Inspirational blogs to watch

So in reading from the four minute Books website, I’ve already found two awesome new blogs to follow.

The first is Derick Sivers. It’s got a minimalist style but with great thoughts on how to succeed at life. The faqs section has a great book referral for most questions.

The second is that of James Clear. This guy is a scientist at heart. I can really relate to how he explains concepts in several areas. It reminds me of a cross between discover magazine and psychology today. An example of what you’ll find here is how to gain motivation or the famous Stanford marshmallow experiment. You can find all the major topics at the bottom of the page below the part about malaria. His book is on my to read list because of the sheer quality of the work. It’s what I’d like the mind section of my blog to be more like.

I haven’t really read much lately but getting great ideas from short articles and four minute reads is really helping with my motivation and inspiration. I’d recommend it.


Shifting symptoms of anxiety

At the moment I’ve got three different anxiety disorders, social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder and a touch of agoraphobia. What I’ve noticed lately is that my classic symptoms have shifted several times. I used to primarily get something like nervous butterflies in the stomach, then it switched to nausea and now it’s more like being overwhelmed to the point of tears. It’s become hard to recognize it as anxiety and yet upon discussing it with my therapist it still is.

I think some of this has to do with actively fighting the anxiety. One theory I read suggests it’s a sign of getting better. Check it out here. The basic gist is that once your body realizes you’re not stopping because of the standard anxiety cues it finds another physical symptom to give you instead. Eventually you come to realize they all represent anxiety and you can push through all of them.

Pushing through the situation is common for anxiety, in fact, not following through and completing whatever you were doing makes the situation worse. Still it’s can be hard to always push through so cbt gives you tools like rephrasing your thoughts. The anxiety might not have been so bad until you had thoughts surrounding it. Your thoughts actually magnify the situation, even thoughts about the physical symptoms help magnify those symptoms.

If you have an inner dialogue like that you can use cbt to combat anxiety but many times I’m not thinking anything negative. What to do then? That’s when I usually just push through but this isn’t the best method because it ignores your body and what it’s telling you and depending on the time frame things can get worse before they get better. It’s better to open a conversation with yourself, something on the order of…Ive assessed the risks and while I understand your concern we aren’t actually going to die.

I am convinced that anxiety comes from a part of your brain that’s not as evolved, it can understand but not convey language so it speaks in fear. If you don’t respect this part of your brain it will keep pushing the panic button. Anyway, this is a new theory of mine, I’ll let you know if it works out while I open a dialogue with this mystery part of the brain.


Four minute books

Sometimes with my newly acquired attention deficit I’m dealing with brief periods of focus. I used to love to read stories but often my working memory deficit causes me to forget important characters in complex novels. What ever the reason, anyone can read a Four minute book summary. These are primarily non fiction books based on ideas rather than stories.

To give you an example they discuss the book 13 things mentally strong people don’t do. In addition to the discussion, they link to a free article with all 13 points. Sure there are paid services that do this like the ones also promoted on the site, but these four minute summaries are free and there are nearly 500 of them. It’s a bit like an honest review of the book with the key points so you can decide if you actually want to read further.

In the 13 things book the first point is that mentally strong people don’t fell sorry for themselves. The reality is when I started losing cognitive ability I did feel sorry for myself, I also spent a lot of time ignoring or not dealing with the situation. I have to admit that while I’m working on it, I still feel sorry for myself sometimes and yet everyone I meet has something, some situation that makes their life harder than it has to be but most of them don’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves. My mom has stage four cancer but she’s pushed through operations, chemo and radiation only to be met with more operations. Yet she’s upbeat about her life and prospects, she’s activity ignoring most of the literature out there. One can get bogged down by the odds but she takes things as they come.

So of the thirteen things this will be my new goal, to take the events of my life in stride and focus on the good things that are happening so that I’m thinking positively and not wallowing in things beyond my control.


Fish oil for memory πŸŸπŸŸπŸŸ

So, some time ago I visited my psychiatrist with a complaint about my memory. After extensive testing they found that my working memory IQ was about 20 points lower than the rest of my IQ suggesting that something had happened to my brain 🧠 to cause a deficit. It could have been the autoimmune disorder I had when I was twelve that caused me to lose balance and be unable to walk. Not to worry I can walk again as it went away with the virus I had at the time. Or it could have been the bipolar I still experience today but they actually attributed it to PCOS which makes little sense to me as I’ve had that my entire life.

At any rate there wasn’t much available in the way of treatment other than a few techniques like overlearning. Basically overlearning is where you right down a few facts about the tougher parts of a sentence while reading. It makes reading pretty boring and take three times as long but supposedly in time your memory will catch up. In addition my psychiatrist recommended fish oil. I had tried fish oil before but never the easy way. Instead of choking down huge pills, they now make gummies. Generally you get less of the supplement per serving but for me it turns out to be enough.

I’ve noticed my mind improving on them. Sure I still forget whether I locked the car πŸš™ or not, spoiler, it’s always locked. But in addition my motivation is up, I actually want to think again. I’m doing reasonably well in my google IT course. I haven’t been retested for memory as those tests cost my insurance three grand but I can feel the difference and feeling good is half the battle. Fish oil has been shown to enhance cognition in your typical scientific testing but more importantly it works for me as an individual.


What is possible…

I’ve always found TED talks inspirational. The last one I looked at said that if you want to be successful to surround yourself with successful people. In theory I’ve recovered from the worst elements of my psychosis and bipolar only to deal with anxiety. I think a lot of it is attitude. What I’m wondering if is I’ve absorbed some maladaptive traits from those around me who aren’t as focused on recovery.

It’s so easy to slip into I can’t especially when those around you are saying I can’t. There’s no shame, you’ve got a terrible illness after all. I’ve gained 20 pounds in the last two years and while I know my meds cause weight gain I was fighting it more effectively before. What if I surrounded myself with fit people who might judge me rather than those who have already gained and continue to gain.

Is it defeatist attitude that’s currently causing my problems? I can’t drive far because it’s making me nervous. I can’t work in my field due in part to a mouse allergy and in part to cognitive issues. But what of those that get better who change their brains and heal. It’s like I’m telling myself I’m no longer smart enough to do whatever I want and achieve my dreams. In fact I’ve even stopped dreaming. Those big wonderful save the world kind of dreams have gone.

Am I being realistic or am I giving up too easily? I can’t has morphed into I don’t want to or I don’t need to which makes it OK in my mind. I’m not giving up I simply don’t want it all anymore. It’s the final phase of giving up.

This is why I’m lacking motivation…there is nothing further I want or think I can achieve at some inner core level of thought. Why not put crazy back on the table. What do I really want to be? What path will get me there, perhaps there are intermediate steps needed that will get me making enough pay to support my passion.

I already know that in my dream world I’d be an artist, one who paints gardens. It’s highly impractical so it may be a second job for a while. What if I put more time into my art and more resources, workshops online programs etc. What if the IT skills I’m training for will just be my day job a way to fuel my true passions. Something tolerable if not earth shattering. Workshops in art, photography etc would be a great way to travel.

Time to make a dream board of who I want to be eventually but also how I’ll get there. That includes some of the baby steps I’m doing now, driving, retraining for a decent job. But why give up on my passion? There is no motivation other than habit once you give up on your dreams.


Anxiety rears it’s head again…

I don’t know what’s going on but I’m not responding well to the structure of this anxiety desensitization. It seems the only reward for driving is having to drive farther in the future. That’s not working well. I went from having minimal anxiety about driving to the store to now being worried for the entire day before having to drive tomorrow. I know that driving a mile is not a big deal and I can cognitive restructure all I want but I’m not having thoughts that aren’t true. I need a different reward structure like if I drive all week I can have my weekend free to relax. I swear my therapist must get so frustrated, I’m always changing the homework. I think the problem is that the caveman part of my brain already knows I’ve reached the lowest possible state of anxiety and doesn’t want to do anything to increase it at all. Rationally I know it’s not sustainable but that caveman part just isn’t rational. So I’m gonna have a lot to talk about with T next time.


Amazon knows…

So today I realized that amazon knows more about my mental health than most people. I just ordered a book on agoraphobia my latest diagnosis along with GAD, social anxiety and bipolar. The list keeps growing. I mean the basics are that I’ll always have some type of anxiety along with bipolar.

Apparently not wanting to drive longer distances than to the grocery has to do with this as much as anything. I mentioned to the doc I never have issues driving home and this lead to the fact that I’m afraid of what will happen if I get too far from home. It’s not like I can’t leave the house at all otherwise I wouldn’t have beautiful pictures to show you but usually I have a friend along. That mitigates things. In fact using a support person is a recommended part of therapy.

The other part of all this is just kinda leaving into the anxiety and dealing. I was kinda surprised by this. The first part of anxiety the butterflies πŸ¦‹ are beyond modern psychology…they are a remnant of our days in caves and can’t be effectively treated. The part where that spirals though can.

So the book I bought on amazon is from Claire Weekes called agoraphobia. I bought it because of an excerpt from a later book of hers in the anxiety and phobia workbook my therapist uses. The idea is to again kinda realize that it’s going to sting for a bit but it won’t last forever. Anxiety isn’t the best feeling but it’s not permanent so you can ride it out and continue your activity. It’s kinda like pulling off a band aid.

Thing is there are some tricks that let you ride it out a little easier. The first is breathing slowly and into your belly. Then changing your thoughts so they don’t spiral. There’s a whole section of calming thoughts in the anxiety and phobia workbook.

Here are a few of my favorites…

I can be anxious and still deal with this situation.

This isn’t an emergency. It’s okay to think slowly about what I need to do.

I don’t need these thoughts —I can choose to think differently.

At least one of these is going to be taped on the dashboard of my car for my driving adventures.