Health, relationships

Angst in Iowa

When you’re a kid, you think everyone’s home and family is like yours. This changes when you “spend the night” at your friend’s house and realize that she doesn’t eat kimchi and rice. And her family goes bowling on weekends. And her parents don’t make her do extra math problems after completing her homework.

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It took me a long time to discover that anxiety and depression are not normal – that, in fact – they are states of suffering. It took me a long time to learn this because there was so much disquietude and tension everywhere: in my house, in her house…

It is everywhere:

“Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in the U.S. They affect over 40 million adults (18 and older) or nearly 20% of the entire population every year.”(ADAA)*

AND…

“Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.” (ADAA)*

I know that all kinds of people have all kinds of disorders and that medication might be the only solution for a small percentage of the population. But I also believe that far too many of us want a quick fix in the form of a pill.

Anti-anxiety drugs, or “anxiolytics,” are powerful central nervous system (CNS) depressants that can slow normal brain function. They are often prescribed to reduce feelings of tension and anxiety, and/or to bring about sleep. Anti-anxiety medications are among the most abused drugs in the United States, obtained both legally, via prescription, and illegally, through the black market. These drugs are also known as sedatives. (Mind Disorders)**

Before considering drugs, let us try all the other options:

  • exercise
  • meditation
  • cognitive behavior therapy
  • getting more sleep
  • a better diet

…just to name a few natural alternatives!

 

 

Citations:

*Anxiety and Depression Association of America (https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics)

** Read more: http://www.minddisorders.com/A-Br/Anti-anxiety-drugs-and-abuse.html#ixzz4zZvioxv3

 

 

Health

Is Benadryl Harmless?

It started a little over a year ago.

I would wake up at around 1 or 2am every single night. Er, morning. I would be wide awake and it would take about a half hour for me to fall asleep again. Of course, I’d feel less than 100% the next day. I need my sleep, at least 7 if not 8 hours. A friend of mine suggested I take Benadryl. She’s a nurse, so I trusted her.

Taking Benadryl every night helped tremendously.  I slept through the night and felt refreshed each day. A creature of habit, I did this every night for over a year.

And then I read this article.

Basically, anticholinergic drugs have been found to cause dementia in people 65 and older who used them for over 3 years.

This was the first study where they looked at over-the-counter drugs. You would think that if you don’t need a prescription, they’re very safe, wouldn’t you? Not so.

The writer recommends you take all the drugs you are taking, put them in a baggie and discuss your use with a doctor. I have mixed feelings about that. Of course, it sounds logical. However, for those of you who know me, I was diagnosed with breast cancer over five years ago and I believe that it was caused by being on birth control pills for so long. When I complained to my OB about my PMS pain, she literally pushed me onto the BC pills and assured it was acceptable to be on them for years.

I’m Asian. I don’t eat much red meat. I exercise regularly and am not overweight. I have never smoked. I have no breast cancer history in my family at all. I am in the lowest quartile for breast cancer risk. And yet it happened.

That’s my hypothesis. Beware of popping pills to solve your problems! You might create bigger ones!

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Personal Success

Security

Tonight, I tucked Ava into bed and whispered, “How about tonight you don’t suck your thumb?” She replied in her snotty pre-pre-teen way, “Yeah, that’s gonna happen.”

She reemerged from her room to whine and half-cry that she has a canker sore. Willey jumped from his chair to give her a swig of Listerine, coaching her to swish for as long as possible. She whimpered in pain. Then he swept her up in his arms and flipped the light switch off with her fanny. “You can turn the light off with your butt.” She giggled as he carried her to her bed.

I’m sitting in bed, typing, with an ice pack on my chest. I had my fifth (and final, I swear!) surgery Monday. It’s been almost one week. I felt a swelling and bruising start today and basically freaked out because the last thing I need right now is an infection and to go back to Dr. Parson’s office for drains. That would be a major bummer. This surgery was to correct some positioning and to give me “nipples.” It went well as far as I can tell. It will be a resounding success if I keep infection at bay!

During this summer break, we took a vacation to Legoland. It was just what we needed: mindless fun. Ava had her first roller coaster ride and Josie rode mini-cars with her sister, both earning “drivers’ licenses.”

In addition to this fun, I worked all of June, teaching remedial English to incoming 7th graders and training for my new Ed Tech job. The teaching was challenging. How do you work with 12 year old students who can’t spell “dirt?” How do you impress upon these kids that they need to do their best ALL of the 15 days of summer school, not just two or three? How do you retain your cool factor while admonishing them for eating Doritos and candy for breakfast?

I’ve also taken this time to address dental and medical appointments for the girls. Ava is starting to show an overbite as well as what orthodontists call “overjet,” which is caused by her night time thumb-sucking. I want to do the right thing. I want to purchase an appliance if that is what is necessary. I know she will stop sucking her thumb if her thumb is met by a row of metal on the roof of her mouth. But I am mourning for her at the same time. She has always sucked her thumb and it brings great comfort to her. Her thumb is her best friend. It’s time for her to find security in something else, but what? Peaceful thoughts? I wish I had her equivalent of the thumb…something that brings me instant calm and repose.

Security is a state of mind. Sometimes, in the deepest, darkest corners of my mind, I wonder if I still have some residual cancer. Did they get it all? How will I know whether it’s back? I want a 100% guarantee that I will remain cancer free forever. I want to know that Josie and Ava will always be safe and happy and employed. I want to know that Willey will always be healthy, too. There are no guarantees. There is only the opportunity to shed light on the dark corners of my mind with the joy of the present moment. When we are fully present in the moment, there is no room for fear or worry.

Personal Success

1988

Ambition Bird

so it has come to this

insomnia at 3:15am

the clock tolling its engine

like a frog following a sundial

having an electric

seizure at the quarter hour

the business of words keeps me awake

i drink hot cocoa

that warm brown mama

i would like a  simple life

all night i lay

poems in a long box

it is my immortality box

my lay-away plan

my coffin

dark wings

flap in my heart

each an ambition bird