Pain, Pain, go away…

The past week or so has been rough for me. I have been experiencing the MS hug, extreme fatigue (I’ve only felt it this severely once before), weakness, stomach problems, muscle spasms and shaking, and pain in my limbs, back, and chest.

I’ve been in contact with my doctors, so they know what is going on. My neurologist said I could be having a worsening of symptoms because the injections are working and as my nerves get a chance to heal they are misfiring more rapidly, and that it will pass in time. Other possibilities are an underlying infection causing a flare up, or an actual flare up. So I am really rooting for the first option!

When I get this sick I have noticed that my anxiety seems to use the time to take center stage in my thoughts. I start worrying that I will never feel better this time, that people think I am just lazy and don’t understand what I am going through, I worry that I am dying. I know that none of those things are true. That they are just the negative ideas and words of my anxiety. But it’s hard to just stop those thoughts when anxiety can be SO LOUD.

I know that I am stronger than this disease. I have bounced back from this before, and I will do it again. I just wish there was a little more certainty around Multiple Sclerosis. The unknown is a very scary thing. But I am arming myself for battle with my armor of blankets, my shield of heating pads, my noble steed Sir Mac N Cheese. But the most important thing I have to help me fight this battle is the love, positive energy, and caring actions and thoughts of my husband, family, friends, and all of you!

Let’s keep fighting this thing!

-A

First Injection Day: √

Today was the big day, injection training! For those of you who have read my blog before you know that I was recently diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS). Since my diagnosis I have had a lot to wrap my mind around. As someone who suffers from some pretty intense anxiety to begin with, it has been…challenging to put it kindly. But one thing that I have been working up the courage for was beginning a disease modifying drug.

Disease modifying drugs work to slow down the progression of MS. There are various drugs (I think 15? currently on the market in the US) that can be used to slow the progression of this disease. These drugs range in effectiveness, risks, and the methods in which they are administered/how they work in the body.

There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis. There is no way to undo the damage, if permanent nerve damage has already occurred. One of the biggest misunderstandings I had (and I think many people would have) about the treatment I am starting is that it does not make you feel better. It doesn’t really alleviate any symptoms, rather it gives your immune system something different to attack rather than your own myelin (protective covering of the nerves. Think of someone with MS as having a cellphone charger with the wires exposed). The hope of this treatment is that it will slow the progression of my disease and delay my next relapse or attack of symptoms, maybe by months…maybe by years!

The treatment I chose to start with is Glatiramer Acetate (the generic form of Copaxone). Glatiramer Acetate has minimal side effects, mostly confined to the injection site and does not cause long-term damage/risks to the reproductive organs. This was really important to me. I have already lost so much to this disease, I didn’t want to risk losing my future family too. So I wanted to try this less aggressive, albeit sometimes less effective, treatment option first. This drug is injected into the fatty layer under the skin either daily or three times a week, depending on dosage.

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around giving myself shots for a while now (pretty much since I started researching treatment options last fall) and have been rather nervous about it. All it would take was the image of myself pushing a needle into my own tummy and my vision would go dark, hands and feet go numb and the room starts to spin (funny, those are all MS symptoms too! Yay anxiety, double the fun for me!) I tried to comfort myself by reminding myself that I would be thoroughly trained on how to safely inject, I would have my husband to help me if I really was that squeamish at the end of the day, and that when it comes down to it I could just inject in other body parts that made me feel less freaked out.

But all the self soothing in the world couldn’t keep that bossy voice of anxiety from running her mouth in the back of my mind.

But this morning came, and so did the nurse to show me how to tackle my newest MS challenge.

I just have to give a shout out to my nurse, who did an absolutely amazing job teaching me everything I needed to know and making sure I felt comfortable and ready to give my self my first ever injection.  And that is just what I did, and in my tummy no less! I decided that if I am going to face this fear I am going to face it head on!

It wasn’t too bad! The injection itself just felt like any shot does. There was some pretty strong stinging and burning for a few minutes after, while the injection spread, but it passed within a few minutes. As I write this, the only indication that I had such a life changing morning is a slight ache in my abdomen and a tiny dot where the needle went in. That’s it.

It’s funny. There are many moments when our lives change forever, and they pass without us even realizing them. Moments when we fall in love, take a stand or face a challenge. Sometimes they’re big, sometimes they are small. As small as pushing a button and a tiny needle injecting you with not just a medicine, but hope.

Hope that this disease won’t progress. Hope that I’ll have many years of health ahead of me. Hope that I’ll grow nice and old and have a family of my own to watch grow up too. Hope that one day I can look back at this time of my life and be proud of the bravery I showed, even when I felt like hiding. Hope that one day we won’t be on here talking about a treatment, we will be talking about the cure.

Until then, I will continue to learn each day, to cherish the peaceful moments and to fill my heart and the hearts of those around me with as much love and positivity as I can muster.

-A

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore

silhouette photo of trees during night time
Photo by Miriam Espacio on Pexels.com

Happy with a headache…

I have a headache. It’s funny, for someone who has a disease that affects my brain I don’t, and never have, had a lot of headaches. Growing up I can probably count on one hand the number of times I remember having a headache. Starting about two years ago I started getting periods of time where I would get headaches of various intensities quite often. Then I’d go months and months without one again. I’m in a headache period right now!

My husband was sick this weekend (finally feeling better this evening) so I am crossing my fingers that this is just a stress headache and not my already struggling immune system giving in to whatever virus he brought home.

I start my injections tomorrow, so I am pretty anxious about that. I played around with my “whisper inject” (automatic injector) without any actual needles/syringes and watched/read all the “how to” materials again. I wouldn’t say my anxious feelings are negative or bad feelings. They are more the healthy kind of nerves and tension that I always feel before a new medical procedure. It’s just anxiety watching out for me and wanting to make sure everything is safe and ‘ok’ before I try this new thus scary thing. But anxiety, I got you girl, I’ve done my homework, I’ve got a nurse coming to my home for the first injection and I will be OK! (positive thoughts!)

Ok, I HAVE to update ya’ll on the Sparrow Mom situation. WE HAVE CHICKLETS. I repeat! We have a birth…multiple births…hatches? Anyways, my (taller than the average human) husband walked past my hanging basket of African Daisy’s today and casually said “Oh, they’re alive. Watch out when you water this”.

Seeing as I was not bestowed with his same gift of height I, precariously, balanced on a patio chair and held my phone up so I could take a picture and “see” these “live” birds! And behold….sure as shoot Sparrow Mom is gonna be a busy ladybird from here on out!

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Don’t worry, I was very careful not to touch the plant/nest or disturb them at all!

So as anxious as I am tonight, for what tomorrow holds, this was mother natures way of reminding me to stop and take in all the beauty and life around me! It completely made my day. And I have to say that I am, in general, very proud of my plant and animal babies today.

 

One of these packages looks more fun than the other…

I love the mail.

I love receiving letters in the mail, I love sending them. I love getting packages in the mail and opening them up, sending care packages to people! Yes, you have to sift through some junk to get to the good stuff sometimes, but isn’t that the same in everything in life!

As an adult I started getting more of “the junk” in the mail. Bills, advertisements, ads for stores I’ve never even shopped at. But I also started getting some fun stuff too! I get wedding invitations, baby announcements, Christmas cards! That’s kind of how my life has been lately. I’ve started getting a little more of the crappy stuff (MS diagnosis, intense anxiety etc) but I’ve also started getting a whole lot more of the wonderful stuff (a husband, a supportive family, a house and a goon of a dog).

For my birthday this year my husband got me a subscription for Ipsy. I am really excited to try out some new beauty supplies each month! Since my diagnosis I have been struggling with the way I view myself. I lost a lot of weight (not intentionally), began having the worst acne of my life (seriously, this shit makes my teenage years look like beauty marks!) and for a while, when I was feeling really sick, I just kind of gave up.

I have always enjoyed makeup and beauty products, getting my nails done and all that jazz, but this winter I was so preoccupied with the shock of my diagnosis that I fell into a no bra, all day pj wearing, throw my hair into a nest of a bun at the top of my head situation…like Sparrow Mom was considering my hair prime real-estate at one point…

Now don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with no bra, all day pj’s and having a tangle of hair fit for housing birds and other small creatures on the top of your head! I love those days. That still is me most days.

In fact, the only reason I am not wearing my pajamas right now is because I had to drag my butt away from my Harry Potter marathon and run some errands today.

I am totally supportive of rocking whatever look makes you feel good! The issue was, I was starting to not feel good about myself. I read a post someone wrote about depression and getting yourself out of a tough patch and one of the tips was “Have you showered today? If the answer is no, go shower. Right now.” It really made me realize that I was feeling crappy about myself on the inside (still coming to terms with the fact that a part of my body was attacking another part) and was letting anxiety and negativity control my life so much that I had stopped doing some of the basic things that made me feel good.

Again, I come back to the power of our thoughts and intentions. One small thing I could do to make myself feel better was to take care of myself, starting on the outside. Spring was just around the corner and I started making sure I established my self-care routine again. I used essential oils to make my showers even more relaxing and enjoyable. I made sure I put on an outfit I liked every day  even though I was no longer working at this point and most days wasn’t seeing anyone but my husband and Sir Mac N Cheese, it just made me feel a little more like myself again.

Now I am really getting into taking care of myself not just on the outside but on the inside too!

I’ve started a skin care routine (any other MS Warriors struggle with acne?…I’m thinking my stress levels and two rounds of steroid infusion therapy in 3 months kind of had something to do with it? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!)

I’ve started taking pride in myself, both inside and out, and I’ve started an “internal makeover”, one could say. I am actively making sure that I keep that icky negative energy out (as best I can) and soak up as much positivity as I possibly can. So anyways, I’m pumped about this beauty package today.

But I got more than one package today. I got my first shipment of Glatiramer Acetate injections as well as my auto injector and training kit. Yeah…that package was slightly less fun to receive than my other one.

I spent the beginning of this afternoon reading and watching the training materials the drug company sent and organizing my “medicine cabinet” (which is starting to look like a small pharmacy) and trying to get myself prepared for Monday, when I start the injections. I will say, that after watching the training videos and seeing how the auto injector works I am feeling slightly less nervous about injecting myself…SLIGHTLY. I’m still thinking it will take some time (and probably an emotional breakdown or two) before I get used to it. But, that’s just it. I will get used to it. Someday. It helps to have a trained nurse coming to our home to teach my husband and I for the first day.

I will write my thoughts on my first experience with injections sometime next week, I am sure 🙂

 

 

 

Gratitude

Today started out as a very frustrating day. I spent hours on the phone with different pharmacists, nurses and representatives of the MS helpline trying to get my first at home nurse visit set up, where I will learn to give myself my injections of Glatiramer acetate  (the generic form of Copaxone).

There were many questions, warnings, and instructions that each person had to go over with me. By my fourth or fifth phone call of the day I was starting to get annoyed at the information I was hearing over and over again. I know that all of these people wanted to help me, and were just trying to make sure I understood my medications but I just wanted to tell them “Listen, I am completely aware of all of the risks and side effects of this drug. I went over them with my doctor extensively. Also, you don’t have to tell me that it is not a cure. I’m aware of that. What I don’t know is how to give myself a shot, and you can’t teach me over the phone so let’s get to the part where we schedule the training.”

But instead I sat there and listened to each of them repeat the same information. The same words smashing around on the inside of my brain. Scarring. Injection. Needle. Risks. Pain. Insurance. Not a cure. Syringe. Scarring. Injection. Needle. Risks. Pain. Insurance. Not a Cure.

I finally ended my last call of the day two minutes before I walked into my therapist’s office for our weekly appointment. At that point I think I was really needing that appointment. I just needed to vent.

I was feeling frustrated. I couldn’t help but feel more and more like a name on a list of “people with MS” each time another bored sounding employee from the drug company would call me up and talk to me in the same monotone voice about the drug I was about to start, and the risks, and the things to watch out for…

I was completely consumed in my anxiety, frustration, and the loneliness I felt at that moment. Not a single person (with the exception of my neurologists assistant) that I had talked to on the phone had sounded like they cared. They just sounded like they were bored and reading off a script the drug company had given them. It all felt so cold.

I was letting the negative energy I was feeling take control of my mood and thus, how my day was going.

After talking with my therapist I started to realize this and shift back into a more positive energy and we ended up talking about the power of the intention behind our thoughts.

Dr. Masaru Emoto was a Japanese researcher and author who theorized that the human consciousness could have an effect on water crystals. He tested this by taking a drop of water from a constant water source and placing it on a single sheet of paper (also from a consistent source). He would then very intentionally focus all of his consciousness on either a positive or negative statement spoken (and in another test, written) to the water on the paper. He would then place the papers in the freezer and examine them the next day under a microscope. The results are incredible!

The water droplets that had a positive statement spoken to them were formed in intricate and beautiful patterns, just like a snowflake. The droplets that had a negative statement spoken to them were deformed and discolored. He also tested his theory by exposing the droplets to different music, prayers, and names of people in history. There are some youtube videos out there if you google his name where you can see most/all of the actual photos! It’s really amazing how powerful our thoughts and intentions really are. Below are some of the photographs taken by Dr. Masaru Emoto during is experiment.

I really love the beauty in the positivity!

 

It kind of reset my perspective for the day. I decided to stop focusing so much on the negative aspects of my day and instead to concentrate all of my energy on the positive things. My mood has already shifted positively and I am so grateful for the lesson that I learned today and my therapist for helping me discover it.

I know it’s not always easy to find a therapist you really connect with, but it is worth the wait and the search. Don’t give up on your mental health and be kind to yourself!

I challenge you all today to think of five things you are grateful for and send that positivity out into the universe. Lord know’s we could use it 😉

I am grateful for the sun.

I am grateful for a husband who supports me emotionally and financially in these hard times.

I am grateful for my dog, sleeping with his head on my foot.

I am grateful that Sparrow Mom decided to build her nest where I can watch her babies grow.

I am grateful for words and language and our ability to express and connect with people though them.

-A

When the ball finally drops does it shatter?

If you have read my Who am I? post you know that last November I was diagnosed with Clinically Isolated Syndrome(CIS). The National MS Society states: “CIS refers to a first attack of neurologic symptoms that lasts at least 24 hours and is caused by inflammation or demyelination (loss of the myelin that covers the nerve cells) in the central nervous system.”

Since that moment my life has changed so much. My husband and I had to make some  decisions to make sure that we were financially and bodily secure in the future, as we had no idea where this disease would take us. We got married with an intimate ceremony in our own home so that I could be covered by his health insurance. We would have gotten married anyways but this really sped things up. (Funny story, when we got married my husband had already ordered the ring a month before and was ACTUALLY planning on proposing that week. Little did he know he’d get the whole ball and chain!) We didn’t know what the future held. We just knew we would stand hand in hand and face it together…no matter what.

It could have been a six months before my next attack, it could have been years, it could have been never. That’s the thing about CIS. It gave me this shred of hope to hold on to that I wasn’t even sure was real or not. My rational brain tried to tell myself that no, most likely it was not real and that it WAS likely that this would not be my first attack. The optimistic, childlike, dreamer in me was still clinging though, clinging to a faint thread of that hope.

Yesterday, I got the results of my second MRI in six months. It wasn’t great. The disease has progressed and I have new lesions in my brain and spinal cord. The MRI showed that one of my previous legions had shrunk (most likely from the two rounds of steroid infusion therapy I had that first couple months) but the rest had stayed unchanged. My neurologist called me to talk about the results so that on Monday at our appointment we can dive right into the treatment options and make some decisions about symptom relief and disease modifying treatment.

I have been clinically diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis.

At first I took it really well. It’s funny, it was almost a relief that after six months of wondering and hoping and waiting, I finally didn’t have to wait anymore. I knew. That little thread of hope could go away now. And that is ok. I have spent many years feeling sick and not knowing how to describe it to people,  wondering if I was crazy, wondering if what I was feeling was normal, but not knowing how to describe what I felt to people. Now I can put a name to it. A name that I am not ashamed of, but would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little afraid of.

Multiple Sclerosis.

It hasn’t been even twenty-four hours yet but I feel like I have gone through 8,764 emotions. It’s not like hearing this from my doctor was a big shock. I already knew I had CIS from back in November, and honestly expected that the diagnosis would change during the next few years based on the conversations I had with my MS Specialist.

Maybe I wasn’t ready to hear it so soon? Or maybe no matter how prepared you are there is no way to avoid the fear and the sadness that comes with a diagnosis like this. I am afraid of the side affects of the disease modifying treatments that my doctor talked to me about. I am sad for the things I know I am going to miss out on because I am going to be too sick, or too fatigued to attend and will need to put my body first. I am afraid that I won’t be able to be the mother I want to be someday.

And I am mourning. I love the life I have. I am mourning the fact that I am not even twenty-five years old and I definitely  have a disease that I will have for the rest of my life. I didn’t even get 25 years of “normal”.

I know there are plenty of people who will tell me to be grateful it’s not something worse, that I’m not dying, that there are people who are worse off than me. But I feel that I have the right to mourn, to be sad, and to feel bad and scared. At least for a little bit.

But I will get back up. I won’t stay down on the ground where this news yesterday has knocked me on my ass.

I know I am strong. I have fought through scary and tough things before and I have come out the other side a strong woman, with a husband and family I love, a house and dog I wouldn’t trade for the world. My life is by no means “bad”. I love the life I have. Maybe that is why I am sad? Because it’s so unpredictable now, and I’ve never done well with unpredictable.

Not my happiest post yet…but it’s what’s on my mind.

“I don’t need a life that’s normal. That’s way too far away. But something next to normal would be ok. Yeah, something next to normal. That’s the thing I’d like to try. Close enough to normal to get by. You’ll get by. We’ll get by” – Next To Normal, The Broadway Musical

The waiting game.

Multiple Sclerosis has already taught me a few things. Things like:

It’s OK to be tired and need to take a rest. No shame in napping!

It’s OK not to be able to do the things I used to do (like have the full-time job that I loved, even though I might have complained about it while I was working, I never realized how much I would miss my company, work and coworkers until I had to leave)

When I need to go to the bathroom I need to go NOW (come on, I have to be able to laugh about this one, right?)

But a big thing I am learning from MS is to be patient and to live in the present rather than worrying about the future. This is something I am still learning, and expect I will continue to learn through the rest of my life. Mindfulness and being present in the now is something I have worked on in the past with meditation but it has never been more relevant or necessary in my life. With this disease there is no way to predict the future. There are no two patients with MS that have the exact same symptoms. It all depends on where the lesions develop in the brain and spinal cord, what stage of the disease you are at, how your body reacts the treatments and medications. There are SO many things we don’t know about this disease (let alone why/how people even get it).

So I am learning…(let’s be honest, mostly struggling) with just letting go of the “what if’s”. You can’t spend your whole life worrying about the “what if’s” especially if you have a disease as unpredictable as MS. This is a really hard thing for me because anxiety LOVES “what if’s”! What if I progress fast? What if I lose my sight? What if I can’t be the mom I want to be in the future? What if? What if? What if? What if? Sometimes I just need to take a step back – look my anxiety straight in her bossy little face and say “Shut.Up!”.

This is my life and I am learning that I get to control it my anxiety DOES NOT.

So, as I sit here on the deck in the probably too cold to be outside but I am doing it anyways because… Minnesota, weather and write this blog I am actively telling my anxiety to be quiet and to just enjoy this moment. I had an MRI yesterday and will have to wait until Monday morning to meet with my Neurologist and get the results and that is all my brain wants to think of. But what is the point in worrying about something that is going to be the same no matter how much thought I put into it this weekend? Me worrying all weekend is not going to magically make the lesions disappear or my symptoms go away! So as my therapist always says “Why suffer twice?” anxiety makes you suffer before you’re actually in the situation you are worrying about.

So I am making a choice today. I will not worry all weekend about the results of my MRI. What will come will come and I will be strong either way!

So for now, I am going to sit outside and listen to the birds, get some much-needed rest after yesterday’s uber stressful day and be grateful for the now.

-A

P.S. Even though I am not a huge fan of Cesar Millan’s dog training techniques I do love this quote from him:

“Dogs live in the moment. They don’t regret the past or worry about the future. If we can learn to appreciate and focus on what’s happening in the here and now, we’ll experience a richness of living that other members of the animal kingdom enjoy.” – Cesar Millan

 

 

MRI aka: Menacing, roaring, instrument!

So, today was my second MRI in the last six months. I will be honest I was really anxious about this one. Since my diagnosis in November I have started experiencing some new symptoms as well as a few persistent old ones sticking around. My MS Specialist and I decided it would be worth getting some updated scans done so we can make some decisions about starting a medication.

Apparently, back in November I just got a brain and upper spinal MRI (honestly the twenty four hours before/after the diagnosis are a bit of a blur from the emotion of it all) but this time my neurologist wanted to add the full spine as well as the full brain. The nurses warned me that it would be a lot longer than my first MRI and last a little over two hours. I am pretty claustrophobic and really struggle with panic attacks so I went in prepared.

I wore my most comfy sports bra with no metal in it (thank you Victorias Secret!), yoga pants, and a tank top. I meditated as soon as I woke up in the morning (at 5am because my nerves were already in full swing and anxiety LOVES company) and my MRI wasn’t until noon. It helped a bit and I ended up being able to fall back asleep for a little bit. I ended up having horrible nightmares. That is something I want to go into in another post. I have always had extremely vivid dreams and recently have been suffering from some pretty intense nightmares 😦

So after I woke up I did a little light cleaning and got my “happy place” set up for me to come back to after the MRI. This includes:

My lavender scented, weighted blanket (seriously, this thing is like a magic blanket)

A full bottle of water

Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery all cued up on my ipad

My Himalayan Salt Rock Lamp for a warm healing glow in the room

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My favorite pillow, recliner, and some more blankets. I’m kind of a blanket freak…

I was set for the post MRI de-stress so I did another 35 minute meditation to center myself and check in with all the areas of my body I was feeling stress. I use an app called Insight Timer that has thousands of guided meditations for all sorts of situations so I was able to find something that helps to calm yourself while still staying alert and not falling asleep! I really think that helped me for my pre-MRI jitters.

Funny side note: On the drive to the hospital my husband and I passed a middle school and saw bunch of kids doing the “1 mile run” around a field. Remember those things?!? I was HORRIBLE at them…like seriously dreaded them. I turned to my husband and said “That looks so terrible. Honestly I would rather be doing what I am about to do that run a mile right now” You fellow fatigue-ers (that’s not a word, now it is) know what I am talking about!

The MRI started out really well! I took my sedatives prescribed by my doctor, had on a Taylor Swift Pandora station and did a bit of meditation as soon as I got in the machine to calm my nerves and stomach. I felt really relaxed and one of my MS power songs “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten came on so I was really feeling like a badass woman at that point.

But about an hour and fifteen minutes I think the sedatives started to wear off and anxiety started to rear her ugly head again. My head was killing me and I started having a panic attack about the time they gave me the contrast. I knew I was about 3/4 of the way done and REALLY just wanted to get it over with. So I laid there and I cried and tried my hardest not to move. I just didn’t want to hit my panic button and have to start the scan over. I tried to just focus on my breathing and kept reminding myself that this would be over soon…and it was.

When the nurse pulled me out and saw I was crying he was shocked and said that for someone who really didn’t want to be inside that machine I did really well and didn’t move at all. So at least that is something to be proud of. I powered through and even though I was scared I proved to myself that I CAN do it. It might take some tears and a weak moment or two but I WILL get through this.

I wish anyone who is dealing with medical procedures today peace, good vibes and relaxation.

We are all in this together and we have a support system in each other.

 

 

Let’s talk about ANXIETY

Anxiety is something I have struggled with long before my diagnosis of MS. I was lucky to have a mom who noticed the symptoms and could see I was suffering even when I was as young as fourteen. My anxiety began to manifest when I as in middle school in the form of hypochondria. I was ALWAYS afraid of getting sick. I’m talking no sharing food/drinks, constantly washing hands, sanitizing my toys, and barricading myself in my room when one of siblings got sick. Growing up, my bedroom was the guest bedroom (I was the lucky kid who got the queen sized bed in her room, but that also came with cost of giving up my room when extended family from out of town came to visit). I can remember just crying with fear every time I knew someone else would be sleeping in my room because HOW in god’s green earth was I going to GET RID OF ALL THOSE GERMS!?!

I saw a doctor and we talked about what I was experiencing and I was put on an anxiety medication and things got a lot better for a while! Unfortunately when I was in high school I experienced abuse from an older boy and almost lost myself to his dark influence and hurtful behavior. Luckily, (again!) I have some pretty rad parents who devoted their lives to making sure I got away from him and found a place where I was happy and safe (as happy as kid can be when going through that kind of abuse at the ripe young age of fifteen) and have since been getting the mental health treatment I needed.

About a year ago my anxiety got much, much worse than it ever had been. I had recently moved back to Minnesota from Chicago and was not adjusting well. My (then) boyfriend (now) husband and I decided it was time for me to start seeking regular mental health treatment again. I was diagnosed with PTSD from sexual and emotional trauma, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Attack disorder. I have been working with a wonderful psychiatrist who has helped me find meds that work for me and is helping me find techniques to deal with my frequent panic attacks.

Then November came…and along with it my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. My anxiety has gone through the roof. It’s almost like the diagnosis snapped me back to being a child again. I have started feeling that familiar and horrible overwhelming feeling of being afraid of everything that could make me sick. Ironic isn’t it? The hypochondriac child gets sick as an adult with something you can’t get better from?

How does your anxiety manifest itself? Since my diagnosis I have been experiencing a whirlwind of emotions but anxiety and fear are definitely in the forefront. At first I was having severe panic attacks on almost a daily basis (I am now down to one or two a week- THANK YOU MEDITATION and Xanax for during the worst of the attacks). I’ve noticed that my anxiety manifests in nausea, vomiting, scratching, Insomnia, rapid obsessive thoughts, racing heart, flushing, shortness of breath, sudden feelings of intense doom aaaaand cue panic attack…

What do you guys do to help with your anxiety? Besides seeking help from a medical  professional ( we need to take our mental health just as seriously as our physical health and that means there is NO SHAME in going to a mental health provider. You wouldn’t be ashamed to go to the doctor if you got pneumonia? Right!?!)

I am currently seeing my psychiatrist for medication management and a phycologist specializing in helping those diagnosed with chronic or terminal illness. Both of these people have helped me TREMENDOUSLY in understanding and accepting my anxiety and how to get control of it rather than letting it control me. I still have a lot of work to go though.

My go to home remedies for when I am having a challenging day are:

  • Walks with my dog (seriously I swear he can tell when I am having a rough day)
  • Meditation and Mindfullness exercises
  • Drinking calming Herbal Tea
  • Use of calming essential oils like Lavender
  • Taking a nap (sometimes when I am over fatigued my anxiety takes that as a chance to rear her ugly head)
  • Cleaning and organizing my house (I have no idea why it helps but it does)
  • Listening to music. It can be calming music or just my favorite uplifting playlist.
  • Writing this blog! It’s actually one of the big reason I started this blog. I have always loved a creative resource!

So people…give it to me! I want to hear what you find empowering, comforting and helpful when anxiety gets the best of you!

-A