Anxiety on High

Today has been rough. And it’s only noon.

I woke up somewhere around 4 or 5 times last night. My sleep was messed up.

I had plenty of caffeine. I forgot food. I wasn’t hungry but I ate a chocolate muffin for lunch.

I was in a daze driving to school. I almost cried in the middle of class this morning. I bought a book and a sweater to lift me up. I skipped tutoring because I would have cried.

I still have another class to go to. I tried to read a book. But I can’t do it. This is all I can do.

Anxiety is on high.

Technology Experiment

For school, I had to do this experiment where I either did a “technology fast,” for example “no twitter for a week,” try a new technology, or do some kind of mindful activity. I chose to do a mindful activity–running. For five weeks I had to journal about running each week. During the course of my experiment I learned something about myself. However it wasn’t about how technology affects me. It was a new diagnosis that changes the way I understand how my body works. A lot of things make sense now, but at the same time it makes it much more difficult. I constantly have this feeling that I’m making it all up because I’m just lazy. I want to tell myself that it’s not true. I’m kind of lost to be truthful. In any case, here is my log. 

Week 1 – This week I decided that my experiment would be to run 15 minutes a day without my phone. In other words, I won’t listen to music, I won’t try to map my route, I won’t share about my run. I will simply run for my own good. I’ve started out slow. I realized quickly that I won’t be able to run, so instead I will have to walk. I walked two days this week. I walked on the treadmill in my house. I felt so good about walking that I did a full workout at the gym too. I went to the gym with my mom. We weren’t sure where to start, so we simply did some of the machines. We started with 10 minutes on the treadmill. Then we went to the machines working our legs, arms, and back. It felt pretty good. And it was a good kind of sore afterward.

Week 2 – This week I continued my walks, walking only 3 times this week. I walked around my neighborhood instead of on the treadmill. I found that it was rather difficult. I did my walks with my mom. We did about 20 minutes each time. I found that it caused my whole body to ache quite a bit. And it didn’t seem to lift my mood at all. I just felt drained. I went to the gym one day at the end of the week. I did a really great Crossfit-style workout with the rowing machine, kettlebell swings, and push-presses with the barbell. I was sore for two days afterward. But I still felt kind of drained. As far as technology, it felt good to be away from my phone. I didn’t miss it at all. And I didn’t feel the need to share about my accomplishments with a picture or video or anything.

Week 3 – Walking got even harder this week. So difficult in fact that I didn’t walk on the treadmill or in the neighborhood, or do any workouts. I had been feeling exceptionally drained. I was feeling a lot of fatigue. I was able to muster enough energy to get to school, pay attention, get home. But then crash. I went to the doctor. I thought that maybe I had some kind of arthritis, inflammation, or something. The rheumatologist examined me and determined that I didn’t seem to have any kind of inflammation. She didn’t see anything wrong with my joints. But she had determined that my pain, stiffness, and fatigue were due to fibromyalgia. She explained it to me, gave me a pamphlet, and got me a prescription to see a physical therapist. Since I was already on a major medication that helps reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia, she didn’t prescribe any other pills, which I was so glad for. This was a very difficult week. I spent a lot of time on my phone researching this condition, what to do, how to deal with it, and simply resting. I knew that even walking was pushing myself, so I stepped back even from that.

Week 4 – I couldn’t bear to think about walking, I was so tired this week. I finally got a call from the physical therapy office to set up my assessment appointment. I went and did a little bit of exercise there. It felt kind of easy because in the past I’ve been so used to working out really hard. I’ve always pushed past the good pain. I used to do Muay Thai and CrossFit, both on the same day. I worked out every day and really pushed myself. In the recent couple of years I always felt like I couldn’t get myself to workout. Now it all makes sense, it’s not a fault of my will, it’s my body. I thought that setting this goal of just walking would have helped me get back on track, but it turns out that my body really can’t do it right now. I’ve been so bummed out about this. It’s not in my nature to want to step back, I usually want to step up and work harder. Anyway, I’m hoping that working with the physical therapy will give me strength and help ease the pain and fatigue in order to get fit again.

Week 5 – This was the second week of physical therapy. I go two times a week. She got me started on pool therapy. So I walk in the pool for 6 minutes, then do various shoulder and leg strengthening exercises. Then I do some other exercises outside of the pool and finish with heat therapy, and these electrical stimulation things on the back of my neck and my back. I’m feeling a little better in that I’m getting some exercise. By being in the pool I realize how weak my body is and how much harder this would be to do outside of the pool. I’m glad that I’m going through physical therapy, and I’m thankful for medical insurance. This experiment morphed completely from being about changing the way I use technology and to get into healthy physical habits to learning about the limitations of my body and glad that we have technology. Without technology I wouldn’t get the medical advice, I wouldn’t have the medication, the physical therapy involves a lot of technology as well, and I’m glad for all of these things.

An update.

Six months since I’ve written. What can I say about that time?

I finished my first semester of seminary school.
I was in Death Valley for three months.
I started my second semester of seminary school.

That about sums it up. Chronologically and factually.

What about emotionally? Oh, I’d say it has been a roller-coaster. More like a kid’s roller-coaster. You know, the kinds that just slightly has it’s ups and downs, nothing major. Still a roller-coaster though. Death Valley was a dark place emotionally. I felt lonely and separate from everything. Most of the time I kept my emotions in check. It was hard work. I’m lucky that I was able to mostly keep it together.

Now I’m going into this second semester of seminary. I’m feeling mostly good. It feels amazing to be back home. After my summer experience, it really feels like a huge blessing to be where I am right now. I have the stress of school. I have the stress because of my current weight. My body doesn’t feel well. My mental health is suffering as a result. I have to put in the hard work for my body. But at the same time I have to put in the hard work of school. It’s already a month into school, and I haven’t quite gotten into the rhythm of anything. I better step up fast.

My prayers are just that I can keep myself together emotionally and do what needs to be done. And there is a lot to be done!

School Has Started

Seminary school started two weeks ago. I’ve been busy. So many events to go to, so many new people to meet, so many new things to read! Plus I volunteer at church, and I have to work. And take care of my mental health. It’s a lot! How does God fit into the picture?

A common problem with studying theology is that it tends to focus too much on the knowledge and not nearly enough on the spiritual learning. I’m beginning to see how that’s entirely possible. At the same time, I’m encouraged by my professors. I’m taking two classes on campus, and both classes begin with prayer to focus ourselves on why we’re there in the first place. For my online courses, the professors are always bringing in the spiritual piece to the conversation. Back on campus, we have chapel, where we have a speaker give a talk on spiritual matters. It’s encouraging to be at a place like this.

This week I have started to get scared. I have a lot of work to do over the weekend. But I also have other commitments. I’m worried about how I’ll get everything done. I had a bit of a breakdown at work this morning and had to go home. Then I slept for literally half the day.  This only adds to my worries. But I’m going to be strong and confident. I’ll get through this. I’ll work diligently at doing what I can, chip away, and study at every moment I have.

What I’m learning most is that God is good. School’s tough. It’s busy. It’s stressful. But I’m hopeful. I’m learning so much. And I’m encouraged by everything I read and hear. A thing here or there strike me differently and get me thinking but it’s a good sign. I’m excited for all that this semester will bring!

 

Normal Anxieties

Remember how I was excited about getting back to my goals? Well, I ended up catching a cold. Coughing, sneezy, runny nose, body aches. So much for watching my diet and exercising. Haven’t eaten much. Haven’t moved much. Pretty much sucks. This kind of sick just has to run its course. It better hurry up, because I’ve got stuff to do!

One week until I start seminary school. Later this week is orientation. I’m super excited to get started already! I’m ready to learn! I’m also getting nervous. What if it’s too hard? What if I can’t keep up? What if I fail? These are normal anxieties. A lot of people feel this way when they step up to something big. But that’s why they’re big dreams. Not everyone has the courage, will, and determination to do it. So here I am, making my attempt, answering the call. And I will be successful. It’s a path that I’m ready to take on. Each step will lead me to bigger and bright things in the future.

 

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.”
(Psalm 67:1–2)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
(Isaiah 60:1)