May 2020 Series Finale…Self-care: physical and brain health~

It is a good day to complete this series of May 2020. In writing about my coping skills, I have been busy practicing them as I write. I have more motivation than ever to continue to improve on my daily routine, taking care of my spiritual, physical and brain health.

This whole series has been pretty much about self-care but there are a few areas left that I have not touched on and I am sure there will be more to come but I do hope some of you have benefited to at least a small degree of shift in the right direction for you. I still get stuck sometimes but am excited about the journey.

From being passively suicidal in 2018 till now my life has shifted dramatically. Part of the pressure is from above albeit gentle, but the real driving force behind my desire to be a more productive person has come from my husband. He is very pleased this month!

The benefits of self-care~

Physical:

Healthy eating is important because without food you won’t have energy for anything.  I guess any kind of eating in moderation is good but make sure to get plenty of protein and fiber.  I find if I am hungry I cannot focus so I eat every 2-3 hours mostly with an occasional large meal followed by fasting.  That is just what works for me.

I eat pretty much the same foods every day following WW blue plan and find myself full and satisfied and have lost 30 of 70 pounds I gained because of Risperdal.  Nonfat Greek plain yogurt with stevia and vanilla extract, eggs, beans (love chili), cheese (small amounts), tomato soup, beef, chicken and fruits and veggies are my main foods. 

Find what works for you but you may find that frequent meals throughout the day might help with energy levels and brain function.

Exercise!  Move your body each day possible and every day is possible!  It often improves ones mood, is good for the brain and will help us all to be in better shape.  A short or long walk, an arm workout, yoga, gardening, dancing, playing with kids or pets, cleaning, the list is endless.  Find what you like and then set it in your schedule and cross it off when you are done if that helps. 

I wear a Fitbit which helps track my steps and sleep. Daily, I aim for 5,000 steps and 7-8 hours of sleep.  Some days I will just lay on my yoga mat with a pillow and lay there a while in corpse pose and then do some simple stretching with my arms (I use 3 pound weights), and legs; I mix yoga with stretching and if I’m tired I just lay there.  I don’t judge how much exercise I get.  I just prefer to be active. 

Water drink it!  I have large Starbucks water cup next to me throughout the day and keep refilling it with ice cold water which is just how I like it.  You can tell from the color of your pee if you are getting enough, should be a pale yellow.

Me time!  Take some throughout the day!  Do something you enjoy as a reward.  Listen to your favorite music, take a bath with candles and lavender or ??? whatever is fun for you save it till you have completed your list however small or big, or better yet, do something fun or relaxing every time you complete a task.  Call a friend, pet your dog or cat extra and spoil them just because, sip some tea, google ideas for activities you might enjoy. 

The internet is awesome for anything you may be interested in to take things to the next level, start something new or getting ideas.  I’m still waiting for my peacock paint by numbers to come in the mail and I just started learning to play guitar with my adult son.  Life should be enjoyed so do the hard things first and then relax into your entertainment. 

Brain health:

Find a psychiatrist and therapist you can trust, keep looking if you don’t already have one. This is imperative.

Write down your appointments in two places if needed.  I use my phone and day planner and also get a reminder from them.  Especially now with tele-health being the only option where I live, it’s easy to forget so make sure you have some way of reminding yourself. 

Take your meds even if you feel well; the meds are why you feel well. If you are still hearing voices and having positive symptoms, try a different medicine. CureSZ founder (cure Schizophrenia) and my personal friend- Bethany Yeiser writes about her success with Clozapine for resistant Schizophrenia. CureSZ is also a great resource for anybody with Schizophrenia. It has treatment checklists plus more and you can sign up for their newsletter. Also if anyone reading this has a success story in recovery from Schizophrenia, contact Bethany Yeiser and she may feature your story in one of CureSZ newsletters!

Lastly, check in with your psychiatrist and loved ones if you need help with taking your meds or getting back on them.  I take mine at the same time every day so that helps.  I also use a pill organizer so I can tell I have taken them.  Whatever works best for you but for me just talking about it with my psychiatrist and brainstorming together has helped me find the right medication cocktail that works for me and helped me to develop a good routine so I don’t need anyone to remind me. I highly recommend supplements, too, to support your brain health as I wrote about here.

Conclusion:

I am learning to listen to my body, to rest when I am tired, to eat when I am hungry, to drink water, to work around my home and gardens when I can and to take care of myself first and then I can take care of others. 

It’s all about balance I am finding. I am also learning to be gentle with myself if I have a hard day and to not judge anything as bad or good.  It is what it is.  If I’m busy, I’m happier (written with a sigh) and if I don’t get much done one day or more, then I needed to rest.  No judgement.  Days come and they go, and tomorrow isn’t promised, so I will do the best I can today to take care of me.  I am not afraid to ask for help but am grateful that lately I haven’t needed as much as prior to this pandemic.  God speed…

Dedication~

Today is the feast of the Visitation of Mary and May is the month of Mary.  So in proper honor and respect, with all glory to God, I dedicate this May 2020 series to Mary, Queen of Heaven!  Always ready to lovingly take our prayers to Jesus. 

Stay tuned for June 2020 series, Caregiver support!

I can be reached at my private email at: victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com for any comments or questions. Please feel free to share this series with others! To access all the topics in this series, click here- May 2020 Series.

Pax

Victoria

May series cont… connecting with others~

Connecting with others is a hard topic for me because I don’t always feel like it but I do every day to different degrees. I like my alone time and need it throughout the day.

But connecting with others is important because being isolated is not good. Simple texts, a phone call to my mom and dad, a socially distanced visit, therapist (weekly) and psychiatrist (monthly) are all a part of my life. I know I need to check in for me, and for others, especially right now during this pandemic.

Some of us have family, spouses, children and the like and some of us are alone. But please know you don’t have to be alone on this journey. There are tons of ways to connect with others; I am fortunate in many ways but my way isn’t perfect but I have learned to be adaptable and that really helps.

First thing in the morning I check in with God, thanking Him for another day of life and praying for my loved ones, all my readers and those who have no one to pray for them.

After some coffee I text a few people to check in, my daughter is at the top of my list but she works from home in her room, so I send her a good morning text every day I can. She likes it and it feels good to get her text back as simple as good morning can be. She is my soul and cornerstone and even when she is struggling, she makes time for me.

I also do connect on social media sparingly. I don’t get a lot of satisfaction with that but for some that may be a huge part of your life. If it is that’s great if it works for you and have surrounded yourself online with positive people and energy. Examining our usage of social media can be beneficial. Does it drain you or does it uplift you or leave you ambivalent? Worth thinking about…

Churches are great places to connect with others. Sports, hobbies and AA or any 12 step group can also provide much needed connection…

I hope you connect with at least someone and I mean that! You can always email me at victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com and I respond to all emails and it is a private email so it’s very safe.

I found a new way to connect this week. I went to a virtual healing circle for “Healing for Empaths & Highly Sensitive Persons”. No belief in God is needed to belong and it’s by donation if you can. It was put on by Dave Markowitz, the author of the book that recently changed my life. It was a wonderful experience. To learn more about his books, free consultation and healing circles click here and if you’re interested in the healing circles and want more information just email me.

This is just one new way I connected this week. The important thing is that I challenged myself and it paid off!

I have decided to do a theme with topics every month I feel inspired. June will be Caregiver month in honor of my daughter’s birthday in June, who has been my main caregiver since she was 13; although, I don’t need her as much anymore!

Tomorrow I will be posting my final blog of the May 2020 series, Self-care: Spiritual, physical and mental.

Pax

Victoria

Coping skills are sometimes slow to work…

So yeah, I have been doing great but when I have to go out it really stresses me out and takes me a little while to recover…

Puts me in a place of not wanting to do anything. But the busier I am the better I feel so going to drink more coffee and hope I can get back in the groove.

I have really organized this site and the May 2020 series. I still have self care-healthy eating-connecting with others-brain health and maybe journaling…

I have put some of the past blogs to a link on this page. I will be doing more later and hope to have it all ready by May 31, 2020.

May is the month of Mary. So I dedicate this whole series to her. She is our mother, advocate and the Queen of Heaven! Thank you Mary for bringing my many prayers before Jesus, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father.

Pax

Victoria

May series cont… Mindfulness~

The state of being present in the moment at whatever one is doing…

So many examples and to me it is a way of life these days. I take my time with everything. Rushing is no longer a part of my days.

Tonight it was a small bowl of Rockie Road ice cream with milk. I tasted the texture of the nuts, marshmellows, and chocolate ice cream with each bite and used a small spoon to make it last longer. The chocolate ice cream melted into the milk which I sipped with the small spoon…

I enjoyed it very much and I also enjoyed cleaning up my kitchen this evening after cooking a healthy meal. Taking my time to wipe down every counter space and appliance after doing the dishes and feeling the hot water with soap on my hands, a little bit burning but I like it that way because I am sanitizing my dishes. don’t get me wrong, I have a dishwasher which I use but still like using hot water on the dishes I wash by hand.

Taking a drink of ice cold water and holding it in my mouth for a bit feeling the cold sensation…

Doing yoga tonight but first taking my time to wipe down my mat and just lying there on my back, feeling connected to Mother Earth and God. Feeling every pose. Resting in between…challenging myself a little to lift weights while on my back. Sitting in lotus position, releasing energy and keeping what is mine…

Soaking my feet in warm water and epsom salt (toes still recovering). Feeling the injured parts of my toes underwater where it is safe to do so. Glad they are finally showing improvement. Taking my time putting on the bandaids being careful to dry my toes well and massaging my feet with scented lotion, carefully putting on my socks and sandals and stretching my feet…

All of this done with and without music.

This to me is mindfulness. Living in the moment, not the past, not the future but the now and being excited about the next part of my day albeit hard…

Pax

Victoria

May series cont… the benefits of supplements~

Daily supplements

May is coming to a close in a few days… crunching to get all my topics in.  Not sure why this needs to be done in May 2020 but it is a goal.

Supplements are not my favorite topic but I have seen dramatic results with these 3 products these past years or so.  This is in addition to (not a replacement for) my anti-psychotics, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and Vitamin D, which I try to get outside to get some fresh air and sunshine every day I can.

I will list them in order of usage and how they have helped me.

The first one is GOTERPY which is a full spectrum hemp oil combined with their natural terpene blend and precise combination of CBD infused into MCT oil.  I will quote from their printout what full spectrum hemp oil is: Unlike isolated or synthetic cannabinoids, full spectrum hemp oil refers to pure hemp oil that features all the same cannabinoids present in the original hemp plant.  Providing an all –natural cbd hemp oil supplement that allows the cannabinoids to work together in what is called the entourage effect. 

I have used it for a couple of years now and have started selling it too.  It has greatly reduced my remaining schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder negative symptoms and delusions.  It helps me to feel calm and sleep better.  I take 2-3 droppers a day, which is why I started selling it to get the distributor price.  I don’t need the money so will sell for $25 a bottle  of Goterpy, 250 mg, 15ml, plus shipping $8 in US.  At this time will not ship internationally unless it is a large order (5 or more bottles).  Can also get 500 mg or 1000, plus salves are also available, which I also use for muscle soreness and pain, which is also magical stuff.  Learn more at GOTERPY.ECWID.COM for a full list of prices and products offered.

 I only sell the 250 mg so if you are interested in the higher mg you can buy directly from the above website, which oddly my cousin runs.  She’s awesome and I can never thank her enough for introducing me to this product.  If I miss a dose I can feel it but I am very sensitive so that’s just me.  Now that I have a good schedule, I never miss a dose and the midday dose is optional depending on my stress level for the day.

Other potential benefits of CBD are: reduce blood sugar levels, inhibits cancer cell growth, reduces inflammation, relieves pain, suppresses muscle spasms, useful for soothing and massage and helps with restorative sleep.  Hope some of you check it out!

Next, is sublingual B Complex supplement with B12.  I have been taking this for a year or so now and it has greatly increased my motivation and energy levels!  Available at Walmart for $4 lasting about two months.  I have missed a dose when busy and had no energy that day despite lots of coffee.  Put liquid under tongue for 30 seconds and then I drink water.  Love this energy giver!

Lastly, I started taking Shaklee+ Mind, Mental Acuity Plus for memory, focus and mental clarity.  I have been taking this for 3-4 months and the difference in my memory and focus is amazing.  I am more clear- minded and able to focus on things that matter to me and the rest of it that I have to do it helps me to do it quicker because I am so focused.  This is also a life changer!  It’s $50 for 90 tablets and I have been taking one a day but just read you’re supposed to take 3 a day.  I’m sticking with one because it is working for me and who doesn’t love to save money? 

Well I can’t say enough how much these 3 products have changed my post diagnosis life.  Hope it helps some of you too! For ordering Goterpy from me email me at victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com I accept Venmo and Paypal only.

Pax

Victoria

May series cont…the benefits of having a daily routine~

I first wrote out my daily schedule but then I thought that would be too specific.  We are all different and have different interests, needs and pleasures.  The key is to finding out your productive hours and taking advantage of them.  It’s that simple for me, that and copious amounts of coffee balanced with tons of water.

The trick is to get into a good routine and right now with the Corona virus pandemic happening, it is helpful to have some good habits forming for now and in the future in our new normal.  Although I do not follow an hourly schedule, I try to get certain things done in the same order every day so I don’t forget anything.

These are my daily musts:

I wake between 8 and 9am, meds, morning prayer and readings, coffee, healthy meals, supplements, brush teeth, feed my pups, make the beds, keep up with dishes, and connect with friends and family throughout the day.

I dream to do yoga in the mornings but it is hard for me to do anything but sit and relax into the day due to the medicine I take at night, Risperidone/Risperdal

By noon I am finally waking up and try to get out to the garden to water or check on plants.

I make a lot of lists with goals for the day and week and if it doesn’t happen the day I plan it, I try to get it done the next days.  I love crossing things off my lists.

I somewhat plan my day the night before so I will check what phone calls I might need to make or bill to pay (I am in charge of the finances which is scary but I’m doing better), and if it is a gardening day, decide depending on the weather what time it will be nice out to garden.  I sometimes run an errand or two a few days a week, emails to check/answer and texting family and friends throughout the day.

Volunteer work is important to me and sometimes I provide help to people in my city when I can.  I don’t do a lot but do moderate a help group on Facebook so I am on there throughout the day, also enjoying friends and family’s pics and posts.    The last month I have been collecting masks around the county for a local non-profit’s volunteers and its elderly clientele.  Have collected 100 donated masks to date but need 700 more so I need to get back to it. 

I also make time for spiritual reading and writing and always pray at least a couple of decades of the rosary. 

Having fun is so overrated but yes I do make time for fun.  For me my favorite thing to do is go on a walk with my adult daughter or relax in the garden with her or the pups or both.  Sometimes I dance with my pups in the kitchen and a game of fetch brings much joy to them as well.  Tidying is fun and challenging plus very rewarding.  I love Netflix (currently obsessed with Criminal Minds) and watch one to two shows a day while I eat my meals.  TV is boring to me (don’t even know how the TV works, too many remotes) but I love a good movie usually a romantic comedy.

Every day is different according to my energy level and the weather.  Today was hot so didn’t get much done and still recovering from my toes’ procedure.  It’s important to know that not every day will be super productive but ensuring the basics are done sets the right tone for what may be a great day, or not.  And crossing jobs done off my lists feels very satisfying.

I have not always had a lot of energy or motivation but using the reward system helps me to get stuff done.  I also take Vitamin B sublingual every day in the morning which has definitely increased my energy levels.  You can get it for $4 at Walmart!  And one bottle lasts a while.  You have to hold it under your tongue for 30 seconds and then I drink lots of water because I don’t like the taste.

I will be writing tomorrow about my supplements.

Have a good night everyone!

Pax

Victoria

May series cont. Proper rest~

The benefits of proper rest

As usual I will share what has worked well for me.  Please feel free to comment anything that has worked for you in getting proper rest.

My best time of the day is 5pm-12pm.  I am generally more productive these hours so I try to save my hardest tasks for this period.  I drink coffee all day and early evening.  It does not prevent me from falling easily asleep but helps me to focus and get stuff done and I balance it with lots of water.  I am well hydrated!

I go to sleep at 12 or 1, waking up at 8am, and have a nighttime routine I have come to love the past few weeks.  This is what my night looks like:

It is all about preparation so I can get to my writing although today I am writing all day, which is unusual.  It means I am doing better than usual as I have been productive in many ways today happy to write.  We have a late dinner 8 or 9, we all clean up and then I do the dishes.  I almost always catch the sunset from my meditation room.  I tidy a bit and prep anything for the next day that I can if I have the energy, making my lists of to do’s and scratching off the lists of the day or week.  Then I put my husband to bed, light a candle and write for an hour or so.  I also read and meditate. 

I get my jammies on, take my night meds and cbd oil full spectrum and spritz my pillow with lavender oil and sniff it.  It helps to smell lavender a half an hour before bed.  I sometimes listen to music or just sit quietly meditating on the day and the day tomorrow.

Getting enough sleep is very important because if you don’t your body will really suffer as can your brain.  I just figured out that if I wear my Fitbit to bed, it tracks my sleep, even my REM time and hours of deep and light sleep.  I wake up naturally to the rhythm of the house and if my body needs it I sleep till ten but that is not very often.  My ritual helps me to fall asleep quicker and I go to sleep praying or remembering a song’s lyrics that are positive. 

My night medicine does cause drowsiness in the mornings (Risperidone/Risperdal).  Thinking I might take it earlier at night and see if the fog lifts sooner.  It also causes weight gain but I am slowly taking it off through WW. 

Trial and error has got me to a good routine and especially during quarantine, it is important to get proper rest.  I must add the power of a good nap or laying down for a half an hour every day.  I can’t usually nap but rest feels good for my body. 

Pax

Victoria

May series cont… The enjoyment of tidying…

The many benefits of tidying

I love to tidy and have gotten much better at it as of late.  It is satisfying to only have things around me that bring me joy and I find I am in need of nothing; and I know this because everything has a place.  The satisfaction is immense at having an orderly house or area, rather than being cluttered and untidy.  Sort of like our minds.  If we are in touch with our thoughts, through writing and meditation for example, we will make better healthier choices and dream bigger along the way. 

Here are the steps to how to tidy, some of which is what I learned from Marie Kondo who I don’t agree with on everything but her general guidelines for getting a tidy house I find to be useful. She also writes that one need only tidy rarely, but I enjoy it so I tidy every day especially because I live with a messy husband and two adult children.

Discard first! Do this by holding each object and asking if this item brings me joy?

If it does not, get rid of it.  I love this!  And then take good care of the possessions that do bring you joy.

Find a place for everything and if it doesn’t fit consider getting rid of it.  Storage isn’t the problem or answer.

Start with clothes, she recommends taking every piece out which I kind of did.

Books next, paperwork, small items, sentimental items…

You get the idea. 

The last area I am working on is my photos.  I have so many of my childhood and that of my 30 years of being married and with 3 kids.  It will be an ongoing process for sure but good for a Sunday afternoon, which is my rest day except for necessary housework and maybe some light gardening.  And yes, I tidy Sunday night because my daughter, as a form of rent, cleans the house on Mondays her day off.  I still clean but she does a fantastic job and it allows me to work on deep cleaning and keeping things tidy.

I love to tidy so much that I want to stop writing right now to tidy!  Be right back!

Discarded more things that do not bring me joy and am in the middle of organizing my meditation room among other tasks.  I like being busy throughout the day and like the way I feel when I tidy.  Can almost call it life changing…

Pax

Victoria

My road is not yours…

My path or journey to wellness is individualized; as is yours…

What it may take to get there is dependent on ones’ willingness to do the work, however hard it may be.

I am not speaking of external things; no, I speak of that which lies inside our hearts down to our souls, which is then manifested into our external being. An example would be my garden; it’s thriving and I can’t wait to get out there today! My house is tidy too and most importantly my relationships are solid… these are all manifestations of the peace I have inside at having done the work necessary to heal. yes, heal in many ways…

It’s a fight, and I am no longer timid about how I proceed. I am obsessed with being the best version of myself, but I take breaks and that is what gets me along…

I still have my moments though of uncertainty during the day. If I remember, I pray an Our Father for God’s will at my next task. I am always directed pretty much immediately and free choice lies at the center of all my choices. God is not a slave master, He watches us flail around a bit at times but He is always with us and helps us up when we fall.

God is my all!

pax

Victoria

May series cont…the benefits of writing~

I am struggling to write this blog of the May series.  I struggle with putting into words exactly what I am thinking.  I know I am not the best writer, as my mother can attest to, as she was the main editor for all my school papers, yet she taught me well…love her and glad she is still here on this earth mentally and physically. 

So, I will pose a question of any writer, whether one blogs or journals or exudes poetry… and then I will describe my experience in how writing benefits me.  Feel free to share your answer in the comments below or email me at:  victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com

How does writing benefit you?

To me, writing is cathartic, releasing my emotions through raw and real feelings shared through my blogs.  I share my heart with all my readers and I never regret it and have rarely deleted a blog.  I have been blogging since 2013 and was diagnosed in 2008.   It helps me to get my thoughts, emotions and the sharing of how I have recovered greatly from Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder.

 The releasing comes in sharing my pain and offering help to others.  That has been the purpose of this May series and of this blog.  To share how becoming passionate about life by trying new things from yoga and meditation, to walking and gardening.  I hope it has been helpful.  I have enjoyed it and look forward to my time dedicated at night after my umpteenth cup of coffee because I enjoy sleeping in sometimes and enjoy the house to myself while I type away at night sometimes with a candle.

Caveat:

While I write under a pseudo name, I still do not share all.  Only my Maker knows all and that is how it shall remain.  My dark side shall remain a mystery to even me…

Rereading my writing:

I read a prayer list the other day from 2015 and saw that all my prayers had been answered, not always in the way I wanted naturally.  But it was fun to think about when I wrote that prayer list and the need to write a new one only to be discovered in what 2025?  All this from writing.

While I do not dislike any of my blogs!, I often destroy my journals and always have. I have always been a off and on again sort of prolific writer. During my psychotic period 2006-2008 I wrote the most giving messages and I stopped writing for many years. Then wrote a book (only took me 8 years) about my life which didn’t sell. If anyone wants a copy I will gladly send it to you as it is no longer available online.

Conclusion:

Writing does not come easy for all.  But even if you don’t already blog, just journal-ling about things in general can be helpful.  I remember when I first started seeing my psychiatrist, I would write down all my questions and refer to it during session.  I hope you have done the same if you are like me.  Now I just think about it because my meds aren’t changing and the past 4 years since my dad’s stroke. which paralyzed him, my depression has been mainly situational. Talk therapy with a grief therapist has been helpful.  It’s free and I talk to her once a week.  This week I cried thinking about my dad…

Anyway, try it for ten minutes and see what comes out for you.  Reread it the next day and if so inspired write ten minutes more.  Write about your joys, your sadness, your frustration, whatever just journal.  I switch back and forth between blogging and journal-ing.  I just started that.  But I write down what I do every day or need to do and enjoy crossing off my many lists.

What is your passion?  I have so many… write about that and especially areas you might like to improve for future reflection.  But don’t forget to write about all the things you did good each day you remember too.  Even if it is just drinking your water and eating healthy let your pen or computer write that. 

I had to write myself a note today to be gentle with myself right now.  I am recovering from an injury and can’t garden or do too much.  Been finding things to do that involve sitting like the photo sorting, writing and reading. 

So what is your answer to this question?  I hope I have answered well and that this short essay may please my mom. 

Pax

Victoria