Tuesday 19th November 2019

What Is The Hard* Thing? Part Two. 2018.94.

What Is The Hard* Thing? Part Two. 2018.94.

Last week I began this topic here and had a number of commenters who added their own hard things to the discussion.

What was common to many was the fact that even though they did not want to really do “their hard thing” they were prepared to give it a go and in most cases were pleased to have done so.

That mirrors my own experiences.

Thank you for sharing, everyone.

I found a couple of websites here for those who want to learn more, here and here.

Remember this is not an advice post, merely my story. Wikipedia has also provided a quote.

Exposure therapy is a technique in behaviour therapy thought to help treat anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy involves exposing the target patient to the anxiety source or its context without the intention to cause any danger. Doing so is thought to help them overcome their anxiety or distress.

About (My) Exposure Therapy.

I am not a trained psychologist nor therapist but I am someone who has been taught what exposure therapy is and whilst I did not like its title (I called it my challenges!) I can outline how it was explained for me.

My psychologist brought up exposure therapy as part of her helping me learn what I had to do next after getting myself more confident about some social things I had previously resisted. These included driving to Sydney and going to the Dentist. However, I was resistant to learning how it could help me conquer my fear about IBS and getting ‘caught’ short.

She outlined a list of 1 -10 and then asked me to tell her hardest (the 10 end) and easiest (the 1 end) activities I would be prepared to try and then to do them before the next session and report back. Exposure therapy continued to be resisted by me even though I had the knowledge, and a counselling-trained husband encouraging me. What to do? Nothing was improving, so I did some of the challenges at the easier end:

  • go out in the car about 15 minutes and not go to the toilet just to check I am ok,
  • go out again and not take an immodium in my bag just in case
  • go out for a longer time and not race home because it is too hard not to be sure about my IBS.

And then I HAD to face my worst fear and do a trip to Sydney to Lifehouse, see surgeons about my newly (24 hours previously) diagnosed cancer and be a passenger in the car. Three things! My G.P. said “take the valium, take the immodium” and my husband stopped at any loo along the way. I DID it all. Yes, with some drug help but no IBS.

That changed things a LOT. It did not happen just from that ONE experience…I had many more drives like that to face and surgeries but it was the beginning of getting better acquainted with of what I COULD manage by my thinking and doing.

In fact by early March 2018 I decided I could now drive myself to Sydney for the many treatments at Westmead Hospital. Yes, I still do get some IBS in the days leading up but I manage it. No, I do not scold myself any more nor cry about it. I get on with it. It will never be easy-peasy but I will continue to have my mind “do the hard things” and not be beaten by the anxiety of having IBS. By the way, this photo below is me having finished my 23rd session of measuring, treating and fitting at Westmead Oral Sciences. I drove myself to 18 of these!

Monday 10 September with my prosthodontist and nurse. No more visits for 4 weeks!

My Added Story.

Way before cancer and me learning about exposure therapy but when IBS was robbing me of experiences such as visitign the family in Sydney or going there for a social reason, I used to push myself to do some to these as it was “too hard” not to do them if that makes sense. One was (and still is) a family-duty visit to see my elderly father. I say duty because I really do not enjoy these visits much yet I also want to ensure he is OK and leave some meals and snacks I make for him. A long time ago, he tried to understand my IBS and made adjustments to my visits so we just stay in his apartment and talk. The times he insisted on going out for a meal or snack…well, they ended badly for me so he compromised.

With Dad – early 2018.

When I drove back home up to the Central Coast from the Northern Beaches  in the years preceding my cancer diagnosis I always stopped here. Sometimes I still do. In this space of nature, just off the busy and noisy M1, I get a sense of calm and success at having met that challenge of the journey and the reason. When I was there last week, I made this little video.

That’s not quite it from me in terms of the hard things.

What I have realised since even thinking about this post, is how much I do need to continue to encourage myself to take part in life’s changes. You see, I thought getting my teeth would be awesome and it is, but it added another layer of thinking to my concerns…so, if I can eat what I want to eat after so long, what will it be like if I become very overweight again and cannot fit into the clothes I bought in the last 12 months? I tells ya, it never goes away does it…this hard thing!

Comfort Zones.

No such thing really. Well, in my opinion, sitting or staying in your comfort zone helps you stay stuck.  was in mine for a while when I would go nowhere but when I think more of it is was a DIScomfort zone. I did not like the me that could not get herself motivated* to go again.

*I have not been diagnosed with clinical depression nor anxiety. I have been affected by reactive depression (sadness and tears) but that often resolves within a day. My ‘anxiety’ is more of a worry thing and has been part of me since I was a teen. My doctors and psychologists believe I am managing well. The very low dose, old fashioned anti-depressant I am on each evening is to help me sleep and it s l o w s  down my inner gut workings. If you have been diagnosed with either or both: depression and anxiety, then you should speak to your health professional about the types of things related to exposure therapy.

Moving On. My Next Challenge!! 

I am going to be OK as long as I eat well and mindfully because when I was very overweight I ate mindlessly most of the time and to stuff down feelings. See here, if you have not read my story. So, I AM different to the Denyse I was then and I have new and better skills to manage my emotions and life since cancer.

Wish me luck!

Hope you are all doing well too.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share The Love link up.

 

 

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What Is The Hard* Thing? Part One. 2018.91.

What Is The Hard* Thing? Part One. 2018.91.

Hard* as in challenging. scary, not easy, fearful, anxiety-making…but ultimately will or does help with personal growth, wisdom, satisfaction and sense of accomplishment …no matter how big or small.

The ‘hard thing’ is something I have had to accept and do if I want to move on or forward in my life.

There are times when the hard thing can feel too hard or even unacceptable for me to try to do or be.

Noticing nature helps me focus on “just one thing”

Here’s an example.

Last week I had an elevated feeling of anxiety/worry about my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) ramping up to let ME know what my thinking self was not aware of. That is, as I understand the mind vs the gut thing, that my IBS was ramping up because it sensed a fear situation happening.

If you have read here for a while, you will recall that I have really had to work via exposure therapy based messages and activities to make changes to be able to do ordinary, every day activities. This is the first part of the story and here is the second one.

I had ticked a pretty major (for me) life experience challenge box when I drove to Sydney on Monday especially to meet a friend for coffee and a catch up. Awesome and planned by me and I was so glad to be doing it. However, my gut rumbled and let me know:

 “ah ha you are about to get in the car and go down the M1. This is something that you have been scared to do because of IBS”

I refused to play the old IBS, crying, fearful game and instead, took some preventative action and had a successful drive, a wonderful catch up and came home with no ill-effects.

Go me. Right? Right! Until this…

The next day. I had found I was pretty tired from the physical and emotional effects of yesterday’s much wanted success and when I had my IBS back again AND needed to leave the house to go to the hairdresser, I did similarly to the day before, and gave myself the meds, the talk and set off. I was OK. Mind you, I remained somewhat on high alert and that bothered me because:

In the past, I would have had  the haircut, gone to the loo (again, to see I was OK) then driven straight back home. The place of security and comfort.

But something stopped me. These words:

Do The Hard Thing

Why did I listen? Well, based on my past experiences, I have often regretted being beaten  by the fear once I am home. On this occasion this was the conversation in my head:

Do you want to go straight home and then regret not going for a coffee which is your daily treat?

No, I don’t

Then stay, and sit down for the coffee and do something in your art journal so your mind & body  know who is in charge.

And that was how I did the first hard thing that day.

Next one was this. As I usually drive home from The Entrance, I stop somewhere close to the water and take photos as I notice nature for that day. Instead, I told myself to do another hard thing. I drove in a different direction, to Long Jetty, got out of the car, walked and took photos and a little vid without rushing at all.

This is now my locked screen saver.

These two instances might sound small to some readers but I know that I valued myself more highly for doing something that was out of my comfort zone on two different days as I know how much that helps my inner confidence and ways in which I manage IBS.

It is not the end.

It is never the end.

As long as there are things within me that are scary (to me) and may heighten my gut’s reactions, I am going to need to continue to do the hard things.

For too long, I have avoided hard things and that made me even sicker emotionally than ever. I do not want to go back to that space again.

Next week will be about the why of this strategy and how important it is not only to me, but those readers who let me know about their hard things in the comments.

What is the hard thing for you?

Is there more than one?

Do share in the comments.

Thank you.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays here and with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share the Love.

 

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Life Lessons. #1.2018.52.

Life Lessons. #1. 2018.52.

This may be a theme for one or more posts. Let’s see where the Life Lessons journey takes us!

The catalyst for this post was something that happened to me a few weeks ago. The story of that was this:

I have been a long-time sufferer (and yes, that IS what it is…suffering!) of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (diarrhoea mostly) for years. It became quite a debilitating condition for me, restricting work-related tasks and social events for some of 2014 and into the years following our move from Sydney to the Central Coast in 2015. I railed against it, I did courses to help me, I took meds, I had tests and in the end, I guess I had to admit it was MIND-GUT connected and my own stressors did seem to be behind it all. This actually did not help me, in fact I probably became more determined to beat it. Not sure how, as will-power had not worked.

So, my now GP first gave me some meds which helped and through the awful times of post cancer surgeries and other stressors in 2017 I know that my gut reacted and no immodium in the world could work against a gut which had not been ‘fed’ for ages. I learned that sometimes the reaction in my gut was normal and over time I accepted that. Kind of. I also made sure that any future anti-biotics were of the type my gut did not react to. Fingers crossed, that has worked so far.

Life Lesson.

Out of the so called blue on the recent long weekend, I had an episode of IBS. I could not ‘think’ of a reason why. In fact, that made me even more cranky with ‘it’. I got sad and had to stay home…close to the ‘loo because of it. Eventually, after immodium it did settle and I was able to drive to Westmead 2 days later to have a much-needed appointment with my prosthodontist.

In the meantime, I had to admit a truth to myself, and herein lieth the Life Lesson.

My week ahead, on the weekend I got an episode of IBS, was actually filled with a couple of items relating to my health that were NOT cancer- recovery related. I had decided two weeks ago that it was TIME I got myself together and did some regular testing that comes ‘at our age’  and my GP agreed. I did not know how much the anticipation of this and some other things I had planned would impact upon me emotionally until:

MY GUT TOLD ME WHAT I DID NOT PAY ATTENTION TO.

You see, I am a bit of an over-achiever…and my GP says I am ‘goal driven’ and I have to agree so I made a ‘rule’ that by now, a year post-cancer diagnosis, that I needed to be back in tune with normal activities. 

I.B.S. told me that I was not ready and in fact, reminded me brilliantly once I accepted it that I had made a promise to work on one thing at a time and that was to continue to recover from cancer.

Yep. I needed that and with  a chat to my GP, after my husband totally agreeing to what this life lesson had told me, I accepted it, cancelled the other things….and guess what, life settled again for me ….and I have learned my lesson.

I have photo on the left as my locked phone screen saver to remind me of my lesson!

What Others Say.

I asked for any Life Lessons via my social media and here are some responses.

Run your own race. It’s a cliche but it’s so important to know yourself, then do what you want to do and not to be swayed by others. The opinions of others are given way too much headspace. Make your own opinion the loudest. When I asked for any background to this conclusion here was the response: Life! Look around – who is happier? The person running after other people’s approval or the person who approves of themselves. “A.H”

Even on the darkest days and the most difficult of times you can always find something to be grateful for. It can be tiny, but there is always something. “D.C.”

Listen to your gut instinct. Other people may have opinions on what you should do within your life or your children’s but your gut instinct actually knows. Listen to it don’t ignore it just because someone else thinks they know best. Gut instinct is usually 100% right. “LofC”

Thank you to those people.

Last week Natalie from BeKind2You.com wrote a timely post which she has been happy for me to share. Thank you!

What Life Lesson(s) have you been taught?

Denyse.

On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here

On Thursday this post links with Leanne here.

 

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