Posts Tagged Depression

Mindfulness & Breathing

Yoga instructor and cancer/depression survivor Shannon Paige talks about how yoga, breath work and volunteering helped pull her out of her darkest days.

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The Quest for Knowledge

I have to admit, it’s been a rough couple weeks. Stress in my personal life and friends’ lives, as well as some important projects at work and working out a bit too hard, has taken its toll on my body.

Symptoms that I left behind months ago seem to be rearing their ugly heads. The bottom of my feet ache and swell to the point that no shoes make them happy. My feet hurt even doing small things, like pushing down the gas pedal. I feel very, very fortunate that this doesn’t prevent me from running and working out. For whatever reason, I lace on the tennis shoes and feel OK for that hour or so. It’s worth it physically and mentally, even if I might pay a little afterward.

My left wrist has visible nodules that seem to be getting worse, not better. Just the fact that I can see the effect on RA can send me into a mental tailspin. So I’ve been trying very hard to replace negative thoughts with positive, neutral or grateful ones.

Example:

Me: Oh my god, look at my wrist. Pretty soon RA will take over my body and I’ll be totally deformed.

My reply to myself (no, I’m not schizophrenic): Just because you have a couple Rheumatoid Nodules doesn’t mean your RA is worse. They’re not hurting you, they’re barely noticeable and they won’t be there forever.

Me: Shut up and let me wallow.

OK, so clearly I have a little work to do.

In my attempt to change my thought patterns and gain perspective, I’ve ordered two books off Amazon. I’ll post reviews here when I’m done.

  • A Resilient Life: Learning to thrive, not just survive with rheumatoid arthritis by Kat Elton
    Too often, people faced with a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis hear words like, “disabling,” “progressive,” or “tragic.” “Tragic” may be what people are saying but the real tragedy is that these often repeated words do nothing but harm to those who hear them. They completely ignore a very real truth: physical issues can absolutely lead to positive transformation, action, challenge, inner strength, deep courage, and compassion. This unique book is written by someone who knows her subject well. Kat Elton, an occupational therapist and woman who’s had rheumatoid arthritis since age two, knows that people with RA don’t need false hope or to be told what to do. What they do need is to be led toward believing in themselves and improving their reality no matter what it is. Part practical guide, part workbook, part memoir, this book demonstrates that although there is no magic bullet or cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there is a way to live well with this disease.

  • The First Year: Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by M.E.A. McNeil
    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a disease characterized by inflammation of the joints, is one of the most disabling forms of arthritis and affects over two million people in the United States. Without proper treatment it can lead to long-term joint damage, chronic pain, loss of function, and disability. From the first moment of her diagnosis, author M.E.A. McNeil took charge and educated herself on every aspect of her condition. Now, as a “patient-expert,” she guides those newly diagnosed step-by-step through their first year with RA. McNeil provides crucial information about the nature of the disease, treatment options, diet, exercise, social concerns, emotional issues, networking with others, and much more. The First Year—Rheumatoid Arthritis is an essential resource for everyone who wants to be an informed, active participant in the management of their condition.

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Using Games to Survive & Thrive

Jane McGonigal’s TED talk on how to use gaming strategies to get through illness and tough times and add years to your life.

Using Games to Survive & Thrive

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Dealing with RA

Dealing with RA

Just some fast tips to help with dealing with an RA diagnosis. Of course I’ve read all this before, but reading it again helped me.

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This Sucks

“It really sucks,” I told my mom, fighting back tears.

“I know. It really does,” she replied.

And that is the epitome of what I feel right now. Two days ago, I felt great. I was sure my meds were doing their magic. Today I’m sore, tired, it hurts to walk, my feet are swollen and my stomach is lurching.

So, yeah, it just sucks.

It sucks to be in pain. It sucks not to have control. It sucks to be young with this disease and heading home while all of your friends go to a concert because your feet hurt, you’re tired, and you can’t drink because of the methotrexate.

It sucks to feel sorry for yourself. It sucks to have people feel sorry for you. It sucks to have people not understand. It sucks to never give yourself a break.

I was going to end this post on a light note. To tell you that despite it sucking, it’s not your whole life. That you aren’t your disease and it doesn’t control you. But here’s the thing, I don’t feel like it tonight. I’m tired, I’m achy, I’m lonely, and I want a moment to wallow in self pity.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I’ll be ready with a better outlook and a brighter smile. But tonight, don’t tell me it’s going to be OK. Just take a note from my mom, nod and agree, “Yeah. It really does suck.”

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The Wonderful World of Self Diagnosis

Add Seasonal Affective Disorder to my list of self-diagnosed, but totally  – in my mind, at least – manageable issues (carpal tunnel syndrome, sports injuries, poor footwear choices, non-orthopedic office chairs).

Starting in mid-December, post half-marathon, I suddenly found myself in a state of sadness and fatigue. It was hard to drag myself out of bed. I couldn’t sleep at night – not because of painful wrists, just an undefined worry and discomfort. I got overwhelmed and tired in social situations easily. I was prone to bursting into tears (and I’m not much of a crier). My stomach had been thrown for a loop too. I lost my appetite and, with it, weight. Food didn’t seem to agree with me anymore, but I didn’t even want it (for a total foodie, this was just crazy!).

The only time I seemed to feel normal was after a couple cocktails, but soon that didn’t help either. Better than a cocktail was my bed.

I told myself I was just in a “funk” and maybe had a case of the winter blues. At any rate, I wasn’t myself and I wasn’t much fun to be around. I felt like my life had just crashed, and was crushing me under the weight of the rubble.

A pretty low point was the night I threw a party, but couldn’t seem to even lift my body up enough to sit. I finally guiltily snuck away and spent the night fast asleep in my friend’s bed, exhausted and anti-social.

In hindsight I think my body was doing everything in it’s power to tell me that things were not OK, to get me to finally listen. I’m curious how many people feel this flu-like depressive exhaustion with their RA. It’s something you don’t really think of as being related, but it is a powerful, powerful, destructive thing. It really did a number on my self-esteem to feel so low (energy and emotion wise), something I am still trying to rebuild two months later.

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