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My Not So Secret Poetry Diary – A Date with Anxiety #copingwithanxiety #poeminspiration #mentalhealthblogs #chronicblogger

My Date with Anxiety

It’s been a tough ten days in my chronic illness warrior body, so I wanted to share with you some of the things I’ve been feeling – eek, it’s time to get real peeps!

I’m going to reflect briefly on what’s been happening to my body and mind each day. But hey, remember this is me writing so, even though I’ll be totally honest, I’ll make sure there’s a positive to everything! This is the story of my Date with Anxiety.

I keep a diary (not a journal) and use it to pace my daily activities. Randomly through the year I write little notes of my strengths and personalised affirmations. Then in the evening I write 3 positives from that day.

Friday 7th December

I couldn’t sleep last night, it’s been disrupted all week, but this was next level. The pain was intense and relentless and I couldn’t understand why. A friend visited me yesterday, which had made my day. She never stays too long and spotted when I was flagging. I hadn’t napped either so I expected knock on effects, but why was it SO bad?

At 3:30am my heart started racing and I was breathless and dizzy – losing control. This panic attack came out of nowhere!. I got up to use the en-suite and collapsed, but my amazing husband Joel woke immediately and rushed to my side. Then he hugged me tight, that hug that let’s me know I’m not alone!

I ended up taking a strong dose of diazepam, but I still didn’t get much sleep and when my carer arrived at lunchtime I was stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. She took such good care of me and was extra gentle, seeing me so poorly. I recognised at the end of the day that I’m a very lucky lady to have such wonderful souls looking after me!

Saturday 8th December

Hardly any sleep again last night! The meditation and breathing techniques I normally use didn’t help and the day was littered with panic attacks, feeling like I couldn’t breathe. I was on full anxiety alert. Thankfully Joel was amazing with me through it all again and encouraged me to go downstairs for a change of scene.

Before going down I had a shower which was an accomplishment in itself. I still had panic rush up on me again and I just wanted to run away! But Joel guided me through it all, holding my hand I calmed down. Eventually, drained and emotional, I managed a 10 minute nap watching TV, on Saturday evening and finally got some relief.

I’ve not had a flare like this in years!

Sunday 9th December

I’ve managed to sleep much better at last, but I feel battered and bruised from the state of alert my body’s been in the last few days. I know my brain has had the acute stress response or fight or flight. This is exhausting as despite having a large toolkit for dealing with stress, I’ve struggled to access these strategies whilst in a state!

I’m being kind to myself today and have prioritised getting downstairs to be around my boys, so that they can make me laugh and help me heal. The mental bruises take just as long, if not longer than physical to heal, but I’m slowly building myself back up.

This link explains what might happen during a panic attack.

Monday 10th December

I’m still feeling fragile today, but at last my body has decided to catch up on some of the lost sleep. I’ve cat-napped all day, with a little break at lunchtime when my carer arrived. I have no idea what we were talking about but we were cackling away! Joel was working downstairs (a little cushion for me – knowing he’s around even if he’s busy) and commented on the cackling as soon as he did pop upstairs!

Now that I’m trying to process my feelings, I was brave and decided to write a poem about the feelings I experienced. It’s important to reflect on any kind of anxiety attack however you do it, but sweeping it under the carpet won’t help you in the future!

Tuesday 11th December

I finished the poem this morning when I woke up early. Most of my poems are at least started when I’m either not getting to sleep or waking early. This was an early morning finish! I love creating the poem on a lovely background, using stock photography, which is perfect for sharing on social media. I loved the reaction this poem received!

I also chose to explain a little about what I’d been exploring when I wrote this poem. However, I’m not yet used to being so open about my own mental health whilst I’m still fragile. But I’m committed to raising awareness and always think about the fact that what I write might help just one person!

I talk about my anxiety levels rising as the lack of sleep and increased pain added up. But although I’m drained, I do have a strong mental health toolkit – full of strategies that I practice regularly. I know how to use these help build myself back up. Knowing that I’m my only priority in this instance is key to bouncing back!

Well, I thought that I’d got my groove back as the week went on but I’ve struggled again the last few nights, especially last night when I managed about 90 minutes all night. Thankfully I dozed all morning, catching up a bit on all that lost sleep from pain. However, I’ve managed to keep the anxiety in a box by using my toolkit. See below…

No mental health blog is complete without a few top tips.

If you or someone you know suffers a panic attack, try these tips!

  • Exercise

Exercise is one of the quickest way to deal with the raised stress levels that come with a panic attack. My physical illness stops me from going for a run (think flight…), but I can do some bed yoga, even though I take it even more carefully than normal! Some good stretches and shoulder rolls are a great way to shake it off!

  • Talking through the experience

A panic attack is our body’s way of telling us we’re in danger. It’s unlikely you’re in any danger, but tight chests and trouble breathing are all primal reactions to danger. This can trick the mind, almost like a tripwire. So rationalise and talk your physical feelings through with someone. The more you practice, the sooner you’ll interrupt the signals between the brain and the body and if you do this when you’re not in the acute stage, the quicker your training will kick in when you do feel anxious or panicky.

  • Laugh, Smile and spend time with your loved ones!

What can make the stress disappear more than having fun with your friends and family. Make time for each other, put down your phones and other technology and talk. You’ll notice how often I talk about being with Joel and my boys. They make me laugh out loud every day and the feeling is mutual. It’s one of the strongest things we have as a team and we are definitely the reason for all of us usually coping so well!

  • Relaxation and Mindfulness

I talk about meditation and mindfulness in most of my blogs because they are the easiest ways to relax. You can train your brain to take it slowly and/or meditate daily so it calms and controls your breathing. Then you automatically have these skills to help you relax during an anxiety attack. Body Scan Guided Meditations are ideal (search YouTube) and I are some of the easiest meditations to start with. You may find that something else relaxes you, such as taking time to be present or sitting in nature.

I hope that this sneak peek into my world has helped give you an insight into panic attacks and how they can come about. I have let you in to these thoughts because I believe that mental health is as debilitating as physical health can be. They are also often intertwined and life can be tough and lonely if you keep it all inside. I feel very strongly that sharing my experiences is vital to ending the stigma that surrounds mental health. I only discuss this to raise awareness, I’m not seeking sympathy!

If there’s one thing you have learnt from my Date with Anxiety or one thing that you can take away to help yourself or your loved ones, then please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

**AND if you’re not affected directly, then please remember that you never know what someone is going through, so please take the time to listen and talk to each other!

I’ve referenced these websites and blogs whilst writing this post:

Anxiety and Panic Attacks- Mind.org

6 ways to switch off the fight or flight response

Understanding the stress response

How the flight or fight response works

Chronic Illness Bloggers

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Chronically ill at Christmas…I knew this would happen! 

I knew it was coming. The punishing pain. Not just the 24/7 pain that I have had to learn to live with; the pain where my own voice hurts. No this is the punishing pain; the cactus needle that pierces my eyes and the vice that traps my head, whilst my brain builds up like a pressure cooker. In fact, that doesn’t even describe this pain that overwhelms everything.


The punishing pain is aggressive and non-responsive. It can’t be beaten with painkillers and opioids are a joke. Sleep is near impossible, my teeth chatter and my soul whimpers. My whole body aches, from pre-empting the pain. As I write this at 3am, as a diversion tactic, I question the acupressure and breathing techniques, I used discretely in the restaurant! I tried to divert the collateral damage, but it’s too much for my body and every wasted attempt is spat back in my face!

But, I knew this was coming, so time to be strong!

I have done the worst thing and the best thing that a severe pain sufferer can do;  I went out with my family for a meal. I laughed and joked with everyone. I’m sure the number of jovial insults thrown about will be brought up in future conversations and this followed 5 days of managing to spend a few hours downstairs for Christmas festivities, including going to my friend’s annual Christmas Eve get together; where I do get to lie down and get looked after by everyone.

So, I knew this was coming!


The sensible thing would have been to bow out when I woke in horrendous pain. However, I chose to push through it when I knew I should rest, because I love life and love my family and friends. Now (at 3am) I have to stop worrying about what tomorrow will bring. I will rest, but I won’t stop living. The consequence of this is that I know the pain that will punish me.

However, there are many positives from pushing through the pain. My boys both said how proud they were of me coming downstairs for 5 days in a row! (Only for a few hours, but still). Zeke said how lovely it was to be all together for the meal. I wasn’t lonely, left in my bed, whilst everyone else was having a good time. I got to sit next to my husband to eat for once. I have also been able to enjoy everyone’s faces as they opened their presents; I’ve curled up in front of the open fire; eaten delicious festive meals cooked by my husband and watched Christmas films; snuggled up with my boys, well Luca anyway.

I have been smiling, pretending; but of course, I knew this was coming. This is something we are still learning to accept. I can’t live life from bed; I have to love the life I have and be part of the memories we make. We all knew this was coming.

Now, I’m paying the price with painsomnia. It’s the next day and I hurt  too much to sleep, I managed a few hours though.

With chronic illness comes many choices, mainly how we pace ourselves. So this week I’ve made the choice to join in jwith Christmas as much as I can, even if it’s meant lie-ins til 3pm. I could have used my spoons more wisely, but this is my life now; not just an illness excursion! I can’t get this time back, so I chose to pretend to myself that the punishing pain would hibernate, but deep down I knew…..

I knew it was coming.

#painsomnia and the cycle of #pain and #negativity

  
I’ve not been writing a blog at the moment because I’ve run out of laughs……

‘I just want the pain to end’! 

Painsomnia is eating away at my core of positivity. 

I haven’t slept properly in days. At night, I’m either awake and distracting myself with pretty things on my iPad (brightness on lowest setting) and meditation music; getting up and down to the toilet to take oramorph and then use the loo because of all the water I’ve had to drink because of the dehydration oramorph causes; crying silent tears whilst I wait for the meds to maybe work; lying half in the drifts of sleep before I move and rename that it hurts or collapsing on the floor because the meds really haven’t done their job.

A lot of this is to do with my love/hate relationship with oramorph. I proved that I’m not addicted to the stuff when I came out of hospital after the venoplasty, as I had none for 2 weeks. Since then I’ve been able to go some weeks without taking it for 3/4 days at a time! Although recently that’s felt like a dream away…However much I hate what this drug does to my body (I’ll save the details of the side effects for another time) it does help so much with the pain, if-and only if- I take it be fore the pain spirals out of control! 

Last night I took some after I brushed my teeth. The teeth brushing had stopped being a trigger but it appears to be back! The thing is that at that time, it didn’t work as I’d left it too late, and even though I’d been nodding off at 6pm and 9pm, the tooth brushing took the pain up to another level and the oramorph just couldn’t bring it down enough for me to sleep! Even extra diazepam didn’t work! 

By 2am I decided that I would have to take more, so I stumbled to the bathroom, I fell against the wall, then the sink. I took 15ml straight away (I wasn’t waiting 5mins to top up this time) and I stumbled back out of the en-suite. I fell against the chest of drawers and tried to hold myself up but my legs just crumpled under me before Joel could get there; even though it all seemed like slow motion! I just couldn’t take anymore and a full meltdown ensued! Poor Joel being woken up to that! I won’t go into the details because that’s not what this blog is about! 

  
Anyway, with a herbal ‘relax’ tea and some more meditation I eventually fell asleep. I caught up a bit more with my morning nap, but after weeks of a cycle of this; it’s really starting to get to me. I feel low. I’m not laughing very much at the moment and I’m crying quite often! I’m not really laughing while I’m crying….So, I’m going back to taking the oramorph at more set times so that I can try and control the pain before it gets to the point beyond any control! My GP keeps telling me that this is ok but I’m so stubborn that I keep holding back! 

As well as trying to reduce my feelings of isolation by re-introducing a few house rules that have gotten a bit lax lately; our positive jar needs to be brought back out and restrictions to the amount of YouTube that the kids are watching are being put in place as of today! My being in bed most of the time is messing with all of our heads, not just mine! 

A real positive that is happening for me at the moment though is that I’ve also been able to share the idea of 3 positives with the members of the Crafties community that I introduced in my last post. It was brought up in conversation between myself and one other member and from there it has spread.  

  
 
We are running 21 days of sharing 3 positives and so many members are contributing. That can’t do anything but help me feel a little happier. So I’m going to try and focus on that and sharing positives with my family and try and get my groove back on! It’s proven that 21 days really can retrain your brain! Here’s hoping. On that note, I must go and start the post off for today in the group….

Will let you know how I’m getting on soon. 

Laura 

Painsomnia

It’s 7:30am. I’ve been awake for an hour. I’ve taken all my meds; that include preventatives that have a drowsy effect. I took all of this at 6:30 am not long after my son called out to his brother (he’ll be in trouble later, but has an exciting day planned so probably forgot himself) and the cat jumped on me, purring and miaowing loudly for breakfast (which the kids should have sorted; especially as it’s Father’s Day). I feel bad about this, as this will be the first one where I can’t even sort the washing out or even bring him a cuppa in bed, in fact-he’ll be bringing me breakfast in bed and putting the washing on! I have also taken oramorph as I woke in high level pain and knew I wanted to catch it quickly. Not surprising when I’ve hardly slept.  I am however trying to let Joel lie in a bit as he had to help me get to the en-suite last night because I was too weak to get there myself; so I know he’s had a restless night too. 

  
I finally managed to knock myself out with a hefty dose of diazepam last night (well, this morning at about 3am)! I think that this is becoming a pattern: When I do something that requires a lot of effort during the day, I then can’t sleep at night, despite trying meditation; painkillers; visualisations; puzzles; Pinterest (this nearly always works for me). 

You’d think I’d be so tired I’d be falling asleep early wouldn’t you? Yesterday was the boy’s school fair and Luca was singing in the choir. I really wanted to see it; just like I’d really wanted to see Zeke’s last ever primary school assembly the day before. I can’t keep missing out on my children’s performances! They are my world and they’re still young, just, and I’m never going to get this time back. I don’t want to fester at home, whilst they wish that mummy could have made it to watch them too. Luckily, Joel can mostly always rearrange his work diary to make their events but there have been some that I really just could not have done; like going to see Luca perform with hundreds of other school choirs at the O2 Arena in London. Unfortunately, earplugs; sea bands, diazepam, oramorph and anti-sickness meds, can only do so much. 

So, this was the first school event were the other parents ‘had access’ to me; as other times have been meetings with teachers or I’ve been whisked away quickly from a performance before I vomit from the intensity of noise that 300+ children, adults and music make (you wouldn’t know it unless you were in my head). Well, back to the fair; I made it through the gates and to the Tombola, where we won the special migraine prize of-red wine and chocolate! (Luckily I can have the choc🍫) Then we parked by the arena where Luca was singing and that was as far as I got. After Luca had finished his beautiful acapella singing; Joel went off to get a cream tea for us both and Luca did try and push me across the field a bit, but it ended in me doing a funny dance trying to get myself in the wheelchair back to the picnic bench and many people who I didn’t recognise offering to help push me! It turns out that you’re easy to spot in a wheelchair and my friend. Donna spotted my crazy dance and came for a quick chat and then bought me some lovely sweet williams. It really was lovely to see so many faces and friends that I haven’t seen for so long, even though many are still collecting the kids from school for me or have offered to have them in the holidays. I even got a lovely acupressure massage from a mum who spotted how cold I’d got when Joel had gone to round up the boys when it was time to leave. A lovely but draining afternoon, especially with the noise of the fire engine alarms every so often (for entertainment purposes)-bleurgh! 

  
I had napped in the morning as always to try and prepare, but it was only a short nap as the boys woke me up (weekends are so so different). When we got home I came straight back to bed. I thought I’d nod off a few times but every time I was nearly there, I heard a mower or a child or something-it just wasn’t happening! I think it’s similar to when babies get overstimulated and they then won’t settle for a nap. Well, there’s not much I can do to change this trigger because in real terms; I didn’t do that much yesterday, although we did also pop in to give my day his birthday and Father’s Day gifts. I am just going to have to accept that this level of activity overstimulates my mind and body-as I can hardly stand on my own after doing something like this. What would you rather do; miss all of your children’ s performances and have 6/7 on the pain scale and get to sleep well or see most of their performances (if you can get out of bed), make them grin from ear to ear because they know how much effort it’s taken you to get up; suffer for the rest of the day and night 8/9 pain scale; have to take diazepam and sleep the next day, Oh, and probably spend another 2 or 3 days in bed? I’ve made my choice; I’m just going to have to be strong and brave it: like the pain warrior I am!