4 Reasons Why Self Care is Hard

Hey bb’s!
I am sure you have heard about self-care, (especially if you have a form of chronic illness), and have been told to practice self-care. In my Social Work degree, the idea of self-care was beaten into us. But what is it? It is the way of taking care of yourself when you need down time or are feeling symptoms due to your illness. (ie Seizures, exhaustion, flare up, hard to walk, etc.)
self care.jpg1.You Feel Selfish
Taking time for yourself to recharge or just tell your partner or friends that you cannot do much one day feels crappy. It feels weird sometimes to say “Hey I can’t come out and meet you because I had a really bad sleep and pushing myself would be too much.” I am lucky that my fiancee is super supportive and understands that some days I can’t do too much.

2.You Miss out On Social Events
Sometimes when you need some good self care time, also happens to clash with social events that you were looking forward to. This year I missed my own birthday party due to Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures. I was super bummed because the majority of people were actually attending! It was for the best though, and thankfully it wasn’t on my actual birthday.

3.Sometimes you don’t know *how* to self-care
Prior to getting many seizures, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what is in my self-care toolkit. (Stay tuned to find out what they are!) It can be difficult to figure out what the best self care options are best for you. For a person with a chronic illness, it can vary greatly, as everyone has different abilities. Going for a short walk might be good for me but not so good for a person with arthritis who is experiencing a flare up.

4. Your Self-Care can seem “lazy”
if You need to rest in your home without doing much, it can feel like you’re being “lazy”. As a person who never, ever wants to be called or labelled as lazy, this is a very hard one for me. When I legitimately need down time, I wish I could have done more around the house, and it makes me feel bad when I haven’t pulled my weight when my fiancee comes home. Although she understands, I am very hard on myself, which drives me crazy.

I’m having a self care day, so I have been thinking about this a lot. I’ll be posting about my own personal self-care toolkit soon so stay tuned!

Love,
Sita Gaia xox

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Sita Gaia VS. Anxiety

Hey bb’s,

Stressed-out-anxious-woman-980x654I overbooked my schedule this week and now I am exhausted. That caused two seizures so now I am too anxious to leave the house. This is so shitty when it gets like that. I had plans to see my mum and get pedicures for an early mother’s day gift, see a friend who is going back to the UK forever on Saturday, and help my fiancee with groceries.

Let’s say one thing: sometimes I go into overdrive and feel I need to be as “productive” as a person without a chronic illness. That’s what fucks me over and I still haven’t learned the lesson, but sometimes I still feel the need to do try harder and harder.

Honestly, all I wanted to do was see Melissa McCarthy’s new movie tonight and chill. Yas I love her, as she is fucking hilarious.  I rewatch her really old show (that, let’s be really is problematic) Mike and Molly because it’s funny.

I hate the anxiety that comes with epilepsy. Yes there are tons of things that can combat it, such as meditation (and I meditate daily), but it’s a reality. I know that. It pisses me off. I hate staying at home all day as I at least like walking down three blocks to the Starbucks but it makes me anxious, and my fiancee anxious. Yeah, I know that dwelling on it doesn’t help, but I’m not happy with how my day is turning out.

Lots of love,

Sita Gaia

What I Want my Amazing Health Team to Know

SpoonsFirst off, I have an amazing health team to help treat my Refractory Epilepsy.     I have a top notch epileptologist, Vagus Nerve Specialist who comes in from out of town once a month, an epilepsy nurse who is fantastic, a neuropsychiatrist who I see every 6 months, and a psychologist who I see once a month. Plus I would like to add my family and friends. Whew! What an amazing  team!

Although my epileptic seizures are under pretty good control now (HALLELUJAH!) there are things I need my team to know.  Epilepsy is not just seizures.  Epilepsy now for me means counting my spoons ever so carefully. If you don’t know what the spoon theory is, check it out here: the spoon theory.

I always need to make sure that I don’t over-book my agenda. If I have appointments that week, I really can’t over socialize. I also need to  make sure I have time to help my fiancee around the house and grocery shop on the weekends.

So, health team, I need you to know that I struggle with anxiety and depression, despite the fact that my seizures are much better controlled. I need to opt out of things last minute if I am feeling exhausted. I am doing my absolute best, but sometimes that means combating the depression or anxiety that looms over my head on a regular basis.  Just because the seizures are gone, there are still things that I need to work with. Don’t pity me, I just need you to know.  I am a chronic illness warrior, so I keep fighting the good fight.

Thank you for doing all of the amazing work that you do! I couldn’t get through it without all of you!!

Love,
Sita Gaia

Sita Gaia VS. Exercise

Hey bb’s,

18268368_10154392609790776_7290771774937748565_nWoohoo it is almost summer! Finally done with the hybernating!
I have been feeling a bit down today but I had some errands around the house to do so I did them because I knew that would help. I have gone on and off being a couch potato as TV is one of the major things that calm my stress and anxiety. I remember coming home from high school in Grade 12 and Oprah was on and i felt my stress melt away as I stretched out on the couch.
In university I went to the gym 5 days a week and did Zumba on Monday nights and sometimes even Sunday mornings! I was a bit of a gym rat, and going to the gym relaxed my stress from school and relationship issues. At 21, it became difficult to go to the gym due to my uncontrolled seizures and decided that yoga would ultimately be my workout. I love yoga, but I missed that satisfaction of a sweaty workout.

Today I was looking at the photos that I put up, and one of them was of just me that my friend took in my other friend’s Jeep See above.. We were all headed to the beach and I looked so happy. “What happened to that Sita Gaia?!” I asked out loud. I quickly decided to actually use my fitness clothes that were sitting there, and I popped on my headphones and snapback. Let me tell you: running after a long time was hard and I am sure I was huffing and puffing but that’s okay! I came home and since it was SO hot out, I pointed the oscillating fan in front of me as I did more full body exercises. I feel more like myself now and my low mood has been replaced with serotonin. It’s fucking fantastic! Sure, I won’t be able to do this everyday, but this is literally a step in the right direction!!

Love,
Sita & Jojo

Carrying a Stack of teacups through life

teacups-stacked2What it’s like to have a life that’s stacked like those vintage teacups that get passed down from generation to generation. I sit in Sabina’s office, one of the many counselors I have seen, but she gets me the most. I know she met her husband in Japan and has a daughter who has “special needs” because she’s cool like that. I gotta Other counselors wrap themselves up so tightly that you think you might be looking at a ghost.
I sit on the left side of the couch, because I can never switch things up. She has a tiny box on the couch-side table with sand and a teensy rake. Apparently it helps?
I say Sabina “I never know where I will be from second to second. I feel great but then that stack comes crashing down and I face plant”. She nods thoughtfully. “That must be very frustrating to have no idea when things are going to change”. She sits across from me in her office chair, but she always looks relaxed. Sita, they were trained to be relaxed. Duh. You know that. I look at the ground. “Uh yeah it’s scary. It’s hard to talk about but I can’t be a recluse”. “You’re doing a great job Sita.” Just like those teacups. I think to myself. They never break. Their strength in history makes them stronger. I’m not sure- I never studied history. I studied a dumber version for students with learning disabilities. What do I know about history? All I know is that the past is the past, although right now can change. I force myself outside, all the while bringing those cups with me. Who knows what will happen? Without living, who knows? I have learned that. Moving through life with stacked teacups is tiring, but I gotta do what I gotta do.

Have You Fallen Into the Depression Trap?

Halle-f*ing-luah! I made it out of the house! I have been struggling a lot with depression again as it has decided to loom it’s ugly head.
If you have never had any depressive episodes, first of all knock on wood immediately. In my talking with my mental health crap, everyone experiences it very differently.
my shoes.jpg
My depression is like a wet towel. It’s not cold, but very heavy. I mean, have you ever tried carrying around a sopping wet towel? Not too comfortable. At the same time, I don’t feel super happy or sad. I just can’t really feel anything. Ask me to meet you somewhere last minute? Forget it. It is very hard carrying my body around- and I think people feel this regardless of their weight.

My depression is a bit of a trickster. It tells me that no one likes me, and someone is ignoring me on purpose. It tells me I am alone, when in fact I have an amazing fiancee who works her ass off, parents who couldn’t be more supportive, and a brother who lends support from afar. I have friends who check in with me, and cousins I can talk to, plus extended family.

My friend Ty has been through the same stuff as I am going through, and when I was struggling to put on my shoes he said “I always know that I’ll feel better when I leave”. A mantra that I used in university popped into my head “I’ve done it before so I can do it again”. Like that, I managed to pop my feet into my ever so stylish if Kate Spade and Keds had a baby shoes, and grabbed the keys.  Oh My GOD! I made it! I probably sat there on the couch for ten minutes trying to decide whether to go out. I wanted the stimulation of other people being around, so naturally doing my writing in a coffee shop seemed ideal.

The world was a bit grey and gloomy out, but I was so proud to walk down the street. I just knew I wasn’t able to lie on the couch the rest of the day. (Even though my fiancee offered to get my blister pack, I wanted to take that task out of her day).

I know this will pass, and since I have been there before I know that for sure. So if you’re struggling, try and see a doctor (even a walk-in clinic) if you are able, and try to challenge yourself to what seems like the biggest barrier.

5 Things You Never Knew About PNES

Hey friends! How are you? I have been off the radar a little bit because I have been sick with episodes and PNES. Don’t know what PNES is? Be prepared to find out!

1. PNES stands for Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures. Across the globe people disagree what to call it- but in North America it is called PNES.

2. PNES is triggered by traumatic events, similarly that PTSD is. These traumatic events can range from childhood to adulthood. In my case I believe it is having serious epileptic episodes that have caused PNES.

3. PNES episodes look like seizures, although they are not coming from the brain. They look like seizures, although are more like a panic attack. When I had my most recent episode, I had a very stressful meeting, and then after I headed to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription. There are a few steps leading into the store, so on one of the steps I “felt weird” and immediately sat down. I started to breathe evenly, because I knew it was PNES. This part is spotty, but I remember gasping for air and my fiance was torn up beside me. I was getting very hot in my Winter jacket, but couldn’t say anything. I also wanted someone to call 911, but again thankfully that was taken care of. I was grasping for words when I could finally start talking, but it was really slow.

4. 20-30% of people with epilepsy have PNES. I remember being so mad when I was diagnosed with it! Not only did I have to deal with seizures, but these weird trauma seizures as well!

5.  It is challenging to treat PNES. For me, I use regular meditation and deep breathing.
According to http://www.epilepsy.com, “For some patients with psychogenic non epileptic seizures, the seizures are a manifestation of trauma, which is also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In order to treat patients with PTSD, the clinician has to take the seizure apart to see what the seizure represents in terms of emotions and memory as well as where this trauma is stored in the body,” Some people use Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing to help their PNES.

Essentially, these days I am working through my PNES. I am super frustrated that my seizures just started to get under control and the PNES is popping up all over the place.

bigstock-Woman-Depressed-Series-27249164.jpg

Love,
Sita & Jojo

A Blog about Living a Whole Life With Epilepsy