January 15, 2012

Physical exercise

I’ve been thinking about health a lot since I got on sick leave. I realized that I should work more on my health if I wanted to be really happy and now I got the time to do this. Before my sick leave, I was really out of shape. Last summer I went to yoga very frequently for a few months. Then I became more and more depressed because I felt lonely and started to think too much how I had failed at the entrance exam in the spring and didn’t want to leave home anymore.  When I started in a job in the autumn, I was so stressed and tired that I didn’t do much anything after work days and my depression got even worse.
Exercise has always been very difficult thing for me. When I was a little child I didn’t like to play outside. I preferred reading books and later using the computer. School PE wasn’t very encouraging in the first years of school and got worse when I got older. I was always the absolutely worst of our class in all the things we did there. Because most of the others were so much better in sports than I was, exercise became very difficult for me. It was always too heavy and I learned to hate the whole feeling of being out of breath. I also had issues with my looks then (because I was bullied for it) and it wasn’t easy to compare myself to other girls. The good thing about school PE was that it kept me in a decent shape. I was forced to exercise a few times every week.
When I was 15, I became a bit interested in exercising in my free time too. I started going to a gym three times a week. I went on with it for six months, but stopped going because I didn’t see any improvement in my health or shape in that time. Working out in a gym wasn’t fun or interesting and it also was quite expensive. I also went frequently to gym when I was in a psychiatric institution at the age of 17. I had little else to do there and I was so bored that I started exercising. Me and my partner started interval running last summer but that is not very appealing anymore because it’s so cold, wet and slippery outside…
A few weeks ago I started the Lifehacker workout, which has worked okay for me. It has a strength exercise three times a week, about 10-20 minutes long each. At least two times a week I do some cardio, mostly walking outside. The good thing about this exercise program is that it doesn’t matter if I skip the exercise sometimes. I don’t do that often but sometimes I’m just too tired or interested in other things. I can also log my progress and see if I have improved.
I also started going to yoga classes again. I love yoga, it’s the most suitable exercise for me. The yoga school I go has a very peaceful athmosphere and teachers are very kind. Even one class has a very good effect on me physically and mentally. I feel more relaxed, happy, flexible and I’m breathing more deeply. My favourite yoga classes are hatha, integral and kundalini. The hard part is that I have to leave home to do it. I think that when I would most need some relaxing and encouraging, it’s too hard to go anywhere. Yoga also doesn’t burn much calories, so it doesn’t help me to lose weight. (I don’t like the more powerful yoga workouts, like ashtanga. They remind me a lot of school PE.)
When I started to plan this blog post, I searched my favourite blogs and websites for more information on the subject. I found a really good site through Lifehacker. Sparkpeople.com is a really good looking site for losing weight and it also gave me new motivation to start it. I  tried losing weight a few times last year. I became worried about my looks again because I’ve gained more than 10 kgs after I started a relationship. My attempts have been unsuccessful because I’ve restricted my diet too much at once. The site I found offers a way to track calories and nutrients and also suggestions what to eat. I still continue the Lifehacker workout and yoga because they go well together with the new site.
I’ve only written three posts for this blog (which doesn’t even exist in the internet yet :)) and I’ve got so much new ideas and improvement just because I’ve thought about things and how I would tell them to people who don’t know me! I’m really grateful for all this. I want to say thank you to the Universe, forthcoming readers and my special Goddess Eris (more on that later :*).

I would really like to hear which exercise you have found to be the most effective for you and what are the good and bad sides in it. :)

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January 14, 2012

Power songs

I wanted to make a list of some songs that cheer me up and give me courage when I’m feeling sad or stressed. I have a lot more power songs than these listed here but these are the strongest and also the ones that I think are most useful for other people than me, too.

 
The most important part of these songs for me are the lyrics. They contain some wisdom and positive thoughts I need sometimes. It’s also important that the song is quite fast and maybe possible to sing or dance to. I often listen to these when I’m doing housework or something else that doesn’t require much concentration but a lot of endurance.

 
1. Nightwish – Storytime

 
Follow the madness; Alice, you know once did

 
This song is fairly new and at first I didn’t like it much. I just watched the video and I don’t think that it is very interesting. I still listened the song for a few more times because Nightwish used to be my favourite band. I started to listen and think about the lyrics and began to love the whole song because of them.

 
For me, Storytime is about hope and all that is beautiful in this world. It’s about God(dess). It tells me to abandon my cynicism and believe that the world is full of wonders. It’s also about how subjective the reality is and that I can make myself happy. I can affect my own life and make the stories I like become real.

 
I don’t still like the video. It doesn’t add anything more to the song and tells a completely different story than the lyrics.

 
2. Lady Gaga – Born This Way

 
I’m beautiful in my way, ’cause God makes no mistakes

 
This one is pretty obvious among songs that give you courage. I had heard this many times from the radio and hadn’t paid any attention to it before I started to like some other songs from Lady Gaga and decided to try to listen to this one again. I fell in love with the phrase “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen” and then all the other lyrics made sense to me too.
The message of this song is quite superficial, concentrating on things like looks, style, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Still, those are things that many people are insecure about. I’m more insecure about my personality, but maybe the beauty that Lady Gaga is singing about is deeper than just looks. I can improve myself but in the end my soul is just like (s)He meant it to be.

 
The video is very funny and the beginning makes me smile. So dramatic, and it couldn’t be done better.

 
3. Within Temptation – Iron

 
You can’t hide what lies inside you; it’s the only thing you know

 
I’ve listened to Within Temptation for many years and Iron was the first song I really liked from the new album. Nowadays I very rarely listen to a new album very long, but this has been one of my favourites since I first listened to it.
This is a battle song. Sometimes I have to do things that are very difficult (for me) and sometimes I’m so tired that doing anything feels like fighting. Iron reminds me that I have to stay true to myself and rely on my own strenght to win the battles. The battle she sings about is against evil and I have to remember to stay on the right side.

 
4. Shakira – Whenever, Wherever

 

 
Lucky that I love a foreign land for the lucky fact of your existence

 
I first heard this song as a preteen. At the time I didn’t know English very well and couldn’t listen to the lyrics. I just liked the melody of this song and all my friends listened to Shakira, too. Recently when I heard this again I listened to the lyrics and found them very amusing. Nowadays I listen to this when I need some cheering up.

 
This is a very innocent love song. It’s about what it’s like to have a big crush on someone for the first time. There’s nothing bitter or realistic in this feeling. You are not worried or concerned about anything. It doesn’t matter if the other person is very different than you are; everything will certainly work out. You think that this is something unique, something that has never happened to anyone before. When I want to remember that feeling, I listen to this song. Sometimes it’s essential to forget some of my bitterness and pessimism.

 
The video of this song goes well with the lyrics, Shakira looks very young and cheerful. I personally think that her dance moves are a bit silly on this video. But in a good way, absolutely!

 
5. September – Party In My Head

 

 
I’m in my world; In my own world again; With every boy; And every single girl, yeah; I’m everyone; And everyone’s in me; (No matter where I’m gonna be)

 
This is one of the songs I heard the first time when I was under the influence of MDMA. That is really dangerous, because probably it sounds much better to me forever than it would otherwise.

 
At first I only noticed how well the lyrics describe the effects of that drug. Soon I started to think that they are also about creating happiness that doesn’t depend on other people. Because everything is connected, I’m never really alone. Even if no one else wants to spend time with me, I can have fun. And it’s not a bad thing to have a souvenir from a brief, fleeting moment of sanity.

 
I hope you enjoyed and maybe leave a comment. I would be interested to know what others listen to when they want to feel happier. :)

January 13, 2012

Anxiety

This is an article telling my personal experience about anxiety. I wrote it because I wanted to show myself how much I’ve made progress and put some structure to my view of it. I published it because it offers a unique and honest life experience that should be part of all the millions of different human experiences told about in the internet. We all should be curious about what it would be like to be someone else. Anxiety is a basic human emotion but also a problem for many people and reading about someone elses battle with it might give some courage. My battle with it is still going on.

 
Out of control

I have suffered from anxiety very long, but it really came bad when I started to behave and think the way they call psychotic. Then the anxiety always had a reason, but a really weird one. I was afraid that an atomic bomb would suddenly kill us all or that I would go to hell when I die. About the time when I first went to a psychiatric institution, anxiety started to arrive without a reason. Probably it was because the medication or other things in my treatment convinced me I had no reason to be afraid but didn’t take the feeling away. During the treatment in the psychiatric institution, they started to give me benzodiazepines when I was feeling anxious. That made the feeling seem like a physical symptom, like a headache, without anything I could conciously do to prevent it.

 
When I’m really anxious, I’m out of control. I hate myself, I can’t look anyone in the eye, I shout and cry. I usually think there is one specific thing that would make everything right, but that there isn’t anything I could do. I feel trapped. I usually think that I don’t want to be alive and certainly I don’t want to be awake. Negativity is strong and leads to a belief that everything is going to be a disaster. Every negative thought leads to even more negative thoughts. Nowadays, if I’m going to feel anxious, it doesn’t begin suddenly. It develops little by little in a few hours and in a way. That is good thing. I can at least try to change the course of things and try to understand what caused it before things go out of control.

 
Tried that
There are many things that I have tried and what just don’t seem to work for me at all. Breathing exercises and meditation are something I have tried over and over. Trying to relax is not an option when every observation of my physical state is producing some more panic and negativity. I think those practices are useful if I do them when I’m not anxious and I do meditate some times.

 
Some have said to me that I just have to keep doing whatever I’m doing and the anxiety won’t take over. I can keep doing it a while and then I just can’t really do it anymore, I just stare into space or start my normal anxiety behavior with crying. Sometimes if I really push the anxiety away, I start to feel numb and physically very cold, like I’m having a fever. But I still can’t finish whatever I’m doing.

 
Talking to someone doesn’t help. This is usually the problem with therapy for me. I just get more negative and concerned about things when I talk too much about them. This is usually really true with professionals. They tend to ask what I should do about the problem and when I’m anxious I just can’t know, because I feel trapped. I become frustrated because they can’t tell me what to do.

 
Solutions for me

 
The most important thing I have to do when I’m anxious, is to be nice to myself. No one can help me except me. I have to give myself a break. Usually this takes the rest of the day and that’s why I’m not really suitable (at least at the moment) for working office hours. When I take a day off when I’m not feeling well, I don’t get anxious so often. I think most important is to know I can take the day off. What I need when I have really acute anxiety is to avoid  all thinking because I just can’t think positively. It’s impossible for me at least at this point.

 
One way to do this is to focus on psysical things, the actual things. I’m not good at this yet and I have to practice it more. This probably some sort of meditation. I just abandon all thoughts I have about my surroundings and just observe their qualities in an objective way. This is easiest with sight but also works with touch. This is just for controlling myself a few minutes, over the worst, though. I have to do something that doesn’t need much thinking for the rest of the day. Most often that includes waching TV programs I find funny and not very serious.

 
I also could do something nice to myself when I’ve calmed down a bit. Spending money is not good, because I don’t have much but going to shower or putting on some make up works. I also could try to eat something tasty but that’s a bit dangerous because if somehow I can’t get the treat I want I can get very dissappointed. That’s weird but I can’t help it.
If I have a real crisis to worry about, it helps to make a survival plan for the future. For example, when I a few weeks ago got on sick leave I made a plan how to improve my life and my health and this blog was part of the plan. I need practical steps and preferably with numbers, like how many times a week I should do something. I don’t feel forced to do anything or stressed that way because if I have enough time I will want to do it eventually. If I’m going to do it all, that is.

 
Some controversy

 
Drugs are a difficult topic when it comes to anxiety (or actually anything). I previously mentioned that benzodiazepines probably caused the thought that I can’t prevent or otherwise control the anxiety. I just have to take the pill and it goes away. But soon it doesn’t help. Because of tolerance, I have to take five times more than before and then I run out of the medicine. Most of the months I have been prescribed benzodiazepines, I have used them way before I would have if the I had taken them according to the prescription. I still haven’t had a real withdrawal from them and I don’t want to experiment with it because it’s potentially lethal.

 
The most difficult thing to decide about this article was whether to write about my opinion of the use of opioids. While they are dangerous AND I certainly DON’T RECOMMEND STARTING TO USE DRUGS FOR ANYONE (you can get dependent on them and possibly overdose) I haven’t had problems with them like I’ve had with benzodiazepines. The only negative thing I’ve experienced with them is that I get a bit tired the next day with stronger ones. With weaker ones (I’m really talking about codeine here) I’m a bit concerned about dependancy because I could want to take it so often. I enjoy a bit of oxycodone or opium sometimes but I don’t want to take them all the time because I can’t get anything done under their influence. I also get annoyed because the effects of opium last so long and I’d like to be sober already and oxycodone is just really too expensive to develop a dependency on.

 
Other drugs that I have tried have little impact on anxiety (and I’d rather write about other things in this article but felt I couldn’t leave it out completely).

 
Life choices

 
There are many things that don’t work when I’m currently very anxious but help me when I do them frequently at other times. These basically include a healthy way of life, including exercise, a healthy diet (which is hard for me for variety of reasons), having good self-esteem and so on.

 
Most importantly I have to have things that interest and inspire me. I have to have projects and goals. It’s obvious that if I get really enthusiastic about doing something so I even forget the time, I can’t be anxious or even worried. I hadn’t been really interested in anything for a long time, until recently. Probably that was partly because of medication.
One habit that is reducing the frequency of anxiety is quite sad to notice. Everyone has always told how to talk about things and not keeping them to myself. If I always talk about every little thing that concerns me or comes to mind, no one will want to listen. No one wants to hear constant complaining. If I try to tell only the most important things to others, they will keep some interest. I also have a habit to talk even though I don’t think it’s important or interesting and still get hurt if someone else points it out to me.

 
The conclusion

 
I’m still suffering a lot of anxiety and can’t always control it at all but I’ve learned a lot too. I’ve put some effort to battle it and I’m proud of myself. This all makes probably no sense to most of other people but it tells one experience and that’s the point of it. Also making things clearer to myself and taking notice of progress which is the point of this blog.

January 12, 2012

The Manifesto of This Blog

I’m a 20-year-old female from a Nordic country. It’s possible that I’m being overly secretive but I really believe that it would be easy for someone who knows me in real life to guess that this is my blog if I would be writing in my own language. (Thanks to my spouse who is proofreading my entries. :*)
I’m been suffering from diagnosed mental illness for four and a half years now. They have given me many diagnoses but recently they’ve decided I have bipolar disorder. I’ve had medications and therapy which have not been very helpful. Actually I believe that some of them have caused me a lot of harm mainly because I’ve believed what professionals have said to me and I’ve learned not to trust my own reasoning.
This is my blog about improving my life with much more holistic (and by that I don’t mean homeopathy) outlook. Though I might have some problems with my moods and emotions, I’m capable of analyzing them and making solutions (based on science and what others have experienced) to improve my happiness. No one else can know what works best for me except me.
I’m now in a situation that gives me a good chance to change and improve things in my life. I’m on a sick leave, not having to concentrate much on other things. I might be unable to work normally and this might be permanent but happily nowadays there are other possibilites than just that. I hope writing this blog helps me to further work with these problems and solutions to them in my life and maybe also give the reader something to reflect to their own life.