Monday, April 21, 2008

I Hate Deep Cleansing Breaths

Ok folks, here's the thing. We all know I'm a little mentally imbalanced. It isn't that I was born crazy. Well, to be perfectly honest, I've always been a little crazy, but before it was in the fun, spontaneous, unexpected crazy way. The good crazy. Now I'm just crazy-crazy, but as you all know, I am working on it. With my new BFF, Valium. If any of the Valium people are reading this, and want to sponsor my blog, do let me know, as I am your biggest fan. Seriously.

Ok, I digress. I need to join the gym. I really do, and I shall join, and soon,even though the gym I want to go to is crazy fucking expensive. I mean, for the price of this gym, I should get complimentary bikini waxes and massages by the hot male trainers, but, sadly, that is not included. It does, however, have a pool, and so in the spirit of health, I am going to go forth and get down with the geriatrics in the arthritis 10 am swim. Rock. I don't mind working out with a bunch of old people. In fact, once in college, my roommate got me to go to her gym for 3 months of this "body sculpting" class. Which is honestly a special kind of hell. It was an hour of crunches, lunges, and then arm workouts. This was in sunny Florida, home of freakishly large insects, and lots of old people. And every old lady in that class kicked my ass. We'd stumble out of the gym, light up a cigarette and go for a cool down shopping session at the local Super Wal Mart. Now, before you give me shit about Wal-Mart, let me tell you that once the Woolworths across from campus closed down, this was the ONLY place to shop for anything. So we'd hit Wal-Mart and go through the aisles filling our carts with the stuff we'd eat later. Gummy bears for me, cereal for her. Sadly folks, this was probably the healthiest time of my life.

So I have been to the gym, I've had my ass kicked, cardiac-ally speaking by a 70 year old woman with large permed hair who wore full make up to work out, and I was ok with that.

I also took a somatopsychology class, and every 3rd lesson we would do Tai Chi. I liked Tai Chi, and it was more of a work out than I expected. At that time, I would really get into it, meditate, get stretchy, and whatnot. It was good.

Here's the thing. Since Ad died, I can't stand to be still with my thoughts. I don't sleep in anymore, once my eyes open, I'm up. No more languishing, sliding my leg across the sheets to find a cool spot, and flipping my pillow over for the same. Now, I hope out of bed, and when I knit or do mosaic, I watch tv or talk on the phone while I do it. Bottom line, I need to keep my mind as busy as possible, because letting it rest means accessing things I have no desire to remember.

One thing my therapist has really wanted me to do is deep breathing exercises. I keep telling him I can't. Recently, he asked me to close my eyes and take some deep cleansing breaths. The first one wasn't so bad. The second was was ok, and with the third one, I started feeling uncomfortable. It was probably around breath 15, when tears started rolling down my cheeks, that he said to stop. He believes me now. Apparently, he could see my shoulders continue to rise and rise without relaxing, my hands slowly curled into fists, and my breathing got very shaky.

I didn't notice these things, because I was busy trying not to have a complete freak-out, but it brought home an interesting realization. What the professionals like to call "a break through."

I am not comfortable inside my own body. Doesn't that just suck? I mean, it's not such a surprise. Physically, in the past three years I've developed 2 auto-immune diseases, I crushed my ankle and was bedridden for three months, I had a horrid steroid reaction that made me look like a pregnant bearded lady crossed with a gremlin that had just gotten wet (fat pads on my back). And then I watched as my husband died, and my dad got cancer, and oh, fuck me. Why would I like any part of this body?

Before, at least the mental was ok, you know? Apart from my vampire-like avoidance of mirrors when I was huge and bloated with no discernible neck and a beard that my waxer (to her credit, she was right) refused to wax off, claiming I'd then always have it.

But now, my body is fucked, I never know how I'll feel, how much pain I'll be in, how tired. I'm jabbing myself in the thigh regularly with needles, which has gotten a little tougher lately because I've lost some of the extra weight I'd put on trying to quit smoking and don't have that much fat in my thighs. Which normally would be a GOOD thing, but it makes it harder to find some nice fat to jab that needle into, and I fear I will soon be bending over and begging friends to jab a needle in my ass. Now, that will be an interesting friend test, don't you think?

On top of the physical blech, I'm kind of an emotional wreck. So much so, I can't do deep calming breathing! What kind of special crazy do you have to be to not be able to handle deep cleansing breathing?!

This kind of crazy. But that's ok.


Blogger Jo said...

"Apart from my vampire-like avoidance of mirrors"

Oh, I know that one. Pam from is hosting a fitness-a-long if you would like to join.

Good luck!

6:49 AM  
Blogger turtlegirl76 said...

I'm joining in the fitness-a-long too. It's so much easier to stick with something when you've got a bunch of people supporting you.

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All is totally understandable. The gym sucks for most people IMO. I know I have to force myself to go and I've been pretty bad about it. Maybe the exercise will also help you work off/out some of that sadness/angst. I hope you find some peace.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Jennu said...

It is all perfectly understandable. You might want to try counting your breaths and starting over after 5. That might keep your attention focused on the breathing. I also find that yoga is a good meditation for me, since I have to pay attention so I end up properly aligned and all that. Your gym might have yoga classes, though with your health issues, you might want to try an Iyengar studio (or see if the gym has Iyengar classes). They're all about modifying for your individual physical limitations. I can do yoga with my bad back, neck, knees and ankles (and extra weight) so maybe you can too.

8:24 AM  
Blogger honeybee33 said...

I totally get it. Being in touch with your body means getting in touch with your feelings, which are patently overwhelming right now. Very Gestalt. If your psyche's not ready, your body's not ready. Trust me, this "deep cleansing breaths" thing will be a decades-long process. There's time. Go get a latte and call a friend. ;~)

~ hb33 ~

11:31 AM  
Blogger katiedid said...

I agree about counting breaths. It gives you something else to focus on and then you can let in a little of the memories at a time instead of being flooded. You will eventually have to deal with them, like I did when I finally quit drinking after my husband passed away, but you CAN control the pace at which you deal with them.

I hear ya on the getting in shape thing. I'm going to start... as soon as this semester is over.

1:44 PM  
Blogger sassenach said...

*hugs* =)

5:42 PM  
Anonymous alke said...

Dear little Knittibell,

Do not worry about this. There is a reason your body won't allow you to stand still, it will show the way out as soon as you're ready. I have survived 32 years without this Deep Breathing - driving my singing teacher crazy. When I was ready, I've learned. Not a day earlier! You're so strong and willful and creative - you will even on "half a breath" overtake many of us. Enjoy this thought.

It's only because you're made aware of it, that it seems like an issue now....

7:59 PM  
Blogger Lanea said...

The deep breaths kick my ass too sometimes. Not everyone understands that, for people who have suffered big bad trauma, the "cleansing" breaths are invitations to spew forth terror ans sadness and fear and and and. So, if it's any consolation, I am right there with you on the Group W bench.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Annie, my thoughts are with you. Good luck with your workout regimen, and maybe you'll make some new wise, seasoned friends.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Just wanted to say that I read the blog regularly - don't know you - but every time you've posted a picture I've thought 'wow she is so pretty'. So there. :)

8:05 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Thank you, everyone! I start Physical therapy this week, and once I've done 2 months of that, to teach me how I am and am NOT allowed to move my spine, I'll be allowed to start working out. I'm definitely planning to give yoga a go, once I learn which moves I am not allowed to attempt!

Nicole, thanks, that's very kind of you! I don't have any photos of myself in full steroid mode, but I have one or two when I was getting back to normal, where you can still see how rough I looked... I'll try and scrounge one of those up! :)

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I started going to a gym in January. Mine is freakin' expensive as well. I go everyday and it's amazing how much better I feel. It's completely true what they say about it improving how you feel mentally. I work on my upper and lower body on different days, do cardio, take classes such as yoga, pilates, spinning, etc... Once you start going, you will become addicted. It's the one hour a day I am totally focused on myself. You can't beat it. Good luck and keep us informed!

8:09 AM  
Anonymous tiennie said...

Can you call yourself crazy and still be considered crazy? I don't think so. I think going to the gym will help you feel a lot better. Cheering you on!

4:17 PM  
Blogger Batty said...

It takes a while to get back into shape. Don't hurry, give your body the time to get its strength back -- it takes months. Be patient. You've been through a lot.

And keep up the good crazy! Get rid of the bad crazy, but please keep the good crazy, we love ya!

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

I wanted to comment when I first read your post but I had to beg a quarter to get on the bus from crazytown to just plain old crazy. Normalcy is so overrated, I can't fucking stand it.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're hard on yourself. There are a LOT of us who don't like to be or can't be alone with their thoughts - even those of us with no physical ailments, whose husbands haven't died and whose fathers didn't get cancer. For me, I have a bunch of other stuff I don't like to think about and need to stay busy. It's called being an anxiety-ridden woman, which most women are these days. Life sucks for most people. Period. And fuck the cleansing breaths.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two yrs after being diagnosed with early RA/OA I was walking into my favorite yarn store, and WHAM I was hit by a car, last thing I remember was my purse and body flying up in the air, and me thinking "hey; how did my purse get that high up in the air?" then SLAM as my head hit the pavement. Then he sped away. He was caught, did time in jail. Not much time. Since then, kntting still has been my friend. Grief and pain, two things we must feel in order to over come. I happened upon your blog and thought, what a beautiful woman. One day, the pain and the grief will subside but certain traumas never leave you. Nor do loved ones. Carry him with you always in your heart and mind. Klonipin and Valluim and Ambien takers Unite as these things all help. Screw the deep breathing exercises. I do enough deep breathing air now that I've been a non smoker for 7 yrs!!
Start new routines, play your music loudly and drown out the thoughts and memories when they get too loud. My therapist helped greatly by simply saying "when the thoughts or flashbacks start, STOP THEM right then and there in their tracks" Oddly enough, this works.

1:57 PM  
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Blogger Mumofzephyr said...

I can empathise with the crazy. I'm gradually finding peace after the death of my son nearly 8 years ago, but it's a tough road. And I'm there with you on the avoiding mirrors!

4:15 AM  
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