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“Stress Causes Health Problems, Which Then Cause More Stress”

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This July 8, 2014 NPR: Shots-Health News article on the 90.5 WESA Pittsburgh NPR station website talks about the vicious cycle of stress causing health issues which in turn causes more stress

Logo used during 1970s

Logo used during 1970s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

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Mental Health Awareness Month is used in the United States to raise awareness of mental illness and it’s impact not only on the person who has a mental illness, but the impact their diagnosis has on the world around them.

“Take Mental Health Awareness Week Seriously”

English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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This October 21, 2013 article on the “Onward State” website talks about one person’s experiences with having an anxiety disorder the writer’s experiences are some I was able to relate to myself, and I imagine many other like myself and the person who wrote the piece I linked to probably experience similar problems if they are dealing with a debilitating anxiety disorder.

 

 

 

For myself, I think one of the most frustrating things people have often said to me in a very sad attempt at trying to make me feel better is “everyone gets anxious” I do realize that folks who say this are likely saying it because they think it is helpful to the person with an anxiety disorder, but in reality, based on my experience, it is likely the least comforting response I’ve ever gotten when I disclose that I have an anxiety disorder.  People who don’t have their life put on hold or have it come to a screeching halt because of sheer panic that is often unable to be explained by the person having the panic attack, likely don’t have a clue what they are saying, and because everyone does get anxious about tests or running late for an appointment that kind of thing, everyone assumes that it is the same for folks like myself.  in reality it’s not the same and if it was the same, then everyone would be carrying a script for a medication to help them if the anxiety got too bad, or possibly even be utilizing things like a Service Dog to aid in managing anxiety and helping to alert them to an oncoming panic attack before it gets out of hand.  So while yes I do appreciate when people take an interest in trying to understand me or my diagnosis, I would be grateful if people would stop trying to compare everyday anxiety to what it is like for someone with an anxiety disorder it just isn’t helpful to anyone.

 

 

 

I’m Blogging for World Mental Health Day October 10

I have worked on developing and enhancing my list of items I use as personal medicine.  For those who aren’t familiar with the term “personal medicine” let me explain it a bit.  Pat Deegan describes personal medicine as things we do that make us feel better, and reminds us that medication prescribed by our doctor is not the same as personal medicine.  Medication or pills are something you take.  personal medicine is something you do.

Here’s a list of some of my personal medicine items and how I benefit from doing them.

  • Bicycling
    • Riding my bike helps me manage my anxiety by giving me an outlet for some  of the anxious energy
  • Blogging
    • Blogging helps me feel connected to the world around me and at the same time gives me a sense of purpose
  • Playing video games
    • When I play video games, I am able to take a step back from things that may be overwhelming me, and I get an opportunity to regroup before trying to face whatever is overwhelming me again.  I also use gaming as a way to practice social skill in an environment that is less threatening to me then face to face encounters with other people tend to feel.
  • Knitting
    • Knitting helps me in a few ways
      • gives me a creative outlet
      • helps me quiet my mind by doing something that doesn’t need lots of thinking, and I can sort of meditate a bit
      • allows me to do something nice for other people and when I see people smile when I give them something I have knit, I get a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of warmth that helps take the sting out of the rough patches I may be experiencing in my life.
  • Researching
    • Researching or learning more about whatever I happen to have as a pressing question on my mind, helps to quiet my mind, and satisfy my hunger for information.  I will often have a question or idea on my mind that seems to almost take over my brain and make it tough to think about anything else, and I found that simply taking a little time to do a little research into the question  or idea helps me settle my mind by giving me information to satisfy the thoughts.  It’s kind of like if you have a baby that is hungry who is crying and fussy because of being hungry.  Once you feed the baby and satisfy the baby’s hunger, the baby will generally settle down and be more content overall.  In many ways that’s what my mind is like but instead of being hungry for food,  my brain gets hungry for information, and the questions or ideas are like the fussy baby.  I feed my mind information and the fussiness dissipates.  So while I do realize that most people don’t do research for fun, it is something that I not only enjoy, but am able to use to quiet my often noisy brain.
  • Journalling
    • Journaling helps me sort and organize thoughts, feelings or ideas, and gives me a second option for handling the questions and such that often become overwhelming to me if left unchecked.  If I don’t have time to do research right then, sometimes just the act of writing down the question, topic, idea or whatever it is that seems to be taking over my mind, it allows me to in a sense say ok, I recognize that this is on my mind and needs to be further considered, but I’m going to table it and deal with it later when I have more time.  In short, it’s like I’m emptying my brain a little so I can focus on the thing I need to be focused on at that moment.
  • Walking
    • Walking, like bicycling helps me manage my anxiety, my weight, and helps me kind of clear my mind by getting out and enjoying nature a bit
  • Interacting with my Service Dog
    • Interacting can be playing, training, working, or simply cuddling, but the thing all these forms of interaction do for me, is divert my attention off myself and help keep me from dwelling on things.  I also get to explore the world around me much easier than I could on my own.  The world is a very scary place for me, but using my service dog helps me manage the fears and anxiety I have about the world around me that pretty much paralyzes me if I’m left to handle things on my own without my Service Dog’s help.  I get a sense of joy, accomplishment, and am more likely to interact with people around me then I would on my own.  My service dog bridges the gap between  my world and the world around me in a way that in some ways is almost magical, as well as being very difficult to put into words.  She has the ability to make me laugh or smile at times when no human has been able to succeed, she gives me comfort, bolsters my braveness, and even though she is the one being trained, our training sessions give me a sense of accomplishment and pride when I see her begin to master a skill I’ve tried to teach her.  She’s learning to help me, and I’m learning to reach beyond myself.

All the things I listed above are things that help me in many ways, but they all are able to have a positive impact on my mental health and even my physical health and by doing things that impact both my mental and physical health, I feel more like a complete or whole person who is better equipped to face the world around me and everything it has to offer.

Image I'm Blogging for World Mental Health Day on October 10

I’m Blogging for World Mental Health Day on October 10

 

“I am Royce White: Living and working with anxiety disorder”

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This May 9, 203 article talks about what life is like when you have an anxiety disorder and discusses Royce White’s requests for reasonable accommodations to enable him to feel “safe” with his surroundings.

“What a Panic Attack Feels Like”

Panic-attack

Panic-attack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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This article found on PsychCentral.com talks about what it can be like to have a panic attack and what can be done to improve them.

“Studies tie stress from storms, war to heart risks”

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This March 10, 2013 article on the GoErie.com website talks about data indicating that stress caused by natural disasters or war can lead to an increased risk of heart attack.

 

“‘Inexplicably Happy’ Column: Mental health”

English: A Psychiatric Service Dog In Training

English: A Psychiatric Service Dog In Training (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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This February 18, 2013 article on the LehighValley.com website talks about the issues faced by folks who have Anxiety Disorders.  I face an anxiety disorder every day and felt that this article really summed up what it was like trying to meet new people while contending with anxiety.  I use a Psychiatric Service Dog to help with my anxiety, she alerts me to panic attacks before they get out of control so I can work to head them off before I have a total meltdown.  She also does medication reminders that help me control my anxiety and other mental health issues, since I have a hard time remembering to take my meds having an external cue from my service dog has been a huge help in getting them on time.

Even with the amazing help my Service Dog offers me, I’m always floored when people ask me what she does for me and I simply say “I have an Anxiety disorder and some other mental health issues that she helps me with”  and the person responds with “Everyone gets anxious”  as though telling me the obvious is going to be of help o me.  I know all to well that everyone has anxiety, but what people who don’t have an anxiety disorder don’t seem to realize is that those with an anxiety disorder have extreme anxiety that often impair many facets of life that those without the anxiety disorder often take for granted.  I have a really hard time in checkout lines in stores, because the confined space sends my anxiety through the roof, especially if there is a glitch with the way the register scans (or doesn’t scan) an item correctly and a supervisor has to be called in to correct the problem.  Most people seem to get annoyed at best with this, but for me, I start sweating profusely, my heart rate sky rockets, and it takes everything in me to keep from bolting out of the store because of the overwhelming fear I feel.  I know that the glitch isn’t anything I did, but for me, it’s like my brain hi-jacks me and I literally panic and begin to fear that the store will think I tampered with the item or something to cause it to not scan right.  Not something I’ve ever seen anyone get accused of in a checkout line, but with an anxiety disorder, this is the direction my mind heads and there isn’t a lot I can do about it other than to work with my service dog, take deep breaths, and pray that the situation is cleared up quickly so I can get out of there.

“Stressed Out: Manage modern-life stress before health problems set in”

Young GI models a 'stress ball' at Guantanamo....

Young GI models a ‘stress ball’ at Guantanamo. :Original caption: :”Pfc. Leslee Fong holds a stress ball given to her by members of the Joint Stress Mitigation and Restoration Team (JSMART), Dec. 21, 2010. JSMART’s mission is to provide outreach and stress prevention for all Troopers during their deployment. -photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elisha Dawkins” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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This January 21, 2013 article on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website talks about stress and the impact it has on us.  The article also talks about some of the dynamics of our society as they pertain to the response  to how others handle stress and what some of the consequences are for those who are unable to manage stress.

 

 

 

 

“Mental Health and Hurricane Sandy: What Can We Expect, What Can We Do?”

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

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This November 7, 2012 article on the HuffPost Healthy Living website talks about some of the myths and facts about the impact something like Hurricane Sandy may have on people, and warns that there are other disorders to watch for beyond PTSD, and that if people are focused on only looking for PTSD they may not see the symptoms of other diagnoses.  The article does indicate PTSD can result from a natural disaster, but there is a progression of symptoms that tends to lead up to it.

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