Amy Bobbitt

@amybobbitt
Just a zebra trying to navigate this world of chronic illness and being a wife, mother and nurse!!! EDS warriors unite!!!!
Community Voices

It’s probably already on here but where can I find a message on here on chronic illness flare bujo to document it and share with my doctors? Thx.

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Heidi Fischer

5 Ways Physical Pains Might Be Triggering Mental Illness Symptoms

I’ve experienced this particular trigger twice in recent years, and I really haven’t heard others speak on it. So, as per my usual fashion, I feel the need to share it with ya’ll in hopes folks can relate. I also have plenty of theories on what might cause this trigger, and what can potentially be done about it. Which as you’ve guessed, I’ll indeed be sharing as well. A few years ago, I had a minor ailment and went to the doctor. He gave me a five-day work note and some medication. After the allotted time, my body was feeling fine. A scenario that is commonplace enough, most people experience something like it on occasion without much ado. While the first part was typical, what followed was not. Around two weeks after my physical complaint ended, my mental health was in shambles. My mood plummeted and I became severely anxious. It happened very quickly. It became so severe, at about that two-week mark I walked myself over to the hospital, and I was admitted briefly for psychiatric care. In total honesty, in the beginning, I didn’t link the two events together. I certainly didn’t think the one may have caused the other. To be fair, there was other stuff going on. I was off work a week for being sick and things understandably had gotten behind which I found stressful. I was in the middle of doing some deep therapy work. And I had some other stuff going on. So, as I mentioned, when it was first suggested to me my physical ailment may have triggered this depressive episode, I wasn’t too sure what to think. I did eventually come to see though these other things were secondary. Fast-forward to present day, and something happened again. In February, I fell down one stair (seriously body… thanks) and hurt my tailbone. I was given a two-week work note. As much as I didn’t like the literal pain in my backside, I pretty much relaxed and watched lots of TV. What I mean is, it could have been worse. Then came the anxiety, nearly right at the two-week mark yet again. In what felt like a normal moment, I had a panic attack, and then I proceeded to have several over that week. Anxiety is exhausting at the best of times, throw in full-on panic attacks and it becomes hard to cope. Then, down goes the mood. Almost everyone on my team got a call (or several calls…), and some had the pleasure talking me through panic attacks and tears. I was understandably facing additional anxiety I could end up needing inpatient support again. Everyone rallied around me as best they could, and while I’m not quite back to my usual self just yet, I’m improving. We’ll see if a med change is in order, or if temporary additional support will see me through. I feel really lucky to have great support, but I digress. And so, here we are. Once is a maybe, twice is solid enough evidence for me to see the pattern. I’m still trying to understand the why to it, but I have some solid guesses. I also know some of what it’s not. I’ll shift now to sharing what this type of trigger could be about. Not just for me, but others as well, and some ideas on what can be done about it. Mental illness symptoms may be triggered by physical ailments because of: 1. Medical post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I personally know this is not the case for me in these scenarios, even if I do have some avoidance issues with doctors. Yet, I think it’s super important to talk about this concept as plenty of individuals do experience this. Some folks have had a traumatic medical experience. This can range from being traumatized by a serious illness or injury, abuses perpetrated by medical staff, a difficult trip to the ER and so forth. If a person develops PTSD after an experience like that, they may avoid medical care, or if they have no choice but to seek it, it can be a trigger. There are ways to work on this, such as trauma therapy, exposure therapy, medications and having open conversations with your providers. It may also be helpful to seek out practitioners who are aware of trauma-informed care. 2. Medications. At the best of times when it comes to mental illness, it is important to keep on top of your medications. Personally, I have to keep an eye out for returning symptoms, which usually means my meds need a tweak. It’s also important to be aware of interactions, side effects, timing and so on. While I again don’t necessarily see a link in my recent situations, I’m willing to accept this could be playing a small part. Perhaps the temporary meds are having an effect on my regular psych ones. Maybe I’m not being as vigilant about taking my pills in their prescribed time frame. Talk with your pharmacist if you aren’t sure about what effect adding in something new might have on your regular meds. I did ask in both the above scenarios, and was told  there wouldn’t be any interference. As to my other point, consider downloading a medication reminder. I use one called Round. You can also keep it even simpler by adding an alarm to your watch or phone. 3. Emotional flashbacks. This is one I’m leaning heavily toward as to my explanation of what’s going on in my case. This is a somewhat newer concept, so I’ll take a moment to share what it’s all about. Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) is an emerging diagnosis, not quite in the North American diagnostic manual just yet. As you may have guessed, it’s similar to PTSD, but is more “complex” due to the trauma having been long-standing.  I experience C-PTSD symptoms, though depending on if I’m up for explaining it, I’ll just say I experience PTSD to make it easier for myself. It has the same basic PTSD symptoms with some add-ons and variations. Google can take you through that in more detail, Pete Walker is an especially helpful resource. Emotional flashbacks are associated with C-PTSD. These types of flashbacks bring folks who experience them back not so much into the traumatic moment(s), but instead into the emotions they experienced in and around them. This can all feel very frightening and intense. When this happens to me, I tend to find myself feeling like I’m in danger. I sometimes start to worry if I can trust people I previously thought I could. On top of that, I feel lost, alone, confused and like there is something fundamentally wrong with me. I have a sneaking suspicion when I have a more serious medical problem, it may lead to me feeling there’s been a loss of control, which certainly could lead to a flashback of the feelings I just mentioned. Although I’ve been working on my stuff for over 15 years, this is a newer scenario of getting ill, then possibly having emotional flashbacks, so I’m still working out strategies to deal with it. One thing I know is it’s important to respect my feelings, to honor the part of me they come from and to recognize they come from a place that’s trying to protect me. On the flip side, it’s being able to honor those feelings while also remembering I am, “in the now.” I’m still working on that part. For me, it helps to talk about it with my team, to write, to lie under weighted blankets, to get hugs, to convince my friend’s pets to sit on me, to eat a questionable amount of cookies and to get a bit of exercise. There will probably be other things I discover to help with this as I journey onward. 4. Structure and routine. Many folks, myself included, are helped by having structure and routine, this is especially so when you mix in mental illness. When you’re sick, that stuff regularly goes out the window, and usually for good reasons. You likely need to stay home, get more sleep and so on. It may help if you’ve had an illness or injury to create some type of loose schedule. Doing things to, at the least, try and keep up your usual routine of sleep and meals. Have some human contact and so on. I tried really hard this time after my fall to do this. I was somewhat successful, but add in COVID-19 life, and it was a bit tricky. 5. Mind-body connection. I think we’ve moved into a new era where we more readily accept our various bodily systems are more connected than we used to think. Of course, in some cultures, this has been a common theory for a very long time. In some regards, science is playing catch-up with these theories. It’s been known for a long time stress can impact more than the brain, so why not the other way around? Could it be having a fall somehow jolts my brain into anxiety? Sure, why not? Could an infection also bring down my mood? Probably. Is my nervous system in such a precarious position that a slight upset in it puts me into overdrive? Sounds likely. These connections may not be the whole reason for the trigger, but certainly can be a part of it. Knowing this can be of some comfort, and possibly even give you some hope things will eventually get back in order, or at least give you a plan on how to get there. This is a lesson I think applies to me as well, but I’m still in the beginning stages of understanding it. As I said above, while I don’t have medical PTSD, medical situations are often not on the top of my list of things I enjoy. I’m getting better and I’m trying to understand. I also experience dissociation and depersonalization, which can mean my connection/understanding with my mind and body can waiver. I don’t always put together things others might find obvious. I sometimes don’t notice if I’m sick, or do but ignore it entirely. I often don’t realize how much tension or anxiety my body is holding. I’m starting to see this is likely one of my next steps on my mental health journey, so we will see where this goes. I wanted to write all this because I find great satisfaction in sharing my experiences in a way that can be helpful to others. So, I hope this has been useful to you in some way! Please let me know. Writing my heart out is also how I process things, so it’s very important to me. It took some emotional effort and time to write all this, but it’s worth it. It allows me to share parts of myself that aren’t always that comfortable to put into speech. It gives me something to look back on when I experience something similar in the future. It is something I can share with my support team and beyond. All those things are valuable to me. Have you ever noticed an illness or ailment has triggered your mental illnesses to worsen? Do you have any additional thoughts on why that may be? What steps have you taken to remedy this? Do any of the reasons on my list stand out to you as something that may have impacted you? Further thoughts? Add them in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article, please take a moment to check out some of my other articles here on The Mighty. If you’d like to follow along with my journey, you can find me on Instagram as @mentalhealthyxe.

Amanda Booth

Mental Health Coping Skills Everyone Needs To Know

We hear a lot about coping skills. If you have been in therapy for any length of time, the topic has probably come up, but I found that a lot of the suggested coping skills were only temporary distractions that didn’t help me process what I was thinking or feeling. Don’t get me wrong, distractions are good in immediate situations. I use them when I have overwhelming urges to engage in self-harm or another destructive behavior. But what about things that actually help process emotions in a productive manner? Here are a few coping skills that can help more than just a distraction. 1. The river and leaf technique. This is simple and useful for intrusive thoughts or suicidal thoughts . The concept is to wait for a thought to naturally pass. I imagine sitting at the edge of a river. I take notice of the trees around me and the river. I imagine the sound of the river as it flows forward. I imagine a leaf falling from a tree. I watch this leaf fall, hit the water and start moving downstream. I place my thought on that leaf and I watch it disappear. This activates the brain to not ruminate on a thought. It allows it to take its natural course of moving on. I sit and watch my thoughts as many times as I need to move forward. I also do this when my thoughts are racing at night and I can’t sleep. I pretend I am sitting at a relaxing river and watch my thoughts slowly move downstream. This might seem silly, but it has really helped me not ruminate on the same thought. 2. Reframing a thought. This is built on three things: awareness, asking questions and creating an alternative view. The first is awareness. Practicing mindfulness is a crucial skill. It can be difficult, though, in this fast-paced world where we barely take time to consider the negative thoughts that pass through our minds every second, minute and hour of the day. Building awareness takes time to step back and be mindful of the thoughts passing through your mind. A good indicator of a negative thought is a physiological sensation that occurs in your body.  If your stomach is in knots, your heart rate goes up, your palms get sweaty, or a variety of other sensations, it’s time to take note of the thought. Next is asking questions. Give yourself an interview. Ask detailed questions about a thought. When does it occur? What urges come with it? Is this thought accurate? What is the likelihood of this thought actually happening? What would my friend say about this thought? Is my concern level appropriate? Finally, create an alternative view. The narrative we tell ourselves is important. In creating an alternative view, you are looking, for lack of a better term, on the positive side. Finding a redemptive narrative is important in looking at a situation from another point of view. Find the silver lining in the situation. Reframe the thought to a positive one. 3. Meditation. This term can be thrown around a lot. I know when I first heard about meditation, I had so many questions. First, how do I empty my mind of thoughts? Is this even possible? The reality is that meditation is not the absence of thought. It is being mindful of them. Mindfulness is like a muscle; it takes building to become strong. Mindful meditation focuses on the breath. Personally, I am a very shallow breather and I breathe from my chest instead of my core or diaphragm. Taking time to deeply breathe helps relax my entire body. Your breath should anchor you into the present moment. In meditation, it is important to stay in the current moment. As you can imagine, this helps with anxiety and racing thoughts. Our tendency is to live in the past or the future, rarely are we present for the current moment. We can even take this into our relationships and the rest of our lives, living in the moment and experiencing all that life has for us. Meditation is awkward at first, and it can f eel unnatural. Some easy first steps are: take a seat, set a time limit, notice your breath, feel your body and all of its sensations, notice your thoughts and be kind to yourself. Meditation is about patience and practice. Be kind to yourself as you learn. One great way to start is using a guided meditation. I personally use guided meditations on YouTube a lot. Positive coping skills are learned behavior; many of us didn’t grow up with them. I certainly know I was ill-equipped to deal with the big emotions I encountered going into my adolescence and teenage years. Thankfully we can teach ourselves techniques that help us cope with life and the negative and destructive thoughts many of us have. My hope will be you will explore these coping skills and add them to your toolbox. Cognitively reshaping how we process emotions, urges, and thoughts can truly be life-changing.

Community Voices

Covid and hEDS,MCAS and dysautomonia

On August 10th I tested positive for Covid. I am a nurse on a CVSDU where we work with open heart surgery and lung surgery patients. We are a closed unit and used all the precautions. Eight other nurses also contracted the virus with me. My question is has any zebras here had Covid and EDS? How long did it take you to feel your “normal” again and any lingering symptoms?

7 people are talking about this
Community Voices

Covid and hEDS,MCAS and dysautomonia

On August 10th I tested positive for Covid. I am a nurse on a CVSDU where we work with open heart surgery and lung surgery patients. We are a closed unit and used all the precautions. Eight other nurses also contracted the virus with me. My question is has any zebras here had Covid and EDS? How long did it take you to feel your “normal” again and any lingering symptoms?

7 people are talking about this
Community Voices

Covid and hEDS,MCAS and dysautomonia

On August 10th I tested positive for Covid. I am a nurse on a CVSDU where we work with open heart surgery and lung surgery patients. We are a closed unit and used all the precautions. Eight other nurses also contracted the virus with me. My question is has any zebras here had Covid and EDS? How long did it take you to feel your “normal” again and any lingering symptoms?

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Community Voices

How do you cope with spiraling thoughts #CheckInWithMe

<p>How do you cope with spiraling thoughts <a class="tm-topic-link mighty-topic" title="#CheckInWithMe: Give and get support here." href="/topic/checkinwithme/" data-id="5b8805a6f1484800aed7723f" data-name="#CheckInWithMe: Give and get support here." aria-label="hashtag #CheckInWithMe: Give and get support here.">#CheckInWithMe</a> </p>
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Community Voices
Community Voices

What's something you wish you were told when diagnosed with your condition?

<p>What's something you wish you were told when diagnosed with your condition?</p>
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Community Voices

Does anyone have a favorite brand of compression socks that are reasonably priced? I need ones that are black for work.

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