Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why I Sometimes Thank Jerks for Their Comments

Even the most uproarious jerk has experienced this. You're out and about. You're living your life like you do and Bam! some person you don't even know has something to say about your clothes, your appearance, or my personal favorite: how you parent.

I don't have a lot of insight as to why people do this. I'm sure I'm probably guilty of doing this on occasion as well.

It's all in how you take it, I guess.

For me, the comments people say about my appearance, I use as a necessary gauge of my health.

Because I have an invisible illness, most people do not understand why I disappear for long periods of time or don't partake in activities that I feel are going to cost me my health i.e. late night parties, bars, extreme social situations. I've only lost a few friends over this. I much prefer hikes, bike rides, the gym, books, movies, and other online games. I've accepted this. And I do engage in more social activities as my illness improves.

Before diagnosis, I called my extreme debilitating flus my Fiona disease. One of the main characters from the movie Shrek, Fiona, is cursed with sometimes being a beautiful princess and the rest of the time a transformation occurs that causes her to be an ugly ogre.

When in the first phase of a cyclic vomiting episode my appearance begins to change. Like I am morphing into some hideous monster, my skin sometimes develops an orange cast to it, acnes and rashes appear all over my body, and my hair no matter how much I wash it appears greasy. People who don't suffer from an invisible illness are simply struck by how different I look. They don't understand. Before diagnosis I would get comments like, "You look tired," or "You look like you're having relationship problems."

I still don't understand that one.

Before I knew what was happening to me this, of course, was a little soul-crushing. I simply felt like I wasn't good enough. Then I would disappear for the next week and quite possibly end up at the Emergency Room.

This continued until my diagnosis. Then things changed. As my body began to heal, my face started to glow. My hair stopped looking so disheveled. No one commented about my appearance looking in anyway less than tolerable.

Pretty good sign my life changes were working, huh?

The real kicker with my illness, however, is it has triggers. One of them is stress. They've linked one cause of CVS episodes to be raised cortisol levels in the body.
Here's from one of my favorite research sites, The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and  Kidney Disease:

Specific conditions or events may trigger an episode of cyclic vomiting:
-emotional stress, anxiety, or panic attacks—for example, in children, common triggers of anticipatory anxiety are school exams or events, birthday parties, holidays, family conflicts, or travel
infections, such as a sinus infection, a respiratory infection, or the flu
-eating certain foods, such as chocolate or cheese, or additives such as caffeine, nitrites—commonly found in cured meats such as hot dogs—and monosodium glutamate, also called MSG
-hot weather
-menstrual periods
-motion sickness
-overeating, fasting or eating right before bedtime
-physical exhaustion or too much exercise

For the full article visit here.

Because of this, I do not have toxic relationships with people. If you're someone who's reading this wondering why I stopped talking to you after an argument or some sort of discourse please understand that I walk away and shut the door on arguments. I'm big on forgiveness, and the reason I never reached out to you is because reaching out to you might land me into the Emergency Room, and not because you knocked a few teeth out like you may have wanted to. I simply can't do that stuff.

Here's a photo I took of biofeedback specialist Dr. Myron Thurber for a magazine. He didn't remember me, but I am so glad I met him.
That leads me one lucky experience I had when I broke my neck, wore a halo for three months, and had a couple months of physical therapy. Never thought I'd use lucky and broke my neck in the same sentence.

While doing my exit interview, the physical therapist asked me if I was having trouble sleeping. I answered yes, but not because I was in any pain, because I was having nightly panic attacks.
After the interview, she introduced me to a gentleman currently getting his doctorate in something called biofeedback. She set me up with several sessions with him.
In a darkened room, he put these thimble things on my fingers that had wires coming out of them and connecting to a computer in front of me.
For the next several weeks, a few days a week I would sit in front of a computer screen and learn to control my blood pressure.
The tool used was a video game. The sensors placed on my finger tips read my blood pressure. If my blood pressure was too high a floating rock going horizontally across the screen would go up. Too low and it would fall down. My job was to keep the rock floating across the screen. This taught me to control my blood pressure and my stress level.
He explained that my panic attacks stemmed from me slipping to my subconscious right before sleep. At this moment right before slumber, a person can't move their limbs. Sort of awake, sort of asleep, and super paranoid about not being able to move, I panicked. These panic attacks I was experiencing were causing all sorts of imbalances in serotonin and other hormones because of the quick fight or flight response or release of adrenaline.

By learning to control my blood pressure, I was able to maintain my stress level during that vulnerable time when a person falls into slumber and stop my panic attacks.

So how does this help me now?

For the most part, I can control how stressful things affect me.
For example: After a vacation to the ocean this summer we broke down still several hours from home. During this experience, I started laughing uncontrollably. My husband even commented, "Tammy this is really serious."
"I know, I know. I'll call a tow truck," I said while laughing hysterically.
Let's just say the car breaking down was the least stressful thing that has happened this year. I'm only human and I'll say that the stress of life has begun to affect even successful biofeedback patient me.

Lately i've started getting comments on my appearance like, "You look frazzled," or "You look stressed." Finally yesterday I realized I was having a hard time calming myself down. And I started thinking about the little comments tactless people sometimes say. I realized I wasn't in control anymore. So I reached out. I did some self-care and finally, I calmed down.

Thank goodness for people and their little jerk comments. Without them, I might never see that I'm losing the battle with stress and that my body as a result is about to have an abdominal migraine. They are my gauge to my health. So thank you. But only when the biofeedback stops working.

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