Monday, 29 April 2013

Catching Up on My Reading List

So as my interest in Wonder Pets waned today I grabbed my new book that I got last week at Costco. Yeah, I know I purchased two but I have been a slacker this week.  I started with the one on depression.  I read the intro and the first three chapters.  I did not even realise that the book included a CD with all the worksheets discussed in the book.  Bonus! I have to tell you that even the first three chapters have already given me a lot to think about.  Basically it says no one is blaming you for being depressed but you are doing things that are counterproductive to getting better. I felt a bit defensive about that.  Surely the authors were not implying that I was not doing everything I can to regain my life.  Well, yeah they did. Or at least that all my attempts at getting better are the wrong things. Let me give you an example that I worked out all by my little lonesome today.  I tell you I am becoming a self-help guru.

My Life Example
 (because this is my blog so who else`s life should I use)
Since being depressed and dealing with social anxiety I shake.  Really shake! So I tend to refrain from going to Mass or....well pretty much anywhere because I do not want people to look at me and judge me.  Why is that, well because I want people to think I am normal....and why is that, I want them to like me, be my friend. That is because I want to have a community of friends to spend time to prevent people from seeing me shake and not want to spend time with me....I hide in my house...never letting them be around me...see counterproductive! I told you.  Its a real brain twisting exercise.  I am thoroughly exhausted by the entire exercise.  Guess I should have stuck to Wonder Pets.  Hoping your journey is going in the right direction today -Tracy

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Looking at the Numbers

Well first of all let me apologize for not posting Thursday after group or even yesterday.  As I expected I was feeling less than stellar.  I do however want to share some interesting insight I gained from my group.  It was a pretty informal thing as only two of us made it. Pretty hard to hide in a group of two with two leaders. I asked our group leader what the recovery rates or outlook was for people with social anxiety.  She said basically it falls into three groups 1/3 have one bout of it and are never affected again, 1/3 have 2-3 episodes and 1/3 struggle with it on an  ongoing basis.  So I guess I fall into that final group. That is ok though.  I know that this is something I will deal with daily so that gives me more ammunition to get myself into a strong routine and plan for this thing.  I did some more research online and found this:

Facts About Anxiety Disorders
  • 25% of the population will at sometime in their lives, suffer from an anxiety disorder ranging from specific phobias to more debilitating disorders such as panic disorder. 5-7% will suffer from panic disorder. Up to 10% may have social anxiety. (Health Canada 1996).
  • Ratio of female (16%) to male (9%) with anxiety disorders. (Chambless, Cherney, Caputo, Reinstein, 1987)
  • Anxiety disorders are the most treatable of all mental illnesses.
  • Anxiety disorders are often accompanied by depression. Risk of suicide is high. Persons with panic disorder were 7 times greater at risk for suicide than those with major depression or those with neither disorder. (Weissman & Merikangas, 1986)
  • Cognitive behavior therapy is reported to be 80-90% effective with an 80% recovery rate a year later depending on the extent of avoidant behavior. (Walker, Cox 1998).
  • Alcohol and drugs are often used to self-medicate for anxiety and panic. 23% - 44% of inpatient alcoholics have one or more anxiety disorders. (Chambless, Cherney, Caputo & Reinstein, 1987)
  • Unresolved, on-going high stress levels put ALL individuals at risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
  • Early intervention means rapid recovery.

Major Anxiety Disorders
  • Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems.
  • Anxiety disorders carry significant personal and societal costs in terms of lost wages, decreased productivity, reduced quality of life and frequent use of health care services.
  • Treatment for anxiety disorders is 80-90% effective with an 80% recovery rate a year later, depending on the degree of avoidant behaviour.
Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks and a persistent fear of future attacks. A panic attack is a period of intense fear and discomfort that often strikes "out of the blue". Symptoms may include:
  • shortness of breath
  • racing heart
  • tight chest
  • trembling or shaking
  • choking sensations
  • numbness or tingling
  • dizziness
  • feelings of unreality
People suffering a panic attack believe they are in mortal danger, i.e. they are dying, having a heart attack or losing control.
Persons with panic disorder often develop agoraphobia, the fear of being in a public place and far from help. If left untreated, agoraphobia can become so disabling that some individuals are completely housebound.

I hope this is helpful. I am thinking of you all and hoping your week went well.-Tracy

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Thursday Already

 Wow, how did it get to Thursday already.  I have barely even had a chance to  convince myself of all the rotten stuff that could happen on the way to group. The sun is finally shining and if you can believe it I am actually looking forward to getting out to enjoy it. I am sure I will regret venturing out today (tomorrow of course) but I am going to try to enjoy today and just plan to take it easy tomorrow. How are your plans coming? What baby steps did you achieve this week? Be kind to yourself and know my thoughts are with you. -Tracy

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Costco my new self-help resource centre.

Well today I sort of set myself up to fail.  It did not occur to me that the whole city of Kingston shops on Saturday.  I had a rough week, appointments or errands every single day.  If you are at all like me you leave the house once at the most twice a week.  That is so much more comfortable than this week was.  Anyway, to the point.  My husband took my family to Kingston today to go to Costco.  The parking was backed up all the way to the outer overflow parking areas.  I could feel my anxiety rising with each step toward the entrance.  It was more jammed packed inside than I ever could have imagined.  Needless to say I did the shop and dash thing. You know the one....knock stuff off the shelf into the cart without even slowing down. That was until I got to the books section.  There must have been a whopper of a sale in the food aisles because the book section was lonely and desolate looking. A perfect retreat for us anxious folks.  Out of the corner of my eye I spied a pile of self help books.  I decided to investigate and found:
The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Depression by Kirk Strosahl and Patricia Robinson $16.99
The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne $16.99
I was so excited as I thought I had saved a bundle of money on these well rated books.  Yah, well I need to get out more I guess (not really) because you can buy them for less than $18 online.  No shipping though and I get to say I actually went to a brick and mortar store.
I have not had a chance to read them thoroughly yet of course, but I am really excited by the highlights I saw flipping through them in the car ride home.  I am going to make a concerted effort to get them done asap and start applying these strategies to my oh-so-dilapidated life.  My family has decided after 6 wonderful years of homeschooling that our children will return to school on Monday.  I am heartbroken of course and there are a myriad of thoughts swirling in my head.  It will however allow me to design a firm plan to counteract this disorder.  So first step, kids successfully launched to school, second step organise the house, third step make an action plan for regular exercise  reducing caffeine and regular social contact....gasp gasp.....Please don't make me do this alone. Put your own action plan together and let me know what you come up with.  It's too late for New Year's Resolutions but we can certainly try to be proactive in our our mental health can't we? Seriously, help me out of you all- Tracy

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Bring Me down

Do you sometimes feel like your mood is like a sappy song from the70s (I think that was the Karen Carpenter era). I am really struggling this week and I just can't pinpoint the reason.  Do you have weeks like that? It's one of those I can hardly drag myself out of bed in the morning kind of things.  Maybe its the wet grey weather, or the business of this week but I just can't shake this feeling of gloom and doom.  What do you do when you feel yourself being pulled back into the darkness? I am just telling myself the CBT mantra "It's only a feeling, it will pass, I don't have to react to it".  Ooohhh I believe it will pass but as the days drag on I am feeling myself repeatedly saying..."enough already, I get it your depressed, can we move on". I am so ready for happier sunny days. I am thinking about you all and hoping the skies are less dreary where you are.

Friday, 12 April 2013

The calm during a storm?

Oh my, have you looked out the window today (no pun intended). It is like a vast frozen wasteland out there.  This morning a large branch crashed down on top of my car.  Thank goodness I don't see any damage. Of course that is just what I can survey from our homeschool classroom as I have no intention of actually venturing outside.  I would say its the storm but realistically if it was warm and sunny I would still be held up inside my house.  Yesterday's adventures in actually going to my group have left my body totally depleted.  My back is know the feeling...those prickly little irritated nerve feelings  that sap the energy from you.  I am exhausted. I think if I am being completely honest I could say I am more than a little bit crabby.  Ok, maybe a lot more than that even.  When you are feeling like this what helps?  Besides crawling into bed and sleeping the day away.  I am thinking I might plan a very low key night with my family. A kid friendly movie, some popcorn......oooohhhh a couple hours of peace and quiet as the kids attention goes from me to the latest Dreamworks installment I am sure. Drop me a post and let me know how you unwind after a day out in the world.

B.T.W. Group was very helpful yesterday.  We went over Thought Records.  Boy you can really spend some time delving into these babies.
(Cognitive Behaviour self help resources UK)

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Practice makes perfect

Well it's Thursday again so that makes it group therapy day.  This is week 4 I believe.  The forecast is calling for freezing rain and I am so tempted to use it as a reason not to go.  Don't get me wrong, I have learned allot from the group.  It would just be so much easier to put my cozy jammies back on and not have to interact with the outside world today.  For me, its the steps that it takes to get to the group.  I have to drive down the highway for about an hour.  It causes me to have to drive by the place where someone very dear to me was killed last year.  Then when I get to Kingston I have to deal with all the drivers swerving in as the streets turn to one way death traps.  I then have the privilege of driving into that dark, cramped parking garage, hoping that no one will drive into me in my attempt to make it to the top floor where there is actual fresh air. Oh and then there is the elevator. They are crammed cheek to cheek like we are some type of cattle.  Last week I had the privilege of having a gentleman pointing me out saying "Wow, look someone's really nervous today." Yah, that helped.  So why do I fight it.  Why don't I go recover my fuzzy slippers and winnie the pooh housecoat. Well, because I want to get better.  I want to learn how to control my flight impulse. I want to master not caring if people are looking at my shaking funny.  I want a life. I know the days of carefree social interactions are not coming back.  I just want to make sure that I fight as hard as I can to keep my world as big as possible. So I am going to get ready, drive down the highway, traverse the city traffic, endure the parking garage and even the funny looks and proximity of people in the elevator. Why? Because practice makes perfect and I am not giving up yet.

Set a goal for yourself to go somewhere, anywhere even if it is just for a walk in a nearby park.  If you can't get that far then set a goal of going out in your yard.  You can do it! Reward your tenacity with a small treat. Then set another goal to take one step further tomorrow.

This is a link to a handy weekly activity handout.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

There is Strength in Numbers

Today was a busy computer day for me.  I decided to spend some time trying to find groups that were specifically for people with Anxiety Disorders.  That sounds like I should have had it finished before my first coffee but I found myself drawn into reading the posts of the many people suffering from the effects of these disorders.  It should be troubling for me to realize how many people are out there fighting every day to deal with the complications that come with Anxiety disorders but I must guiltily admit that I found great comfort in knowing I was not alone.
If you are looking for a forum or online group please check out:
Google Plus Anxiety Group
Always remember that the more we talk about the struggles we are facing the more that people will advocate for better resources for us.  The squeaky wheel and all that.
So, today, not tomorrow or next Wednesday, I challenge you to join an online support group specifically for your particular disorder.  Then come back here and leave a comment telling me where you joined.  I am thinking of you all. -Tracy

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Social Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsions Oh My

Welcome to my blog.  It is my intention to use this space to provide helpful information to those of you who are struggling with these things right now.  I'm certainly not an expert on the matter so mine is just one opinion so you will have to decide for yourself if it is going to work for you or not.  I am incredibly fortunate that I live in an area where there is allot of help for these disorders.  I will try to document my journey through all of this so that people who don't have access to all these services can map out a plan for their own recovery by looking up the suggested activities I am involved in.

This has been a fairly recent thing for me to deal with.  I started feeling tired and sad all the time about 2 years ago.  I could never get to sleep and felt like a zombie half the time. My Mother recognized that something was very wrong and told me to get to a doctor. I did not recognize that anything was going really wrong in myself.  If people close to you are starting to make comments about changes in your behaviour or you find life does not bring you the joy it once did I would suggest talking to your family doctor.  Do not wait to see if it goes away.  Usually if you have felt it for more than two weeks its not going anywhere on its own.
So if this is you right now, sad, tired, lost your zeal.....quit reading here and go make an appointment with your doctor.  Don't worry I will be here when you get back -Tracy

Are you depressed?

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.
  • you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
  • you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
  • you feel hopeless and helpless
  • you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
  • you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
  • you are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
  • you’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior
  • you have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case)
  • ttp://