Train my Brain

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I am working on mindfulness, like I have mentioned before. I do take a small dose of Paxil each day to assist, but I do want to be off my medication one day. I have only been taking it for a few months now and before Paxil, I tried Effexor and Wellbutrin. Its funny because I was putting off medication for years and years even though my mom, who is also on medication, kept insisting that I give it a try.

When I was pregnant (surrogacy), I was sitting with one of my daughter’s doctors and she said “Have you ever considered medication for yourself? I know this isn’t your appointment, but maybe once you are done with the surrogacy you can see about getting yourself some help.” She went on to explain how my anxiety can trigger Abigail’s anxiety, moods, outbursts, etc. I had never thought about it this way.

Here I was, hyper focused on helping her, but forgetting to help myself. I was so concerned with her well-being and health that I didn’t even think how my own could affect hers. I was heavily involved with the IEP’s, doctor appointments, communications with the school district, teachers, behavior specialist, pharmacy, etc. but didn’t think of me being part of her treatment. Sure, I read up on quick fixes and how to raise a spirited child. I had gone to ADHD Overview classes and joined Facebook support groups, but didn’t think about my brain and how I am wired.

I mean, I know I have anxiety. I know I have a brain that won’t turn off. I know I have a little OCD and I think of too much “future” things that could happen and am constantly analyzing ways to solve problems that don’t or may not ever exist. All the excuses I made for myself over the years seemed stupid seeing as how I was giving Abigail all the help she needed. Why didn’t I deserve help?

“This is just me. This is the way I am.”

“If I take medication, it may make me CHANGE into a different person.”

“I may not be able to perform my job as well.”

“I don’t want to deal with side effects.”

Yet, I had noticed how therapy and medication had helped Abigail over the years. So, it clicked, right then and there. As soon as I gave birth in July 2015, I saw my doctor in August 2015 and started off with Effexor. Long story short, I am not on Paxil and have been taking it since about October-ish of 2016. I like it. It just takes the edge off. I am working on the rest.

Mindfulness. I had heard that word before, but didn’t really understand what it meant until I went to a mindfulness class. No wonder I enjoy yoga so much! It makes you focus on the present moment and pay attention to your breathing and your body. I tend to be in my head A LOT and don’t feel my body unless it is in pain. We have a high pain tolerance in my family, and I think this is partially why. We are in our heads so much.

To be mindful is really re-training your brain to be in the present moment. I thought it was silly at first, but I think this is why my memory is so fuzzy sometimes. I don’t have clear memories sometimes and I think it is because I wasn’t actually living in that moment at that time. I was consumed with something else in my head.

I started my mindfulness practice with these simple steps:

  1. Place small, bright stickers on items you glance at/look at daily/throughout the day. When you see these stickers it will remind you to stop, come back to the present moment. Breathe in and out and focus on your breath.
  2. Every time your brain starts to wander or worry, tell your brain “Thanks Brain!” and then put that thought away for later.
  3. I created a list of Worries to worry about at “Worry Time.” My worry time was once per day in the evening around 6ish. Usually by the time I got to my list, it didn’t seem like such a worry at all. Even just writing it down helped to get it out of the head.
  4. I’d bring myself back to the present moment by using a grounding tool: look around and see something, what is it? Name something you smell right now. Name something you can hear right now. Touch something. If you can, taste something.

At first, it is hard. It is difficult, like dieting or staying consistent with disciplining a child. Even disciplining yourself, since that is what this is. It is creating a healthy habit. It gets easier and easier. I am STILL on this journey. I don’t want anyone reading this to think I am all fixed and I have all the answers. I am broken, but still being mended, created, formed.

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