Turning tenderness into empowerment

I’ve been wearing a fancy pedometer for three weeks with much success. I’ve raised my steps goal, and seen a couple of wildly successful days. Saturday, I walked more than 7,000 steps! Unfortunately, most of those steps were while wearing unsupportive wedge sandals. Sunday, after attending an amazing church service and eating a huge Easter lunch, I was emotionally and physically overdrawn.

Upon waking this fine Monday morning, I was feeling sore and tender. By “tender” I mean emotionally sensitive and physically in more pain and soreness than usual. My whole person was just tender.

I got myself to work, worked on my to do list for the week, and started checking things off. At noon, I had therapy. Today began our exposure therapy, in which they make me have panic attacks in order to be less afraid of having a panic attack. It’s so much more complex than that, but it’s the gist. Re-training the brain.

I was not too anxious in advance of today’s exercise (but now that I know what they’re like? Another story.), but I didn’t do well. Exposure therapy basically exposes me to panic-like symptoms. Today we attempted to deal with a symptom that isn’t even one of my major ones: shortness of breath. I was to breathe through a straw — a coffee stirrer — while holding my nose for 30 seconds. I don’t know how long I lasted before I had a panic attack — I’m guessing three or four based on the following exercise.

My therapists, who I have officially come to rely on, were so generous with their time and compassion to make sure I did not take away a sense of failure from this exercise. I’m supposed to fill out questionnaires for 30 minutes and have therapy for 60. My questionnaires took less than 30, and my therapy took just less than 90, I think. Ordinarily, I would have carved out some time to give myself a good cry over my failure to conquer the tiny straw. Today I pulled myself together.

I met my steps goal, went home, and got on my bike. Shortness of breath beat me once, but I was determined to enjoy a bike ride. I even crossed an major intersection TWICE! I was so short of breath at one point that I thought my heart or lungs would explode, but I kept going.

About 10 minutes after I got home, I did some hatha yoga. I equal parts love how my body remembers to slide into the poses correctly, I also noticed my (VAST) weaknesses. 

I’m still feeling tender, but I have so much to look forward to! My work is exciting, and I am taking a vacation! 

I wish Future Ashley and everyone else reading this blissful, successful endeavors. 

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