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Progress Report: Time to Stop Hitting the Snooze Alarm

Sunday, November 05, 2017

I was in denial that I had been taking good care of myself when in fact I had been neglecting myself in many ways so long that I actually thought the suffering that I was going through was something to accept and live it. It is not. After my emotional 'breakdown' in early September I thought reducing the external commitments that I had was enough. I had to take it further but it took me almost another month of suffering before I realized that I was just scratching the surface of what I needed to do to not only take care of myself but also to begin the process of true and lasting healing and recovery from all of what ailed me.

Around the end of the third week of September I got seasonal allergies but they were no ordinary allergies. I later found out others were having similar problems but I have never had my sinus' that full ever. It seemed like whatever I took it was temporary and I was still miserable. Since there were so many storms passing through our geographic area kept the pollen count up so I continued to suffer with an additional persistent cough and then chest congestion. At one point, it may have crossed over to a virus.

Rather than take this serious and doing more than going through the motions, it hung on for nearly 7 weeks. I was still burning the midnight oil and falling back into the old routine of 'treating myself' with junk food and so I just never gave my immune system a chance to fight this. By the fourth week I was so wore out I could barely get around our apartment. I knew that was the low point and it was really getting to me mentally and emotionally. I was anxious about this string of unfortunate and I think unrelated health issues but after having had one thing after another since Valentine's Day I was often in tears and feeling really undertow.

It all came to a peak during that tropical storm. I fell apart. I am glad that I cut down my external commitments but I still found I was feeling quite delicate about anything that might pop up unexpectedly. I cried easily and often. I began to wonder if I was losing my mind. I was literally too weak to do much and I relied on my loving and very understanding husband (even though I did catch him eyeing me once in a while like the 'wth' is happening here?)

By early October I started doing a lot of research on the internet checking out some of my symptoms and looking for ways to correct some of the health issues I was experiencing. To my 'surprise', I found out that progress can be very slow indeed. I spent about 1 month making sure that I was taking supplements to rebuild my immune system. I would say it took me almost one month before I felt like I had the stamina to do more than weakly move from my bedroom to my favorite wing back chair. Of course, I was still dealing with this virus that wouldn't go away.

As a person who takes pride in their appearance as well as how they keep house that all fell by the wayside. I did not have the energy to even load the dishwasher or put away the clean laundry. Plus, I was so anxious and nervous all of the time. I was struggling to sleep and my insomnia was getting worse. Since I had been researching supplements I was buying everything in sight that I thought would help me. Well, it was overkill and I realized that a short while later but 'desperate people do desperate things'. Since I didn't have an appetite I ate whatever was easy to grab or order. Of course, my IBS was flaring up as a result. I was in constant pain from my poor food choices and I berated myself over and over again.

The turning point was slow but it came. I started taking St. John's wort. It was an older bottle so I found out that some of the capsules were not as potent as others. I have such overwhelming anxiety about all of what was happening to me that I thought I was going to lose my mind. When it did work I felt like my 'old self'. I had confidence and I felt 'normal'. I felt a little sheepish about even admitting to myself that I was getting those feelings from a bottle but the research that I did indicated that this was a safe alternative to prescription anti-anxiety and anti-depressants which I had been prescribed in the past but often it did not get the results that I had hoped for.

I only took a partial dosage at first but then realized that I would benefit from the full dosage which is 900 mg. Since that time (and it has been quite recent) that I am finally breaking the painful insomnia that had gotten worse in recent months. However, since I was quite sleep deprived I still am not where I need to be in terms of having a consistent bedtime nor getting the amount of sleep that I need. I had to step out and take a risk. Although we have two bedrooms we have been using the second bedroom for storage for a couple of years so I asked my husband to sleep on the sofa so I could work on my sleep cycle in our bedroom. As someone who has had a life time history of fearful that I would be rejected and that I needed to subjugate my needs this was a tough decision. Since he agreed to this I felt it was important that I really take advantage of this and work harder on getting back onto a regular sleep cycle.

It wasn't until I started having IBS related episodes more frequently that I realized that I had to quit hitting the snooze alarm in my life and actually both face and do something about the underlying causes. I also hate to admit but I was starting to have heart-related problems during this time. Since I was fighting a virus (and they do not respond to antibiotics btw) I was doing a lot of sitting and since I often wasn't moving my lower legs, ankles and feet were starting to swell up. My blood sugar readings were escalating higher and higher. Some of this is to be expected when you are sick since your body raises your blood sugar to fight infections but I wasn't helping it any.

Instead of paying lip service which is what I often did or did it 'half n half'. I had been straddling the fence for a long time. I would do what it would take to lose some weight and skip meals to keep it off. I would use the excuse that I wasn't hungry but I understand why. If you overeat at one meal you won't be hungry for the next one and maybe even the one after that. What scared me though in changing course was when my heart beat started to become irregular, I was out of breathe and all of the swelling of my lower legs. I had been neglecting taking care of myself and using the illness that I had in indulging myself --- after all I was sick so shouldn't I have X Y or Z. No I shouldn't. Pizza and ice cream are not the solution for the kind of health problems that I was experiencing. Denial is something it seems I am pretty good at.

After some very painful IBS episodes where I was doubled over in pain I knew that what I thought was the way to care for myself was all wrong. I had to change whether I was ready, whether I was willing and whether I felt that I could. That is where I have landed after 8 months of thinking that I knew what I was doing but obviously I didn't. It has also taught me a lot about being humble and admitting that I was dead wrong. I had to listen to my body and follow its lead.

I am no different than any other addict. I say I am going to do one thing and then end up doing something else. I feel ashamed at admitting that and I have cried many times at how my recovery is anything but smooth. It truly is one day at a time and those days are not all that great right now. I have the Serenity Prayer (unabridged) on my desktop of my computer and I pray it many times during each day. I still am experiencing a lot of anxiety when the St. John wort wears off (it is taken 3x daily) but I started keeping track of my symptoms and times of day or night to see if there is a pattern.

I will admit that right now I am resistant to all of this change. I am finding out that many of my former favorite 'diet' standbys are going to have to go. I prefer my diet soda because of the flavor and the fizz but it is also aggravating my IBS in a big way and realizing that made me cry and feel somewhat defeated. However, this ends up, me recovering my health that I lost along the way is going to lead me and not the other way around. I am finding that out that surrender is something that I am going to have to do on more than one decision.

I am reminded of the exodus that the Israelites did in the desert. They turned a two week journey into a forty year ordeal. The reason given was that they were a 'stiff necked people' who did not listen to God's counsel. I so get that. I have been in the desert for longer than I can remember. I believe I have come to the perimeter where I can now walk out into the new land but it will take courage and patience and trust. It will unfold on its own time table and not on asserting my will which is how I have done things in the past. I have a lot to learn and I have to remain humble so I can be taught. I need now to step out in faith and move toward a new life that I have only dreamed of. The old ways 'worked' on the surface but they really didn't get to the bottom of my eating disorder and/or a way to live life without turning to food.

I have discovered I need help with the underlying anxiety (and it really is in my face almost every day) and find ways to cope with life's challenges until I can also relax and trust more. People who have chronic anxiety simply have ceased to learn to trust. That is my basic lesson to take from all of this. In the meantime, I truly am doing this 'one moment at a time, one day at a time and yes one night at a time'. Until I can relax and trust more I will still have these nagging fears and I will find ways (besides food) to deal with them the best that I can. It feels like a lonely situation but again I realize that God (or my Higher Power) is walking this walk with me and some day I will truly will 'not be afraid'. Until then, I am relying on a supplement to give me the confidence and peace that I have not been able to find otherwise.

In the meantime, I am cautiously optimistic that I will be free one day of all of this and see that I am right not birthing a new me with the accompanying labor pains to go with. For now, I am just trying to get through each day and take care of myself in a way I needed to for a very long time.

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