5 Facts About My Anxiety

Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States. It affects over 40 million adults a year just in the U.S. alone.

The sad part is that well under 50% of people with anxiety seek treatment for it.

Anxiety is very different from simply feeling anxious. Everyone feels anxious at times in their life. It is completely normal and healthy to feel anxious before a big test, a job interview or airplane flight. Anxiety is your body’s way of taking care of you. It’s way of saying “Hey! This could be “dangerous”. We should be careful!” It’s a primal instinct that we all use to this day. The issue arises when you cannot shut off that anxious feeling after the test is over and the flight has landed long ago. It becomes an issue when day-to-day things like making a phone call or riding in a car send you into a panic attack. It becomes an issue when you are no longer in control of your life, anxiety is.

There are different types of anxiety disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Attack Disorder, and Social Anxiety are just a few of the most common.

There is a sort of taboo around mental illness. I do think that our society has made some very positive steps forward regarding shining a light on mental health issues and taking away some of the stigma around it. We need to talk about it. We cannot ignore our mental health any longer.

I remember, way back in my freshman year of high school, a classmate of mine confided in me that she was going to kill herself that night. She made me promise not to tell anyone and said she would hate me forever if I did.

I confided in my best friend and we were so scared for this girl that we knew we couldn’t keep this secret. We told the crisis help group at our high school. The next class period the classmate who had confided in me was taken out of the classroom by a counselor. She did not kill herself, but she did keep her promise to hate me from that point forward.

I was absolutely wracked with guilt. I felt like I had broken someone’s trust and done something wrong. I recall talking to a priest about it at one point soon after. He said something that has stuck with me my whole life. He said;

“There is nothing bad about what you did. Evil thrives in darkness. What you did was shine a light on it so it could not thrive anymore. Sometimes shining a light is all you can do.”

So I have continued to try to shine a light on mental illness. For too long it has thrived in the darkness, hidden in the shadows and only spoken about in hushed tones. Well, times up. Not anymore.

5 Facts About My Anxiety 

  1. My anxiety makes me physically ill. Anxiety doesn’t always manifest in the “classic” way that one would think it would. For me my symptoms of anxiety can range from trouble breathing, shaking, shivering, flushing, nausea, headaches, vomiting, inability to focus, panic attacks and more.
  2. My anxiety makes me flakey. This is something I really do not like about my anxiety. I absolutely hate that there is a fear inside me that is powerful enough to make me want to cancel on things I want to do. I have been working on this a lot lately. Having a chronic illness, I am constantly having to check in with myself to see if my symptoms are from MS or Anxiety. I can usually tell, it’s funny, I can actually tell the difference between an anxiety stomach ache and an actual stomach flu stomach ache. When I feel sick from it I try to acknowledge to myself that what I am feeling is anxiety and that is OK. Acknowledging it is half the battle.
  3. My anxiety makes me lash out. I am not proud of this. Sometimes I will not even realize that my anxiety is bubbling up inside me, coming dangerously close to boiling over. Then someone will ask an innocent question, or my dog will bark to try to get my attention and I will snap and say something with a sharp tone, or make some snarky response. I immediately feel guilt and know that I am not really angry at that person, or mad at my dog. I am anxious and, like a wounded animal trapped in a corner, I have lashed out. Then, I have to remind myself that I can leave that corner whenever I want to. Anxiety is not in control of my actions, I am. 
  4. I see two doctors, take 4 medications and meditate daily to help manage my anxiety. I cannot emphasize enough how important my mental health care team has been to me. They have helped me navigate and understand my illness. They have given me coping strategies and techniques to help me during panic attacks. They have made me realize I am not at all alone in this fight. My psychiatrist has helped me navigate that difficult world of finding the right medications for my body chemistry to help me find balance. If you suffer from a mental illness and have not talked to someone about it please reach out to your local crisis hotline. They can help direct you to a licensed therapist or psychiatrist in your area to get you the help you need. You do not have to fight this alone. You are not alone!
  5. I am not ashamed of my anxiety. Yes, it is a part of my life (sometimes a very big part) but it does not define me. I talk about my anxiety so publicly because I know there are people out there, silently suffering, and they need to know that there is nothing to be ashamed of. They need to know that there is a rainbow at the end of the storm. They need to know that help is out there, all you have to do is ask.

Please, reach out to your loved ones. Check in with them and make sure they are doing ok. If you are feeling anxious or depressed or just “off” tell someone! If you don’t feel like you have someone you can tell, reach out to your local crisis hotline.

You are not alone. You are worth it. You are stronger than you know. Together we can shine a light on mental illness and help each other find the help that we need! Stand strong, warrior.

-A

 

When you realize a weed is actually a flower…

As I write today I have blisters and scratches all over my hands. I spent the morning outside weeding the front garden. As new homeowners, my husband and I are constantly surprised by things we never realized came along with owning a house. Things like having to call your first extermination service because there is a wasp infestation in your deck railings. Or the first time the upstairs toilet overflows. Or realizing that if you open the upstairs bedroom and bathroom windows at the same time your upstairs doors will all slam shut and scare the poops out of you! All of those lovely, first time homeowner memories will be cherished forever, I’m sure.

We bought our house in the fall last year, so we didn’t really get to see what the trees, flowers, plants around the house looked like in full bloom. Much to my surprise this spring, once our yard finally emerged from its icy blanket of snow I realized that we have quite the little garden started in our front yard! Unfortunately for said garden it took me about a month to realize that the plants growing were in fact intentional, not weeds. Now that I have realized my error (sorry flowers!) I decided it was time to get to work on weeding my garden and cleaning up the front of our house.

Again, knowing nothing about gardening I learned a very important lesson that I shall pass on to my children and my children’s children.

“When one weeds their garden, one must wear gloves, lest their hands will harden”. – A less wise me

Yep, once these blisters heal I intend on having some nice calloused hands to show off my gardening status!

Beginner…the status is beginner.

No matter, I am still proud of the work that I did today. It was hard, physical work, but in a way it was deeply cathartic. Yesterday we buried my husbands grandfather. It was a day full of family, sorrow, memories and love. It was truly a beautiful reminder of what is important in life. Faith, family and love.

As I was weeding the garden, early this morning, I couldn’t help but think. I thought about the past, namely the day before. I prayed for my husbands grandmother and the rest of the family as they process their grief and loss,  and that they will feel a healing in their souls.

I also thought about the present. As I continued to weed the garden the my body began to ache, it was getting warmer and I could feel my fatigue starting to take its toll. But each time I looked at my progress I felt such a sense of accomplishment that I forgot how tired I was. I forgot how easy it would be to just go inside and do this another day.

In those moments I felt weak I was finding comfort and strength in helping another living thing. By clearing out the dead branches and leaves around the roots of the plants to help them better grow. I felt comforted by watering the flowers as the hot sun threatened them and by sweeping off the path walking up to our front door, creating a welcoming pathway.

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By the way, while I was doing this I found and AMAZING pink rock. It’s a bit bigger than my fist and beautiful. I put it on our front step. Talk about good energies!

 

Even though the work was tiring and physically demanding, it energized me to be taking care of nature and allowing myself to only worry about one task at a time.

I think that we can think of our own minds as a garden. We need to nourish it, feed it, and care for it to help it grow. And it won’t always be butterflies and rainbows. It tough work. But good work.

Whether it be through reading, writing, gardening, doing an activity you enjoy or learning about a new subject that interests you, I think it is important to keep growing our minds, no matter how stressful or how busy our lives get. We need to remember to take the time to stop and ask ourselves how we are doing. Check in with your body and mind and give it the care it needs! And always remember that you are not alone. There are always people who care about you and appreciate you and think of you. Even if you don’t know it.

I am wishing everyone peaceful minds today and an evening full of love and comfort.

-A

 

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

The brain is quite amazing…

So my brain feels a bit all over the place today so please pardon if this post seems a little scattered.

This morning I had my appointment with my Neurologist. My husband and I knew that we were going in at this point to discuss treatment options, as my recent MRI had given definitive proof of Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. No more CIS for this gal! So we did our research.

Anyone who know’s my husband knows that when he starts a project or gets his mind set on something there isn’t a thing in this world that could stop him. So, he went into research overdrive and scoured, I am fairly certain, every nook and cranny of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s database for every FDA approved treatment option out there. Then cross referenced it with whether or not they interacted with my current medications, whether they were ruled out because I was exposed to JC Virus (some MS medications can cause brain disease if you have been previously exposed to this virus), and researched the side affects, effectiveness, and risks of each one. He’s amazing. I hope that every person with a chronic illness is as lucky as I am to have the amazing support and love that I do.

We knew we were going into this with a few major concerns. I wanted a drug that was low risk for birth defects as my husband and I start our married lives together we know that someday (a serious someday people) we want to have kids. So, I didn’t want anything that could cause permanent damage to that whole scenario. I also felt pretty strongly that I wanted the benefits to heavily outweigh the risks. I know that these “safer” treatment options are sometimes less effective, but I don’t want anything that is going to make me more sick that I already am. I don’t know if that’s even a realistic thing, or if it makes sense. But Copaxone seemed like the closest fit for me.

I am nervous to start the treatment, but luckily this drug doesn’t have too many side effects. I just have to get used to injecting myself. But that will come with time. I’m not super afraid of the pain, I can handle that (I have a full side tattoo, so I would hope so at least). So that is where my MS journey is at right now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness lately and living in the present moment, really connecting to it. I did a great guided meditation last night before bed and something that the instructor spoke about that really stuck with me was how small a part we are in such a HUGE universe of being. It reminded that all of us are connected. We are connected to the people and energy in our homes, neighborhood, city, state or province, country, continent, the world, the universe, the cosmos. The magnitude of it is almost incomprehensible to the human mind. All of these things are existing and working in perfect harmony to keep us alive and our ecosystem thriving.

When I saw my images from my MRI today I couldn’t help but think of that meditation. Even inside our bodies is this crazy complex system that all works in harmony to keep us alive. And even though the neurologist was showing me the parts of my body that were sick, I could also see all the parts that were strong and working and beautifulSeriously, if you’ve ever seen an image of the inside of your own body from pelvis to the top of the head you would think it was beautiful too! It just reminded me that although I may be sick, my body and mind are still strong in many other ways. Even though part of my body get’s confused and attacks itself, a bigger part of it works in a cohesive way together… in harmony, every moment of the day to keep me alive. It made me feel grateful towards my body for the first time in a while.

She’s amazing 😉

P.S. Special shout out, again, to the sparrow mom who is now glaring at me from inside my basket of African Daisy’s. Like..I’m sorry you chose to build your nest in my happy place. We gonna hafta share, girl.

-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.