Category Archives: Stress

One day at a time

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Sunday 30th August

“I try to take one day at a time.
But sometimes
Several days attack me at once.”

How true is that statement?

For quite some time now I have been holding it together. Well, I’d like to think so; my outward appearance gives that impression, whilst inside I’m filled with sadness and grief.

Every now and again I have a little help from prescription pills, but I don’t like to take them regularly. I do take St. John’s wort though, every morning, (supposedly nature’s prozac), and I do believe it does take the edge off of stressful situations or episodes of depression.

Today whilst out with my husband, mum and sister, (our regular Sunday ‘shop and lunch’), I felt ‘funny’. A strange tightening in my throat and neck, pain in my head and stomach. Most unnerving. My husband is convinced it was a panic attack. But I don’t panic. I’m sensible, I’m calm, I don’t worry, I’m level-headed. Or I would like to think so. But today, I just didn’t feel right.

Maybe several days were attacking me all at once. Maybe my grief just wanted an outlet, and bubbled up to the surface for a while. Maybe last night I didn’t really sleep properly and was awoken by a nightmare, silently screaming.

It took a bit of time, but sitting down, making an effort to breathe slowly and deeply, the tightness around my throat and chest began to lessen. My hands no longer gripped the edge of the table so firmly.

Was it a panic attack? I really don’t know. But I didn’t like the way I felt. Most unusual.

I do know that I think about you constantly: right from the moment I wake up, when I see your photograph on my bedside table; throughout every minute of the day; during the time spent at your graveside; to the evening when I close your curtains; and then when I sleep, when I try to have happy dreams about you.

I miss you so much.
Sending love and kisses and hugs.
Sweet Angel of mine.
Darling son.
xxxx

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Results and Therapy

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Thursday 16th July

Preparing to go out this morning I am interrupted by a phone call from my dermatology nurse. She has the results of the lesion excision on my arm, two weeks ago. And the offending alien blob is called a dysplastic naevus. Sounds quite weird, like a synthetic cloud formation. But no, it’s an unusual, benign mole, that looks like melanoma, and you can’t tell if it’s dangerous or not, until it’s sent to the pathology lab. Therefore it must be surgically removed.

So, I’m left with a small scar, and a bit of an indent in my upper arm, but a huge sense of relief, dispelling the anxiety I’ve had for the last fortnight. Melanoma does that to you, the knowledge that it could come back, one day, sneakily, when you’re not expecting it. So, vigilance is the key, combined with regular check-ups. And maybe a few precautionary scars along the way.

This afternoon was #4 of my Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course. The topics covered today were Panic Attacks and Sleep Problems. Woo hoo.

Although I have never had a panic attack, I can relate to some of the typical actions and physical symptoms: foot tapping, sighing, palpitations, sweating, nausea, hot flushes, choking sensations, faintness, upset stomach.

Much of this could be the result of the imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in my body, due to poor breathing and stress. Time to sort out the deep relaxation techniques and diaphragmatic breathing, methinks.

I do, however, have a problem getting to sleep, and then staying asleep. To much to think about, worry about, stress about. I’m restless, tossing, turning, clock watching, can’t switch off. And then I get cross because I cannot fall asleep, and that just makes it worse.

I do try some deep breathing techniques, drink decaffeinated tea, try to walk a reasonable amount every day, no big meals before bedtime, no phone or television in the bedroom, blackout curtains, window slightly open, and sleeping pills.

But the elusive good night’s sleep is eluding me at the moment. My thoughts always return to my son. He is everywhere around me and within me. It’s Thursday again, so it’s eighteen weeks, or one hundred and twenty six days since he gained his angel wings. And we still cry at his graveside.

Thinking of you.
Missing you.
Loving you always.
Forever young.
Darling child xx

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Cognitive behaviour therapy #3

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Thursday 9th July

Having missed Session 2 last week due to having minor surgery to remove a mole from my arm, I’m all ready for this next instalment of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: managing your actions.

So, what did we learn today, hey?
Stressed people think more anxiously about their life.
Stressed people avoid difficult situations, and may use safety behaviours as a way of coping.
Depressed people tend to withdraw from normal activities.
Stressed people tend to be on the lookout for threats.
Depressed people can feel isolated and lack confidence.

Okey dokey, I think I know all that to be true. So, what’s to do about it?

1. Work out exactly what the problem is. Take on the problems one at a time. Break down each problem into smaller chunks. Putting this into practice will mean a greater sense of control.

2. Facing the fear can test the reality of your feelings. Think about “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Brainstorm as many options or outcomes as possible, then weigh up the pros and cons. Work out a step by step plan, put it into action, then review the outcome.

3. Removing safety behaviours to confront fears. Some feel they need something to protect against threats or that which cannot be controlled. Working out what these are, or the ‘props’ that are used, is the first step. (Having ready-made excuses, medication in one’s pocket, having a drink before going out).
Thinking about how these safety behaviours help or hinder, predict what would happen if they were not used.
Again, work out a step by step plan, put it into action and then review the situation. Start to remove as many safety behaviours as possible.

Well, I’m not sure how much of that applies to me, a lot of it was common sense.

And then we moved on to 20 Tips for Coping with Stress: things to consider
1. Deal with problems on the spot.
2. Nurture strong, confiding relationships.
3. Slow down.
4. Break problems up.
5. Avoid Must’s and Should’s.
6. Coping with ruts.
7. Take one thing at a time.
8. Look and sound relaxed.
9. Learn from past experience.
10. Don’t accept other people’s targets.
11. Healthy eating.
12. Stop smoking.
13. Situations outside your control.
14. Build relaxation into your life.
15. Prioritise.
16. Do the worst thing first.
17. Don’t try to be Superman or Wonderwoman.
18. Confide in others.
19. Other people’s shoes.
20. Keep up a routine.

So there we have it, in a nutshell.
Much to think about, lots I already put into practice.
But it’s not going to lift me out of this depressive hole I find myself in at present. That will take time, an awful lot of time. There is no predetermined exit point to actually stepping out into the light at the end of the tunnel. It will happen at some time, and I know I have to believe in that, otherwise what is the point? I do know I won’t feel like this forever. My depression is the result of the enormous grief I feel over the unexpected loss of my son. I’m allowed to feel like this, for the moment. But not always. I’ve got to tell myself that it will get better.

Thinking of you, my sweetest Angel in heaven xxxx