Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I Needed to Boot Vanilla

Sometimes your computer chokes.  It might run super slowly for a while first.  You get the sense something's wrong.  Eventually, you can't put up with it any longer.  You have to call your computer friend.

Maybe you're the computer friend.  Maybe it's a spouse.  Maybe you don't have a computer friend and have to take it somewhere to be fixed (in which case, I feel very sorry for you; everyone should have a computer friend).

The first thing your computer friend will say is, "Did you shut it down and restart it?"  Trust me.  That's what he'll say.  (I'm going to say he, because my husband is my computer friend.)  Know why he'll say that first?  Because it truly does fix it a ridiculous amount of the time.  Those magic computer boxes just need to shuffle some things around and put them back in their places - they do that when you restart.

But sometimes it doesn't work.  And sometimes you can't get it started again properly.  Maybe you need to boot vanilla.

To boot vanilla means to start your computer up as basic as possible, without all the bells and whistles.  To only load the essential programs.  The minimum needed to gain access to the system.  Not enough to run any of the normal programs you use.  This requires a special vanilla boot disk or a vanilla install file.

From there, your computer friend can do some troubleshooting.  He can search for things he knows might be possible problems.  After asking about your recent activity, he might be guided to look for a particular virus.  And if he still doesn't find anything, he will try adding programs back in one by one.  (Yes, I know there are many possible ways to handle this process.  Let's just pretend this is the one every computer friend does.)

As he adds each program back in, he'll watch for errors.  This way, he can hopefully find the source of your frustration.

I needed to boot vanilla.

My life kind of choked.  Things were running choppy.  I was functioning sluggishly.  Some days I couldn't get past the boot up screen.

I have several life "computer guys."  This time I took myself to my psychiatrist and therapist for repair.  (I just happened to have appointments scheduled with them on back to back days.)  We did lots of troubleshooting.  We figured out some workarounds.

But eventually I decided I just needed to boot vanilla.  I needed to get rid of everything in my life that wasn't absolutely essential.  I've actually been stripping things out for a while now.  Activities.  Obligations.  Friends.  And, more recently, social media.  I kind of feel like I've put myself into quarantine.

I think I've gone bare bones as far as I can.  Well, as far as I can and still be somewhat healthy.  I'm hesitant to add things back in, because I don't want to freeze up again.

But I will add things back in.  Very.  Very.  Slowly.  I will go for a short time to a few activities.  I will spend some time outside my home.  And I will very carefully tiptoe back into social media.  Very carefully!  Probably in a ways but then back out again.  Social media is a slippery place with lots of potential viruses, many of which I know I'm susceptible to.

I'll be running a different machine when I'm done.  After all, we have to make upgrades over time or become incompatible with new programs.  I've made a lot of changes lately; it's not surprising there were conflicts.

I think my main error has been trying to do a system restore.  Trying to go back to the way I used to be.  But I've altered too many things for that system to do the job.  I need to let the new me become.  Whatever I am going to become.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Master Healer

Today started out rough.  I woke feeling anxious.  No particular thoughts causing me distress, just a discomfort in my body.  I had a Harry Potter audiobook on; I use the Harry Potter audiobooks like white noise while I sleep.  They relax me.  But soon my agitation grew, so I switched over to some soothing music.  But that felt like sandpaper on my nerves, so I switched over to my meditation soundtrack.  No.  Just no.

My anxiety grew.  Intensified to the point that I wanted to crawl out of my skin.  I always feel my anxiety most strongly in my shoulders.  I shake my arms to try to dispel the feeling of tension, the feeling like I'm being held down by my shoulders.  Shaking my arms doesn't really help, but it's my natural reaction.  Well, I guess it helps a little.  Sometimes it gets me through the worst of it.  Not today.

My anxiety climbed.  Maybe I just needed silence.  So I turned it all off.  And that was better.  My body's stress didn't go down, but it leveled out.  I just breathed in the stillness for a bit.  Deep breaths.  Willing my body to relax.

I prayed for help.

I felt prompted I should listen to a church talk.  Luckily, I have several on my mp3 player that I sometimes listen to when I walk.  I searched through my list, not really looking for a particular talk, just the right soothing voice.  Then I saw the one.  Jesus Christ - The Master Healer.  If there was anything I needed right then, it was healing.

It was given by Elder Russell M. Nelson, a leader in our church, who does (in fact) have a very soothing voice and manner of address.  As I listened to his words, I sought release.  I sought a connection with God that would take away my current suffering.

And then a panic attack hit.  Hard.

Suddenly I was gasping.  Crying.  Sobbing.  It felt like my throat was closing up.  The distress in my body grew.  My headache exploded.  I cried and cried, clenching at my throat and pressing my hand against my forehead.  I had been propped up in my bed, but had to get rid of the pillows and lie flat to try to relieve my throat.

Talk yourself through it.  You can do this.  Talk yourself down.  I tried to remember all I've learned to get through a moment like that.  Nothing.  And then a vague recollection of how brief it was likely to be.  A knowledge that even though it felt like I would die, I wouldn't really.

I began to pay attention to my breathing.  Even though I could feel my throat constricting, the muscles tightening, my breathing was still fine.  No restriction.  No limitation.

But still - panic!  Ridiculous, overwhelming panic.  And the talk continued.  The soothing voice strengthening me even then.

I let myself cry.  I let my breaths heave.  I let my body work through whatever it needed to work through.

As the talk ended, the panic began to subside.  But the anxiety was still there.  How would I get rid of that?  I need to go to church.  I have a calling to perform.

Slow down.  I felt prompted strongly to slow down today.  I have a tendency to rush around in the morning getting ready and to be highly energetic in my calling.  Today, I need to slow down.  I need to not do anything which will feed the adrenaline.  I need to relieve my body.

Stretch.  I felt prompted to stretch.  I stretched my legs.  I did the stretches for my plantar fasciitis.  It helped.  I could feel my body releasing a little.

Wash your face.  Okay, that might sound like a strange prompting.  But I have a very minimal morning hygiene routine.  Generally just a quick splash of water on my face.  Today I was supposed to wash my face.  Gently.  Circular motions.  Massaging my face slowly.  Warm water.  More release.

Lotion.  Put on some lotion.  I put some baby lotion in my hands, rubbed them together a bit, and gently applied it to my face.  A similar massaging action.  Lovingly.  Slowly.  And my body calmed.

There is still a remnant of anxiety in my body, just under the surface.  I still need to go slow today.  I still need to be gentle with myself.  Mindful of myself.  But I will get through it unscathed.  I will be the better for it.

I believe I was touched by the Master Healer this morning.  I was guided through healing techniques I had learned but couldn't recall in that moment.  And I'm grateful.  And I testify.  Truth.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

It Rained

What the crap is wrong with me?!  Seriously.  I just don't even know.  I'm so lost.  I feel like I'm not connected to anything.  Just floating out in the ether somewhere.

As far as writing, I'm stumped.  I feel like I've lost a part of myself with my inability to write.  I just haven't been able to write.  I don't know how to explain it.  It's not writer's block.  It's not a lack of ideas or time or anything like that.  It's just a plug.  Like someone's put a stopper in, and my writing just won't flow.

I've barely written over the last year and a half.  (Maybe before that; I don't know.)  I don't know if anyone's even reading my blog anymore, except for people who happen here based on a search for a certain topic.

I don't know why I haven't been able to write.  There are many possible explanations.

I've been more emotionally healthy (on the whole) for the last while.  For a long time I wrote therapeutically.  I wrote to work through all the horrific emotional battles I was waging.  I don't have as many of those lately, so it hasn't served that purpose.

I've been exercising a lot more, becoming much more physically healthy over the last year.  I wonder if that outlet has supplanted this one.  Also, since my hysterectomy put me into instant menopause, I just don't have the multitasking abilities I used to have.  I have trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time.  So since I've been focusing on losing weight and feeling better, I struggle to focus on anything else.  Like, it's tough for me to make a menu and shopping list to keep my family fed.  It's tough for me to stay on top of the household money and making sure bills get paid.  Forget about cleaning the house!

Besides focus, there's also the energy component.  I just don't have the energy for much else.  Now, it's possible that's changing.  When I first started working out, just under a year ago, I was coming from a place of near inactivity.  Like, almost nothing.  And from a place of extremely low energy (which is related to not being active, but I'm not sure about which was the cause and which was the effect; I have lots of thoughts on that).  If I worked out, I was just too tired to do anything else.  Or in too much pain.  Sometimes that's not the case now.  I hope I'll be able to move past that soon.

But I'm afraid I'm also stuck in a pattern.  For almost a year my main focus of each day has been to work out.  I find I'm having to really put thought into making other things happen.  Oh, there's so much more to this than you know!  I feel like I'm just giving the tiniest bit of snippets to explain (because otherwise this post would be seventeen pages long).  But I need to get some of this out.  So even if what I've said sounds like I'm being lazy and not using my time or my life well, please know that I don't think that's the case.  Perhaps I'll be able to explain it further in the future.

For now I'll just hit on one other potential cause of my writing drought.  I wonder if it's been connected to my mood stabilizer.  I'm a mood writer.  I have to feel driven.  I have to NEED to write.  I have to need to get it out.  Almost like throwing up, it has to be forcing its way out of me to feel right.

When I met with my psychiatrist Tuesday I asked to reduce my meds by half.  That's what we chose to do.  This is the second day of that dosage.  Today I'm writing.  I can't swear those two events are connected.  Let's wait and see.

When we met, she also strongly pushed me to get back to things I love.  Writing is one of those things.  So I may feel driven because the meds are finally allowing it or because it's an assignment.  I don't know which.

But I truly don't care right now.  It just feels SO GOOD to write.  Like feeling the barometric pressure rise before the storm hits, or does it drop before the storm hits?  Either way, the air becomes uncomfortable, and my body aches for the rain.  Today it rained!