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Friday, February 3, 2012

Put Your Headphones On

Getting Through Those Down Days

Living with pulmonary hypertension is like being on the Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags as you're propelled by a hydraulic launch mechanism to 128 miles/hour in two seconds. When you first receive diagnosis, it's an immediate life adjustment. Being unable to do certain activities like swimming, hiking, working out in the gym or walking the mall, that other young people our age take for granted can cause stress, frustration, sadness, anger and other feelings. We have great "sun shining" days, and there are those "stormy, cloudy" days. Here are some pick-me-ups for getting through those down days:

1. Put your headphones on. Listening to inspirational lyrics can get you through the not so good times. One of my favorite songs on my playlist is "Skyscraper" by Demi Lovato. I put this song on repeat until I feel the words in this song:
You can take everything I have
You can break everything I am
Like I'm made of galss
Like I'm made of paper
Go on and try to tear me down
I will be rising from the ground
Like a skyscraper
Like a skyscraper
It's a great to have a preset playlist ready to go during your down days, so that you can just go to it and start to play it as soon as you feel a storm brewing. I usually will sing out the song loudly and dance around my room. It's such a great release for me.

2. Get creative. Start a journal and don't worry about punctuation, grammar, spelling, and neatness. Just write it down! You can even draw, paste pictures or words, or doodle. If you don't know what to write; you can write a letter to someone, or ask yourself questions: what was a low point for me today, what makes me sad, what makes me happy, or if my life could be any way I wanted, what would it look like? It's your journal entry to express how you feel, so do it any way you want.

3. Get focused. Guided imagery is relaxing and healing that uses your imagination to direct your focus. Find a quiet place to sit with no distractions around. You can sit with your legs criss-crossed on the floor or sit in a comfortable chair. Put your hands palm side up on your legs and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in for a count of five, hold for a count of five, and release for a count of five. Repeat a few times. Start relaxing each part of your body from your head down to your toes by focusing on that body part and relaxing it. Now image you're on a beach; you feel the sun shining on you and can hear the waves crashing into the rocks. You can feel the sand between your bare feet as you're walking down the beach. You are safe and at peace. You are relaxed and when you feel like you can open your eyes again; then do it. This a great way to refresh and re-energize yourself.

4. Get it out. If you need to cry, scream out loud or into a pillow, punch a punching bag or a pillow, or a combination of these things; then do it. But limit the amount of time you stay in that place. I give myself no more than 10 minutes to cry and scream, and then I'm done. I can't stay in that dark place, and neither can you. So just get it out, and move on to some of the other ideas for getting through the down days.

5. Call a phriend. No one can truly understand what you're experiencing, so sometimes it's helpful to call a PH-friend that can listen and identify with how you're feeling. That phriend has been there before and can help you through a tough time.

I know it gets difficult to always be hopeful, positive, happy and smiley, so don't be so hard on yourself when a bad comes your way. Check in with yourself on a regular basis by asking how am I really doing today. And when you feel a little down, do one of the pick-me-ups. Feel free to share some your own ideas here with other GHers.

1 comment:

  1. Kiara . . .

    Thanks for sharing some of your coping skills!

    I am convinced that often the mental obstacles we face outweigh the physical - a positive attitude is critical to our well-being. I'm not suggesting that we embrace denial and avoid dealing with our true emotions -- but rather, as you have so beautifully articulated, learn to redirect our negative thoughts and to be productive on those "stormy, cloudy" days.