Tag Archives: Mindfulness Meditation

MS and Anger: “Falling the Fuck Apart”!

So you wanna know about “anger issues” when dealing with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis? This question caused me to go back into my blog post’s and find this post. I knew I MUST have written about it SOMEwhere. I did…and it’s a joke. “To Not Unravel”, clearly, it was early on in my blogging and I hadn’t come to terms yet with how “politically correct” to be. Well, I’m over THAT! How bout ” Falling the Fuck Apart”.

First Christmas as a new Mom, Ho, Ho, Ho.

First Christmas as a new Mom, Ho, Ho, Ho.

When first diagnosed I was cool, but about four years into it, I became a beast. As my husband would say, “A PitViper”. I was unbearable…even to myself. I had no idea it was my MS. I thought I was just exhausted (I now know, THAT WAS MY MS) I had two small children though, and I thought it was just life, not MS. That was until one day I noticed my brain was boiling. I sat down on a footstool in the kitchen and called my sister-in-law, the nurse. (What the hell was I thinking; I should’ve had my Neurologist on speed-dial) She told me to eat some bread and take some ibuprofen. I did that and went into a quiet room to meditate. The boiling feeling stopped.

Now that I’m twenty years into it, I realize “Hindsight truly is 20/20”! That wasn’t the first time I had noticed the “boiling” sensation and I NEVER mentioned it to my Neurologist but, I did recognize that this problem was:

  1. Physiological
  2. In my brain (where I now understand much more about the presence of lesions)
  3. Something that I could stop, with the right tools, knowledge, and sometimes drugs.

The doctor that I DID go to about this was my Psychologist. Yes, it was MS related. Although I didn’t know that at the time, what I did know was that I had to have someone to talk to about it. That someone had to have enough skill (and sense) to know that, I wasn’t crazy. She listened (once a week) and then threw me headfirst into “Mindfulness Meditation”. That is what saved me.

Is this the face of a beast?

Is this the face of a PitViper?

I started with the book “Full Catastrophe Living” by John Kabat Zinn.

JUST DO IT, and remember these things:

  1. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, you are not a bitch (or bastard)
  2. You are still be a good mom, dad, daughter , sister, or brother.
  3. The MOST important thing in MS is that you’ve GOT to take care of yourself…”By Any Means Necessary”.

 COMMENTS:

Have you experienced anger issues with MS or any other Illness?

Have you come to manage it, and if so…how?

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Filed under Mental Well-Being, Stress Management, Uncategorized

LOOK Ma…No Relapse!

An extremely stressful few weeks WITHOUT an exacerbation .WooHoo!I am here to report that I made it through and I feel like it was without a doubt, due to my regular Mindfulness Meditation practice.

Black-woman-meditating1

This is how I’ve found meditation to work: Consistent practice builds up my resistance to stress which is sometimes present in daily life, like, getting kids off to school or going to work. Stress however, is not something that we can always predict, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the holidays, or a divorce. I have found that I am most resilient against these sometimes sudden and large stressors, as a result of my Mindfulness Meditation. Does it always work? No. I believe that my last relapse was triggered by one of these large life stressors. One that I never would have even suspected of being able to reek such havoc but, in hindsight I realize that I had let my meditation lapse.

I feel the need to clarify here that “Meditation has Nothing to do with Religion” ( As explained here in a video interview with Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra) As a young person, that thought would have made it impossible for me to take advantage of its stress and overall health benefits. Although many different religions incorporate meditation in their practice in different ways, it is not a religious act.

Note to self: Let’s keep a disciplined practice…disciplined.

Comments:What have you found to be helpful in your stress management?

References used below:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com

http://www.mayoclinic.org

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Dr. Wahl , save me from myself!

Part One “The Beginning” (FULL STORY-click here)

I got a head start; lost ten pounds…before MS kicks in. Weight management was important. I could control NOTHING about my MS, but I could control everything about my diet…right?

Part Two “I’m the Picture of Health” (FULL STORY-click here)

Fast forward 20 years, throw in lots of diet and drug research. I became a meditating yogi and I’m the picture of health…right?fruit.tree

Part Three “Damn this Disease” (FULL STORY-click here)

It’s getting worse, I think : / Dr. Wahl to the rescue. She’s a Doctor who also has MS. She looked at myelin on a cellular level to see what chemical compounds it would need to rebuild. Then she examined food items that are available that would give us THOSE chemicals compounds. Well, check out her (click here) Minding Your Mitochondria diet for yourself  and tell me what you think.

Part Four “Could I be at risk for Orthorexia?”  (FULL STORY-click here)

It’s an eating disorder where people obsess over healthy food. I’ve been called lots of things, but never this one. To change the error of my ways and be more GANGSTER I’ve actually eaten some salmon and (drum roll!) Beef liver. Picture me gagging right now!

ALERT! If you’ve been vegan for 15 years or so, be sure you take thisenzyme

before you eat thisliveredI am obviously taking Dr. Wahls diet to heart. I worked myself into a Vegan corner because I deemed it to be the best dietary choice…for me. I’m seriously questioning its health sustainability for me at the moment as my health seems to be in decline. I’ll do what I have to. By any means necessary, even eating liver. I can do it!

ABC News, “Good Morning America” is discussing Orthorexia, video link below.

VIDEO: When Eating Healthy makes you Sick

COMMENTS:

Illness or not, how have you used nutrition to try to control your health? What did/do you depend on?

Have you ever changed back??

What do you think of Dr. Wahls diet?

Have you EVER heard of Orthorexia?

 

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Filed under MS and Nutrition, Uncategorized

MS: Let’s talk about Mental illness…mine.

Today I want to write about mental illness… my own.

Anyone who knows me, just a little would use these words to describe me: happy, cheerful, and never stressed. My husband calls me his “optimism”.

Is this the face of depression? Look again.

Is this the face of depression? Look again.

He also says I can be a “Pit Viper”.

I’ve suffered off and on with depression since 1997. I know what I’m talking about. Not sad or a little down but, depressed. During these years, I raised two children, maintained a healthy marriage and taught school. How? You ask. With the help of my big sister who suggested (insisted) that I, at a very young age, twenty-two to be exact, go to a clinical Psychologist. “GO!” She said. “Just trust me and GO!”

She didn’t explain how it would make my life better, but assured me that it would. She was right. I was exhibiting signs of depression then and she saw it. My psychologist helped me to have a deeper understanding of myself and how certain depressed feelings could be affecting the choices that I made. Not his job to judge my choices or to change them, just to help me make the connection between my depressed feelings and my choices; after all, I did have free will. Looking back, he never even used the word depressed. I was young and he was good. No stigma, no darkness, no shame.

This was unheard of in the deeply southern black community from which I had come. This was and still is taboo. Suggested remedies would have been; go to church, pray harder.

Mental health just doesn’t work that way. Neither does dental health. You could no sooner pray away depression than you could pray away a cavity. We do best when we pray and use the resources we’ve been given. Abandoning my Southern Baptist upbringing was not necessary but being open to other things, was.

Mental Health needs to be dealt with aggressively, like Cancer. We pray…yes, but we also use Chemo when we need it. Is there any shame in that? No.

What did help me? Exercise, Mindfulness Meditation, journaling, therapy and years later…medicine.

Managing all of these in the name of depression also gave me a great defense mechanism against stress, which causes my MS to be more active. I can never really separate these things; MS and depression and stress.

The larger point of this post is: a few days ago a beautiful young brown girl, Karyn Washington, only twenty-two years old to be exact, committed suicide.karyn-washington-http://www.cosmopolitan.com/celebrity/news/karyn-washington-suicide

Karen was the creator and founder of “For Brown Girls”, http://www.forbrowngirls.com/, an online inspirational blog which was there for other girls, an undertaking well beyond her years. Her mother recently died of cancer.

She was a gift.

I wish she had had a big sister like mine; or an Auntie, a Teacher, a Minister, a Friend …a STRANGER who cared enough to say “GO! Just trust me and GO to a psychologist”! Someone who understood what was happening and could take the ridicule. There is no shame in that.

There is shame however in letting our ignorance and fear cause us to lose even one more precious gift. We need to open up. Talk about mental health and suicide. Talking about it doesn’t make it happen, just the opposite, it prevents it.

Helpful Links:

New York Times Article: Suicide Prevention sheds Light on Longstanding Taboo.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Depression and Chronic Illness

Psychology Today Magazine

Please share your thoughts and experiences:

 

 

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Filed under Mental Well-Being, Uncategorized

MS: De-stress strategies when you are a TEN

My stress level this morning on a scale of one to ten, was a TEN!
I’m happy to say that I knocked it out of the park! I can’t control how much stress comes my way but, I can control how I respond.Black-woman-meditating1 Do I internalize it, or not? Honestly, in some cases, stress does break through. Usually family stuff, but even that is better controlled with strategies. But work? I don’t think so!
So, what did I do after a horrible morning? When asked to stay extra time (because it would look good to my employer) I said yes, then gave it a second thought, and said, no. I recognized that I was already a TEN and knew that going home to decompress would be smarter. I then drove home, sat in the garage and talked to my husband (who was at work) for 10 minutes about my morning. Talk therapy and support. I eventually came inside the house, and now this…writing.journal50019628_n I had actually written this in my head, while sitting in the car decompressing. Once this is written I’ll do 30 minutes of Mindfulness Meditation, eat lunch, take a nap and head back to work, making sure to stop for a frappaccino on the way.

COMMENTS: What would bring you down from a TEN?

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Filed under Mental Well-Being, Mind-Body Connection, Riding Out a Relapse, Stress Management

MS, this is NOT a good time!

Photo Credit: Will Sterling http://www.sterlingpics.net/artist.php

Photo Credit: Will Sterling
http://www.sterlingpics.net/artist.php

This is a conversation I’m having with my former high school student. She graduated in 1996…that makes her 31 years old now. Geez!!

Bambi: Mrs. Smith!!! I have a question about MS. As you have probably noticed, I’m a hypochondriac. I’ve been having some leg spasms for the last yr, twitching in my jaw and recently, vibrations in my stomach. I googled my symptoms and webMD said it’s possible signs of MS. I FREAKED OUT! Am I overreacting? ( which I tend to do) Can u give me some insight? I’ve already scheduled a full physical…

Mrs. Smith: Slo ya roll, Timon! Wait for Pumba! In other words, stay outta WebMD. Yes I want you to do research, but wait until the real MD.s suggest something. What you’ve been experiencing COULD be neurological in nature, but they could also be spasms due to magnesium and/or potassium deficiency or simply dehydration. Twitching due to stress, you DID just get married MISSY. The point is, EVERYthing that MS causes, could be caused by a million other things. I’m glad you’ve got a physical scheduled. What kind of doctor is it?Take VERY good notes on what’s been happening into your doctors visit. Ask for explanations and let me know how it goes.Meanwhile, your assignment is meditation. Start with 3 minutes a day, increase the minutes. Work your way up to 30 and get back to me.

Bambi: Mediate??? For 3 mins??? Ok, so how do I do that? I can never seem to stop my brain from racing…unless I have a shot… #djm. I’m speaking against it today!! But I always worry about my health. My family has horrible medical history and I’m always freaking out. Theresa and Q. can attest to that.

Mrs. Smith: Hey Honey,  my doctor has me taking vitamin D3. Many ppl are Vit. D. deficient. It’s been discovered that higher levels of D3, lesson attacks in ppl with MS, and has SOME protection for those thought to be at risk for the disease. Lil.E. scared us with a neurological episode (false alarm) but her neurologist still wants her to take a Vit. D supplement daily of 1000 i.u. I take 2000 I.U. daily. Here’s where you come in. Vit. D. is naturally healthy for the nervous system, so why not? 1000 i.u. a day. It’s also good for strong bones, so there’s a double benefit. BUT, don’t over do it. Too much of anything is not good. As far as the meditation goes, I KNOW you Timon, and “wired for sound” is an understatement (LOL) YES Missy, meditate. You’ll be a better wife, mom, daughter, friend, and SELF. I mean it! It’s not hard and it’ll help stop your brain from racing. Although your racing brain was an asset in class. Check out my post on meditation to get started.

“How to Meditate in a Moment”

Learn more about : Vitamin D and MS

ps. Remember the day you and Pumba hid under my desk only to jump out, scare the crap out of me, and break into this routine. I couldn’t teach, for laughing 🙂 Great diversion!

COMMENTS:

Have you experienced any MS-like symptoms that were actually caused by something else?

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Filed under MS and Marriage, MS and Vitamin D deficiency, Uncategorized

“How to Meditate in a Moment”

Black-woman-meditating1

Learn to meditate in a moment with this hugely popular animated video, based on Martin Boroson‘s book, One-Moment Meditation. Reduce stress, improve focus and find peace … right now. More info and online training at http://www.onemomentmeditation.com.

I was well into my Mindfulness Meditation practice when my husband shared this video with me. Boy, how I wish I had had it in the beginning! I was introduced to Mindfulness Meditation by my psychologist at the peek of an exacerbation. That was 15 years ago and I have practiced it every since. Sometimes more committed than others but always feeling it’s benefit. I began with the book “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabit-Zinn, and have since recommended it many times. During an extremely  stressful time in my husband’s career I was even able to convince him to take a weekly meditation class with me. After that experience, he recommended it as well. It is safe to say that it has a positive effect on our lives.

Thoughts and Comments:

What has your experience with Mindfulness Meditation been? Do you have suggestions for how you are successful…or thoughts on why you think you are NOT? If you meditate, when and how did you know it was working? How long did you take to feel results?

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Filed under Mental Well-Being, Stress Management

Drunk Guy Update

washer

Some of you have asked, “What happened with the dryer?” Long post short, it survived completely, Mr. Maytag made no money. I think the fabric softener sheets really did help! There must have been half a box of them in there so, they did absorb a bit, but more importantly, they reduced the splash. It was cleaned up immediately. The dryer was not turned on which meant the hot air hose was never contaminated.

The real issue here is stress management which some of my friends could not BELIEVE. My response to this fiasco, like all of my responses (on a good day) came directly from a place of hard earned well being. Sound impossible…well it’s not. I have put a great deal of energy over the years into being well and at the TOP of that list has been stress management. Please understand that it has come at a price: Months of rising at 5am so that I could meditate (mindfulness meditation) for 45 minutes before work. This meant going to bed at 9:00 regardless of what else might happen, two small children and all. This meant doing yoga WITH the children, just to get it in. This meant leaving my husband on his own, with everything, much more than I wanted to. This meant leaving a career that I loved, which meant cutting my family income drastically. This meant setting personal boundaries to keep toxic people that caused me stress, out of my life.

I could probably go on and on, but I won’t.

More on Mindfulness Meditation

Thoughts and Comments: Have you been introduced to Mindfulness Meditation? Is there anyone in your life that you have disconnected because they were a definite trigger for stress? What stress management methods have you found successful?

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Filed under Mental Well-Being, Mind-Body Connection, Stress Management