Achieving Goals

I spent a long while yesterday looking at various types of software designed to help people achieve goals. Most of it was gamification stuff that works similarly to Fitocracy–turn your goals into an RPG where you level up and such. iPhone apps for this kind of thing include EpicWin, Bloom, and Level Me Up. I’ve also been looking at Goalscape as a way of keeping track of the things I’m working on. Honestly, I’m not sure any of the stuff I looked at is stuff I’d keep up with well enough for it to be worth it. The problem with gamification is that it adds yet another level of stuff to do for every thing you have to do. Now you don’t just have to do things, you have to take careful notes of what you’re doing.

I am, however, looking forward to the release of SuperBetter, which apparently comes out on March 9th. I had no idea anyone was developing a real, online framework for this, but it seems like it might be an excellent thing to have.

I’ve been doing reasonably well at keeping up with mobilizations over the past few days, but experienced a significant uptick in pain yesterday and this morning, which is hard to deal with. I’m going to keep up with it, though, for now, unless things get unbearably bad. My goal is to get through a week doing at least one of each of the mobilizations I chose every day. I’ve been working on learning Ruby on Rails again, so so far I’ve been keeping on track by taking 5 minute mobilization breaks every hour.

Stuff is challenging, Life goes on.

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New Workout Strategy

Since my former exercise plan seems to have been too much, I’ve been trying to work out a new, lighter one with exercises geared toward both anxiety and movement. The movement stuff is mostly mobilizations, with some walking also. The anxiety stuff is mostly breathing exercises. Most of it can be done at 5-minute increments, which means they’ll fit into the 5-minutes every hour breaks I’ve programmed into Time Out Free. I’ve been using Fitocracy to track what I’ve been doing, but am considering making use of HabitForge as well. I haven’t decided yet if I think it would be helpful. I don’t want to feel overwhelmed by the stuff I have to do, but I do want to remember to do it.

The current plan is roughly as follows:

Every day:

– 3 5-minute sets of neck circles

– 2 5-minute sets hip rotation

– 2 5-minutes sets spinal twists

– 5-10 minutes bioenergetic breathing

– 3 abdominal lifts

– 30 minutes walking

MWF:

– Core strengthening exercises

Hoping to fit in some time each day for self-massage, either with the tools I have, or, ideally, the bath trick.

I’m still operating under the assumption that a significant portion of my pain is stress, and trying to figure out how best to approach that. I’ve decided to move out for now, and I’m still working on CBT exercises. My brain still gets overworked pretty easily, so it’s a challenge to find things to do that take my mind off of things that don’t involve too much movement or thinking. Still trying to work out how to get around my limitations in that regard. Haven’t found much in the way of solutions yet except to hope that the brainslow is mostly due to anxiety and something that will pass when I manage to get that under control better. We’ll see.

CBT is proving consistently interesting but difficult. I had a sort of manic period the other day, which was very strange, and seemed to be on account of moving my brain away from the habit of worrying so much. Hopefully that was a good sign. Not feeling as up today.

ABRUPT ENTRY TERMINATION!

Mixed Day

The CBT seems to be going mostly well, though it’s also difficult and kind of scary. Today was a fluctuating day with respect to pain. I felt great in the morning and midday but had an uptick later in the day. Could’ve been stress, but it’s impossible to say for sure.

One of the tricky things with pain is that you tend to feel however you feel now is how you’re always feeling. If I feel good, everything’s super and getting superer. If the pain is bad, I feel like nothing ever gets better ever. Keeping perspective is a challenge.

All About Voices

“All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

-George E P Box, “Science and statistics”

I love this quote. I spend a lot of time thinking about models for thinking about things. They’re all wrong, but I think they’re useful. Here’s one that relates to depression and cognitive behavioral therapy:

You’re surrounded by voices. Voices in your head, voices of other people talking to you, voices of other people talking around you, media, books, movies, TV, what-have-you. What the voices say effects you. It effects you in an immediate way (e.g. it sucks when someone says “You suck!”), and in a longer-term way. Voices effect you in a longer-term way because they are habit-forming. Spend a lot of time around someone who worries a lot, and you’re more likely to worry a lot. Spend a lot of time around someone who has a consistently positive attitude about things and you’re more likely to manage one yourself. Spend a lot of time in a system that tells you your value is defined by your GPA, and you may start to think your value is defined by your GPA. Spend a lot of time worrying yourself, and you’ll get better and better and better at it. Every time you worry about something, you’re practicing that worry, reinforcing that habit.

In a sense, there are two things you can do about depression: You can try and change your situation, and you can try and change how you react to your situation. You can try and change the external voices, or the internal ones. Both can be useful, at times both can be vital. If you spend too long on one and it doesn’t work, it makes sense to look at the other long and hard. Sometimes your outlook sucks. Sometimes, as the quote goes, you should make sure you’re not just surrounded by assholes. Sometimes both. Sometimes you need CBT, you need to practice redirecting your thoughts from negative habits to positive. Sometimes you need to get away from people or places that by their nature direct your thoughts to the negative.

Horses are not spherical, but spherical horses can be useful.

CBT Thoughts

I had a really shit morning this morning. But for now, I’m going to talk about something else.

I’ve been trying cognitive behavioral therapy stuff over the past week or two. Getting myself to be nicer to myself and stuff. This is hard for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, it makes me feel crazy. I already knew I was generally the sort to be hard on myself, but holy shit, itemizing the ways in which I am makes me feel absolutely insane. There are so many. Fucking everywhere. WHO DOES THIS?! WHO IS THIS UNREASONABLE WITH THEMSELVES ALL THE TIME?! Perhaps this is a good thing, though. It’s harder to justify being a dick to yourself when really looking at how often you are a dick to yourself makes you feel insane.

Second, paradoxically, I think I’m afraid of not being anxious. Anxiety is a natural state for me. Obsessive “You must always know and do exactly the right thing at all times”-ism is a natural state for me. Peeking out from that is scary. You think there must be some *reason* you’re always anxious about everything, so if you’re not anxious, something must be *wrong*. I’ve had the conversation more than once in my life where I talk about being obsessed to the point of unhealthiness with being a good person, and someone else says “But you obviously are a good person, you don’t need to worry about it so much”, and I respond, “What if I only am because I worry about it so much? What if without that worrying keeping me in line, I’m really a total dick?”

Third, I think I am afraid of that sometimes. It’s not just the reflexive “Anxiety is home, you are leaving home, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!” It’s that I genuinely get nervous about who I would be if I weren’t obsessively hard on myself all of the time. If I weren’t always asking if I’d done the right thing, how would I know if I’d done the right thing? I honestly don’t know how people do it, because this is the only way I’ve ever done it.

Also, I think this whole experience is forcing me to realize how much I define my worth as a friend by my ability to be supportive of others. Asking for help and support from people is something I find utterly terrifying. Piling on top of that my having to communicate the manner of support that is the most helpful to me (which my brain helpfully interprets as roughly equivalent to “Oh, you’re doing me a favor? WELL YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG, YOU FUCKNUT, HOW DARE YOU?!”), and I’m…having some challenges in that department. Everyone keeps insisting that they want to help and I keep being afraid that I’m just a drain on everyone and that people will get tired of helping me before I get better, and then what was the point of asking for help in the first place?

That is a hard fear to beat. AFGO.

Conundrum

One of the most significant challenges with respect to stress reduction has been figuring out how to approach the parental unit problem. My mom is a compulsive worrier. Possibly the worst I know, and being around that energy hugely impacts my levels of stress. In light of the relationship between pain and stress and depression and all that, this is a very significant issue, and one I can’t afford to avoid if I want to improve. Figuring out ways to deal with it is challenging though. More or less, I feel like I have four options.

1) Move out. I like this option in a lot of ways, but I don’t know where I would move. I feel like one of the things I have the most trouble with is finding times and places to be by myself, really by myself, to process things. While I have a lot of trouble dealing with my mom, having certain times during the week when I have a house totally to myself can be incredibly relieving and cathartic. I don’t know that I could manage that same level of By Myself-ness in any other arrangement. I’ve done the group house thing, and found it difficult, though granted it was in a terrible neighborhood and I’m sure that didn’t help.

2) Stay, and avoid the parental unit at all costs. Leave early, stay out late, whatever. A challenge, and something that I think might be difficult for my mom as well as me. She doesn’t like being avoided and I don’t like having to avoid her.

3) She stops worrying all the time. I’ve often thought my mom could’ve benefit from some cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s certainly shown promise for me. This would be a lovely solution if it could work, but even if she did go into therapy, there’d be no guarantee, and I would really like to have nipped this in the bud to the point that I can realistically work this summer before summer starts.

4) Find a way to not react to her the way I do. I wish I knew a way to do this. I don’t. Open to ideas, though.

Navigating this issue has been tricky for both me and my mom. It’s another of those things that I’d love to be able to figure out a way to grin and bear it, or some way I could configure my life short of winning the lottery and buying my own house that provided an easy, obvious, workable way out. Any ideas anyone has to contribute are definitely appreciated, though.

Things and Stuff

Yesterday I was in a lot of pain. I Could chalk it up to a few different things. That’s one of the challenges of dealing with MPS–you never can know for sure exactly why things feel better or worse. The pain varies on its own, and is definitely effected by stress and exercise, so my analysis of being in a lot of pain yesterday and the day before looks like this:

A) Could be due to my attempts at correcting my weird sleep schedule.

B) Could be due to the conversation I had with parental unit the other day.

C) Could be due to the exercises I’ve been doing.

D) Could be normal variation.

My suspicion is C with a bit of B added in, personally. I was able to hang out with a friend yesterday afternoon, spent a little while cuddling and talking a bit, and that seemed to help significantly, actually. the pain correlated very well with an increase in exercise and soreness, but seemed mitigated somewhat by the cuddling, which can only be a result of reduction in stress. In particular because by itself being still for as long as I spent cuddling is usually an aggravating, not a mitigating factor with respect to pain.

So that’s my guess anyway. I do feel significantly better today, pain-wise, but pretty bad stress-wise. Unsure whether or not returning to doing PT is a good idea today. Haven’t done PT in the past two days on account of the increase in pain. Better safe than sorry.

I had a bit of a scare last week when part of my back started feeling weirdly numb after some intense use of massage tools. It’s reasonably difficult to *actually* damage yourself with them, but I do use them pretty aggressively. Upon further investigation though, I suspect this was more likely a result of using a moist heat blanket for too long.

Insecurity

So I’ve successfully been doing mobilizations and PT exercises and crap for the last few days, and I think it’s possible some of it has caught up with me today,  which means no PT exercises ’til tomorrow, just to play it safe. Soreness. Grr. Very satisfying when it’s from doing things that would make a normal person sore. Not so much when it’s from doing teensy, tiny, baby exercises.

Also, trying to figure out what to do about living with a parental unit who stresses me out. Not helpful for stress levels or pain levels, but difficult to change. Sigh. Conundrum.

Living with a parent is also one of those things that frustrates me in general. In spite of the fact that I think given the circumstances of my life, I’ve made some pretty good decisions with regard to how I’ve approached school and living arrangements, it’s hard sometimes not to feel kind of pathetic still living with and being supported by parents at this age. Given my present condition, there are very few jobs I’d really be physically and emotionally capable of holding down until I work shit out, and I recognize that it’s important to have this time to work shit out and such. It’s still difficult to shake the feeling the everyone else is out on their own and there’s something wrong with the fact that I’m not.

It’s one of the most difficult inner battles for anyone with depression, I think. Fighting the urge to look around you at everyone who seems to have their shit together and just feel pathetic. The feeling pathetic doesn’t help anything, so most of the time I try to ignore it, or argue it down, or something. Ultimately, I think anyone in my position would be having similar difficulties with life in general. But there’s always that voice that insists on comparing you to all of the people who don’t have horrible pain and depression issues and insisting that you should be able to be doing what they’re doing. That voice is hard to silence. Totally unreasonable, and yet I’ve never found a way to make it shut up.

UI Geek Out

Now for a break from your usual subject matter. Here’s a random fact about me: I’m a user interface geek. I like thinking about how to design user interfaces for applications that are easy and intuitive. I got unreasonably excited when I first saw the “Pull down to refresh” thing that so many applications are using now, because I thought it was brilliantly intuitive.

Image

 

Today I downloaded the Skobble GPS app for iPhone and discovered another UI idea that I haven’t seen done quite this well before. The Skobble app main page has a some edges that form a distinctive shape this is used as the shortcut button to go back to it on other pages.

Image

Awesome. Anyway, now any chance I had of seeming interesting is gone and my blog can die sad and alone.

By ResearchToBeDone Posted in other Tagged ,

Workouts

Today was a decent day, painwise. I managed to get through a routine of mobilizations, PT exercises, and breathing exercises this morning, and managed to practice a bit of tai chi this afternoon for the first time in a while. For a period over the past few months, I had enough pain that the movements required for something slow like tai chi weren’t workable for me. For some reason, having little to concentrate on and moving that slowly brought the pain into focus more, and made doing tai chi basically impossible. Today was good though. I’m on a 3-day streak of managing to keep up with exercises. Hopefully it will continue.

I’ve been trying out fitocracy for keeping my motivation to do workouts. I’ve been annoyed that you can’t input your own options for exercises–I’ve had to improvise to record a lot of the PT and mobilization stuff I’ve been doing. Today I found out that 15 minutes of tai chi is worth about 4 times the experience that the mobilizations are worth, so I may be attempting to do more tai chi as a result. Hopefully the tai chi will remain feasible.

When I screw up and do too much or too little, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing my best, and not to be too perfectionistic. With the tai chi, for example, I used to take courses. I know, to some extent, what it’s supposed to feel like when I’m doing it right, and I’m not up to my standards right now in that department. I am doing it though, and that’s the point, and I’ve been doing well at focusing on the fact that being in the process of improving is really more important than being at a particular point. As long as I’m doing it, I’ll manage to get better with enough time, and doing it is really the hard part.

Anyway, three days of consistent exercise without managing to over or underdo it too drastically is an accomplishment, so go me. I’m feeling reasonably good about things at the moment, which is rare. Maybe the breathing exercises are helping the anxiety.