Friday, 04 October 2013 05:31

Week 10

As many of you know, I am currently in an intensive group therapy program. Its five days a week Monday-Friday. Tomorrow is the final day of my 10th week. I have come such a long way over the past 10 weeks. During my intake interview for this program I was challenged to set 3 goals. One of the biggest ones for me was opening up to people in order to et them support me. From day 1 I have been completely open with the people in this group. I guess it also helps since I'm there for a reason. In about week 2 or 3, I was doing some anxiety research online and stumbled across this website here.

At first I thought it might be awkward since I didn't know anyone else on here. I thought it would be like facebook where u may have over 500 "friends" but only comment on maybe 3 people's things. I didn't really know if I would stay on here or if it was just a one time thing. The next day, I was reading my email and I had a bunch of notifications from this site saying that people were commenting on my posts, adding me as a friend and messaging me. It was an awesome feeling. I noticed very quickly that it is socially acceptable for anyone to comment on other people's posts here.

A few weeks later, I saw someone post a link for tiny chat. I tried logging in a few times and nobody else was ever online. Fast forward to today and I have a pretty good idea as to when I can expect people to be online.

A lot of people in my therapy group feel anxious after the group and on weekends. I don't have to worry about that because I can come here to a whole other group.
A lot of people feel very nervous when they get past the 6 week mark in the program since they are working on transitioning out and it can be uncertain (also we can't have any communication with any of the others until we have both completed the program). I am ecited about finishing. I had 2 awesome people graduated when I was in week 5 and I haven't been able to see them since. I am looking forward to seeing them. Also I have my ASN people to rely on.

Week 11/12 next week. Time to start getting my life back on track. I'm totally ready for the next 2 weeks :)

Published in Diary
Friday, 16 August 2013 05:09

New Beginnings For Me

Hi everyone, my name is Lexie. I am brand new to this site I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. I am also emetophobic. As a kid I was always a worrier. I had many problems with worrying about getting in trouble, or not having a partner/group for projects. These worries consumed all my time. If I stopped worrying and was at peace I would suddenly remember that I had something to worry about and go right back to worrying.

I was very healthy. I only had season allergies. No severe illnesses and no chronic conditions. At the age of 12 I woke up one morning and couldn't get back to sleep. A few hours later I vomitted. I thought I had the flu so I went back to sleep. A few hours later I woke up and felt like nothing had ever happened. A few days later the same thing happened again. This time it happened 3 days in a row. Eventually I would feel this way almost every day. I went to the doctor who presceibed anti-emetics.

To make a long story short I was treated for acid reflux, hormonal imblances, and just general dyspepsia. Despite all these treatments and many tests I was not feeling any different. At one point my doctor had suggested stress, but we dismissed that since i got some reflief from the ant-acids. I was on ant-acids and digestive aids all through high school. At the age of 22 I was in university, had been on many treatments, repeated a lot of the medical tests and still got no results. I went back to my doctor to bring this topic up again. She suggested anxiety and gave me a few tips and tricks to help. The next few months I used a mixture of digestive aids and relaxation.

Right after my last doctor's visit one of my friends at work ended up being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I could see alot of similarities between the two of us and started taking my diagnosis more seriously. About a year ago she went through a very rough patch and was talking to me about it. I finally got up the courage to tell her that I also have anxiety. I really thought she was going to cry. She was so happy that she didnt have to suffer by herself anymore. We became eachother's support system after our initial discussion. This brought us a lot closer together. If one of us is struggling we always message eachother. I became a lot more open to the idea of treating my sef for an anxiety disorder.

This past May, I graduated from university with a BA in Psychology. In between job hunting and adjusting to life without school, I decided that this would be a good time to get help. I went back to my doctor and was given questionnaires. I was also started on medication and given a referral for group therapy. I was on the meds for 2 months before starting therapy (long waiting list). I had noticed subtle changes. My stomach was feeling better and I was generally less anxious (but still extremely anxious).

I met with a psychologist who runs various therapy groups on an outpatient basis at the local hospital. She suggested the intensive group. It runs 5 days a week for 12 weeks. They had space available for the week after that. I decided that this was the only time in my life where I would have the time to do something like this. I took the offer and started with the group the following week. Right away, I felt at home. Everyone in the group was very welcoming. Although I was one of the youngest members I could relate to everyone's stories. I knew I had made the right decision.

I am now finishing my 3rd week. I have already made progress. I feel like I have known these people all my life. It is hard waking up first thing in the morning when I'm used to sleeping in. Its also very difficult to talk about problems five days a week. Its both mentally and physically exhausting, but it feels good. Sometimes I get triggered by soemthing someone says or a topic that we are covering. After being triggered, recognizing this and sharing with others, I feel so much better. I am really hoping that I am able to use the 12 weeks well and am very optimistic.

I will give regular updates on my progress as time goes on. If anyone wants to talk ever, I am here. You can add me as a friens, message me, or whatever. I look forward to getting to know the community here.

Published in Diary

Depression is ugly. There’s no way around this fact. Depression is like driving to an amazing job interview and your car dies in the middle of nowhere. Say goodbye to the interview. You will be sticking around for a while.

Those of us with anxiety are well aware of our depressive episodes. Depression and anxiety come in the same package. The National Institute of Mental Health states on their website that, “Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder, often accompany depression.”

When a car breaks down, our immediate reaction is often a bit senseless. We may get angry at the car for busting down. We want to scream at it; to kick it; to take a sledgehammer and smash all its windows. Likewise, when someone we love becomes depressed and simply stops functioning, we often become overwhelmed and frustrated by their ineptitude; and rightly so. It is not easy having a car bust down and spoil longed for opportunities. However, smashing in the car, telling the car it is lazy, sending the car on guilt trips for busting down is not going to get anyone back on the road. Smashing up the car will only make matters worse. One must give the car a tune up. Maybe it needs some more gas.

The consequences of maltreatment, however, are obviously more severe for living things. Didier Lefevre traveled into the rough terrain in the bleakest parts of Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders. He recorded his journey in captioned photographs and illustrations in a book called The Photographer. At one point, he comments on the treatment of caravan horses who accompany travelers through the rocky passes. “Caravan horses go through martyrdom” he says.


"They’re overloaded, yanked here and there, subjected to freezing cold, and wounded by stones. They collapse from exhaustion and get abandoned on the side of the road. The trails are littered with dead horses and donkeys." (46-47)


People who are suffering from depression often feel like these horses who have been driven to the point of exhaustion. They feel like they cannot take another step. Yet the travelers feel like they must drive the horses harder. Lefevre showed a sequence of pictures of a horse and explained,


"That horse is making long stops. He can’t take any more; His eyes seem to be saying, 'Enough.' The asshole Muj’, the one Regis and I don’t like, comes up to him, places his AK-47 on top of the horse’s head and fires a volley of shots forward between his ears. The poor horse whinnies and runs desperately for fifty yards before stopping again, panting. And the Muj’ starts again, and keeps at it all the way to the top." (63)


Most of us could agree that this is maltreatment of the horse. Obviously, the man needs the horse to carry his things. He needs the horse to keep going. But this is clearly not a good solution. When the horse finally dies of exhaustion, it will be of no help at all.

As someone who has been that horse before, here are some things that I feel are helpful for people who suffer from depression.      


*Recognition of the Illness


When the horse can’t go any further the mindset toward the horse must change. A person with depression may be strong in spirit, like a horse, but simply unable to utilize their strength at the time. This is not laziness. They are sick. When someone comes down with physical ailments we allow them to be sick. We do not expect them to act like a healthy person. That would be harsh. The same is true for depression. To help them, you must recognize that they are sick and need special treatment and reprieve.


* Positive Energy


        When you are depressed, you don’t want an AK-47 fired next to your ears. You want to laugh again. You want to enjoy life. You want to like yourself again. When you are surrounded by positivity and cheer it gives you strength to move again. Nobody wants to be forced to act happy. But whatever degree of positivity your loved one is able to accept, offer that to them. Sometimes, something like cleaning up an area of their home so they have one less thing to worry about can add positive energy and show that they are cared for.


* Hope


        Now that you have recognized that they are ill, realize that their hopelessness is faulty. Have hope. Share hope. Give any dosage of hope that they are ready to accept. Life is never as bad as a depressed person believes it is.


* Confidence


      Depressed spirits often lack in confidence. This is ill founded. See past this. See their potential rather than their sickness. Share this vision rather than pointing out how awful they have become since they have gotten sick. That will just make them feel less able.


* Encouragement of Healthy Choices


        No one wants the horse to stop at the side of the road and never trek again. Encouraging the regeneration of healthy habits without being overbearing is important. This is a tricky balance. Help your loved one to run again. But keep in mind that they are injured. Don’t make them run faster than they are able. Encourage them toward manageable efforts that may improve their condition. They need encouragement to realize they are capable of much more than staying in bed all day. Make the encouragement positive and manageable rather than negative and overwhelming.


* Seek Help


        All of this can sound overwhelming when we have our own discouragement and problems. We don’t want to overwork our own selves. If it becomes too much, seek help from a professional-- for your loved one and for yourself if needed. Seek help from friends and family. Don’t try to cure their ailments alone.


* Take Care of Yourself

        If you are happy, your loved one will benefit.


Life is a blessing. Everyone deserves to enjoy it. Let’s all try to lift each other.


Guibert, Emmanuel et. al. Trans. Siegel, Alexis. The Photographer. New York. First:2003.


Published in Anxiety General Blog
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