Stand Up

I was reminded of something today, that taking care of yourself with a chronic illness means reducing your stress, and sometimes you have to temporarily elevate your stress now in order to reduce it in the future. The last few years I’ve been trying to get rid of or reduce contact with toxic people in my personal life. I’ve reduced contact or eliminated contact with people who made my stress levels rise and were helping to knock down my sense of self-worth and ultimately helping to keep me feeling at my worst. What I forgot was that I need to do this periodically at my work as well.

I do work as a retail merchandiser rep. Which means I have a route of retail stores, that I visit every week. I have different projects to do for the store depending on what is going on. Which means I go into a store, take care of that week’s projects and then go on to the next store. Usually I am only there for part of a day, or maybe a full day on a rare occasion. So when someone who works at the store stresses me out, I’ve been ignoring it, finishing up my work and then moving on. Most of the time that serves me fairly well, but one person at one store reminded me that apparently I let people think they could get away with a little too much with me.

Earlier today I go to work in one of my stores.  The majority of people at this store are nice, easy to work with, and know that I’m there to help them get things done they don’t have manpower to get done themselves. There is of course one worker at the store who for some reason has been decidedly nasty to me in her attitude since I took over that store a few months ago. Most of the time I’ve been avoiding her, because her obviously negative and toxic nature is not what I want to be around. I usually deal with the manager or assistant managers to get what I need done. The few times I’ve had to work with her to accomplish a goal, her ultra critical tone, the condescension towards me and her fellow coworkers, her abrasive manner towards me, have gotten on my nerves, but most of the time it’s a few minutes then I can get away from her. Apparently she decided me ignoring her meant that it was ok to be abusive to me. I walked into the store today and got started on the first of my projects for the store.

Within minutes, she comes charging angrily at me up the aisle and starts accusing me of “lying” to her about something the week before. I’m really confused as what she is saying I told her is impossible, the term she’s saying I told her I am not even familiar with it. I’m trying to calm her down, but she just gets louder and louder, and meaner, accusing me of lying, and more. When I try to defend myself calmly she starts yelling that I’m calling her a liar and she won’t have it. She is using body language to try to crowd me, obviously trying to intimidate me as she’s larger than I am. I stay calm while she yells in the middle of the store and then walk away from her. I find her a minute later when she has gone into the back room of the store and is away from customers. I tell her “Listen here. Yelling at me is not professional or acceptable and you are NO LONGER going to speak to me this way. I am not your employee, I am not your whipping boy, I am a retail rep for this store and I do not have to take this sort of verbal abuse from  you any longer. If you try this again, I will report it fully to your boss and your District manager. I’m sure they would love to know how you yelled at a rep in full view of their customers, and that you have been known to belittle, and treat other people poorly when the managers are not able to see you. “She stared at me open mouthed and started to say something, but I held up my hand and pretty much told her I said what I needed to say and was done. I don’t know if anyone has ever stood up to this bully of a person in her entire life, it certainly seemed to catch her off guard that I did.

When I left the store later after finishing my project (she wasn’t going to keep me from getting my part of things done!)I called and spoke to my supervisor. I reported what happened to her. Thank goodness for good bosses! My boss said that I absolutely did not need to be spoken to or yelled at, and that she herself was going to go down to that store in the next day or so to speak directly to that woman’s manager in person and let her know that would not be tolerated. If the manager didn’t act on it, my boss would go to the District manager. It really is gratifying to know that I was able to keep my cool, stand up for myself and my boss backed me up. I hope anyone reading this is lucky enough to work somewhere like that.

I have to say though speaking my piece was very stressful, as I am not normally a confrontational person, when it was over and I’d spoken to my supervisor, I felt better. A huge weight has been lifted from me. I took a chance and stood up for myself and I know that it’s ok for me to stand up for myself. I didn’t need to get mean or yell, just calmly let that person know they no longer had the right to treat me that way. After I was done, I was sitting in my car and at that point I was crying heavily. The stress of the confrontation needed a way to leave me and I allowed it to do so.

After speaking to my supervisor, it looks like she is going to switch that store to another one along my route so I don’t have to deal with that person ever again. I hope that my standing up to her makes her think twice the next time she tries to be verbally abusive to someone else. Just remember, we have to take charge of our health and sometimes we have to remember that it is ok to stand up, even if it’s temporarily very stressful, in order to free ourselves from on going stressful situations.

Follow me on twitter @BttrflyBritney or see our website for more good info for the thyroid patient.


Headache-The Unwanted Visitor

I took a week off blogging because I’ve had this headache, for 8 straight days now. In fact I STILL have this headache, but it’s down to bearable levels now. For me bearable levels are a 4 on the pain scale with my 10 being kidney stones/gallstone pain. I’ve been having headaches of various types since well before my Graves’ disease diagnosis. Sometimes I wonder if they were the warning signs from years ago that something was not right with me. When I was in my teens and twenties, I actually had a low level nagging headache for almost every single day for about 18 years. They ran tests, they tried various drugs, I tried dietary changes and not much helped. Things would always come to a head when I got very nauseous and after that the headache would subside. After doing a lot of research I think they were sort of migraines and sort of tension headaches and sort of sinus headaches. If it was three things causing them at once, no wonder I didn’t have a chance with trying one thing at a time.They stopped being constant sometime after I finished my bachelor’s degree at Purdue and about the time I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease. Since then they don’t usually stay more than a day or two at a time.

Now when I have headaches that last longer than a day, I go on the offense. First thing I do is up my water intake, and since I hate the taste of regular water itself, I go for lemon water.  Hydration is important when you have a headache, it helps you flush out any toxins roaming around that may be contributing to the condition. If the headache is accompanied by a stuffy nose, then I add hot herbal tea to the water drinking. I love Traditional Medicinals brand, there is a tea of theirs for everything! I also add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the tea once a day as well, which seems to help. Next I cut out dairy from my diet to make sure it doesn’t make inflammation worse or cause worse congestion if that’s a contributing cause. These will help if the headache is being caused by inflammation or congestion in the body, like with sinus issues. I also take turmeric twice a day on a regular basis to help calm down inflammation, which usually helps.

The next line of attack, is finding out if my muscles around my head/neck region or back are tense. Tension headaches I believe are another common form my head uses to attack. I got a portable home TENS unit. The TENS is one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I received one from a friend, for free, and now just have to buy the supplies, which are not very expensive. I can put those on my back or base of my neck, and it makes the pain in my muscles fade away temporarily, and sometimes even longer. I also go to see a chiropractor once a month, and go a little more often when I’m having a headache, sometimes an adjustment will help the muscles relax and give me some relief from my headache. Moist heat or an ice pack around my neck and on my head helps at times also. My best luck has been an ice pack on top of my head while I have a heated “sock” filled with rice wrapped around my neck. That brings some relief as well.You name it, I’ve probably tried most recognized headache techniques.

If those don’t work, or don’t get rid of it completely then I go on to the next step.  I start taking long hot baths at least once a day. I pour a cup or so of apple cider vinegar, which seems to relax my muscles, along with Epson salts or some nice relaxing lavender scents in,  then I sit and try to relax for 30 minutes or more. I use some of my grounding exercises at this time. I mentally trying to project the headache pain into the water, to be flushed down the drain when I’m done. Relaxation exercises are very important when you are having pain, even though it is very hard to get yourself to relax when your head hurts.

Sometimes the pain gets so bad it causes my blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels. That happened about day 3 of the headache this time. I ended up having to seek medical treatment as I feared it might continue to rise and cause a stroke. Scary stuff! So my wonderful husband went with me to see if they could help. I hate this option as their version is to drug me full of medicines thru an IV along with fluids. I think the IV fluids probably help the most, and the pain and muscle relaxers they put in there help temporarily. I have to admit this time, they knocked my headache which was up to my pain scale of 9 down to 4 again, so I’ve been able to deal with it much better. Sometimes you just have to go when it gets bad and have the professionals give some temporary help with these.

I have other things I do to help with headaches depending on how they are affecting me. One thing is stretching exercises with my neck. Roll the neck gently from side to side, then up and down and back and forth. Breathing in slowly while you are doing them. I also will stretch out my back by standing in a doorway with my forearms propped on either side and then leaning forward stretching my shoulders and back.

I also take Tylenol when it’s really bad, since  I’m personally allergic to all NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, aka Ibuprofen, aspirin, etc). I prefer though to up my magnesium dose, I go up to 450mg a day when my headaches are bad, I also make sure I take a daily potassium pill if my muscles are achy as well. I even will try some caffeinated tea to see if the caffeine will help in small doses.

All of these things normally knock out any headache I’ve had. So far this one has been super stubborn and has been knocked down but not out. If you have other things you do to help with headaches, please list them in the comments! Thanks!

You can see Britney on Twitter @BttrflyBritney

or at to see the thyroid information site she helps run.

You’re Grounded!

When life is overwhelming, and anxiety is taking hold, how to you reclaim yourself again? How do you find that calm center so you can feel in control again? One of the ways that have been used by thousands of people around the world is called grounding exercises. These are visualization and meditation exercises that help you move the stress and confusion out of your body and mind and clear it so you feel more grounded. Grounded means that you don’t have your energies scattered everywhere, that you are back in control of yourself, like grounding electricity to the earth, so it’s safer.

  1. The “Tree Exercise”. Sit in a chair with your feet on the ground, or you can even sit on the ground, as long as you are comfortable and your feet are touching the floor. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, in for 7 count, out for 7 count, until your breathing is slower and more relaxed. Then visualize and imagine that your feet are putting out roots towards the earth, and connecting you physically to the ground. The middle part of your body visualize as the trunk of a mighty tree and the top half, visualize as branches reaching towards the sky. Once you have this visualization firmly in mind, “see” in your minds eye all the stress, negative thoughts and emotions and bad energy leaving your body flowing upward and out of your branches above to leave you. Also visualize at the same time or near same time that your “roots” in the ground are pulling up pure energy, untainted by stress or anything negative. This is rejuvenating you by flowing up from your “roots” and then flowing throughout your body. Keep this exercise up as long as you need to, until you start to feel more calm and less stressed. When you are done, allow the rest of the negative energy to float out the top, and then release your roots and return to your every day world.
  2. Be mindful of your surroundings technique. This is where you stop and concentrate on the world around you. Go outside if possible and look into the distance, concentrate on seeing and naming at least three things that are in the distance from you. Once you name things in the distance, stop and look close by, try to name three things that are near you, and if they are small details, even better. This will take your concentration off what is stressing you and onto something neutral.
  3. Shielding. When the world seems scary, and out of control. You can visualize a shield protecting you. Sit down and be comfortable. Take several deep breaths in and out until you have calmed some. Next pick a color that feels strong to you, for me I choose red, but you can choose any color you feel an affinity to. With your eyes closed, start visualizing your entire body. Be aware of everything from the top of your head to your arms, to your feet. Then visualize having a large bubble that is fitting over your body (or a bodysuit works also for this). See it covering every part of your body. “Tell” it in your mind that this will stay around you, protecting you from harm, and will only allow positive energy and healing to penetrate you. The mind is a powerful thing, if you put this shield over you, your mind will help you gain control over your anxiety and stress so you can function better.
  4. Centering. Centering is simply returning all of your energy that is scattered back to you. Most people have their energies divided. You may be typing up something, and watching the clock and waiting for lunch all at the same time. Centering will help bring all of your energy back to you, so you feel more calm. Again, sit comfortably and breathe deep until you are calmer. Visualize all the little bits and pieces of your energy that is all over the place as a golden color. See the tendrils going out from yourself in your mind. Mentally start gently pulling on all those tendrils and bring them back to you. It may take a few attempts to get the hang of this, but once you do, you will be able to eventually do this exercise anywhere and anytime you need to calm yourself.

Creative visualization and meditation exercises are great ways to regain control of your mental state. Those of us with chronic illness and thyroid disease often feel like our bodies are pulling us every which way and make it hard to keep oneself in check mentally. Try one or more of these exercises when you start feeling anxious or out of control and see if they can help you regain a bit of yourself again.

See Britney on twitter @BttrflyBritney

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