Sunday, April 7, 2019

Continued Education

I've been very busy! Even if one is sick one is busy... taking care of yourself and resting.

First, there was a week of figuring out how to overcome my own PTSD to figure out how to help someone else who was dealing with their own mental health crisis. Once I had the initial adrenaline rush when my neighbor banged on my door at 2:30 in the morning on Monday, March 11, just as it has done in the past, my sympathetic nervous system wouldn't calm back down. I felt the ongoing survival stress response all during the week... hoping that improved self-talk would calm me back down. I had to search my subconscious mind to figure out what exactly 'triggered' me. A memory? Or just an adrenaline rush? What was I telling myself? (Why can't you act like a grown-up?)

That Wednesday afternoon, there was a continuation of Monday night's drama. I was feeling powerless. At least I had company at the time who offered support.

On Thursday, I decided to face (unrealistic) fears and report the incident so I could find out what action I needed to take should it happen again. After all, I did go to the one-day seminar on Mental Health First Aid, and I desperately wanted to 'feel' like a grownup! In the course, we were told if someone you know (or yourself) is having a mental health crisis, to call the police department. Many of them have been trained on how to handle this type of crisis. I did, indeed, get the answers I needed, but my sympathetic nervous system wouldn't calm back down. (I find it interesting that it is called sympathetic as it wasn't being sympathetic to my plight.)

The following Monday, I felt sick. My body hurt all over, especially with intensified sensations of sharp points sticking into my upper back. My chronic sore throat got worse--to the point I couldn't swallow (and I thought about my inability to speak up when I needed to). The fatigue was a literal killer, and I often found comfort in my bed throughout the day... for 10 days. I had to sum up the courage to miss a monthly meeting for one of the organizations I belong to. In the midst of making that decision, I had a flashback of not being allowed to miss school when I didn't feel good. But now I'm a grownup and can make that decision for myself. Yes? I requested that someone else take the minutes for the meeting.

I got some energy back just in time for the morning of March 28, when I attended the first of 5 sessions of Master of Memory--Am I Losing My Mind? facilitated by the County Extension Agent. Since we all seem to have memory issues, I am sharing what I am learning... which, of course, is filtered through my perspective (haha).

I found out I am not as bad as I thought I was memory wise. There are 3 basic types of memory: Sensory (momentary sensations and impressions), Short-term (holds information for several seconds while we decide what to do with it), and Long-term (can last forever--even if it takes time to retrieve info). We talked about how we go blank when trying to remember something then wake up in the middle of the night remembering or recalling the following day a piece of information we couldn't remember the day before. I'M NORMAL! Unless you LEARN what is being processed in short-term memory, you won't retain the information.

Three types of learners: Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic. I learned that I am mostly a kinesthetic learner--one who learns best by doing--needing to experience something "hands on" to learn how to do it. Visual? There was a sentence with six 'F's in it, and I only could find TWO. How trippy! The class had a good laugh because I am not the only one. It was to prove if you are not a visual learner, you wouldn't see them all.

Why can't I remember? All kinds of reasons. One of these is stress (overactive sympathetic nervous system), and one of these is habits. Losing your keys (or anything else) when you put them in a different place is not a memory problem... it is due to breaking a habit. I think my life runs mostly on auto-pilot based on habits... including where I 'file' physical pieces of information. When I go back to look for something, many times, it isn't where I thought I put it. This happens in your brain, too?

The best learner blends the three types to maximize performance. You must exercise the brain regularly just like you need to exercise the body. If you do the same brain exercises every day, you will lose other parts of the brain's ability as if you are only exercising your legs vs. your whole body. Suggestions: do things with the non-dominant hand, word games, brain teasers, trying new and different learning methods, conversation, and continuing education. I prefer the continuing education part. Use it or lose it! It's been a while since I've played my guitar or keyboard. Maybe it's time I start again... motivated or not... so that part of my brain won't atrophy. Subsequent modules will address other aspects of memory.

The fatigue lifted, but I still had pain and that awful sensation in my upper back and felt desperate for relief. On the afternoon of March 28, I went to see Bri (holistic nutritionist) and explained to her what happened with my dysregulated nervous system. (Feeling pleased that I now have the knowledge and terminology to understand and explain this concept.) I went home with instructions to increase a few of the homeopathic potions I already had along with a number of new ones, including supplements. I had to also 'allow' these to support my body's recovery.

I began to feel much better in a few days... just in time to get the energy I needed to listen to two new documentary series both of which launched on May 3: Broken Brain 2 and Eastern Medicine. So far, I've been able to watch all of them. My ears perked up each time the topic of the dysregulated nervous system was discussed as well as how chronic stress affects your overall health.

In between, I received an email from Rebecca Hintze on her newly released Emotions Mentor Podcasts. I listened to Key Steps to Developing Resilience, The Plague of Anxiety, and Mental Health & Where it Starts.

On May 4, I went to session 2 of Master of Memory--Memory Strategies. Strategies include Concentration, Association, Repetition, and Relaxation. I have some homework to do...