friday" blogging post. The inspiration comes from Lisa Jo Baker

What you do is set your timer for five minutes and write whatever you want according to the prompt Lisa places on her blog every Friday. Then you go back, link your blog and give support to those who posted before you. And, we connect on Twitter with #FiveMinuteFriday.



Broken. The link between my brain and my fingers so that I can write is broken. I don't know exactly when it happened. I think it had something to do with the ECT treatments I had. But, I no longer have that passion and drive to sit and write every day and create novels. 

I'm broken.

Can I be fixed? I don't know. Do I want to be fixed? I can't honestly answer that question either. I'm liking the way my days are now, no pressures to write. No deadlines to meet. No angst in attempting to push my characters beyond their breaking point. 

I'm living a very well balanced life right now. Maybe I'm not broken after all. Maybe this is how a balanced life for me works. Life is good. I'm under little stress. I am happy. My hubby is happy. My pets are happy. It is what it is. 

I'm not broken. I've just been bent into a new direction.

I'm following a new path. A new road.