Thursday, 1 November 2018


My Dad really really doesn't like it when I use analogies.  But I like them a lot!  Sorry Dad!  (Not that he reads here... at least I think/hope not..... but anyway.. I like using analogies.  My Dad doesn't.)

Did I mention my effed up shoulder?


Well, I'm using that there shoulder as an analogy today, ta da!  Or... more to the point... trying to heal that shoulder as an analogy to trying to heal my anxiety and mental health struggle (cuz my brain threw in a heavy dose of depression in the early days just for extra "fun"!)

So, about a year ago (there's that anniversary stuff again!) my shoulder.. broke.

I say "broke" because nothing really happened.  I was working with a trainer at the time and you get used to twinges or ouches happening from time to time, so it's entirely possible there was a twinge in the (right) shoulder and I just didn't think anything of it.

I also spent time staying over at Jason's around this time (to support him through his stuff, not romantically at all) and I really do think that being in a foreign bed did not help my shoulder (neck?) at all. 

I first noticed it because a stretch I like to do, I couldn't do anymore.  Not sure if it has a name, but you put one arm behind your back bent towards the middle of your back, and the other arm goes up and bends down to hopefully touch your hands in the middle of your back (make sense?)  Well, I've always been able to do that stretch easily and I noticed at some point that I wasn't able to reach my right arm towards the middle of my back.  Hmm... odd.

I mentioned it to my trainer, and we took things easy but things didn't get better.  Again, there was no main injury or anything, so I just thought things would... go back to normal.  But they didn't.

I didn't do much about it.  In part because I was already dealing with doctors and such for my anxiety, and trying to support Jason, but also in part because my doctor suddenly announced she was retiring and it was like, well.... crap.

At some point last Winter, my shoulder was really bad.  I could barely sleep... every time I rolled over the pain would wake me up.  It would hurt as soon as I was awake.  Putting on a jacket hurt.  Accidentally dropping something, and forgetting and trying to catch it would nearly cause me to pass out.  I couldn't lie on that (my favourite) side at all.  It was... bad. 

I started mentioning it to practitioners... physio type people... and this is where the analogy starts up...

My massage therapist, after a few months, told me to make an appointment to see a surgeon.  He was pretty sure there was something bad going on and that I needed to see a specialist.  I.... didn't.  (I was without a family doctor for about seven months... I am SO grateful that someone eventually took over my doctor's practice but it was still a while where I just didn't see anyone.)  One physio said it was probably from X and so they did whatever treatment for that.  I stopped working with the personal trainer and minimized the physio-exercise-training I did with a specialist for a while and they had me focussing on Y.  After a number of months of no improvement, I went to a different physio.  They had a very different approach and suggested W.  I then also remembered an alternative Chinese medicine doctor I'd worked with ages ago and went in to see him.  And that started helping.  Significantly.

I stuck with the second physio and she suggested it was possible a frozen shoulder without actually being a frozen shoulder and that I should get an ultrasound to see if there was anything injured or.. whatever.  So I had a doctor at this point and we requested an ultrasound.... and then waited... and then requested again.  And I just had it recently and it turned out negative (as in nothing wrong.)  Which is great, because yay no issue!  But also... well what then?

Second physio said to just keep it mobile and that it would run its course in its own time.  So I'm working on mobility and not pushing it too hard.

Second physio also talked about how with frozen shoulders (which this isn't...) they used to do SO much work to/on them and then discovered that treatment wasn't really helping.  And that the shoulders (with that particular diagnoses) would pretty much heal themselves in their own time and way with limited interference. 

And, so yes, my shoulder is a lot better.  I still can't do that stretch.. and have had to, for example, adjust how I do up my bra, and I'm still cautious of the shoulder.  But I can lie on it for a bit.  I can sleep without pain, I can roll over without thought... I don't have to sleep with a pillow under that arm (although sometimes it can help when it's a bit sore).  I have the memories of being unable to even lie on the other side because the weight of the arm itself was too painful for the shoulder.    It's still not great and not back to where I want it to be but it's better.

So if we look at how many different approaches were suggested to this one shoulder pain of unknown origin... surgery, physio style 1, physio style 2, movement, weights, no weights, etc etc, and then realize that that's how it's been for me trying to work out how best to treat/work with/heal/fix(?)/live with my anxiety, it's really similar... at least to me.

There isn't a one size fits all way to help people with anxiety.  There are a lot of things that seem to work for a lot of people but there are also multiple, multiple approaches! 

I have no real idea what has actually helped my shoulder.  Is it time?  Not using weights?  Movement?  Whatever the Chinese medicine physio/acpuncture doctor does?  Is it being back in my own bed?  Lower stress levels?  THE WEATHER?  Better food?  Like, really, it may be a small percentage of each of these, but I can't point to any one thing and say "That!  That cured my shoulder pain!"

With my anxiety, I have found things that work... acupuncture, certain natural remedies, yoga, self talk, counselling, different types of counselling, a sh*t ton of hard mental work.  (Like holy cow so so much exhausting, constant hard work!)  Crying.  (I feel so much better after a good cry, but I don't let go enough for that very often).  Mindfulness.  Meditation.  Cardio.  Certain foods.  And so on.  But I have had other things recommended to me that just didn't work.  That made things worse.  And that, I'm afraid to say, in some cases nearly killed me. 

So there isn't always one answer as to how to deal with a "broken" shoulder.  There isn't one answer either as to how to deal with an individual struggling with depression or anxiety.  The best thing one of the health people said to me though was that the body will generally heal itself naturally (or start to be showing signs of healing) within two weeks.  So if you had surgery and the wound isn't healing (or healed) within two weeks the body needs help and you need to see a doctor.  So with my shoulder, he said, I should have been in seeing someone about it within two weeks of the pain starting.  Not the (embarassing) eight to nine months before dealing with it.  Ahem.

I will say the same for mental health struggles.  We all go through things, but if they aren't improving and are impacting your life, ask for help.  I just think it, at least for me, is much much harder to recognize and realize.  When my shoulder was hurting it was obvious.  Like holy cow it hurt, so obvious.  I knew something was wrong, I just... well, I didn't do anything about it.  My bad.  But when my anxiety was bad?  I feel like I sort of didn't know.  I've referred to it like that saying about the frog in the pot of water... It's really only looking back now on what I did choose to share here that I can see how much I was struggling and not really realizing it was as bad as it was.

Maybe if someone lives through a trauma it's more obvious/clear.  But for me, while it seemed to come on suddenly, it really didn't.  And I think had I known to seek help a lot sooner, things might not have gotten as bad as they did.

But hindsight is 20/20 as they say and we all do the best we can with what we have at the time.  So three years ago right now... things weren't good, and I had no idea how my life was going to unfold.

Just like how a year ago I had no idea my shoulder would make me want to cut it off and buy a new one just to stop that pain from happening. 

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