Group therapy?

Evening all. Have any of you ever been to group therapy? How was your experience? Is it worth it?

I was looking into attending a group therapy clinic myself and I wondered if anyone reading had any experience. In my (ideal) head, I envisage sitting in a circle with a group of strangers, and each of us take it in turn to talk about our problems. I would hope everyone feels in the same boat, which would create a safe and empathetic environment. Hopefully, over time, maybe a couple of these strangers would become my friends. This is in my ideal head remember.

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Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it for a week now, and I’ll probably think about it for another week, and then think about contacting the clinic for a further week, and then hopefully fire off the email to them the week after. Calling them is obviously to scary! Hi anxiety.

Any stories about group therapy, from anyone, would be great to here.

See you later.

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Spastic.

Can you call someone a spastic? Probably not. Can you call yourself a spastic? Most definitely. Well, I’m a spastic! 🙂

I have a condition called hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP). It affects the lower half of the body, causing the legs to gradually get weaker and stiffer over time. In my experience, I’ve found my balance is worse and walking is tougher than it was when I was a child. I’ve probably always displayed symptoms of the disorder through childhood, but the symptoms have just become more profound over time.

So, what’s it like living with HSP? It really does depend on your outlook. People with HSP are all at different stages and the disorder will be progressing at different rates. Unfortunately, there are no treatments at the moment which can reverse the disorder. Therefore, treatment is focused around managing one’s symptoms. These treatments can range from seeing a physio to discuss an exercise and stretching plan, to taking muscle relaxants to help with stiffness in the legs, to injecting Botox to the stiff areas.

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For a long time after being told by the doctor this is something I probably have, I was a victim. I thought everyone else I knew who could walk without thinking, or stand on one leg with no problem, or stand for long periods of time all had it so easy. Of course, it wasn’t there fault I had difficulties doing this things. The mentality I had definitely didn’t help me.

Also, during the time I found out I had HSP, I was in a very anxious and depressed state. I used HSP as an excuse not to leave the house, which (obviously now) didn’t help my mental health symptoms or my HSP symptoms. It’s easier for me to say now, but leaving the house is huge. If you can, always leave the house. It will help.

So what helps my HSP? Moving! HSP is a neurological condition so I believe (not a doctor) that keeping the neurological pathways between my brain and legs working is important. When I wasn’t as active, my symptoms were definitely worse. My legs were tighter, I suffered from more pronounced clonus (involuntary muscle contractions and relaxations, causing a shaking sensation) and when I tried to walk, it was harder.

Since February, (when I began playing Pokemon Go!) I’ve been going on daily walks. I used to tell myself I couldn’t walk long distances because it was too hard and my legs shook too much. Well, it’s amazing what the body can actually do. I now try to do at least 6000 steps a day, which is surprisingly easy for me now (I’m averaging 10,000 steps a day for June atm!).

What does the future look like with HSP? Well, there’s no cure at the moment, but DNA science is always progressing. It’ll probably involve me losing all dexterity in my legs, and needing a wheelchair. But at the moment, I’m focusing on moving and I’m not going to stop just yet.

There’s plenty of ramps around for the disableds these days anyway…     David_Brent

See you later.

Thank you, E.

This follows on from a post two days ago.

Dear E,

Thanks for coming over on Sunday, it was lovely. It was lovely to see you, to hug you, to laugh with you, to hear about your new job, to listen to you, to talk to you. I hope you didn’t notice how anxious I was. I hope you didn’t notice I almost had to go to the toilet and be sick when you arrived.

I’m glad you liked your present. I’m sorry our dog wasn’t here (I knew you’d be gutted about that). I’ll make sure you meet him soon!

I hope we don’t leave it as long to see each other again. I wish I didn’t have to feel like death in the days, hours and minutes leading up to seeing you. I don’t make any effort with anyone else so I would just cancel, but you’re worth it.

Love T xxx.

E.

Dear E,

It’s 11:34am on the morning your coming over to my house. I’m looking forward to seeing you, but I’m also shitting it. I don’t know why. Well I do know why. It’s because I care about how today goes. I want you to enjoy yourself, I want you to be happy to see me, I want you to like the present I got you.

I’ve cleaned the house this morning, I planned to shave a few days ago so I didn’t look too scruffy or too baby faced today (like seriously, wtf is wrong with me). Do I wear my glasses? They’re for long distances so I don’t need them, but do I look better with them on?

It’s funny, the first time I saw you was at summer school, about 12 years ago and this was the first time I had really bad anxiety (that I can remember). Those two weeks, I felt physically sick everyday. 12 years on and we’re doing well! (lol).

Anyway, I hope you had the best time (not they’ll ever dare show you this…probably).

Love T. x

 

See you later.

I gave blood! But…

I’ve been putting off giving blood for a while. Ever since my younger brother had cancer as a child (fine now btw) my parents have donated when they could. Because of this, I promised myself I would too (when I was eligible). However, I didn’t plan on having anxiety (silly me) so I always put it off.

I’ve booked myself a couple of appointments in the past, but I’ve always cancelled them when they got close (classic!). However, I finally kept and committed to an appoint and I donated blood on Thursday.

So, I drove to the neighbouring village to where I live, and arrived around 5 minutes before my appointment (14:30). I was greeted with ‘thanks for coming’ which was nice to hear. I sat in the waiting area and drank from my water bottle (around 600ml to be exact) as apparently around 50% of the blood donated is water so it’s important to be hydrated. Drank too fast, need a wee. Went and had one. Nice toilets.

I was then taken behind a curtain to discuss the questionnaire you had to fill in before arriving. It’s basically to check you don’t have AIDS or anything. Everything was fine after they were happy the CBD oil I take was okay (they didn’t even know what it was…). They pricked my finger to test my iron levels, all good too (people say this is the worst bit, oh just you wait!).

So, off to another waiting area to get ready to be called. I need another wee, but I thought I would wait. A couple minutes later, I’m in the chair and having my arm cleaned, getting prepped for the needle. They advise that you tense and untense your buttock muscles whilst donating to maintain pressure and stop feeling faint.

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Disclaimer: Stop reading here if you’re squeamish.

The needle goes in and the nurse stands over me for 5 minutes to make sure everything is okay. She encourages me to open and close my fist to maintain blood flow. I (and she) assumes everything is fine and goes to see to another donor. Around another 5 minutes passes and a different nurse walks past, checking on donors. She stops and observes me. She looks concerned. She looks over at another nurse and see her whisper ‘yeah, the colour’. Then, the nurse who made the initial observation came back over and said, ‘right, we’re going to take this out now.’

She removes the needle and it hurt. I could taste blood in my mouth too. The nurse tilts the chair back and applies pressure to where the needle was just removed. I knew something was wrong as soon as she made her first observation (I’m quite vigilant), but they were doing my best to keep me calm. Obviously I’m trying not to panic at this point, but my heart is racing and I’m getting sweaty. They tilt the chair forward and hand me a leaflet.

The head nurse, in a soft and calm voice, says, ‘Right, this is what has happened today.’ She doesn’t actual say it, she just points to the leaflet that is titled ‘Arterial Puncture’. Brilliant I thought. Panic I felt. She then read through the leaflet that explained what to do and when to go to A&E (accident and emergency). I was now getting hotter, getting sweatier, feeling sick. They noticed, and tilted the chair back, got me a sick bowl and put an ice pack round my neck. I gagged, but didn’t throw anything up. Now at this point, I don’t know if it was anxiety or the lack of blood in my system that made me feel like this, probably a mixture.

I was feeling better around 5 minutes later, so they tilt me back up and apply a tight dressing to my arm (the bleeding has stopped at this point). I’m told at this point that if I come back and donate again, they wouldn’t use my left arm again, ever. I get the feeling this isn’t very common.

I drink some more water and eventually make my way over to the refreshment table where you’re encouraged to have a snack and more fluids. After eating a bag of crisps, I make my way out and drive home.

So, what are the takeaways from this experience? Don’t let this put you off. I’m sure this is very uncommon (it just happened to happen to me on my first donation) so don’t worry. Other people rack up 50 donations with no issues, so if you’re thinking about donating, please go! I also hope that my blood can actually be used. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know if blood drawn from an artery instead of a vein has different properties (it’s obviously more oxygenated), but I hope everyone’s time, blood and sweat (no tears luckily) weren’t wasted. Lastly, I think its important to remember that if that’s one of the worst things that can happen, it wasn’t actually that bad.

A quick shout out to the nurses who looked after me once they noticed something was wrong. Very caring and professional. To the nurse who first put the needle in and stood over me for 5 minutes, please try and be more careful with first time donors!

See you later.

Pokemon Go.

Pokemon. It’s a kid’s game right? Well yes, but a lot of adults play too (including me!). As a kid, I used to play Pokemon on various Gameboys (and consoles – shout out to anyone who played Pokemon Stadium on the N64) throughout my childhood. They were fun times and like anything you grow up with, it will always have a place in my heart.

Jump forward to summer 2016, and Pokemon released a mobile game, Pokemon Go. For anyone that doesn’t know, you walk round in the real world, catching Pokemon (digital animals) and interact with real world landmarks. When the game released in the UK, I didn’t have a phone with a data contract, so I missed out playing the first few months, which sucked (sad I know). Anyway, I got a phone (with data) at some point and the hype around the game had gone. No-one I knew played anymore and when I tried to, my phone couldn’t really run the game and the battery ran out too quickly.

Anyway, in February of this year, I bought a new Iphone XR. The battery was good, the game ran without any issues, I had data and I was ready to relive my childhood. A huge part of the game is walking. The game encourages you with rewards for walking certain distances in a week (up to 50km). A quick side note, I have a hereditary condition called HSP (hereditary spastic paraplegia) which makes it hard for me to walk (another post coming in the future about this).

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Before February, I was very inactive. There were days (multiple in a row sometimes) where I wouldn’t leave the house. In a way, Pokemon Go transformed my life. I’ve been out the house everyday (apart from a couple) since February. I went from struggling to walk, to enjoying it. AND my anxiety is improving. I’ve since bought a FitBit too to track my activity more accurately (and to hold myself to account).

I would encourage everyone to download it and give it go. Sometimes walking can be boring, but when you’re playing a game, it can make it fun. You may also lose weight, get fitter and feel great!

See you later.

Abstain.

As a human in today’s world, we have more choice than ever before. With that, a lot of diseases and illnesses that exist today are because of overindulgence. In developed countries, obesity is an epidemic, diabetes is on the rise and we are addicted to electronics. We are always looking to add something new to our lives, buy the newest phone, eat the newest super food. You go to a doctor and they prescribe you a new medicine to take.

Well, over the last the month, I’ve been trying to abstain from certain things. Unintentionally, I’ve always intermittently fasted for some period of the day; but I’ve been more strict recently, and now I’ll make sure I eat all my food within an 8 hour window (10 at the most). Aside from the health benefits everyone constantly bangs on about, logistically, my day is simpler and doesn’t revolve around food. I’ve cut bread out my diet. It might not sound a lot, but I was having bread for lunch everyday. I’ve replaced it with veggies, eggs and meat.

I’ve stopped playing video games. Should 24 year-old men be playing video games in the first place? I’ll let you decide, but I knew (deep down) it wasn’t a healthy obsession for me.

Nicotine. For the last 6 years I’ve been through various relationships with nicotine from smoking once every few months, to smoking once daily, to smoking a few times daily, to vaping, to giving up completely, to vaping, to smoking once a week, to smoking once a day, to giving up completely. This is where I am at the moment and it’s been a couple of weeks with no nicotine.

Caffeine. Similar to nicotine, but I allow myself to have one drink with caffeine in it, once a week. I used to be addicted to Pepsi and drink at least a can a day. I look forward to my can (as it’s a treat, I have Red Bull now) of caffeine once a week.

Alcohol. Never been a big drinker, prefer smoking, so only drink on occasion.

Huge Food plate with salad, French Fries and sauces.

So how do I feel? Better than I did, for sure. I sleep better, I eat healthier and I have more energy. Don’t get me wrong, trying something new can be exhilarating, scary and awesome all at the same time. But cutting back, or cutting out things in your life which might feel ‘nice’ that you know are ultimately holding you back can feel pretty awesome too. It also feels great to develop self-discipline which can translate into many other parts of your life.

In our cluttered world today, give something up and see how you feel.

See you later.