Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have


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Happy New Year!

Okay, so I am late for the Western world but the lunar new year is February 8th so I am technically on time for that anyway! lol It’s the year of the monkey.

squirrel-monkey-505191

2016 arrived, for me, with little to report as I have been in some weird state of lethargy that left no energy for grand New Year plans. Due to the fact I hardly ever leave my house I find anytime I do go out I end up catching something. Thus, for the past month I have had an annoying bout of allergic rhinitis and sinusitis, as well as some flu like symptoms in spite of getting the ‘flu shot’.

townsendii-386924

I want to hibernate all winter like a bat.

In short, I have had no energy. Oh sure, I went out a few times (not to do groceries!) and managed to avoid sinking from Seasonal Affective Disorder into a clinical depression; but beyond that I feel as though I have done very little. My counsellor has been ‘missing in action’ since she left for some type of emergency back in July (not sure of the specifics obviously). The point is I have not seen her since the end of May 2015 (my last appointment) and think I am doing alright. It’s just the winter lack of daylight draining me along with my seeming penchant for catching colds/sinus problems every time I venture outdoors.

All I want is enough energy to do my laundry regularly and keep my home looking half-way decent. Surely, that is not too tall an order. Now that my ear and jaw are feeling less painful (sinus related) I have found a bit of energy returning to me. For awhile I wanted to pop Advil regularly but decided against it since one develops a tolerance to drugs that way.

Fortunately I don’t take it often, as I heard in the medical news regular long-term use of NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can lead to Alzheimer’s. Before 2010 the medical community thought it prevented or protected against Alzheimer’s. Good thing I only ever overdosed on Aspirin and Tylenol! Sorry bad joke. I last tried to commit suicide in November 2000 using Aspirin on two attempts and Tylenol on the other one. I have to wonder though about my mom because she took NSAIDs regularly for many years for arthritis and developed Alzheimer’s. She died at age 60. The only positive I read about the connection between NSAIDs and Alzheimer’s was there was some speculation it might stave off the worse symptoms of the disease for longer than would be the case without NSAIDs.

But none of this matters now because we never did an autopsy on my mom’s brain after her death. We felt she’d been through enough and never liked doctors much so decided against any postmortem; so we’ll never know if her brain could have revealed any clues or not. I like to think the NSAIDs gave her a few extra years before the worst of her symptoms set in. Either that or it was a contributing factor in her developing the disease.

©Natalya for Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2016.

 

 

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Healing Affirmations – Metaphysical Causes of Disease and Illness

Healing Affirmations – Metaphysical Causes of Disease and Illness.

I found this website and wanted to share it because it’s insightful with respect to physical ailments having emotional roots. You can click on the listed disorders and ailments to learn the most likely emotional cause associated with it. After going through the list and checking the ones I had I found it rang true for myself anyway. You may not find that the case for yourself but the emotional causes are interesting and healing affirmations are offered as well for each ailment.


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Chicken Skin & Fish Scales (Keratosis pilaris and Ichthyosis vulgaris)Skin Conditions I Have

Keratosis pilaris on the upper arm.

Finally I found a name for the skin conditions I have had my whole life! I was doing a search on adult acne and came across these two skin conditions in the process. Fortunately, I seem to have the milder form of both conditions judging from the photos I saw of some less fortunate people living with the condition(s). Why my skin is so bothersome I don’t know-what did I do to you skin to deserve this? (being silly) No, I know it is genetic so there’s nothing one can do except try managing the condition. I’ve had dry skin since infancy but I didn’t mind how it looked until I was a teen and thought my arms and legs were horrible looking. Seriously, I have adult acne, eczema (allergic type) and the keratosis pilaris and ichthyosis vulgaris all in different spots. It’s like I don’t have acne on my legs so I have “fish scales” (ichthyosis) on them instead and no eczema on my arms but keratosis pilaris instead. Gee wiz, did I ever win the genetic lottery?! lmao

Well, in the grand scheme of things it’s not so bad but I hate wearing shorts or skirts/dresses because of my ‘fish legs’!lol My legs aren’t too bad but super dry and discoloured (uneven skin tone) so whilst I dislike my legs it’s purely my vanity that’s taking the hit. I guess it’s easy to find fault with myself but I am gradually accepting myself more and more; with that acceptance comes less distress over a primarily ‘cosmetic’ skin condition knowing it could be far more debilitating if I had a different type or more severe form.

A mild case of ichthyosis vulgaris on legs. Image from Livestrong.com

Why do I even get upset over skin conditions that are little more than a nuisance for that is what they are. Having less than flawless skin is sort of trifling when I think of those poor Nigerian girls held captive by the Boko Haram. My best guess is I am looking for something to focus my attention on that is manageable. Whenever I focus my attention on my skin it’s usually because I am trying to find some degree of control in my life. But my poor skin doesn’t deserve my scorn! It is mostly doing its job and I attack it for not looking perfect! LOL Such folly. It’s really very silly when I know how much I have to be grateful for even with my skin.

Do you have medical conditions that are benign and mostly cosmetic that upset you? How do you cope with them? I’ve had my whole life to accept them (except the acne) yet I still fight an urge to cringe seeing my skin. Perhaps this is what some term a “first world problem”. For that reason I’m working on getting the courage up to wear shorts in the summer out in public. Why let imperfect skin ruin my ability to live life as I otherwise would? It’s just skin and it’s not causing me medical harm beyond dry skin so I am grateful really, grateful that I am otherwise okay.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®


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Feeling Grumpy

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while or been reading your blogs much, I’ve been tired from my sinuses I think. Today I feel grumpy and generally it’s my sinuses that do that to me. PMS is already past so it’s not that. I’ve got things to do but don’t seem to have the energy. Maybe it’s S.A.D. coming on me now that it gets dark here shortly after 5 pm. My mood has not been low but I have noticed some irritability in myself since turning the clocks back over a week ago. I really dislike this time of year. Despite my best intentions for learning to enjoy winter it’s difficult when it causes one to suffer in mood. Guess I’ll have to try my light therapy.

Anyone else noticing S.A.D. symptoms coming on lately too?

©Natalya, 2013.


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Skin Picking or Dermatillomania

Well, I am coming out of the skin picking closet. That’s right-I pick my skin. Primarily on my scalp as I have eczema and I dislike the uneven quality the eczema gives. Thus, I end up trying to “smooth” it out by picking until I think it’s “even”. I’ve been picking for 13 years compulsively with periods of intensity variant on stress/anxiety. Apparently, skin picking qualifies as self-mutilation but I don’t do it to hurt myself intentionally anyway. The skin picking became compulsive as soon as I noticed the eczema on my scalp at 18. It showed up not long after two serious suicide attempts from overdosing. The area has often changed in size over the years based on my anxiety and stress levels.

When I pick I enter a trance if I allow myself any more than a benign scratch or rub to the itchy eczema. Although I have tried various creams and shampoos the urge to pick often defeats the benefits the topical treatments might have provided. Sometimes I can go the whole day without picking then will need to examine the usual area the eczema is in for imperfections. If I am not stressed or anxious I can usually leave the area alone but if I even have a tiny bit of anxiety or stress the scratching begins. At times, if I’m mindful enough, I can stop to ask myself what I am feeling that’s causing the compulsive urge to pick. Other times I am not mindful and just allow myself to succumb to the compulsiveness.

Sometimes I can cause damage to my scalp so it ends up being quite sore for anywhere from less than a day to a couple of days. This happens when I have become too intent on removing the eczema in order to “perfect” my scalp’s smoothness. At these times I can cause bleeding and a lot of shame.

Invariably, the picking causes me a great deal of shame. I know it is disgusting and unhealthy but I have a difficult time resisting the compulsion. Skin picking is a form of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I do take anti depressants that have helped me a lot but not 100%. When I was at my worst in my late teens, early 20s I would pick out in public if I had a moment of privacy. Generally I’d go to a washroom and stand in front of a mirror examining the skin until I’d hear the door and I’d dart into a stall locking the door. These were days of immense shame because I sometimes got caught and would “slink” away hoping to never run into the person again who’d seen me. It was very embarrassing and humiliating for me yet the compulsion would override my awareness of socially acceptable behaviour and I’d do it anyway. Fortunately, it improved when I was started on different anti depressants and I “only” picked at home. Often, I’d be out somewhere and have the urge to scratch but resisted. This was a great improvement from when I was unable to control myself enough to wait ’til I got home.

The other thing that helped was learning mindfulness meditation. Reducing my anxiety and becoming aware of my inner state helped a lot but didn’t eliminate the behaviour totally. I am at the point now where I have a small area of eczema on my scalp I don’t scratch unless I am home and have some privacy. Still, it is a problem for me and I would like to stop yet I have never admitted that I have a problem until now. Of course I knew I had a problem in my own mind but I didn’t admit to anyone else that I had a problem. My hair covers up any sores I might cause from scratching and I make sure I avoid the front of my scalp where a sore might become visible.

I remember, as a child, I use to pick my skin on my body but gave it up when my body image issues became stronger than the skin picking on my body. That is to say I became more focused on how I appeared outwardly and didn’t want to make myself uglier than I already imagined myself to be. For a few years my eating disorder became my compulsion and the skin picking stopped but at 18 the eczema on my scalp appeared. I attribute it to stress from trying to kill myself three times and starting university. My eating disorder didn’t disappear but it was more of a ED-NOS so not as severe. Anyhow, I continued my skin picking on my scalp but I have already told you about that and won’t gross you out further!

Why am I telling you all this? Well I have never told anyone I pick the skin on my scalp (eczema) and wish to rid myself of shameful secrets. Also, I found there are others like me when I did an internet search on skin picking. Actually I found a free e-book I am going to read that may help me too. It’s written by two psychologists in practice who help skin pickers with emotional issues (FYI most skin pickers have psychological issues of some sort). The website for the free e-book is here: http://www.grossbart.com/picking.html The direct link to the e-book is here: http://www.grossbart.com/SkinDeep.pdf

If I manage to read the e-book soon I’ll let you know if it helped me or not. I haven’t mentioned it to my counsellor because I don’t know if she has experience in OCD related conditions such as dermatillomania. Perhaps I’ll mention it next time I see her and see how she reacts! I feel very ashamed. I never go to the hair salon until I absolutely need to because I don’t want the hair stylist to see my scalp. Sometimes I mention I have eczema but only if I have managed to avoid picking long enough for the sores to heal (this requires lots of willpower). Other times I avoid mentioning it hoping the eczema won’t be noticed if I have been “good” lately and not caused damage to my scalp.

Well I am grateful if you read all the way through my post and aren’t too grossed out by me now.

©Natalya, 2013.

 


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Sunny Sunday

I thought I’d try giving my post a positive title versus the one I wanted to give it! My head hurts because my sinuses have been bugging me for the past week or more. What is it about those of us with seasonal allergies that makes us more prone to sinus woes anyway?

Today has been quite nice so I want to avoid lamenting my stuffy head. The sun is still shining and it’s a comfortable temperature with moderate humidity; thus I will focus on that. The drilling and hammering outside does not do wonders for my head but when it’s done we’ll have a ramp. My dad requires a ramp now because he uses a walker. So today the builders started it and it will likely be done tomorrow.

I hope you are all having a nice weekend or Monday if it’s tomorrow already in your part of the world.

©Natalya, 2013.


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Garden Shed Space Clearing

For some reason I haven’t had much to say so I haven’t been posting much lately. Anyway,

A garden shed

A garden shed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided to tackle the garden shed that was crammed full of 30 years of junk. Before I could not tell what was in there and had to take stuff out if I wanted to go in the shed. Now I can walk in but there’s still A LOT left to clear out. I haven’t even got the old boxes ready yet for the garbage. So far I’ve found oodles of junk that should have been tossed in the first place-not stored in the shed! My parents never were able to throw anything away so they just piled it all in the shed even if it was obvious to anyone else the stuff was rubbish. Now I have made it my mission to clean the shed and have it only filled with things we still want and use. I’ve got a lot of work left to do but at least I have made a start!

In other news, I have been trying to organize my Zazzle store products. If you’re not familiar with Zazzle it is an online only place you can put your own designs on products and buy or sell them for a royalty. It’s pretty easy to do but the stuff tends to be a bit overpriced so it can be hard to sell much. I’ve sold a few things that were not too expensive but I have barely made anything either. If you are Canadian you have to make $50 in profits before you can get a cheque. The U.S. only requires $25 but I am in Canada so have to make twice as much before cashing out.

It’s a bit of a ‘slog’ trying to make enough merchandise and keep my two stores organized so people can easily see the products. I have been trying to make more of the lower cost products so I might make a few sales. Before I was making more expensive items and not selling hardly anything. Marketing is not my forte either so I am not very adept at making my products visible since I can’t afford much in terms of advertising. Business has never been my strong suit thus my efforts at being entrepreneurial have usually gone poorly.

The only “marketing” I have done so far is through social networking on facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately that only works well if you have quite the following 😛 Aw well. I made a page on facebook for my Zazzle store products but that’s been slow going too. My problem is I dislike promoting myself because I am too modest but I will have to be less modest if I want to promote anything I’ve designed. I was using Zazzle’s ‘quick create’ function to make multiple products at once with the same design but I have found it to be less useful than I originally thought. Many of the products have looked crappy so I’ve had to spend time deleting products here and there to ensure I don’t have a bunch of junk in my stores. It’s not easy to do successfully unless you don’t care to make anything profit wise.

I’ll have to get back to cleaning the garden shed soon. As it is warm out I came inside to rest myself a bit. The part I like least about clearing out the shed has to be the bugs. I don’t appreciate getting bitten or walking into a spider web. Oh well guess that’s not so bad as long as I don’t get too many bites!

©Natalya, 2013.


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Cranky Pants

Between itchiness from seasonal allergies and irritability from PMS, I am not a happy camper! Earlier today I was outside raking the lawn after it had been cut (the grass) and pruning plants. The black flies were also out and annoying me too. My dad’s innate inability to pick up after himself and clean up have also been irritating me. These things usually annoy me but I handle it. Add in irritability from allergies and hormones though and my tolerance levels drop dramatically. Anyhow, I am trying to get out of my ego’s way so I can appreciate my perspective is not the only one available. Still, it would be nice to have a bit of help. Guess it’s partially my fault for having very little in the way of patience; thus, I get fed up waiting to see my dad do any sort of housework and just do it myself. My dad is slow doing everything so it tends to frustrate me as I am much quicker. He also has loads more patience than I have.

Compared to when I was a lot younger I have lots of patience but it’s still lacking when it comes to dealing with constant sloth and sluggishness from my dad. Yes, I know I should be more tolerant and appreciate the differences between us but it’s just not working out for me today! 😛

Forgive me for my disrespectful tone toward my poor dad. He’s a good person. Just a slow moving sort who can’t seem to clean up after himself. To be fair his eye sight is not the best so he can’t see everything I can and I’m pretty sure he has a learning disability too. Now I sound like a real ogre!

Did I mention I have a sun burn on my arms and a few bug bites? I took a shower so I am not feeling quite so itchy now. Guess I’m okay. Back to the status quo :/

Hope your weekend went well 🙂

©Natalya, 2013.

 


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New Counsellor

A cute monkey 🙂

Tuesday I met my new counsellor after my last one had to leave because her internship had ended. The new counsellor seems good so far. I felt a connection so that’s a positive sign since I don’t like having to ask to see someone else. Unexpectedly, I ended up crying quite a bit as I recounted what I thought by now would be ‘routine’. Instead, I sat crying for a fair portion of the session. It’s a good sign if I am able to be emotionally vulnerable on my first meeting with a therapist or counsellor. Otherwise it means I am guarded. So I see the crying as a good thing.

I won’t get to see my new counsellor again until the end of the month because she’s going on vacation. Hopefully things will be okay and I will be alright. The only thing plaguing me is what do I do next? I thought by now I’d know what I want to do but I am still clueless. Thus, all I have been capable of is housekeeping and yard work. Both things that aren’t very much fun but they do give me a feeling of satisfaction when I can make a space look nicer than before. I’ve also been helping my dad sell his car. So I have been keeping busy but I feel like I ought to have a better idea of what I’m doing when and where. Right now I just see myself as doing things that need to be done but maybe aren’t important. They’re things that need doing though. Living in a messy and unclean environment doesn’t make me feel positive. In that sense, then, I am contributing at least to the maintenance of my home. Also, I try to provide an ear to my dad and help him out.

It was warm and sunny today so I got outside and trimmed the rose bushes a bit more. Otherwise I stayed indoors because the sun was actually a bit much for me. Even though it was only 20 Celsius it was humid. It’s hard to feel like doing much when you’re warm. Mind you in a month or two this will feel cool! Already the mosquitoes and black flies are out-I could live without them though!

©Natalya, 2013.

 

 


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Organized Chaos

A monk sweeping at his temple in Dehiwalla

A monk sweeping at his temple in Dehiwalla (Photo credit: Oatsandsugar)

As I continue my Spring cleaning I am getting outside more to work on the yard. It seems that there is a sort of momentum that has come about as a result of my cleaning efforts. Even my dad is beginning to assess what he needs to hold on to or get rid of. I never imagined Spring cleaning could develop into a part of my daily life. For a long time I existed in clutter and dirt but once I started cleaning it’s been impossible to go back. There has been a steady development from decluttering to actually managing to turn to smaller details. It used to be so hard to clean because of all the clutter but as I have gotten rid of so much it’s become easier to keep the ball rolling so to speak. A clean and tidy space sounds like no big deal but it is a da*n miracle in my house. My mother was a compulsive hoarder when she was still alive so housework was nearly impossible. Now I can think about cleaning without wondering how on earth I will manage it because there’s so much stuff in the way. It just feels so liberating! Unless you have lived with a compulsive hoarder for years you may not fully appreciate the gravity of my experience and feelings. It’s hard to convey the utter despair, frustration and lethargy that can descend in such an atmosphere of over cluttering and dirt. Just moving about is hard because of everything that is in the way. Now I am actually able to move about easily and see the surface of things again! I can even clean them!

There are still areas of my home needing decluttering and cleaning but I can identify them now whereas before everything was requiring decluttering and cleaning! Before I thought in terms of what areas were clean and how might I keep them that way in such an environment of disorganization and chaos. So I am truly grateful these days for having the energy to continue my efforts in decluttering and cleaning. These are simple things but so important to your wellness. Have you ever noticed the effects a dirty, cluttered room has on your mood or energy levels? It literally can zap your good mood and energy if you have to stay in it any length of time. Just imagine living like that for years! I had no control over anything as a child so I developed an eating disorder. For 15 years I either starved or deprived myself of food to stay very underweight. A part of the reason I did that was to feel like I had some kind of power in my life. My parents were quite neglectful so didn’t consider my low weight an issue. Thankfully, I am in a healthier state these days.

Spring cleaning has brought about a sense of calm and peace in my life never present before. I really delight in the simple  things. A clean bathroom or dust free shelf is enough to give me a feeling of balance. When I look about and see order and organization after so many awful years of disaster I smile inwardly. Not feeling a sense of shame when someone unexpectedly shows up for a visit is worth its weight in gold. Life can be hard but keeping a Zen-like environment can be extremely helpful for bringing that sense of calm and peace I mentioned earlier. Attending to one’s living space is not about impressing others but to reflect the respect you have for yourself. I realize lots of people clean for other reasons but to me it is a measure of how much I respect myself. If I leave my living space to get cluttered and dirty I feel that means I don’t value myself very much. I’m sure there are a number of interpretations one could find that are positive but for me dirt and clutter is a negative thing.

How do you view clutter and dirt in your living space? Is it something you can live with or do you need to keep things more in order?

©Anya, 2013.