Therapeutic Yoga – what’s this now?

As I prepare my next post, which will cover Complex PTSD, I read about therapeutic Yoga.

At first glance I was expecting just yoga, so I assumed ok that’s great, everyone should stretch, blah blah blah.

Therapeutic Yoga however is about mindfulness and not focused on poses or rather, the strictness that is “the proper pose”. Intrigued, I read more.

Using this form of yoga can help with all kinds of PTSD and mindfulness in general. Not focusing on form, it helps those who tend to be more critical of themselves, and with no mirrors it sets the environment to be gentle and nonjudgemental.

There is research on how this form of yoga, in addition to working with a therapist can greatly benefit those who suffer from PTSD.

While there are places you can find to do therapeutic Yoga, I’m personally considering doing this as part of my daily routine. As a female who grew up in a time of Barbies, super thin models and Baywatch I have often struggled with self-esteem and loving my body for what it can do, only seeing where it fails.

What do you do for mindfulness? Is there something you love and helps you? I’d love to hear it!

Mental Health/Illness – Removing Stigma

In the second post of the series I want to address the stigma related to mental illness and getting help. Buckle up and get comfy because this post has a lot of information. The last post kind of explained where my first brush with anxiety and mental health came from. For this post, I am going to back away and give you the stats.

According to a 2014 Newsweek article, “nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental illness each year”. One in Five (42.5 million American adults), just let that settle for a moment. I know I don’t hear about my circle of friends talking about their mental health freely and openly like it’s so normal. These numbers came from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), I am fairly certain they are not running around an polling every person.

I also know that due to stigma there are many people who suffer in silence, afraid to speak up and get any kind of help. The US Surgeon General stated in 1999 that: “Powerful and pervasive, stigma prevents people from acknowledging their own mental health problems, much less disclosing them to others”

Per NAMI’s (National Alliance of Mental Illness) website the number of Americans with Mental Illness is now 46.6 Million, that’s 4.1 Million increase in five years.

Let’s break this down, according to DSM-IV, a mental disorder is a psychological syndrome or pattern which is associated with distress (e.g. via a painful symptom), disability (impairment in one or more important areas of functioning), increased risk of death, or causes a significant loss of autonomy; however it excludes normal responses such as grief from loss of a loved one, and also excludes deviant behavior for political, religious, or societal reasons not arising from a dysfunction in the individual.

If you go strictly by the DSM-IV it would appear that only the most debilitating, classified issues are mental illness. What about anxiety, general depression and countless others? According to the National Institute Mental Health (NIMH) they break these down into “Any Mental Illness” and “Serious Mental Illness”.

“Any mental illness (AMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. AMI can vary in impact, ranging from no impairment to mild, moderate, and even severe impairment (e.g., individuals with serious mental illness as defined below).

Serious mental illness (SMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. The burden of mental illnesses is particularly concentrated among those who experience disability due to SMI.”

Per NIMH, 19.1% of American adults (18+) have some sort of anxiety disorder, 6.8% of adults have had PTSD in their lifetime. This isn’t just military and/or combat either, this includes domestic violence, accidents, natural or human caused disasters and a variety of other factors. World Health Organization (WHO) reports 25% of the world’s population from some form of mental illness. Why aren’t we discussing this more? Why does it take extreme acts to bring these issues to the forefront of the news stations?

If we remove the stigma of discussing mental health at an early age then perhaps more people would get the help they need and less people would feel isolated to the point of completing suicide or violence against others.

Now, what about a chronic illness and mental health? I currently have three diagnosis that are chronic, with no cure and you better believe that gives me anxiety. Harvard health put up an article that discussed anxiety and chronic illness, though for some reason they only looked at respiratory, GI and heart disease. Personally, I think they overlooked a huge portion of the demographic here but it is what it is. Worrying about your health, cost of health if you are in the United States and not one of the amazing countries where it’s free for everyone, the impact it has on your family and friends, of course you are going to have anxiety, any normal person would.

Depression is also increased for those with a chronic illness, per the NIMH website the most common are among the below:

  • Cancer
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

If you aren’t convinced yet that you should seek help if you suffer from anxiety, depression or another mental illness, just know, that constant “fight or flight” from anxiety is bad for your body and your brain. Depression and anxiety can increase inflammation in your body, mess up your stress hormones, interfere with your heart rate and circulation.

According to the National MS Society’s website grief, depression and anxiety are all very common mood changes that happen with a diagnosis. Obviously because the way MS hits people differently, different symptoms, degrees of the symptoms not everyone may get anxiety or depression. The anxiety stems from the unknowing of what is to come, how you will be any given day and the extent of your symptoms which can change at the drop of a hat.

Increased stress makes symptoms worse, which can make anxiety and depression worse. When your nerves and myelin is being attacked like frayed wires there will be an impact.

I encourage everyone to talk about mental health, mental illness and get a therapist. We need to remove the stigma of this silent thing happening to so many people so it is no longer the dirty little secret but part of a normal conversation.

Straight of the NAMI website,

Prevalence of Mental Illness

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (11.2 million) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.2
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.3
  • 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.4
  • 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.5
  • 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.6
  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.7
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.8

Tips to Ease Anxiety, an Often Overlooked Effect of MS


My Experience with Ocrevus – first 2 weeks

My first infusion of 300 mg was on August 8th. I had been told the only difference between Ocrevus and Rituxan was human antibodies versus mouse antibodies. My body had absolutely no side effects with Rituxan so I wasn’t prepared for the things that followed that infusion day.

The process after checking in at the infusion center was a standard protocol at this facility for Ocrevus. A nurse came and got me and I picked the chair I wanted to sit for the next 4-6 hours. We confirmed who I was and took my vitals. The nurse swiftly disappeared to order my first 300 mg of the medication that’s hopefully going to keep my MS at Bay a bit longer.

When she returned a needle was placed in the vein in an arm of my choice. Saline was pushed, I was given 650 mg of Tylenol to swallow, 50 mg of Benadryl was pushed into the vein followed by 125 mg of steroids. Then I’m left, warm blanket, water to wait for the bag of medicine. About 30 minutes within my arrival the Ocrevus was attached.

About an hour into the infusion I started getting itchy. It didn’t occur to me that anything was wrong at that point. The itchiness spread to my entire body and more intense. I notified the nurse and the medication was paused. This is how my allergic reaction started. I was given options, first was pushing 25 Mg more of Benadryl, I was able to get additional 25 on top of that, pepcid and steroids if needed. I decided to take the additional Benadryl and push through the rest of the infusion.

Every 60 minutes my vitals were checked, monitoring blood pressure and temperature. The Benadryl was making me sleepy, which never happens with the pills. Dozing in and out while reading a book. The machine beeps at times intervals, alerting the nurse they can increase the dosage per hour flowing into my vein.

On the way home I got very nauseated, by the time I got home I had a fever and headache. I checked the site for the manufacturer, these things were normal and should only last 24 hours. Ok, I thought I can do this. I even went to my second graders event to meet his new teacher and drop off supplies. I’m sure I looked contagious with my cold sweat inducing fever, body aches and queezy stomach.

The body aches lasted days, not hours. The fever lasted a week, not hours and the headache lasted two days, not hours.

The whole time I felt terrible I could only hope these things would pass prior to my next infusion. Hold on to hope this medication would stop my MS.

August 22nd (today) was my second infusion. I told my nurse that the fever lasted a week. Apparently this happens, though not to everyone she has had a couple of patients that have a fever for a week. She also noted that the steroids made my face red, though faster than any of her previous patients.

Per the drug website, most people who have a reaction with the first should have less or no reactions from future infusions.

An hour into my second infusion I once again began to feel itchiness. This time I spoke up right away and I was given pepcid.

When the infusion part was done and I was in my “watch period ” is when I broke out into a cold sweat and headache. So far, the symptoms are the same as last time. I have a friend who tells me the third infusion in 6 months should be better (fingers crossed)

Below are a list of “reactions” listed by the drug company. I decided to post my experience because I couldn’t find anyone that had my reactions after my first infusion. It’s frustrating to be a person who gets the “not common” reactions to medications, but I can’t be the only one. Hopefully this post will help someone like me.

  • itchy skin
  • rash
  • hives
  • tiredness
  • coughing or wheezing
  • trouble breathing
  • throat irritation or pain
  • feeling faint
  • fever
  • redness on your face (flushing)
  • nausea
  • headache
  • swelling of the throat
  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • fast heart beat