Breathe easy.

Today wasn’t my best day however I did get the feeling of self worth and motivation when I woke up. I got ready for work, I chose my outfit, what makeup to wear and what coat was going to finish the ensemble. I am a woman that likes to be prepared as you never know what the day will bring. I then toddled off to work before sitting down with a cup of coffee and a dose of medication before starting my work duties.

Spontaneity is something I enjoy when it revolves around simple things like going out for a meal or going for a quick drink somewhere. I’m a woman that likes the simple life. As long as a little laughter can be thrown into the mix then I’m champion. Sometimes I cannot cope with spontaneity as the occasional fear of not having my medication to hand still frightens me slightly. I’m getting better at releasing those negative thoughts.

Pre diagnosis I was a little girl whose parents had split up however their permanent separation drove me to want things they never had like marriage and a house to call my own. Post diagnosis I had turned into a former shadow of myself wracked with guilt, worry and uncertainty. Through the art of communication I have since been able to backtrack and start picking up the pieces I let drop for so long.

Throughout this blog topics such as anxiety, medication, friendships and emotions have been discussed however breathing techniques are something I have always found to be fascinating. Who ever thought that breathing properly can change your mood entirely?

It’s remarkable how one moment you are mid shake with no way of looking back and then the next minute you are sitting on the floor your thoughts running away with you and the negativity becoming so great that you draw all the negative points of your life into that episode. When I used to have my seizures the same rules would apply only this time the seizures would make me lose all memory.

Bob had identified my breathing pattern and one day made a comment about the clothes I was wearing.

“Those are tight jeans aren’t they? Why are you wearing a waist belt?”

My initial thought to this comment was “Who are you like you fucking perve? You’re my councillor not my husband”. I could see Bob was taking an interest in my feelings however never imagined for one second he would say that.

“Why do women have to wear such ridiculous jeans, don’t they realise that they are restricting their airflow by wearing stupid garments such as these? It doesn’t help stress at all!”

My thought was howay Bob we are in the 21st century and tight jeans are all the rage. The more the session continued the more I accepted what Bob’s rant was all about.

Let’s just put it this way. I interpreted it all wrong and apologised immediately. Bob asked me this question as he could see that although I was a follower of fashion some of the clothing I was wearing wasn’t suitable and can in times of stress be detrimental to my health.

My first reaction was “What a load of bollocks, how can a pair of straight/skinny jeans restrict my breathing? Is this fella mad?”

No he was completely the opposite.

To my surprise what Bob asked me to do next made me realise that sometimes altering your clothing can have a dramatic effect on the way you breath/hold yourself particularly when you are feeling stressed. He was trying to teach me something.

Bob asked that I remove my waist belt and asked that I sit comfortably upright in my chair. I hesitantly removed the waist belt and followed his instruction.

Bob had established from the very first session that I was a woman who couldn’t relax and could see that my breathing was all out.

I was a person who was stressed all the time. It was evident to see in my posture and my speech.

Every time he would talk to me I would be on alert a bit like a meercat when it’s looking for prey. My head would be up and I would be on edge. For as long as I remember I have never been a woman who can relax, I think I did that because I was pre empting a seizure coming along. I never thought I could physically relax. I enjoy reading the weekly glossy magazines and having a small soak in the bath from time to time however I have never been one who can relax fully.

I keep promising myself that I will take up a new hobby however I have always been distracted during the process. I was never like this until I was diagnosed. The only time I was actually relaxed was when I was sleeping because my mind was active constantly. Jobs would only ever get half done and I would be kicking myself when I had to return to them to finish them off. Why couldn’t I just sit still for once?

I used to be able to relax freely however as soon as medication was involved this changed drastically. Was this a side effect of my medication? Who knows.

I am now in the process of trying to break that cycle and have that me time and you know what I thoroughly enjoy it when it does happen. Ode to anyone reading this: Please just make half an hour for yourself each day, it makes the world of difference!

Anyway back to the breathing..

I sat there upright in my chair (waist belt removed) and started to breathe as I normally would. I had a tendency to keep hunching forward. He asked that I remain upright and breathe from the stomach not from the chest. Sometimes by breathing from the chest is actually causing you more stress than from the stomach. Try it.. Deep breath in and exhale slowly. For me it transported me somewhere else.

He asked that I take a slow deep breath in before then releasing that air slowly from the pit of my stomach and dropping my shoulders whilst doing this technique. He explained that if you are doing this properly my eyes would feel heavier and my body less tense. This is the way I should be breathing on a regular basis.

For ten minutes I was made to do this breathing exercise. Don’t get me wrong my chest was sore and my arms heavy however when our session was over I felt a different person, a more relaxed person.

This was easy why didn’t I not pick up on this sooner. Who ever thought breathing correctly would change my thought pattern when I was stressed out. Bob asked that as homework I continue to do this breathing for 20 minutes per day 10 mins on a morning followed by 10 mins before going to bed.

So I did what my therapist asked and combined by breathing with the remaining awareness session we had. For once I was starting to appreciate that stress can be managed, seizures cannot be controlled however you can make your life easier without constantly worrying about them and as for the rest of life the rest should hopefully fall into place on the basis I let it.

Things were looking up. I’d cried for too long, it was about time the smiles were out and the relaxation began.

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