I slept most of the weekend trying to cope with feeling sick and achy. No I don’t have the coronavirus. Maybe it’s allergies.
But most often, this time of year, it’s a special brand of cold and sinus-like symptoms that make me feel like I have a swollen face, stuffy/drippy nose, sore throat, and clogged ears.
Not exactly a lot of fun.
On Saturday, my counselor taught me a new tapping routine for my face that seems to help too.
So what did I do all weekend?
Sleep more than 20 hours this weekend. I woke up long enough to meet with my counselor on Saturday and didn’t wake up until almost 2pm on Sunday.
Drink sanity chai and moistening cold tea because the sanity chai is warming and drying while the cold tea helps add moisture back to my dry self and cools me down from the inside out. Yes I need both because the moisture to make all that drippy stuff had to come from somewhere inside me right?
So what does each do? And why?
Well, the sanity chai helps in a lot of ways, but for the purposes of this post:
Warms me up from the inside out when I feel too cold inside and too hot on my skin
Has astringent herbs to help dry out the places with too much moisture and reduce swelling (inside nose and cheeks)
But the drying part works everywhere in my body, not just the areas that need it
Helps me move stuff inside my body, improve digestion, and circulate blood – more sneezing, etc., but at least it’s coming out instead of staying in
And the marshmallow root/fennel seed cold (more like room temperature) tea does this:
Balances the heat from the chai so that I don’t start sweating or get a rash from too much heat coming out at once
Moistens the cells, tissues, organs, etc. from the inside out so that the sore throat and feelings of dehydration/dry skin, etc. go away
Helps with digestion and elimination so that all the stuff being moved around goes where it’s supposed to go – i.e. nutrients to the cells, blood to nourish the body, and waste to the elimination organ systems.
As for the ice packs, well I resisted them for a long time. For some reason that I can’t remember, using ice packs triggers anxiety. Lots of anxiety. But Sunday night I used an ice pack to reduce the swelling around my nose, cheeks jaws,, and eye sockets. Yes, I am being very specific because there are many places on the face that can get swollen. But these places always get swollen, puffy, and angry on my face this time of year.
No idea why. I can’t remember. Wish I could because that would help me figure out more effective coping strategies. But life is what it is.
So if I”m a little late in posting the next few weeks, it’s because I have a cold that’s not a cold and am figuring out how to stay healthy.
Spring reminds me of fresh starts, new beginnings, and growing things. Plants wake up and start blooming. The air changes. Earth smells fresh. Temperatures (hopefully) start to warm up. People open windows and doors to let fresh air in. And many people feel the urge to start Spring Cleaning. Or may want to clean, but feel anxious about it. Perhaps use cleaning as a coping strategy for anxiety or anxious feelings. Still other people feel the opposite and do everything possible to avoid house cleaning. No matter what emotions or thoughts the spring season brings for you, I hope the following information and recipe help you with your cleaning goals. Anxiety and Cleaning I don’t know about you, but cleaning house does not always feel easy or safe to do. For me, cleaning can be a physical and energetic challenge. The physical actions and smells bring flashbacks and body memories from childhood and adolescence. My muscles lock up and stop working. Or send sharp, stabbing pains in unusual places that send panic attack signals to the rest of me. … Whether you use cleaning to manage your anxiety, avoid cleaning to manage anxiety or fall somewhere in the middle, there are ways to keep your space as clean as you deserve on your terms. Plant based cleaners and DIY recipes are two options.
Cleaning as a Coping Strategy or a Coping Challenge?
On Scent Reflections, I shared some of my struggles around housekeeping and house cleaning – and an easy DIY recipe.
For many people, cleaning is enjoyable and something that keeps our home feeling safe. It’s a way to remove dirt, dust, germs, or clutter while also providing movement and exercise. Believe me, if you do it right, cleaning is exercise.
And cleaning is an effective coping strategy to combat anxiety, stress, or anxious feelings. It’s a safe way to release energy, offers an immediate reward and feeling of success when the task if finished, and keeps them busy.
For other people, cleaning is a coping challenge that does the opposite of what I described in the previous two paragraphs.
Or maybe (like me) people fall somewhere in the middle of those extremes. Some parts of cleaning are less stressful/anxiety-provoking while others are more.
In the blog post I share two effective coping strategies from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy technique and a favorite cleaning recipe. Maybe they can help you with a similar challenge…or maybe not.
Action: Smell essential oil blend in the aromatherapy inhaler when I felt triggered, overwhelmed, or distracted at work.
Intention: Use the essential oil blend to bring me back to the present moment when I feel triggered or stressed out.
Reflection: Some people call it a “power pause”. Others call it “mindfulness”. I personally call it a sensory grounding strategy that provides emotional support + cold/flu/allergy prevention by engaging my senses – smell and vision.
Disclaimer: Resource Posts provide information and links to the organization sharing information with guests here. I DO NOT promote, advertise, or receive any benefit/compensation for sharing the information and links.
*The authors and many links below are from Amazon.com and a Kindle Unlimited subscription that feeds my reading/book addiction. You are welcome to visit and find other ways to source any of the authors’ creations if Amazon and Kindle Unlimited are not your preference*
Of the many new authors I’ve explored, these two have the most compelling stories that send me looking to their websites and social media account for more information. While all the series are LGBTQ friendly, some have LGBTQ main characters in the different books.
BR Kingsolver (author website) writes fantasy with some science fiction, mystery, and romance elements in many of her series:
Rosie O’Grady’s Bar and Grill – I am currently reading the newest title in this series about a young woman who was sold as a child to a magical organization and trained as a spy. She thought she worked for people who worked to help others and save the world until her last assignment showed the truth. The first book starts with the woman’s life after she leaves the organization.
Chameleon Assassin – The bisexual main character was born with mutations that give her traits of a chameleon while also looking human in a world that values scientific enhancements and while shunning others. Her personal relationships and work relationships add unique challenges and perspective to the plot of each book in the series. Can be dark and triggering
Dark Streets – A combination of magic and science with the main characters traveling to different realms to fight against enemies trying to take over or destroy earth in some way. Female main character whose supporting cast has a variety of people and relationships. More humor and lightness in this series
Telepathic Clans Saga (finished) – I’ll be honest with you; I couldn’t read this series without feeling triggered. In fact, I skipped one of the books because it hit many sore points. But if you like reading about succubi, open sexual relationships, and magical warring clans in an alternate earth, maybe it’s for you.
Dana Marie Bell (author website) writes paranormal romance with fantasy elements and great world-building for each series. She has so many series that I am only including the two series with LGBTQ main characters in the books.
The Gray Court series is based on fae mythology. The main characters in the third book are a woman and two men who become bonded mates in a triad relationship as they struggle to keep their loved ones and their way of life safe from “normal humans” and unknown enemies.
The True Destiny series is based on Norse mythology and explores relationships among the pantheon of gods and goddesses living as mortals with limited power and some memory loss. No one knows exactly who are friends or enemies – not even within family units. The different main characters find one or two life partners as they unravel the mysteries of their past and avoid enemies trying to kill them. The books I read have m/m or m/m/f main character relationships. Newer entries might have f/f or f/f/m relationships too.
If you look on my Pinterest page, you will find the Dalai Lama included in my board of favorite coping resource books. He has inspired me and provided hope almost since the beginning of this journey.
The book discusses what joy means to both spiritual leaders from a religious and secular perspective and invites the readers to learn with them as they explore what joy means and how to achieve it in the modern world
Books like this are sometimes difficult for me to read, so I listen to them and similar topics as audiobooks and podcasts and am currently listening to the unabridged version from the library.
For many years I struggled with being a work failure in my family because I lost interest in job opportunities and changed careers/classes/direction all the time. I wasn’t “good” at any specific skill set and kept changing majors and career directions throughout my 20s. I started and stopped many graduate school and certificate programs for many reasons and had trouble defining what I wanted to do in life.
My dreams were dismissed because being a freelance writer or author is unreliable and difficult to succeed in. And other interests like alternative medicine were hippy-dippy hobbies, not careers.
Plus, how could I run a business or work in a company when I dressed poorly, couldn’t do math well, and wasn’t logical or able to commit to a career path?
If you experience similar questions or struggles, maybe this book will help you the way it helped me: by exploring and sharing stories about different successful people who specialized from an early age and others who explored for many years before specializing in one or more areas and becoming successful
Hobbies and Other Interests
As you know, I’ve been on partial sabbatical to focus on life outside my computer. It’s my life/life balance or Self Care as I work hard to provide relevant, high quality content here. To keep the topics relevant, I have to take classes, apply the lessons in practical ways, and ensure time for everything else in life.
So I decided to share some blogs, books, and other resources you might find interesting if you write, blog, are interested in self care, own a business, are starting a business or a blog or a website, or like to explore because you’re a curious person too.
AromaCulture magazine’s podcast – interviews with practicing aromatherapists, herbalists, and other practitioners about current research and events related to herbs and essential oils
CommonWealth Center for Holistic Herbalism Blog and Podcast – Herbs as food and medicine are a lifelong interest. The blog and podcast discuss herbs, sharesDIY recipes, and offer educational resources to learn more about plants
Content Creation for blogs, websites, etc.
Adobe Spark blog has tutorials and free templates people can download and share to create content (my go to for creating images)
PicJumbo.com – get free stock photos plus information about related topics
LinkedIn Learning – this is normally a paid subscription, but I get it free through my other job. If you’re wondering where I learn the tech skills that make this site unique, a lot of it is from the LinkedIn Learning classes. They are partnered with Lynda.com, so if you are a Lynda.com member there may be a way to get access to LinkedIn Learning through that account
*Caveat 1 – This is a journal-entry style post so it looks like a first draft with errors, etc. *
*Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers; read at your own pace*
*Warning: this is a long post with lots of information. Take your time reading through everything. Come back and re-read as needed*
It’s been 3-5 weeks since the first post about this topic. I shared my current challenges with punishment, self-harm and explained what it means for me to be an empath. Then I explained why coping with these triggers feels hopeless sometimes and frustrating most of the time.
And yes, these triggers still feel like new territory. My mind and body are not reacting to the triggers or responding to the coping strategies in familiar ways. The panic attacks are more frequent and worse than they have been in a long time. Plus they manifest differently than before (more info later). The frequency means less recovery time between panic attacks, so I am constantly on edge.
All parts of me have been scrambling to find coping strategies that work long enough for us to recover from the panic attacks and find internal balance again. Along with explaining the coping challenges, I/we will also share some of the coping strategies that are helping right now.
This is why we all agreed to wait until now to write a follow up post. The learning curve takes time, and none of us wants to share something before we are certain of its effects on our systems.
I hope you all are doing well and staying safe with the coronavirus scare. In times like this, it’s not easy to stay healthy, be positive, and find moments of laughter or joy to balance the fear, frustration, or other negative sensations that may rise.
For people who enjoy being active outside and/or interacting with others face-to-face, this is an especially challenging time. Being confined alone or with others for extended periods of time can bring out the best and the worst in relationships or highlight things we’ve all tried to ignore or deny about ourselves and each other. Tempers get roused easily. People react and act to stuff they normally wouldn’t. Maybe out of fear. Maybe out of frustration. Maybe the stressful times are their version of an excuse for behaving in such ways?
Please remember that we still have choices.
We can choose react from a position of fear-based choices.
We can to argue and fight and lose our tempers. Be angry at the world and socialize and continue with our routines like nothing is going on (denial). We can ignore government mandates and health authority warnings. We can let prejudice rule our opinions and influence our interactions with others. We can choose to feel and express anger in ways that hurt ourselves and the people around us.
Or we can choose to to react from a position of love-based choices.
We can use effective communication and compromise strategies. Use Active Listening skills to to ourselves and each other. Check in from a position of love and acceptance. Be kind to ourselves and each other no matter how scared or stressed out we feel. And most important, express our fear, anger, shame, or other negative emotions in healthy ways that support us and the others around us instead of hurting ourselves and those other people.
Sometimes we might not have choices in how we act or react. Instinct and learned behavior (i.e. survival skills) override everything else when we feel overwhelmed or pushed too far.
In situations like that, when “the damage is done” we till have choices to make. We can pretend nothing happened. We can continue to escalate the negativity and cause more damage to an existing relationship until nothing is left. We can acknowledge the situation and try to make reparation and/or amends or listen with compassion to the other party and work out a solution. We can acknowledge our part in what happened, reflect on the situation, and work out ways to prepare for future ones. Maybe preventative actions or a coping strategy?
But no matter what, we humans are a resilient species. And we can survive this. We will survive and learn to thrive in the changed and changing world.
I believe in you. Please believe in yourselves too.
Dear Guests, I’ve been receiving some wonderful comments on the “About” and “Home” pages. Thank you for sharing thoughts, compliments, feedback, etc. The purpose of this “Sticky” post is to address some of the frequently asked questions aka FAQs in an easily accessible place. It will evolve and change as the blog does. If the… Read more
First off I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I’ve had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out. I do take… Read more
*UPDATE JUNE 19, 2020* – except for the obviously Spam files, all comments have been approved and are visible on the home page now. Unfortunately, I can’t respond to each one individually so am invoking the Blog Rules. As for many questions about blogging, writing, and compatibility or screen issues, please refer to the links… Read more
Browser & Loading Issues Last week, multiple guests commented about some browsing compatibility issues or slow loading issues with the website. Untangled Connections does not use plug-ins, and both the customer support engineer and I did not encounter loading or compatibility issues using Safari, IE, or Firefox. To be safe though, I also reduced the… Read more
I wrote a post about anger, triggers, racism, people-pleasing, and boundaries. But I forgot to save it as I wrote and lost all the content. No photos other than the main photo because this isn’t the type of post where I can find appropriate ones. So instead of re-doing all that, I’m going to keep… Read more
First, I am not black or African American and cannot imagine what you all are experiencing, feeling, or coping with right now. (please forgive me for using incorrect labels. I don’t pay attention and am not politically correct, but I also don’t want to offend anyone either). Second, I am not going to pretend or… Read more
There’s so much going on in this post, we all agreed that headings and subheadings are useful to us and our guests. Feel free to skip around and read whatever interests you.
Empathic gift challenges and labels
I wrote a post explaining my position on labels, so will keep this short. I prefer not to label myself or others on purpose. We are multi-dimensional, unique individuals with many parts coming together to create a whole person. However, sometimes a label is useful in conversations or posts to help the reader relate to the topic.
The label gives the reader a frame of reference or starting point that makes sense so she or he can follow the rest of the conversation. It DOES NOT identify or categorize or group people with similar characteristics into a stereotype. So when I talk about being an empath, it’s only so that my guests have a starting point if they ever want to learn more about the topic.
What does this have to do with empathic gift challenges? Well, one thing I’ve been encountering more often is being stereotyped and harassed on the street or in stores because of my physical appearance and choice to go places alone all the time. Or, conversely, to not go out often at all. While I don’t consciously pay attention to the people around me when I go out, my hyper-vigilance and senses are always sensitive to the environment.
Because of that, I always know when people are being rude to me – obviously like with the harassment; or not so obviously through their energy – wherever I go.
Have you ever walked into a room or store and suddenly felt uncomfortable or out of place or judged?
Unfortunately, I notice that without even meaning to do so. And there are a lot of insecure, unhappy, resentful people in the world happy to blame others to make themselves feel better. I’ve been getting this from females more than males lately, but also from males too because of my choice to be single and friendly instead of flirtatious.
Why a challenge? It triggers shame from my past and makes me think “I suck” and “why am I doing all this again?”
My panic attacks have changed. Instead of the typical process:
anxiety feelings + headaches/dizziness + chest tightness or physical pain + hot flashes + cold shakes = pass out from tiredness and sensory overload (aka overwhelming feelings)
pass out = shut down until my whole self recovers
I get this process:
anxiety feelings + headaches/dizziness = pass out from tiredness and sensory overload (aka overwhelming feelings)
pass out = shut down until my whole self recovers
The worst part: I never know when the panic attacks will manifest. Or how to cope with them/stop them once they start. Or how to effectively recover balance once the panic attack is over.
How do I feel now? Cranky. Tired. Grumpy in my digestive system. Frustrated. Hungry and thirsty, but not always able to feel it in my body and remember to eat/drink regularly.
My sense of smell is not as acute as my hearing. In fact, I’ve had a lot of problems with nasal congestion and allergies and head colds that clogged up my nose on a regular basis since childhood. Sometimes I wonder if this was/is a coping strategy my body put in place to block out the stinky basement smells from my past.
But these days, scents are among my most common and destructive triggers. I live in a no smoking building on purpose. Maybe I’ve explained my postition about smoking in the past, but it bears repeating again:
I believe in an individual’s right to choose what he or she does – that includes smoking, using drugs, drinking – as long as it doesn’t harm or negatively affect other people.
That said, I don’t care if my neighbors smoke cigarettes or pot or whatever. They smoke outside and the smell comes in the window, that’s okay. I shut my window or turn a fan on to blow it back out. If I smell cigarettes in the building, I won’t say or do anything even if they are breaking the rules. At some point, someone will complain or report the issue.
But when people smoke pot in the building and the smoke gets into my apartment, that is a problem. I get immediately triggered and start the spiral into a panic attack. It’s happened the last two nights in my building and made recovery from the panic attacks that much harder. I am sleep-deprived, anxious, hyper-vigilant, grumpy, distracted, and unable to complete all of my weekend tasks because of the constant state of panic. Not anxiety because I can cope with general anxiety every day. Panic.
So yeah I didn’t get to read any guest comments today. I will try to do that next week. Appreciate your understanding 😉
Like I said before, my usual strategies are not working. Lately, I spend a lot of time curled up in a seated position or lying down trying to relax/sleep as my muscles contract and stiffen up because I haven’t moved enough. I just can’t get comfortable or feel comfortable in my own skin right now. And leaving for a while is not an option.
So here are some strategies that have been helping take the edge off my panic symptoms.
Aromatherapy diffuser blends for sleep
A couple weeks ago, I hit my sleep deprivation limit. Meditation and relaxation did not help with my sleep debt. The flashbacks, negative self-talk, and disturbing dreams kept interfering with everything whenever I did manage to sleep. And I smelled pot in my apartment for the first time in months – most of the tenants who smoked in the past left – just as I was starting my sleep hygiene routine.
That disrupted me so much that I couldn’t calm down even after a hotline check-in. Plus I was feeling paranoid about insects in my apartment. So I decided to clean the diffuser and try using essential oils proven to help with insomnia/sleep issues, anxiety, and insects. My particular diffuser is water-based, comes with specific water-to-eseential oil ratio use instructions, and has an automatic turn-off setting.
My mind and body tends to react to essential oils, herbs, and so on in unexpected ways. I try to only use these strategies when I can focus with a mostly clear mind so that the risk (getting oil on my skin, mixing a blend incorrectly, burning myself when I make a tea or soup) is minimal. But I was desperate that night.
You can imagine how surprised I was when it worked. I slept deeply for 12 hours and woke up feeling refreshed with that first blend and used it 3 nights in a row. Then I decided to try a different blend; that one worked okay, but not as well as the first one. Next, I gave myself a break to see if I could sleep (or at least relax) without using aromatherapy. It worked okay, but not great. I woke up tired and grumpy. The last one I tried before this post worked really well and had the benefit of reducing the pot smell.
Here is recipe 1:
3 drops of Melissa essential oil
1 drop of Bergamot* essential oil
3 drops of Siberian Fir** essential oil
8 ounces of water (filtered preferred, but I use tap)
1 electric diffuser with an automatic turn-off setting***
*Bergamot oil is extremely phototoxic to skin (human and animal). Phototoxic means that the oil will cause a rash or burns on your skin when exposed to sunlight. If you want to use this blend during the day, please omit the Bergamot essential oil
**Siberian Fir essential oil may cause lung irritation or respiratory discomfort for people with asthma, allergies, or other related issues. A sniff test (sniffing the bottle cap or bottle first) is advised before using the oil around people with respiratory problems.
***All diffusers have different settings with instructions. Electric and gas diffusers use a heating element to turn the water into steam for diffusing. Purchasing a diffuser with an automatic timer and/or turn-off setting is recommended for safe use during naps or sleep periods.
Make sure the diffuser is clean and working properly. Add water to the diffuser’s container.
Add the essential oils one drop at a time. Use the diffuser guidelines for adding essential oils. Some oils come out faster than others, so be as accurate as possible, but don’t worry too much if you add too much. Accuracy takes practice.
Cover the diffuser and turn it on for a set period of time or until the water has evaporated (auto-turn off setting).
Sit back or lie down and relax as the blend diffuses through your room.
This recipe is a guideline only. Please follow the instructions that come with your diffuser and adjust the oil amounts accordingly.
I called the hotline for a check in almost every day the last few weeks. The negative self-talk and intrusive thoughts have a strong hold on my mind and keep the spiral of body trigger + emotional trigger = panic going. Once it starts, I can’t make it stop on my own with known coping strategies.
In the past, I called the hotline for help remembering grounding strategies or practicing different kinds of meditation/relaxation techniques with a partner. Sometimes to help me make a plan of 3-5 coping strategies to use after the call ended. That always helped because I live in the maze all the time these days. To be honest, I’ve never actually found an exit from the maze. Instead, I find sanctuaries within the maze of my mind that offers a break from the trauma and allows me to feel grounded enough to live in the outside world. But that’s something for another post.
These days, I don’t ask for grounding strategies. I ask the volunteer if she or he is willing to talk with me about the situation and help me process the triggers. We talk about what set me off and the strategies I’ve already used. The volunteer listens and helps me understand if what I am feeling is “normal” or extreme in one way or another; in other words validation.
Then explains why and how so that I understand the emotions and sensations in my body too. From there, I can relax a little and fend off the negative self-talk because I understand it’s okay for me to feel the way I do; and for my body to experience these sensations. Eventually, they will not feel so intense and go away.
Funny and Silly movies
Laughter is still some of my favorite medicine. I have a Netflix account and use Amazon Prime until my membership expires in a few months to find funny children’s movies or teen movies…sometimes even adult movies. They can have a “happy ever after” ending or not.
The goal is to find movies that warm my heart, bring out positive feelings (even if I cry a little), and make me laugh. For people who can’t access movies, radio shows and podcasts, TV or cable, or YouTube probably have similar shows too.
My current favorite movies are a children’s series about golden retriever puppies going on adventures (starts with Air Buddies).
Changing my schedule/staying in (agoraphobia)
I’ve discussed my agoraphobia in past posts, so not going to dwell on it here.
Summer makes me want to go out more often and enjoy the nice weather. Longer days means more sunshine and safe times to go out after work. People spend time outside. Children play and laugh in the city’s public water features on hot days. So much to enjoy outdoors.
But my panic attacks keep me inside. I never know when they will hit or how long I have to get to a safe place before I fall asleep. Or how long I will sleep once it hits. Work has been a bit of a challenge, but not as bad as when I had to work in an office for regular hours. One home office perk is being able to work flexible hours.
So until this panic attack phase eases up, I stay inside more often and work my sleep in around the triggers. My plans often change depending on how tired I am or if the panic feelings stop me from accomplishing tasks I planned for the day. That allows me to work my 40 hours a week, meet deadlines, do homework, keep house, pay bills, and write blog posts. Everything else happens when it happens.
The more I heal, the more in tune or integrated all parts of me become. I can listen to my body and understand what types of food and drink makes it feel healthy and full or sick and uncomfortable. I can listen to my mind and understand how certain foods look/smell/taste/feel affect how my body feels after consumption and digestion.
Sounds like food triggers, but not the same.
Food triggers have a trauma-experience aspect that causes flashbacks or panic sensations throughout my self.
This type of sensory information tells me how the food and drink affect my physiology. Like with dairy intolerance or gluten intolerance. Eating nutritious food that heals and feeds the organisms keeping me healthy makes more sense than doing the opposite.
So I’ve been experimenting with my diet and different cravings that come up. Lately, I’ve been craving fennel, leafy greens, fatty fish, sausage, and carbs. Dairy too, but I think I’m going to try eliminating dairy for a few weeks to see how it affects my digestion and elimination issues. And maybe help with the low energy feelings
What can you do to help your mind and body feel better?
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This weekend was tough because of the pot triggers and lack of sleep. Plus some digestion issues that came up unexpectedly. So I am behind on my homework goals for this weekend and have to start that next.
If you wonder at the lack of tags or polish on the post, that’s why. Thanks for keeping me company on the long post.