A lot of people battling c-diff experience a lot of anxiety. Here’s how I fought (and continue to fight) through it:
I think the first step is just acknowledging the anxiety and the fact that it’s perfectly normal. In fact, your brain is doing exactly what it’s hard wired to do. The problem is you don’t actually need it to. The upside is you can rewire your brain so you don’t have that anxiety. Notice-Shift-Rewire is a simple strategy to start that process.
What also helped me was Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor’s research and the 90 second rule. You’ve been through something traumatic, so it’s natural to feel worried or scared. Most of us experience that. Recovery is physical, mental, emotional. The best any of us can do physically is support our body’s recovery by following medical and nutritional advice. Be careful with our bodies, with what we put in them, with what we try to push them to do. The mental and emotional are very closely linked. How you think affects how you feel. Think positive thoughts. Read positive things (and not negative). Surround yourself with positive people, people who believe in your full recovery. For emotional, remember that emotions really only last 90 seconds. Seriously. It’s science. Everything after that, is basically you stuck in your own head about it. So when you find yourself feeling a negative emotion, that’s ok. It’s natural. Give yourself 90 seconds to feel it and then let it flow through and out of your body. Stop your brain from making it last longer, get out of the emotional loop. I personally do that by practicing gratitude. Once for example, something happened that triggered a fear response in me: the c-diff is back, I’ll never be healthy again, etc etc. I had a complete breakdown right in the middle of the public street. I just sobbed and sobbed. For about ninety seconds. And then, I got up, looked around and forced myself to choose 3 things I’m grateful for, and I focused on those three things until I felt better. I had another emotional response later that same day. Sat down on the bathroom floor and cried it out. Then did it again: 3 things I’m grateful for. Break the feedback loop, get out of my own head, focus on those things. I know it sounds kinda lame. But it’s based in neuroscience, on how our brains work. I practice gratitude every morning and every evening: at least three things I’m grateful for. Force myself to do it. It has improved my mindset, my emotional and mental health. The longer I’m healthy, the better it gets. Less fear, anxiety.
Another thing that helped me is meditation. So if I just can’t break the feedback loop myself, I go to a meditation app. I have both the Calm app and the Buddhify app. Buddhify is free. Even a quick meditation (3-5 minutes) can help break that loop.
A good little reminder (and even a mantra) for the healing journey. I’ve been recovering/healing for half a year now. Yes, that seems like a long time, and I wish the process were quicker. But also I am amazed at how far I’ve come from feeling I’d die and then thinking I’d never eat again. I had to learn or relearn (or actually apply lessons I’d learned and pocketed) a lot about how to help support my body in its healing efforts. I still have a ways to go…I look forward to hitting that one year mark and celebrating the progress I’ve made between now & then. I hope I’ll be able to exercise more, maybe even rejoin my friends at group fitness classes; and I hope I get the birthday dinner out at my favorite restaurant, which I missed last year.
Retrain your brain. It takes so little time and effort (just 20 seconds a day every day even helps!), but it has such BIG rewards.
I was reading yesterday, “Cynicism is a way to trigger dopamine when other ways fall short. If you tell yourself, ‘It’s all so unfair,’ you can always find evidence to prove it. Thus, you create expectations you can meet, and it feels good.”✳️
I’d never thought about that before, but it explains so much! It’s like setting the bar low (or negative) so you can feel good about reaching it. You’re never disappointed if your expectations are always that things are bad. So it’s a win-win. If things are bad, you feel good because you’re right! But if things are unexpectedly good, defying your expectations, you feel even better because it’s an unexpected reward (which = more dopamine). Hence, cynicism.
✳️The Science of Positivity by Loretta Graziano Breuning.
And so ends another manic, double-masked Monday. And, no, I don’t care if you’re making fun of me. I could’ve died last year. Could die this year if I catch another bacterial infection. Not really ready for that. So, I’m all about that double Fauci mask! Props to my mother-in-law Tricia Hulehan for the cute cloth mask that matches my sweater dress. Props to China for the KN95. 🤷🏼♀️
Unpopular opinion: I like the new 385/85 interchange. On my way in to work (Greenville to Atlanta), I can usually save myself $3 by avoiding the toll road because it’s no longer necessary. WTG, SCDOT! (I said what I said) But this morning, I needed to take I-185. And there’s this moment, which I forgot about, when you pull up over the hill just before the second toll heading south when the mountains appear on the horizon, and it’s beautiful. It always makes me stop a second, #grateful for that view.
And so tonight I go to bed grateful for that view of the mountains on my morning commute; for 102.5 The Lake, which was legit rocking my commute today; and face masks, the cute one my MIL made and gave to me as well as the ones all my co-workers wear to protect me, themselves, our loved ones, and our students and their loved ones too. Sleep well, friends. 💜
First of all, none of y’all told me just how much this homemade sauerkraut was gonna smell up my kitchen. 🦨 Whatever. It’s fermenting. And it’s my first batch, so it might be a complete failure. 🤷🏼♀️ Only time will tell. The carrots I did are pretty tasty, though.🥕 Meanwhile, I picked up two new books about fermenting foods at the library, and another one called Healing Foods. 📚 And just in case I didn’t already think there’s a definite difference between store-bought and home or locally made, someone gifted me some locally made kefir. 🥛 It is now confirmed: distinct difference. Finally, someone sent me this sacred illness quote the other day. I recently read Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor’s book My Stroke of Insight. She had a debilitating and life-changing stroke at the age of 37. Today she calls it the best thing that could have happened to her. The book details her healing and learning journey and how she came to that conclusion. Sacred illness. I had to sit with that awhile. An illness? Sacred? 🤔 But it’s such a fitting explanation: “an illness that educates us from the inside out, provides experiences and therefore knowledge that we could not possibly achieve in any other way.” For Dr. Bolte-Taylor, a neuroscientist, that was true in very big ways. And the friend who sent the image and quote to me went through a similar life-altering experience. Mine seems less significant in comparison, but that makes it no less impactful for me personally. I’ve definitely been educated from the inside out. And I have learned so much on this journey. Wish I didn’t have to, tbh, but I can now see how I need to be where I am now and how this helped bring me here. 💜 And so tonight I am going to bed #grateful for the journey and the lessons learned; all the people who have played (and continue to play) a role in my recovery process; sweet smelling candles; porch-dropped gifts for health and healing and the friends who deliver them; and the chance to make tomorrow a better day and live another day in (hopefully) increasingly better health. Sleep well, friends. I’m exhausted! 😴
Truth. Going into Thursday #grateful for central heat (brr… it’s cold out!); another week clinically CDI free (14 weeks post-treatment!); achieving another recovery milestone ( weight gain goal achieved!). #ProTip: practice gratitude: it works!