panic disorder

Feelings During a Pandemic

I have tried several times over the course of being home during the pandemic to sit down and write about how I’ve been feeling, what I’ve been thinking, and what I’ve been doing, but I can never seem to get the words right.

Luckily, my friend Cory has a blog called The Davis Daily and he wrote three compelling posts about how life and work has changed during the pandemic and where it will go from here. I encourage you to check it out here.

I am of the numerous people out of work as a result of covid-19. I have gone through a rollercoaster of feelings that I would like to briefly touch upon:

Fear

Prior to the closing of my workplace, the feelings of fear of the unknown were quite strong. I watched as surrounding areas closed their clinics and wondered why we weren’t doing the same. When we finally did decide to close, fear of the unknown was not only limited to the unknown of the virus but the unknown of when I would be able to go back to work again. Fear grew to include possibly contracting the virus, being asymptomatic, and passing it on to my mom who works with vulnerable populations. As an older woman with some health issues of her own, passing it onto her was terrifying. It still is, despite being in a bit more contact now with grocery deliveries than before.

I still feel fearful about going out. As time goes on, and the weather gets nicer, it looks like less people are following protocols. I fear that there will be another increase in numbers and this will last longer.

Calm

I finished my coursework in the first few days of being home. I didn’t have work to keep busy. And I have waves of a satisfying “calm” that I don’t have these two things pressing on me. I also feel calm because I feel grounded, and not in the “I’ve been bad and have to stay home” kind of way. I feel at peace (mostly) with myself and that is a wonderful feeling.

Anxiety

Naturally, the calm comes and goes and I found myself anxious of not having things to do. I am the type of person who likes to keep busy. I usually have a packed schedule. The flexibility in my day made me anxious – as if I had to be doing more. I started studying for my exam. I got into an exercise regime. I started Couch to 5K. And somehow that made me less anxious. I was filling my days with meaningful activities.

Extreme Joy

A few weeks into creating this wonderful new schedule, it was turned upside down when my boyfriend and I became parents…dog parents. We had been on the list for adopting a puppy for months so our desire to get a dog stems far longer than the pandemic. We adopted a beautiful cockapoo pup named Briggs (who has his own instagram account if you’d like to follow him! @thebestofbriggs). He has brought such joy to our lives and has kept me incredibly busy during this time with training, playing, and making sure he’s on his best behaviour. He is now 15 weeks old and sleeps through the night, can remain in his crate/playpen for 3.5 hours at a time, is potty-trained, and can follow basic commands. We’re working on some fun ones but would rather get him reliably doing the important ones such as: sit, down, up, look at me, leave it, drop it, go to your place, shake a paw (he can do both paws!), and stay. He loves playing fetch and playing with the dog next door.

Briggs has also brought positive changes to my mental health. He’s a great companion and has a calming presence (most of the time).

Briggs the Cockapoo

Guilt

I’ve wrestled with this emotion a lot over the course of being home, as well. And I’ve felt it for different reasons: guilt of not doing more, guilt of not wanting to do work, or study for my exams, or enjoying my alone time. Guilt that I have all the time in the world right now and I can’t keep the house clean or commit to my exercise regime.

I have also felt guilt with Briggs. Guilt that I’m not doing a good enough job training him is a big one. I have been reading online something about this being the “puppy blues.”

Final Thoughts

It will soon be time to take the pup out of his play pen so I’ll leave with this: however you’ve chosen to spend your time during this pandemic is okay. However you feel during this pandemic is okay. Your feelings are valid. These are not normal circumstances. Life is not normal right now and it is uncertain when we will ever be “normal” again. Make use of the time we do have. Chat with your friends, spend some time alone, check on your family members, write letters to seniors in nursing homes, donate to the food bank, binge Netflix, or do whatever it is you want to do. We’re in this together, even from 6 feet apart.

Wellness Wednesday: March Check-In

There has been so much I have wanted to say in the past month but the words don’t come as freely to me as they did before. It has been quite the month to say the least but what I can say is I’m exhausted, I’m worried, and I’ve been fighting the fight since day one.

But before I get into that, let’s check in with my February goals and see how that’s going:

Goal #1: Be more physically active

I am so happy to say I have actually done well in this area! I am continuing to do yoga every day when I wake up, and am doing another form of exercise (usually HIIT or another more intense yoga video) three times a week.

While I haven’t been following Yoga with Adriene’s March calendar, I have been selecting videos based on my mood or muscle groups to target and have still maintained this habit.

I feel lighter, taller, my posture is better, and I’m overall feeling more awake in the morning.

Goal #2: Eat better 

So far so good for this one too! Woohoo! I am still keeping track of the meals I eat. Rather than strictly counting calories, I am also being more mindful of eating more vegetables and meal prepping more. I am not skipping breakfast (for the most part) and with my Hidrate Spark water bottle, I am also drinking more water and reaching my water intake goals for the day. Although they are a little more on the pricey side, the glowing reminders and the graph tracking my progress throughout the day has been very reinforcing.

 Goal #3: Keep Going

With this mindset, I am feeling proud of the work I have put towards improving myself. I have lost about 8 lbs since February 2nd but even more importantly are the non-scale victories I have been achieving:

  • my clothes fit better
  • my energy levels are much higher
  • I have continued sticking to a routine
  • I am more mindful of what I eat, do, and how much I sleep

Other Events in My Life:

I may have mentioned this in the past but I work as an instructor therapist with children with autism and other developmental disabilities. If you aren’t a resident of Ontario (or even if you are), you may not have heard that the provincial government has changed its autism program in terms of funding.

To quickly summarize: children were previously assessed on need and several children were on a waitlist to access services such as IBI (which is work I do – Intensive Behavioural Interventions). This plan claims to clear the waitlist and provide families with more choice.

While on the surface, it looks to be more fair and equitable, it isn’t. The only way it IS fair and equitable is that NO children will be able to access the treatment they need for success. Here are Mike Moffat’s 10 short reasons the new Autism Program should be scrapped. (I could honestly write like, 10 more blog posts on this subject ALONE)

For a more detailed look at what the Ontario PC government has claimed and the truth behind those claims, check out this article.

Here’s how it affects me:

  1. I am so worried for the children and families. I have worked in adult services and that is no walk in the park (honestly, I could also write a few blog posts about this as well). I have so much hope for these children, especially those I have worked with and I want the best for them and their futures. Families are being put in a difficult position financially, emotionally, and mentally. They have a hard enough time with day-to-day activities but are now forced to spend what little spare time they have to fight against the government on social media, through emails, meetings, and other efforts. Being an empathetic person by nature, it is impossible not to take these feelings to heart and feel what they feel. I continue to fight with them for a better solution.
  2. Job security – Families pay for services which then pays us. Lack of access to services due to insufficient funds means lack of work. It is very uncertain in the field of ABA how companies will be able to stay strong financially throughout this crisis. This is widespread across the province with layoffs beginning in companies already. While I have faith in my organization and the strong, dedicated leaders, the uncertainty is not something I am good at handling as someone with a diagnosed anxiety disorder. I am a planner. I like to know what lies ahead. I don’t have that. I am nervous. I am trying to remain positive.

That is just scratching the surface of all of the thoughts and feelings I have about this today. I will be releasing an infographic I created talking more about the Ontario Autism Program for those interested.

I’m off to do a night yoga routine before going to sleep. I need it tonight, especially.

23dfd7ad18bf3024dd58ecbfe8f8f5ff.jpg

Mid-Month Checkup: March Goals

Here we are at another Monday. January seemed to drag on so slowly and now here we are more half-way through March.

Let’s reflect on how my March Focus goals have been doing so far:

Focus on my work and school work:

  • I downloaded an app called HabitBull to track my good habits. I love it because I’m very data driven and it creates graphs based on your performance!
  • I’ve started breaking down more of my tasks into smaller parts to make them easier to complete. I have completed quite a bit of work on my dissertation so far because I’m made it seem more manageable.
  • I have tried to take on more of an active role at work while also trying not to spread myself too thin. I know when to say no and how to prioritize things a little better.
  • To keep myself engaged in what I’m doing, when I do work at home (school or otherwise), I set a timer for about 30-45 minutes. I work on one task for that time, take a break, and then switch gears to something else. It seems to be working so far.

Focus on my health:

  • Well, if you asked me how my immune system is doing, I’d say not great. But judging by the last three months, I’ve started seeing a pattern of when I start getting sick: the week leading up to my menstrual cycle. In the past few days, I’ve started taking supplements daily to help kick my immune system and overall health into gear: probiotics, Omega 3’s, Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, iron, and a multivitamin.
  • I got a gym membership at a new gym this month and have been twice already and have created a fitness journal and written down workout ideas. I am hoping to start going 2-3 times a week (perhaps more).
  • I started stretching every morning!
  • My skin care routine is great! Feels like a normal part of my morning and evening and it feels so soft.
  • I have written in my Five Minute Journal every day this month so far! Haven’t missed a day. It has been a great, positive way to start and end the day and it has become more of a habit than it was in the past.
  • My anxiety has been up and down this month with a few more down times than I was expecting. Meditating and remembering to stay grounded has helped and I have been looking up other strategies to get through tough moments of panic.

Focus on my relationships with others:

  • I have taken more of an active effort in my friendships – spending more time answering texts, talking to them on the phone, and making plans to see them.
  • I continue to reflect on these friendships and welcome new ones into my life.
  • I am appreciating times with my mom more. She has always been my best friend and my number one support system in my life and as I grow up, I want to return the favour and support her in any way that I can.
  • During this incredibly busy time of year, my boyfriend and I despite distance and responsibilities manage to appreciate the time we do get to talk and spend together even if it’s working on things together, sharing things about our day at the end of the day on the phone, and support one another with all that we do and I am so grateful to have him in my life in such a positive and loving way.

I still have some work to do this month in each of these three aspects, but there is still time to “focus” on them.

Happy Monday, everyone and have a great week!

2ccbc96297d22faf7fd3130b983d34ea.jpg

An Anxious Minute

Inhale…

I am trapped in my mind and sometimes, I don’t know how to escape it.

A rolling script plays in my mind with all of the items on my to-do list. The anxious side of my brain is screaming. “You have to get them done! What are you doing sitting around?” The depressed side of my brain lacks motivation and drive and I sit still and lifeless. The response effort just to type this post is almost unbearably too high.

Two minutes ago, I was asked, “how are you?” Without hesitation, I responded, “Good, thanks, how are you?”

I’m not good. Why is it so easy to lie like that? Putting up a fake front to others is so easy for me. Almost too easy. If I go too long putting on the fake, happy front, I literally feel exhausted afterwards.

Exhale.

I forget to breathe sometimes. Steady breaths. I haven’t been to therapy in about a year. I was tired of paying someone to teach me techniques I could learn from Pinterest posts.

Inhale.

Five things I see: a door, the tv, my boots, my phone, my thumbs typing this post.

Exhale. It’s not working. What a stupid exercise.

Inhale.

How many other people around me are pretending to be someone they’re not?

Exhale.

My current heart rate has decreased from 104 to 88. I have turned on the Relax function on my FitBit.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

This will pass, I tell myself. This will pass.

It’s just an anxious minute.

Welcome to From Panic to Plate!

Welcome to a safe place where you can read about two different things which are often connected: my experiences with anxiety and my experiences with food.

Read my story in the About section to learn about my journey of being diagnosed with Panic Disorder.

I look forward to inspiring your minds by both keeping the conversation regarding mental illness open and honest and by sharing recipes with you I have enjoyed making over the past few years.

Cheers,

– M.

22365347_10209803538756248_2914602065610906639_n.jpg