Mental Health

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu

The past many months have been a time of great learning for me. At the time of course, I didn’t know I was learning a lick of anything because I felt like something you peel off the bottom of your shoe most of the time!

For months on end, I have been in severe pain and tremendous exhaustion to the point that even taking a shower was a big deal. Even lifting my arms to wash my hair was tiring, and it was truly terrifying because i thought I was slipping away. During this time I was extremely, extremely depressed. I felt like I was in the dark and could not move to find the door to get out.

I lived in the past, and thought about all the things I could have done better and how I was not at special as I thought I was. Meanwhile I saw evidence to the contrary, ways I had contributed to life, bettered myself and others, and had continued to grow.

At the time, I isolated myself, wanted no contact with anyone, because of the guilt and shame I felt over so many things. When you are depressed there is not much others can do except love you and make sure you are not a danger to yourself.

Loved ones can offer support, food, talks, books, walks, fresh air etc, but until you are ready to “come to the surface” or the chemicals in your brain straighten out by many means not discussed in this article, you kinda need to allow it to run its course.  Getting professional help is key, always. Seeing a doctor, medical or holistic is also very important. You cannot manage your health on your own, if you are as sick as I am describing.

The other pastime I seemed to engage in during this long bout of Fibromyalgia and autoimmune hell was WORRY. I was anxious and nervous about all kinds of things, and thinking about what could go wrong.

As Lao Tzu’s quote says above, anxiety is living in the future, which is a pointless exercise. I don’t even need to explain that we have no control over the future, just as much as we can’t go back and change what happened in the past. The majority of stress and pain exaserbation  is caused by one of these two places our mind goes.

This moment is all that matters. Believe me I am the first person that has had to learn this lesson the hard way. I think I am getting closer, by letting little things not bother me nearly as much as they used to.

Breathing is one of the best ways to bring yourself back to the here and now. If you find yourself getting crazy about something you have no control over, take a step back, and count to 10, take some deep breaths. Follow your breathing pattern. Another is to bring awareness to one part of your body, like your heartbeat, or starting a the tips of your fingers, to your knuckles, to your wrist, to your mid arm etc…relaxing and gently being aware. You don’t have to sit and meditate. Just stop and close your eyes for even 3 minutes.

This is called mindfullness.. Buddhists try to live every moment mindfully, being aware of the present moment, and taking in each detail of it. Imagine what it would be like, if you sat over a cup of tea and did nothing but drank it mindfully. Your thoughts would be in the moment on your tea, and nothing else, not your house, not your kids, your pain, your spouse, just sipping your tea and everything about it. Something to think about and try.

Our physical pain is very much connected to how we feel mentally. I truly believe that. I know this from experience because as I have pulled out of the deep depression I was in, the pain levels I experienced are nowhere near as severe as they were. Some of the other issues my body was going through are much better as well. When it rains it pours!!

Live one moment to the next. Be IN the moment…not thinking anxiously about what will happen tomorrow. Leave the past behind, because it has absolutely no bearing on today. You can create anything you want today. Believe it.


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People consider me a very positive person, and one who adds inspiration and light to their life. Spiritual, heartfelt pursuits, dried up inside me 6 months ago, upon the convergence of a devastating new diagnoses of Lichen Sclerosus, new symptoms of IBS and IC and some other very difficult life circumstances that just took me down.. I have known for a long time that I was either clinically, chronically suffering with major depression or at the very least, had some serious issues that keep making me very sick beyond my diagnoses of Fibromyalgia. I have been fighting them, running from them, and ignoring all signs hoping it would just go away so that I could just lead a normal life. What a joke!

Now that I think about it, I have gone through some rather traumatic events over the past two years. I lost my mother, a home, and my last child “left the nest”. Another daughter has been going through brain cancer…yet we praise God for all the support and blessings that touch her life.

I crashed and burned..truly I did, and I am not complaining, but rather reporting where I have been for so long. I have been so extremely tired…. Can you relate? After having fibro for 25+ years I learned I have adrenal exhaustion. The last 6 months have been so bad that I have laid down in a fog staring at the TV. I could not concentrate on reading, writing for my blogs, social media, or the family and have had no interest in anything except sleep.

Where the HELL did I go!? My family has missed me for quite some time, and maybe you can relate to this. It’s called Isolating yourself from the world. I actually think I might have had what they used to call a nervous breakdown. For the past 9 months, every time I have gone in to my doctor (every 90 days) I’ve filled out the mandatory depression questionaire, and if there had been a box for “take me to the loony bin” some days… I think I may have been admitted for Suicidal thoughts, hopelessness, and feelings of complete and utter worthlessness  that occupied my mind most of the time. These thoughts felt like aliens, yet they just wouldn’t go away. It was horrible.
I grew up in the 60`s and 70 `s when the terminology “nervous breakdown” was still in use. I don’t think anyone says such a strange thing anymore… However, it makes me smile and giggle, because back then it was also used kind of “tongue in cheek”. My mom used to say “Ok, I’m ready for my nervous breakdown now! After taking all the grandchildren to a restaurant when they were little. Yes, that is crazy making!
I remember one of my friend’s moms disappearing for several months to her bedroom, while everyone in her family kept things going during her mother’s nervous breakdown as they referred to it.I think in her case, it was a real one. We never saw her. I only met my friend’s mother once, and other than that she was in her bedroom. I remember thinking how weird that was, but now can completely understand. While isolating ourselves is not the healthiest thing to do, it’s just what we do sometimes. Of course it’s always better to be around your family, stay active and fight your condition, sometime you have to stop running from the place you know you’re going to end up anyway. When you need peace and a lot of additional rest..you must just do it.

What’s the first moral to this story? While laying down all these months in this thick fog, moments of clarity came to me. One that kept coming was “Surrender… you don’t have to fight so hard, and you can still live well”. What we resist we usually get more of. The mental and emotional stress I have put on myself all my life to be “normal” and not accept my illness, has put a Ten Ton Weight on my chest. Sooner or later you just have to crack.

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I have never been one to reach out for support in my life; especially when I need it the most. When I am in trouble, I do just the opposite..I isolate myself, and cut off from the people I need the most! Do you think that’s a trait in people who suffer with chronic pain and depression? When I was first misdiagnosed with MS many years ago, I walked into a support group, spent about 10 minutes, turned around and walked right out. It spooked the heck out of me. I was afraid to identify myself as a “sick” person, and did not want to ask for help. I thought I could be strong, keep going, and after all, this is an “invisible illness” so who would know?  All these years I have been in a lonely boat called “I am strong and I can handle this myself“. BAD IDEA!!!  What hogwash!

As I look back on all that I could have availed myself of, I feel so foolish.This one single decision has probably cost me more growth, comfort, happiness, and love than I could have imagined. I did not join another supportive resource for years. I want to make this very clear, that this was very wrong, and I now see the error of my ways.  I am only telling this story in hopes that someone who is newly diagnosed or having a chronic issue with little support, will read this and connect with someone, or better yet multiple avenues and ways of support online and off.  Here’s a list of the 100 best Fibromyalgia & CFS blogs to get you started.

NOBODY can support you and be there for you like people who are going through what you are. Your family and friends can only understand to a point. Unless you have felt the pain and lack of sleep, fatigue, digestive issues, depression, migraines etc of fibromyalgia, you really don’t know what we are going through. Connecting with fellow spoonies, is like finding old friends, who are your sisters and brothers. Listening to our stories and looking at us is like looking in the mirror of your own life, which can bring you tremendous comfort. Even our doctors who see chronic pain patients by the dozens every week, can’t truly relate. Conversely, you do not know what part of your own story might touch another life in just the right way to make a major difference for someone else. I think that’s something important I’ve learned recently too.

I think there’s a misconception about support groups and identifying with your condition. At least in my mind and some of the  (very misguided) people I believed 20 years ago, I was warned of “identifying myself” as a sick person. I want to talk about this. There’s a big difference between letting your illness consume your identity, and your world, and accepting your condition and dealing with it honestly. I was afraid of taking ownership for my illness because I felt like I was responsible for it or something. Every time I heard myself say (back then) “I have MS” it was as if it was someone else saying it, and not me. When I heard myself say it, it was like I was saying ” I own this” and I was not willing to accept it. This was working AGAINST the wellness process..it’s called RESISTENCE. Even if I did have Multiple Sclerosis, the fight and denial I was in was causing me more stress and pain than necessary. It’s kind of ironic, something was telling me that years from then I would find out that I indeed did NOT have MS, but it was a very wrong way to go about it. The symptoms are fairly similar, and it did not change much to go through all that emotional “stuff the feelings down” crap! The whole point to this story is that I stopped myself from getting support, education, and resources. I simply went to the doctor, took the  meds, and went on with life or a good 10 years. Thank God I snapped out of it!!

Eventually I learned about the wonderful world of natural health, and through that met tremendous people to support me, and for myself to support them. When I moved to Salt Lake city in 2002 I met a new doctor who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, and I began to slowly change my thinking. Remember that you are NEVER alone. There are resources all around us to fill up our “tank” with love, comfort, education, information, and support. Sometimes we just need a listening ear..or just to vent!!

There is a private  facebook group I found recently that is the perfect place to talk about anything you want as it pertains to chronic pain. It’s completely private, and cannot be viewed by the rest of facebook. Its moderator Liz Hall is a loving, compassionate, pain sufferer herself, and she welcomes you with open arms. She also runs a fabulous blog HERE. Like this PAGE or  Just message Liz Hall and ask or an invite. Please tell her that I sent you.

There is love for you everywhere!

I welcome your thoughts and comments below. Do you belong to a support group or forums?

Lots of Love,

Your Friend

Laura

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It’s Halloween week, and the gools and goblins are all around. While a positive, grateful and empowered life is my #1 goal, I wrestle a few beasts in my quest to stay well, grow and empower myself and others each day.

It’s makes me think about the dark places that lurk around the corners of our minds, and those 7 nasty mind monsters that can fuel pain and depression, stop you from achieving your goals, ruin relationships, and much more. With some work and attention, we can banish them, or at least tell them they are NOT welcome! The whole key is to consciously invite them to scram, show them the door..and work on positive replacements instead.  To heal anything, it must be acknowledged. Who are these monsters?


1. Guilt
 is one of my biggest “Nasty Monsters” that follows me and makes for more knots in my stomach and pain in my body. Feeling guilty is something all of us are good at in one way or another, and if we are living with a chronic condition in any way, we are probably MASTERS at it. We tend to use our inner guts as punching bags for what we cannot do, should have done, messed up, forgot, and could have done better…need I say more? I can’t tell you how much time I have wasted feeling guilty about so many things I could have, or should have done. Let it go!! The truth is you are doing the best you can with what you have, and guilt is a totally useless emotion that makes you sick! Forgiveness is the opposite of guilt and an be a wonderful healing to your spirit. Every time you feel yourself “beating youself up” say: “I love myself, I forgive myself and I now let it go”.  Give that Guilt monster the boot, show him the door..Baam!

2.Anger. That’s another Monster that when not dealt with can rot your insides, and can hurt you, and your relationships. If left unexpressed, the anger monster knows how to get to into the deepest, happiest parts of your heart, and  rule over them, until you take over and deal with that anger. It is said that anger is nothing  more than hurt deep inside you. Do you think the person who yells and screams is healthier than the one who internalizes everything? Something to think about. If you have anger toward someone, get it out! Your body and mind will thank you for it.

3.Fear. is simply the opposite of love. This monster knows exactly how to stop you from getting everything you ever wanted in life. He’s the most keniving and crafty. He is powerful and will overwhelm you if you allow it. This monster is not always easy to confront, but once you face him, you will never feel so amazing! Walk up to your fear, look him right in the eyes and say “I am NOT AFRAID OF YOU and I will NOT ALLOW YOU to rule over me anymore!, I CAN DO THIS!”

4. Mistrust is a monster that is common with the loners and control freaks of the world. This monster hangs around and convinces you that the world is a tough place, only you can do things the right way or no way at all, and nobody can be trusted to help you. Trusting others means opening up and being vulnerable  to love, and allowing others to see who you really are. You must be willing to ask for help. Sometimes mistrustful people feel they have to take care of themselves, when there are people all around them waiting and willing to support them. Asking for help and giving up some control can free you more than you know. Trust others and let them in if this is an issue for you. If it is difficult for you, take it one at a time, and you’ll see that when you open up to people, your life will be more fulfilling.

5. Envy is the Green monster! He is the one that gets under your skin like a parasite that slowly eats away at you. He tells you that you are not good enough, that others are better, and makes you compare yourself to others. This horrible NASTY Monster must be evacuated and killed every time you even sense a hint of him near. The truth is, there is only one magnificent person exactly like you in the world. You have talents that uniquely your own. How can you compare yourself to anyone? You rock! Be the very best you that you can be. My mom used to say “Don’t worry a minute what others are thinking about you..they are too worried about what you think of them!” She’s a pretty wise woman!

6. Self-Pity is a weak, quiet, and sneaky little monster. She comes in night and hits when you’re down and least expecting it. You are dealing with life and all its complications, and it can be overwhelming. When you allow this monster of self-pity in, it weakens your ability to handle those complications, and dis-empowers you. I know that when I get down, sad, and feel sorry for myself, all I do is stop the flow of positive things into my life. Ideas, circumstances, people that can support me, and miracles of all kinds are slowed down! The GREAT NEWS is changing your mind to self empowerment can be as easy as “flipping a switch” and telling that self-pity monster to HIT THE ROAD! When you DECIDE to be grateful for the good and the bad (yes) in your life, while focusing on the GOOD, being extremely GRATEFUL FOR ALL YOUR BLESSINGS, and feeling the APPRECIATION FEELINGS as often as possible, self-pity will not come around and MIRACLES will!

7. Negative Self-Talk is a monster that is pretty much like a constant nagging little ugly fly that sits on your shoulder. You have to keep swatting it away each time it comes up. He tells you that you “can’t”,  “aren’t good at that” , and makes up many scenarios in your mind to worry about that NEVER come true!  Did you know that 95% of the stuff we worry about never happens? The better you get at POSITIVE Self-talk, affirmations, and grateful thinking, as well as daily meditation  and visualization,  makes this little monster come around less and less!

I went through a severe depression recently and got to know these nasty monsters all too well. It took some serious reflection that living positively, and healing my pain was far more important to me than hanging out with these disgusting, life-sucking maggots. Sometimes when you have a chronic condition, you cannot see anything BUT the monsters.  They will eat you alive if you let them. All I can say is, there IS HOPE. There is a LIGHT at the end of the tunnel, and a rainbow out there. Now, I am in a totally new light filled place and each day I am getting a little bit better. I think one of the biggest keys for me was separating myself from these monsters, and realizing that they were just that- MONSTERS! Just like a child seeing shadows in the closet at night…Dad comes in and flips the switch on to show you “They are not real!” and ultimately you can make the choice at anytime to crawl out from under the bed and ask for a hug. Thank God!

 

 

 

 

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There is a field around all of us. This field is an energy field


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