More Than Just A 5K

Exposure therapy is a type of behavioral therapy that is designed to help people manage problematic fears. Through the use of various systematic techniques, a person is gradually exposed to the situation that causes them distress. The goal of exposure therapy is to create a safe environment in which a person can reduce anxiety, decrease avoidance of dreaded situations, and improve one’s quality of life. A number of mental health issues can be treated with exposure therapy. Many people with anxiety and trauma-related issues have found exposure therapy to be helpful. Applicable mental health issues include, but are not limited to: phobias, social anxiety, general anxiety, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), obsessive compulsive anxiety issues (OCD), and panic attacks.

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My mental health conditions started when I was younger. My depression for example was diagnosed when I was in the 5th grade, shortly after my grandpa passed away. My PTSD started when I was in middle school, and my other conditions, like anxiety with panic attacks  and my OCD all started when I was in high school. Since then I’ve been diagnosed with other conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar, ADHD, and social anxiety. 

I didn’t really start receiving any treatment for most of my conditions until around 2009 or 2010, and I didn’t start going to therapy regularly until 2014. 

The idea of exposure therapy was first introduced to me back in 2010, when I saw a show on VH1 called The OCD Project. The show featured multiple patients who all battled with various forms of OCD, anxiety, and phobias living in a house together and over the course of the show the patients would receive different types of therapy, including exposure therapy which put each person into a controlled worst case scenario situation. To be honest I don’t remember much about the show, I don’t remember if the exposure therapy helped any of the patients. The idea though of exposure therapy has stuck with me since seeing that show. 

Since I started receiving therapy I had always hoped that my therapists would want to try exposure therapy on me. I truly think that I would see benefits from exposure therapy, especially when it comes to self confidence. Bob and I have sort of been doing small exposure therapy things since we moved down here and started going to Disney World and Universal. I have a really hard time with crowds and Bob has always been comforting and supportive every time we’ve gone to a park and kind of let’s me go at my own pace, and he doesn’t force me to do anything that may make my anxiety worse. Just from the handful of times that we’ve ventured to the parks I have already seen some growth in the confidence department. 

Then two or three months ago my Facebook friend Craig and I were chatting the topic of  Disney marathons came up, and he mentioned that there were openings for the Star Wars 5K. Immediately in my mind I saw it as exposure therapy, and kind of without hesitating I decided I would sign up. I knew that if I allowed myself time to think about it, I would somehow talk myself out of it. I have never been someone who likes walking more than I have to, let alone running. The last time I really remember running was back in middle school when I was on the wrestling team. 

I started going for walks by myself, which was already a big step for me, and eventually I found that I could walk a few miles almost every day. Bob was supportive of me going for walks, I think he saw it as real growth for me since when ever we go anywhere he always kind of has to be glued to my side, but with these walks I am doing them alone and I’m doing them on my own, nobody is forcing me to do them. 

I do do my typical worrying when I am on my walks, I am constantly worrying that someone will attack me from behind, or someone will try and rob me, or someone will break into the house while I am gone. So to say that I am easily going for the walks isn’t true, each and every walk is kind of another war that I have to fight in my head. And honestly, if I had to say what has made it a little easier, it’s that I now tell myself “so what, let it happen” every time a bad thought comes up. I mentally have to build myself up before each walk and I leave the house expecting the worst to happen to me and then when it doesn’t happen and I make it back home to find that everything is ok, then I can relax.

Around the time that I signed up for the 5K, my therapist went on maternity leave, and she tried getting me set up with another therapist. I’ve seen the other therapist 3 or 4 times now, but honestly I’ve felt like I’ve kind of been doing this on my own, preparing for the 5K without the help of a therapist. I received a call today from the therapist that is filling in and she said that my regular therapist will be returning in the next few weeks. I am really looking forward to doing the 5K this Friday, getting a medal, and then having it to show to my regular therapist when she comes back, I know she’ll be proud of me.

With the 5K just a few days away I already feel the bird sized butterflies in my chest, anytime that I start thinking about the 5K or chat about the 5K with anyone my hands begin to tingle. Yes I am very anxious about it, but I am also excited for it. Sadly Bob couldn’t get that day off of work, so I won’t have him there for support, but my friend Craig is going to be there and he says that he’ll be right beside me the whole time. I don’t want to bug him with my anxiety so I am going to try and internalize everything and do it on my own. I haven’t had a good nights sleep the last couple weeks, I say my prayers before I go to bed and as soon as I reach the 5K I begin worrying and then it all kind of snowballs into anxiety.  Last night I began having a mild panic attack while praying and I ended up having to get up out of bed to take meds a couple times. 

I didn’t go for a walk today, which I was kind of bummed about, I started wearing a different pair of shoes that I tied differently late last week and I developed a big blister on my left heel. Yesterday after my walk I saw that the blister had tore and I put neosporin on it and put bandaids on it. I am hoping it will heal up quickly so that I won’t have to deal with it on Friday. I’ve read a few articles that have different tips for how to prevent blisters and how to treat them for when you are going for walks and runs, so tomorrow I am going to try out wearing two pairs of socks to see if that helps. Then on Thursday depending on how the two pairs of socks works out I might try putting deodorant on my feet to see if that really helps or not.

The 5K will be the closest thing to exposure therapy that I’ve ever faced, I will have to deal with big crowds with everyone being kind of bunched up together. Unlike at the parks, everyone will be going in the same general direction, which will make it a lot easier. Craig and his friend Maria will be there for support and guidance, but I am going to have my earbuds on and will be listening to music. 

I’ve never really had an opportunity to earn anything since graduating high school, let alone do something that the average person might not be able to do. This 5K will be a real test for me, and I am going to try everything I can to do my best. I know my anxiety will only be getting worse leading up to it, and knowing my stomach conditions I will probably be throwing up the night before and the day of and possibly right before and during the 5K. It’s going to be a battle, my body and mind aren’t going to want to do it, but I am going to have to overcome them.

Wish me luck on the 5K


April Update

Well April is in full swing, I figure I should dust off this blog and do another post. I don’t really know why I even bother, everyone that looks at this also is my friend on Facebook so they know the majority of what’s going on with me just from my posts on there. I guess I just write on here like it’s a journal, detailing all the main points of my life so that one day when I get bored or need a remind of what I’ve been through I can jump on here and see that yeah I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life but I’m still alive. I think everyone needs that kind of reminder a few times on their life.

Since this blog is relatively private and anyone that reads it seems to be interested in me I do occasionally post about things that I don’t share on Facebook, things that I feel are too personal to share with everybody. In this post I will be sharing some of those things.

I guess to start I will go over everything that has been happening since my last post, but seeing as how I am already in the writing grove and don’t want to stop to go check what I said in my last post because I hoe stay don’t remember what I said, I will just do a quick recap. 

Here we go!

I am still working on my clothing company, I haven’t been doing that many designs lately because I kind of lost inspiration. Anyone that looks at my designs will probably say that my designs are mostly text based, and that I need to work on doing better graphics, so honestly what I’ve been doing the last couple months in just doing tutorials and side projects to push myself and grow as an artist. I’m realizing as I do some of the random tutorials that I don’t use a lot do the tools that bigger artists use. For example the pen tool, I honestly hate it, I never liked using it, but now I am starting to see that it’s one of the most important tools for someone that wants to sell their designs.  I kind of pride myself off of being “self taught” in Photoshop, I’ve never taken formal classes where you learn to use it, everything I know I have picked up along the way while doing small tutorials to learn different effects and also from seeing a design and dissecting it until I can reproduce it for myself. I wouldn’t say that I am good at what I do, mostly because I can’t really define what I do. I’m kind of my own worst critic when t comes to seeing my designs.

I am still preparing for the Disney 5K, which is in less than two weeks. I haven’t been going for walks every day like I was a couple months ago, Daylight Savings Time really kind of kicked me in the balls. Before I could wake up between 5 and 6am and it would already be light outside, but now it doesn’t get light outside for another hour and I’m kind of an impatient person. As soon as I wake up and get dressed I want to go right on my walk, but now I’m stuck having to slow down or distract myself for awhile before it’s light enough outside. 

    I ended up being hospitalized again last month because I was feeling really overwhelmed with some stuff that was going on and when I get really stressed I have suicidal ideations. I was also having delusions caused by my schizophrenia, that had me fearing for my safety. Luckily the day that I was feeling super overwhelmed was the same day that I had a psychiatrist appointment, so instead of having to call a crisis line or 911, I just had to wait a few hours. My psychiatrist saw that I was struggling and I was brutally honest when I answered her questions and she had me moved into a different office and then about 15 minutes later a police office walked on and escorted me out to his car and I was brought to the ER. I ended up sitting g in the ER for a few hours and then they eventually moved me down to the intake ward and then that night they transferred me over to a mental health ward. I was in the hospital a few days and made a couple friends. Bob was very supportive and came and saw me for almost all the visitation times. My mom and sister were also pretty supportive. I only saw a doctor twice while I was in there and they didn’t really do much to help me. I’ve had a couple therapy appointments since then and have seen my psychiatrist and she helped change some of my medications and I am doing a lot better. Being able to get everything that was stressing me off of my chest helped a lot and I realized that my delusions aren’t realistic and that I am safe here. I haven’t been going on walks that often since I got out of the hospital, and wouldn’t feel comfortable going on the path I was going before because one spot is kind of a trigger for bad thoughts.

    The day after I got out of the hospital I found out that one of my best friends on Facebook, and one of my best friends in general had passed away. He had had a surgery the week before and I guess he passed away suddenly when he was at home. His name was George and his posts on Facebook were sometimes the highlights of my day and I still find myself checking Facebook hoping to find posts like his. George was always someone that I could come to for advice and chat with. We had been friends on Facebook for a few years and after my grandma passed away he was very supportive and helped me out when I was at the lowest point in my life. I never had the opportunity to meet him in person or to properly thank him for being such a good friend, the last thing I said to him was that I was going to be praying that the surgery goes well. 

    Bob and I have had to bring our car into Pep Boys the last two weekends to have parts repaired, it’s made money pretty tight this month, and it’ll probably be that way the next couple months. 

    Finally after months of not-so-patiently waiting my physicians office finally got my referral set up so I can get hearing aids. I went in last week to pick out the color of my hearing aids. I will be picking them up this week. I’m a little frustrated with the hearing aid company because they think it’s ok to calibrate the hearing aids to my hearing test results from the last time they saw me (Fall of 2016) instead of testing me again, so the hearing aids could be messed up. They told me that the soonest they could give me another hearing test and program the hearing aids so they will work the best for me is in 3 months. When I had my last hearing test with them the doctor said that I had fluid in my ears and she sent me to an audiologist to get on drops for my ears and to also have tubes put in. I don’t want to damage my ears any more than they already are, but whatever I guess. I called my case worker and explained what I was being told by the hearing aid company and she called in to them and looked into it. She later called me back and confirmed everything about the hearing test. I am not entirely thrilled to be getting hearing aids, but I’ve come to terms with it. I had hearing aids back in Washington, but I lost them when I moved.

    Well I guess that’s the main stuff I wanted to highlight in this post. Until next time…