Posts Tagged ‘health’

20 MAR 15

Cognitive Triangle

I had a dream last night. One that, at first, I labeled as “bad.” It, of course, had no beginning and a questionable end. At least that is what I had initially thought. I was in what seemed like a very cluttered room. Other times it was an apartment with an open floor plan. I may or may not have noticed him come in, but he was there now. The love of my life. The man of my literal dreams. I haven’t spoken to him in so long. It’s probably been about six months or more, but it feels like so much longer.

It did not seem as though we interacted with each other. He just rushed around the place unearthing items and collecting them together as though preparing for a deployment. I was used to this – we’ve been through at least two or three. Though I did not scream out to him, I was extremely upset. And much like a night of blackout drinking, my dreaming consciousness darts around the room to piles of stuff, to him walking out the door, to the clutterlessness that now surrounds me.

After I lose sight of him through the window just right of the door, I look around at the mess that was not left. I think, for just a moment, that my stuff is gone. When I go over to the bookshelf on the other side of the room, I see that my items upon it are neatly folded and tucked away, hidden from obvious view. The same was true for dresser drawers in other areas of the room. There was no mess where once there was more than I cared to deal with. From there, the scene degrades from my mind, but the unhappy and unsettled feeling takes longer to dissipate. In fact, with each breath, I can still feel a twinge of pain in my heart.

I woke with mixed feelings. It’s been years since I dreamt about him. It wasn’t long however, that I was onto thinking of other things. The melting images of the dream drifted in and out of my mind for hours. It wasn’t until later that evening, when I began to tell Jessica about the breakthrough I had in therapy the other day, as well as minor details from last night’s dream, that pieces started coming together in front of me.

***

This past Wednesday, as with most recent Wednesdays, I attended my CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) Self-Esteem Group through the VA Women’s Health Clinic. We discussed biased expectations and negative self-evaluations. We’ve been working with the Cognitive Triangle, whose corners represent thought, behavior and mood. Each of which can affect the other. When one of those three is negative you must catch, check and change it. Generally in my case, it is a thought that leads to the other two and therefore the “three c’s” are usually used for my negatives thoughts.

Before learning about the triangle, my negative thoughts would put me in a sour mood and lead to less than stellar behavior or vice versa. For example when my thoughts are consumed with insecurity and doubt, perhaps I may drink too much to try to forget these feelings and in doing so I wind up miserable and even more negative.

The three c’s come in when I realize I am having a negative thought and I catch it. Catching a negative thought is not always easy, but once I do, I try to check it, or as I believe that to mean, I identify it and evaluate why it is negative and what evidence I have that the thought I am having is true. With no evidence that my negative thoughts are valid, I can change it with a more positive outlook. In having more positive thoughts, I begin behaving in a more positive way and I will be left with a more positive mood.

The group went well that day. I feel like I am learning about myself and self-esteem in general more and more each appointment. Just after the group, I went to my appointment upstairs with my Social Worker who had referred me to the group in the first place. We talked about some of the positive moments of the group as well as changes in my behavior lately to help better myself. One of the things I mentioned was the way I have been dealing with my obsessive and inappropriate feelings towards potential mates. This behavior, of course, leads to a feeling of neediness, clinginess, self-consciousness, not being good enough, not being sexy enough and general inadequacy.

When she asked me how I was resolving those scenarios, I told her that I realized that the way I treat and feel about men that I am not interested in is very different from the way I treat men that I am sexually or mentally attracted to. That being said, I have no problem being friends with someone I am not attracted to and I analyzed the emotion with which I conduct those friendships. In using the same mindset that I do with those friends, when projected onto someone I may be attracted to, it brings a certain perspective that I would have otherwise missed. Instead of allowing my hormones and emotions to escalate out of control, I treat the person with the asexuality that the meeting warrants. I only just met someone, and even if that person is attracted to me, it matters not – we just met and I cannot build a relationship out of the fantasies in my head. With such an approach I am able to accurately and appropriately have a realistic frame of mind about the person and treat them just as I “normally” would treat anyone else in that scenario.

It was while I was explaining this to my Social Worker that I realized I was having a breakthrough. If I do not jump to conclusions with people, or I do not think instantly that they are a good mate for me, and if I stop trying to impress every single man I meet, I will not have feelings of inadequacy because my validation will no longer be a result of their reactions to me. I will have impressed myself with my control and I will feel better because I made me feel better; my heart-felt emotions will not be hinging on the words, thoughts, feelings and actions of another. If this theory is in fact true, then I can rest assured that in not seeking validation from others, that I will no longer experience the depression that comes from personal rejection as I will not be seeking any approval. Instead, I will feel better about myself, do activities that please me, and work toward getting my own approval. If I am not happy, I will make corrections to rectify the problem, but my happiness or lack thereof shall no longer rely upon outside forces.

When I shared with a close friend about this whole epiphany thing, I also brought up the dream I had about that certain someone (which occurred days after my therapy sessions). I told her of how he came into my cluttered living space, a space that I felt during the dream had been “ours,” and how he seemed to gather things and leave without a word. I told her that when I lost sight of him I looked around the room and there was no longer a cluttered mess or items and personal effects, rather a tidy room with neatly packed drawers and nicely stacked shelving units. I was about to tell her that somehow I knew that everything that had been left in the room was in fact mine and that nothing remained of his.

As those words came out, I felt yet another rush of inspiration, an epiphany if you will, that my dream had legitimate significance and was not random or upsetting as I had originally thought. For the first time, perhaps ever, my dream spoke to me. It represented the fact that he was no longer a part of my life and that without him, I was not only able to survive, but able to thrive as was evident by the immaculate condition of my living space after he left. It may have been inferring that while he was a part of my life, I allowed myself to be so caught up in his world that I disregarded the health and safety of my own. With the simple act of coming in, getting his stuff and leaving I was left with myself, and my belongings in a better condition than I have ever been in to my memory.

It is with these thoughts that I can feel what great strides I am making for myself. I feel like I am on the cusp of greatness for myself. I relish in the idea and the feelings that I am almost there.

UPDATE: Just A few nights ago I had another dream about him. I was having a gathering of some sort – not really sure what kind. And even though we don’t speak anymore, he was there. The only detail, was but a moment, that I remember was that of hugging him and knowing that I was hugging him goodbye.

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“But it’s over now. It must have been good, but I lost it somehow. It must have been love, but it’s over now. From the moment we touched, ’til the time had run out…”

This past Monday night I severed a tie that was seemingly unconditional and as eternal as a sapphire would have you believe. Earlier, I had learned that my comic idol, Robin Williams, had reportedly killed himself that morning. Both of which happened while I was in San Diego saying goodbye to my second family who have welcomed me into their lives for the last six years, who were now moving to Washington on military orders. Any of those, individually, would make one hellacious day. All three together? I’m surprised I made it through the day without a psychotic break. And afterwards I still drove two hours home to Los Angeles and the Comedy Store to drink a shot to the dearly departed.

But it’s that first one that cuts me to the quick the deepest. Fifteen years. Fifteen years of hoping and truly believing that the fantasy in my head and in my heart was to come to pass – someday. More than half of my adult life I thought things would work out a certain way with a certain man, so I allowed myself to be misled, mostly by my own wishful thinking and delusions of grandeur. This relationship was my everything and I allowed it to consume me. Most of how I live my day-to-day is based on the huge influence he has been to my life. I like certain things because of him, I dislike certain things because of him, but mostly I hurt myself because of him. He was always more important to me than I ever was to myself. I enabled him in his own addictions and he enabled me in my addiction to him. What we thought was symbiotic and mutually beneficial was parasitic instead.

He’s known all along that I loved him and that I’ve been in love with him for more than half the time we’ve known each other. And I’ve always known that he loves me, but he’s not in love with me – never has been, in fact. And I never cared. I did know however, that it wasn’t anything against me (which kept hope alive)… it was that he wasn’t going to get involved with anyone seriously while he was still in the military. When he retired, he could give 100% to family. He had always encouraged me not to wait for him and not to pass up happiness with someone else, if I ever found it. The few times I thought I “met someone else” and was happy, he was genuinely happy for me but the relationship would fail at some point and my heart would fall back in love with him with the greatest of ease.

Through the years, what little he could give me was always good enough for me. I took anything he would give me and somehow my hope would thrive off of it. That was until mid-October 2010 when I had to stop our physical relationship, because I was just not getting what I needed from him emotionally anymore due to other life events he experienced. I thought I needed time away from him and I thought I could do it because it killed me that I rarely saw him anymore due to work and living arrangements (“You know I love you, but I’m In Too Deep,” as Genesis put it so succinctly). Unbeknownst to me, this is when the relationship became an unseen cancer that would grow untreated for years. The stages of grief came and oscillated from anger and depression to bargaining and denial – never acceptance. That lasted only 3 months until in a drunken stupor I called him on Christmas Eve at midnight in tears because I missed him so much I could have died. We began a short lived Christmas morning tradition of having breakfast together. We were friends again – the best of friends, in fact, which we had been all along. Nothing more and certainly nothing less, except still being just friends without benefits. I still felt in my heart and soul that my someday would come. That one day he would wake up and realize that I was The One and that he couldn’t live without me. I relied on someday, as movies and love songs have raised me to think… I always felt it was just around the corner, like in the song Almost Paradisealmost being the operative word. I even have a saved fortune cookie that reads “You’re almost there.” It’s astonishing how much faith I have put into those three words over the years. I was always Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

I have always known that I need to work on myself; I’m not my own person, I tend to have low self-esteem and I live my life based on the opinions of others. I see a psychologist and a psychiatrist for my depression and anxiety and have been slowly but surely working on psycho-analysis trying to better my mental health, my self-image and my behavior. I thought I would have the time to do that, to catch up to his progress. There was a time when this man needed me, but that time passed long ago. He’s made so many positive changes in his life in the last four years that he is basically a new person. I’ve always seen him as My Hero and then also as a role model – the whole package. I assumed that when I changed for the better that someday we would come at the relationship again and finally have our time, being two grown-ups who were ready for that kind of relationship as we knew who we were and that we were no longer living co-dependent lives.

Four abstaining (from each other that is) years later, we were still best of friends, but I always wanted more and I always expected more to come. Until the day I had dreaded for fourteen and a half years came to pass; early spring 2014 he told me he’d started seeing someone and that it had just kind of happened. The parallels in their lives eerily just made sense. She too had planned to focus on career and to not get into a relationship if it was to disrupt that plan in any way. Now that they are both on the cusp of retirement, in the same age bracket, and work together – everything just started falling into place and they both couldn’t believe it, but they were beginning to have feelings for each other. It was a perfect storm of heart-wrenching devastation to me. It was then that I was certain that I was still in love with him and that I will always love him and that it was quite likely that I could no longer be friends with him. The cancer that was this relationship had hit stage 4 and it was terminal. But to hear him speak with such excitement and awe of something he had never really known before started to fill me with joy and I thought maybe, just maybe I can be happy for him and still be his friend.

Four months went by with less than a handful of texts, as he was away on trainings, and all the while my mind transitioned from almost accepting that “the love of my life had found the one, and that it wasn’t me” to realizing I could no longer put myself at his mercy, my delusions needed to stop, and that I needed to face reality. This relationship is and always has been toxic and I knew I could no longer use Band-Aids to cover the small hurts him or I caused my psyche over the years – it was time to amputate the cancer.

Monday night, as we sat on the patio of Panera Bread, I bided my time while we caught up with each other as we usually did, still unsure if I had the fortitude to do what I had to do. Finally, it was time to bring it up. And somehow I did. We’d had this talk before, about four years before, but I knew this would not be quite the same. That one ended with him thinking that, after I felt better, that we would always be the best of friends, playing with each other’s kids and always being there for each other. This one was not dissimilar, but I knew there was a permanence in the words I spoke to him. I told him that I did want him to be happy, but that I didn’t want to know about it – it would hurt me too much to know that someone else made him happier than I ever could. I do want him to be happy, but not to my detriment, and the only solution to that was to never know about it. And severing our friendship would ensure that. Or at least that’s what I am hoping. So through tears I realized the truth in the words I was saying to him: that I would not be at his pinning ceremony, I would not be at his retirement ceremony, and most assuredly I would not be at his wedding. All events at which I always thought I would stand next to him as I always have. The reality of that still brings tears to my eyes (and will continue to do so, no doubt, for some time) while I type this and listen to my Spotify playlist “Love Exsanguinated.”

Saying goodbye to the man I love, is one of the hardest and shittiest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. Time After Time I composed myself, but when he realized it was not just the loss of him, but also how it tied into my loss of my job in the Navy and the loss of my dreams and fantasies that had grown over the years, he began to understand. It is all just too much for me, I’ve got to be true to myself. I was crushed by the tears I wiped from his face as I hugged him for the last time. It was so hard to let him go from my arms, but when I watched him head around the corner to his car, I got into mine. I sat there crying for ten minutes before the tears eased to the point that I could see to drive. And I left, sobbing on and off, on cruise-control, up 5 North to Los Angeles.

In time, I know that I will slowly feel less and less of a connection with him and perhaps even be able to smile when thinking back to all the good times that fifteen years of best-friendship brings without crying and without resentment in my heart. I dread the day he becomes just “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Fifteen years of laughs and references and inside jokes… It’s hard to foresee a friendship like that being formed again. The pain that comes with that thought is Sobering. But for now, I feel the Schism that has probably always been between us.

The stages of grief begin all over again without the pressure of some unforeseen future where I will be able to be friends with him afterwards. Granted, it’s happened with other exes that one day it’s no big deal and we can be friends again, but I cannot guarantee that will happen, nor can I hope for it. In fact I need to stop hoping for anything. Hope has never helped me produce results, it has only ever set me up for failure. If I want something, nothing short of actually doing something will change a thing. “I need to know how to live my life as it’s meant to be.” Wishing and hoping and fantasizing and dreaming have gotten me nowhere. Just like I’ve heard from him for years – the fantasy is always better than the reality. So Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road. It’s time I work on those dreams and goals that only pertain to me and not others, whom I have no control over, born out of fiction and fairytales.

“And so, Castles Made of Sand melt into the sea, eventually.”

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One day of procrastination turns into two days, three days, a week, a month, six months. Where has the time gone?

My writing is no different than my attempts to get healthy. I haven’t written in six months, as is evident by the sizable gap in my blogs, not to mention the empty journals sitting in a box next to my office table. Granted, there are plenty of reasons why:

FEB – Had to leave my apartment because I could no longer afford living there since I stopped working in November. Scrambled a lot trying to figure out if I would have to resort to living in a shelter (a huge inconvenience with an unruly dog).

MAR – Money from State Disability finally came through from November, helping me out financially with the transition. Spent several weeks hotel hopping with my future roommate and our three dogs. The next several weeks were spent couch surfing.

APR – Finally moved into an affordable place and started piecing things back together in the shambles of my life.

MAY – Quit smoking and starting watching what I ate somehow, despite the continued feelings of anxiety and depression and the the feeling that things were crashing down around me. Started P90X, a workout program that I have had for years and had previously never made it past the first week. Started a Food Elimination Schedule created by my Beachbody Coach, Monica Parodi, as I worked towards eating clean. Started drinking Shakeology, which drastically changed the level of health of the food I put into my body. Became a Beachbody Coach to save money on Shakeology and get a great discount on products.

JUN – Went to the Beachbody Coach Summit in Las Vegas to learn more about the benefits of working out, drinking Shakeology and helping others reach their fitness goals (if that includes you, check out my Instagram for details). Met a lot of great people from my Team, as well as people from all over the U.S. and Canada. Enjoyed Vegas for the first time. Met Tony Horton, creator of P90X, which just made my whole trip worth it.

JUL – Went home to New York for a Class Reunion of the class ahead of me (I had always had more friends in that class than my own); got a good dress rehearsal of my reunion for next year. Learned more about myself in regards to family issues that have been raging for decades; it’s interesting how my brain tells me who I do and do not want to have influencing my life and emotions as I get older.

AUG – Finally, a years long project takes place – an expo put together by 20+ people for kids including vendors, donations, raffles, celebrities; a labor of love that turned out to be more non-profit than we had planned, on so many levels. On top of which three family birthdays and surprise bills of nearly $1000 for electric, thanks to living in 100+ degree high-desert, begin to ramp up my anxiety like there’s no tomorrow.

SIDE NOTE: Financial troubles have almost always exclusively been the one thing that will send me over the edge. Especially when I feel as though there is nothing that I can do to make the situation any better.

I also realize that I have slacked off in regards to my workouts due in part to traveling as well as the fallacy of thinking that I am not getting anywhere and I’m not seeing the progress I would like. In truth I haven’t completed much more than a month and a half of the prescribed workout plan, even though I should have finished my 90 days of P90X on August 9th, had I not missed any days at all.

That being said, I’ve spent the last week trying to ramp up to starting P90X all over again. The idea of 90 more days causes hesitation, thinking that I will be bored, while just thinking about it exhausts me to no end. I need to remember that I’m planning on working out for the rest of my life, what’s the big deal about 90 days? I’ll be done in no time, I’ll be physically healthier than I have ever been, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to go back to work. We’ll see. Unfortunately, I’ve been sleeping so much lately and definitely not eating enough of the right calories to sustain the energy I need to do daily activities, let alone work out. And yet – despite how I frequently feel thanks to my mental health, I have never actually given up on myself; I’m a survivor and a fighter and this too shall pass.

Option Paralysis 2 I am swimming in to-do lists and quite sure I’m on the verge of drowning due to option paralysis. I had always thought my best friend coined that phrase, but alas I was able to find it in Urban Dictionary.  It has always been such a great way to describe how I often feel; when faced with so many choices/options I get overwhelmed and in not knowing where to start – I just don’t.

Apparently I am not alone, as many people feel overwhelmed and inundated with “options” these days. I’m sure the ebb and flow of technology and all that can be achieved at a moment’s notice on the interwebs has aided in this phenomenon. Robert M Brecht, Ph.D. writes that “psychological research over the last forty or so years has established the correlation between providing choice and increases in intrinsic motivation, perceived control, task performance and satisfaction with life. […] There comes a point when the choices available to us become counterproductive.” More of his conclusions can be found in his blog post “Consumer Marketing: We All Want Choices… or Do We?” Another blogger, M. Farbman, had this trouble in youth when going to Baskin-Robbins – 31 Flavors – the perfect analogy in the blog “Option Paralysis.” Although it must be harder now, as my last count put them somewhere over 57 flavors.

My most pressing issue: I’ve recently been served – no, not by a crowd of dancing teenagers – rather, with an eviction notice (again?!?! That’s another story). This is due to my recent working cessation while dealing with severe anxiety and depression, sprinkled with this awesome nervous system disorder of Fibromyalgia. I have been trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the upcoming homeless horizon that I am staring at like a sun, burning holes into my retinas. I had hoped that I could get assistance from New Directions, an amazing organization whose mission “is to empower veterans and facilitate their successful return to families and society.” They helped me get into the apartment I am in now when I had accepted a local job; now not working, I am in more need than ever. Unfortunately, due to funding constraints they are no longer able to assist me.

I am seeking help from several other organizations, but I have a feeling I will still need to leave the apartment I am in for different accommodations. I am finding that a room, or even a shelter is going to be difficult as I have my companion dog who has been with me for three years and is not able to be with me at most of the options I have; I cannot give her up as she is the only family I have locally and she relies on me as much as I do on her. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to find accomodations that are better for her, with a yard she can run in and not be so confined.

Logic surfaces from time to time, through the Fibro Fog and Anxiety (a steel wool-like cloud that ceases most logic, clarity and cognitive thought), and I realize whatever my next place of residence is, I will have to pack up what remains from my last move and put it in storage. It will be much easier to go from place to place in search of the right one with just my dog, my car, a duffle of clothes, and an air mattress. Easier said than done, however, as money, a truck and movers are required to facilitate this… oh – and a storage unit. I look around my apartment and shudder to think about packing …again. It’s so time consuming and energy sapping, but it has to happen. There’s laundry to do, dishes to wash, clothes to weed through to lighten the load followed by the subsequent donation to Good Will. When I get overwhelmed I sit on the couch and watch TV; God help me if there’s a marathon on, whether it be Law and Order, The Matrix, the Alien Quadrilogy, Family Feud… enough is enough. BACK TO WORK!!! My body hurts, my mind hurts, my heart is uncertain and the World feels like it’s closing in around me – but I must do SOMETHING.

I’ve never given myself a solid routine to maintain my own life – even a simple routine for when I wake-up or go to bed. Those little things seem so easy …and yet go undone. My mind freezes and my body follows suit until some day or hour or minute finally comes when I know that there is no other way but to act. It’s that last minute action that has always saved me, but it would be so much healthier, I am sure, if I could just learn to get my shit together on a regular basis. My success at last minute projects has done nothing but give me negative reinforcement of my bad habits. I hope and hope that I can start giving myself structure but something always gets in the way, the flow of my day-to-day always changes, I think I get ahead and an unexpected expense happens, things are swell and then I have a nervous breakdown. For the love of Pete – it’s always something – my life in retrospect seems so chaotic. Is it because I am better suited to a structured life, a life with fewer options, less choices? The military was perfect for me – but that, of course, is no more I am sad to say and I must live with that – or not, I suppose.

I know I’m not the only one going through these experiences, but more often than not – I feel that I am.

HYE 2013According to Wikipedia, a veritable wealth of reliability, “88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail.” I stopped making Resolutions a long time ago, not because it’s a bad idea to challenge yourself, but because I always seem to fail at them. This year, I’m trying something a little different – my solution to the Resolution – psychology and maybe a touch of reverse psychology.

First, let’s review 2012 for those of you keeping track at home. It started well with eating better in an attempt to lose the weight I had previously lost and regained, I quit smoking (for a time), I fell in love, I learned first-hand about Baby Mama Drama, I got heat exhaustion at work, I got engaged to an old flame, I cut off my hair for Locks of Love, I got laid off from work and went on unemployment, my dog got fleas for over a month, I fell out of love. Unemployment got messed up for six weeks and I couldn’t pay my rent and started to get evicted. The VA finally approved my disability for Fibromyalgia, but lowered one of my other ratings. I broke up with my fiancé, missed my Grandmother’s wedding, got a job offer in Los Angeles, moved to Los Angeles and started a new job. Stress started to weasel its way back into my life again and led to severe Anxiety and Depression like I had not known in a long time, I stopped working and started to go to more doctors and get on more medications. I started a blog, I started a Twitter account, I started to wonder if my day-to-day had changed forever. I ended 2012 not wanting to be anywhere, not wanting to see anyone and not knowing what to do – about anything.

So here we are, January 2013, and I have decided that rather than make resolutions, I will state a few things that I don’t want to do this year – some I truly hope not to happen, others I think that if I fail at them, it will be a good thing. Here goes: I’m not looking for a relationship, I don’t want to torture myself trying to quit smoking, I don’t want to keep feeling useless and afraid of myself, I don’t want to get fatter, I don’t want to be destitute and wonder when my next meal will be or where I will live. I won’t go off my meds because I forget or think I am better without, I will try not to sweat the small stuff, and I’ll try not to forget about consequences and what leads to them. I don’t want to miss out on family gatherings, I will not rely on others for my well-being, I won’t overwhelm myself with tasks and impossible goals and I won’t forget that I am only human.

Aside from a scant number of references of theological beginnings of New Year Resolutions, Wikipedia cites a Wall Street Journal article, “Blame it on the Brain” by the controversial journalist/blogger Jonah Lehrer focused on “The Science Behind Failed Resolutions.” It explains how the portion of the brain that controls willpower, the frontal cortex, “is also in charge of keeping us focused, handling short-term memory and solving abstract problems.” An overload of tasks and subsequently a lack of willpower (giving into temptation) seems inevitable when you set multiple resolutions for yourself at once; you may believe you are trying to improve yourself but instead you are setting yourself up for failure. Pace yourself, research what it takes to form habits and plan how you will reward yourself. Give yourself enough time to attain the result you are looking for before moving onto the next goal.

In the past, I’ve started eating better, quit smoking, started exercising and maybe even threw in one or two other behaviors that were not my usual habit. That is why I have failed. Knowledge is power – and learning more about the brain and how it works, not to mention more about my specific disabilities, may give me the knowledge to harness my willpower – or at the very least, give me a better understanding of how to get my hands on some.

OstrichSyndrome I keep hoping (even thinking) that I am feeling better as the days and weeks pass. However, I tend to sink back into a very dull and dismal thought process that I am extremely uncomfortable with and I fall into what I have categorized as “Ostrich Syndrome.” I find it akin to, but rather separate from, “Fibro Fog” that is generally associated with Fibromyalgia.

Now, by no means did I coin this phrase, but I did Google it to ensure that I’m not just insane. The 31,600 results that followed assured me that this ideology exists, although mainly used to characterize business management and how this “Syndrome” pertains to the inner workings (or lack thereof) of a business plan or organization, or political denial. Or so I have gleaned from perusing some of the said Google results. (On a sidenote: it’s also the name of a band with a track called Prince of Babylon produced by One Million Heist, “a non-profit independent netlabel, with various genres and artists with one goal, to be heard.” Some very interesting tracks are found on Sound Cloud).

Urban Dictionary has the first result and closest description of Ostrich Syndrome as it pertains to myself and how I feel when I just want to close the shudders (as though anyone has shudders anymore), not answer my phone, eat snacks instead of meals, and couch potato it all day – which may include an afternoon nap while I wait for night to come just so I can go back to sleep. Ineteresting enough – no anxiety that I can tell. I know I have responsibilities, I know I have bills to pay, I know that there are things to do that really shouldn’t be put off until tomorrow – I just can’t seem to make myself give a damn. Hell, I was supposed to hang out with a friend today who is off from work (whom I’ve been hounding to hang out with me). I was also supposed to go to a performance tonight that two of my other friends are in only once a month. I just couldn’t pull my head out of my ass to do these things – because I’m busy hiding – hoping that hiding will make my problems go away. Newsflash: it won’t.

I would like to give a shout out to a fellow Word Press blogger, Jackson Quigg Associates, who gave me even more insight into Ostrich Syndrome and a term I was previously unfamiliar with: Permissibility. The blog states that it “occurs when someone allows something to continue to happen, even when they’re in a position to stop it or have a significant impact upon it.” I am allowing this to happen. I am my own enabler.

“First step is realizing you have a problem” so they say. Great. I am aware that I am this way. Now what do I do about it, especially when I allow it to happen and don’t give a rat’s ass? I’m stumped. How does a broken one fix themself? That’s worse than “the blind leading the blind.” And is this something that I can fix? Is it a part of my diagnosed Depression, Anxiety and/or Fibromyalgia? Or did I get blessed with other shortcomings as well? Only time can tell.

Have you felt this way before? How long did it last? Any suggestions?

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As anyone with Anxiety, Depression, or frankly, active brain waves knows, it’s good to have someone you can trust that you can talk to about anything. Among those I consider in my life – my psychiatrist, a man I trust beyond words who, other than diagnostically speaking, doesn’t judge me. I can be completely honest without fear of being alienated due to my unfiltered verbal regurgitation.

I value his sessions so much that even though I’ve moved to Los Angeles, I still go down to the San Diego VA (Veterans’ Affairs) just to see him. I had an appointment just the other day. I had almost not gone due to how piss-poor I’ve been feeling these last few weeks and seriously considered a phone call to him instead. Thankfully as the appointment drew near I’d been feeling better and made the trek. I spent two hours and forty minutes driving and I just made it on time. We had one of the most productive sessions to date and I even told my doctor about starting a blog. He is very supportive of my efforts.

My last trip to San Diego I mentioned to people too late and no one could hang out; this trip I thought ahead and had plans to see one of my friends and his family and then dinner with a few old teammate’s of mine (I used to play Women’s Pro Football – but that’s a different story). I wound up not having much time before getting to dinner and my friend had to get his exercise in before the evening was out so we went for a walk with one of his sons and caught up on the last few months. Low and behold, forty-five minutes and 1.8 miles later it was time to go. My ankles had been hurting since about half way, my legs were relatively on fire with the onset of circulation in them for once and I hadn’t eaten anything all day. Not the best way to take care of a chronic pain/headache/mental condition such as I have, but I like to live dangerously.

Off to the sports bar to see two of my dear friends and finally get something in my tummy; I ordered a huge greasy bacon burger (no tomatoes, no onions, medium rare as usual) with a side of tater-tots. Tater-tots always remind me of high school lunch, cracked plastic green trays, sporks and pints of chocolate milk (sometimes 2%, depends). Maybe it’s just me.

It was a great time and it’s moments like these that remind me that even in my darkest times, solitary confinement is not the best idea. It’s always hard when you’re in the thick of it to remember the good things and hold onto them.

By the time we wrapped up it was about 9pm and I was dreading the two hour plus ride home to Los Angeles. I decided since I was in the area and it was only about ten minutes out of the way, I’d hit up my old stomping grounds at The La Jolla Comedy Store. I got to see most of my friends there and had some great laughs. While I was there I realized I was starting to have a Fibromyalgia flare-up. This is when, instead of this or that hurting and the pain going from here to there throughout the day, it’s in multiple areas at once and it just won’t go away. The longer the pain goes on the more distracted and irritable I become. My arms were aching something terrible and the pain started to make my whole torso feel like I’d been hit by a train. I tried to stave off the pain with light-hearted conversation with my friends and continued to fidget over the next hour or so. As they were closing I decided to hit the road.

Since it was only about 10:30 I figured that by the time I made it up to L.A. that The World Famous Comedy Store on Sunset would still be open. It would be fun to hit up my new favorite spot as well as the old in the same night despite how I was feeling; it was relatively on the way back home, so why not? The drive back was shorter, just over two hours and I pulled up to the Store at around 12:30am. My hips were killing me from all the time in the car but I was happy to be there and enjoying more laughs. A few hours there and I was home by 3am.

Boy, did I pay for the prior day’s shenanigans. I couldn’t get out of bed until at least 1:30 in the afternoon and even then, I was a zombie. If it wasn’t for my too-smart-for-her-own-good dog, who has the wherewithal to let me know when she has to go out, I may not have gotten out of bed that day at all. I’m quite sure I only had some instant oatmeal and stared at the TV for an hour before deciding to go back to bed. I slept on and off for several more hours and finally had some strength by 6:30-7:00pm that night.

This is part of my many ongoing problems. I throw my circadian cycle off by having fun into the wee hours, or by being in pain or having racing thoughts and being unable to sleep so I toss and turn for hours. I’d rather do it by having fun, but the results are generally the same. Bedtime gets later and later. Wake time gets later and later. Afternoon naps come into play and nutrition, amongst other things, goes to the wayside.

Although easier said than done, I need to take better care of myself, that’s really all there is to it. I need to force myself into a routine and even if I maintain late nights I have to get up by a certain time and work – work hard – at taking care of myself. It’s not that I can’t try to live a full and fun-filled life, it’s that I have to work on making it healthier and more manageable. I need consistency in my life. Moreover, it’s a matter of having indifference for myself and daily – struggling against it.

cure-fibromyalgia-tender-pointsI was twenty-one when my Fibromyalgia started. Of course, neither I nor the doctors knew that’s what it was for quite some time. I was in the Navy at the time, stationed in Texas for a “C” School of my rate. It was spring going into Summer and temperatures were already on the rise to the point of several black flags during the two months I was there, which restricted our physical training outdoors.

Mid-April, I decided to go on a health kick; I quit smoking, started eating better (how could I not – it was an Air Force Base), and I stepped up my exercising; I even bought Susan Powder’s Stop the Insanity exercise tapes (not my first, nor last attempt to get fit). Being in the military, we’re expected to do PT (Physical Training) at least three times a week to keep ourselves fit for the annual PRT (Physical Readiness Test), therefore exercise can only make me better, right? Or so I thought.

I started running several miles a day, for three days, and at the end of that third day my right knee was hurting pretty significantly. Despite rest and the Vitamin M (Motrin 800mg – the military’s usual prescript despite whatever ails you), the pain would not go away. It started to radiate above and below my right knee and felt as though my muscles and tendons had been damaged. Physical therapy was also of no use and in no time I was onto my next school in Florida for another two-three months and still on Limited Duty, which restricted my physical activity and exempted me from PRTs.

While I was in Florida the pain was spreading through most of my other muscles and joints and started to become the “widespread pain” that would characterize Fibromyalgia. I needed narcotic painkillers to feel any relief (which, of course without physical evidence of injury, they were hesitant to give me) and the unknown diagnosis spooked the docs and my detailer, the person who assigns you to your duty stations. Subsequently, I lost my orders to Misawa, Japan and instead had to choose between Ft. Meade, Maryland and Hawai’i. At this point, I had been in so much pain for so long that I just wanted to be close to my family in upstate New York. I chose Ft. Meade, Maryland. As anyone in the military knows, it seems they have no desire to accommodate needs or wants of military members and it is the “needs of the Navy” that dictate everything. That being said, I was cut orders to Hawai’i; had I chosen that in the first place – it would have been Ft. Meade for sure, I have no doubt.

Time and again we’d say to each other that something the Navy had decided didn’t “make sense.” The all-too-acceptable reply usually being “that’s the Navy for ya’,” as though common sense and military protocol are mutually exclusive. But I digress…

By October I was in Hawai’i and the pain had spread throughout my entire body. In November, there was finally a breakthrough when a civilian doctor working in the clinic ruled out all the usual suspects for my symptoms with a battery of tests: Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lyme Disease, you name it. I had nearly all the tender points indicated in The American College of Rheumatology 1990 Criteria for Classification of Fibromyalgia1 and he finally diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia.

When I called my mother to tell her, she informed me that she had been diagnosed with it just two weeks earlier. That was fourteen years ago in 1998.

 

1http://www.fibroassist.net/Diagnosis/ACR%201990%20FM%20Criteria.pdf

splatter-grunge-wordpress-logoI am a disabled veteran. I’ve gotten used to saying that by now, despite the stigmata I feel in my heart each time it passes my lips or even my thoughts.

Recently, I had a pretty difficult time with my health, all of my service-connected disabilities came to a head at once and I was overloaded with Fibromyalgia pain, daily Tension (possibly Migraine) headaches and crippling Anxiety and Depression. I had to stop going to work and got a doctor’s note to be out for a few weeks. For the first time I’m putting in for State Disability due to my conditions and for the second time I feel my conditions have hindered my work performance and my day-to-day, this time to the point of not being able to cope – with anything.

In between the days that I couldn’t leave the house, besides to walk my companion dog, I ventured out a few times. In the thick of it, I was so anxiety ridden that driving on the freeway was overwhelming for me and I wondered what I would do if that feeling got worse or didn’t go away.

One of the best destinations I chose when I was in a sullen mood was the World Famous Comedy Store. I have several comedian friends and my whole life I have considered comedy the greatest escape from my sorrows; I love stand-up more than any other form of comedy and really get to let my hair down when I go to shows. It was a conversation I had at the Comedy Store with a friend that spurred my interest with blogging. Being a writer and an English Major, you’d have thought I’d have jumped on the blog-train years ago, but something always stopped me.

My friend and I got into a pretty in-depth conversation about my Fibromyalgia, Anxiety and Depression and he emphasized the need for me to get support; he suggested blogging. The seed was planted; in the last few weeks the idea has turned into more of a mission than just an outlet to express myself.

I’d like to not only express myself, but offer up my experiences to others. I, like many other people with disabilities, somehow always still feel alone, even though common sense dictates that we are not alone. I would like to give my support and in exchange gain the support of others that I know are out there, but that I do not know… yet.