Saturday, April 30, 2011

Coherence & Nuvaring Update

So, I realised that I keep talking about coherence, and "doing my coherence" and most people probably don't know what I actually mean by it.

In one of my last posts I talked about going to see a counselor and then going to see someone who specialized in biofeedback. During the biofeedback session I did various "stress tests"  (recall a stressful incident, math etc) and saw how various physiological indicators changed (blood pressure, adrenaline, skin temperature etc). (Btw, my adrenaline was very high, all the time. Even when I was relaxing. And by "very high" I mean about 5 x what it's meant to be.)

Anyway, at the end of the session he suggested that I look into (and practice) "coherence", which is basically getting your breathing in sync with your heart rate. For me that means about 8-10 seconds per breath (in and out). I invested in a computer program which was pretty expensive, but very worth it. It has a sensor which I clip to my ear (the sensor measures the regularity of your heart rate) and a number of "games" to help you practice coherence  (if you are "in coherence" you get more gold coins or the hot air balloon moves faster etc).

Eventually the goal is to be able to get into a state of coherence without the program. When you're "in coherence" you feel relaxed, less stressed, more clear headed etc, which are obviously good things! Anyway, I'll let you know how that all goes!

PS I'm loving the nuvaring so far - no side effects that I can tell at the moment! (Though, I'm not sure what my boyfriend will think of it, apparently some guys can feel it during certain activities. We don't engage in those activities when I have my period, which I still do, because he's too squeamish!)

EDIT: I've attached a picture of coherence/my heart rate. On the left it's much more jagged and less even than on the right (when I was incoherence). This is a screenshot from emWave Mac, and I'm sure it belongs to the people who made the program.

Friday, April 29, 2011


We had formals today, which was wonderful and lots of fun. I got a new dress a few weeks ago, so it was exciting to get to wear that! And, of course, the boyfriend looked very handsome...

Right, confession. I should preface this by saying that I absolutely adore my boyfriend and I would never ever cheat on him (or anyone) but...there's another boy I have a huge crush on. I don't know why I like this other guy so much, and I even know that I would hate dating him, but...I really like him. Like a teenage girl crush. It's pretty ridiculous. I'll go out of my way to spend more time with this guy, and when I'm with him we sometimes end up linking arms (once, we were drunk). This guy is one of my best guy friends, and also one of my boyfriends relatively close friends (we're all in the same friendship group). Other guy is totally aware of my boyfriend, aware of how much I adore the boyfriend and aware that I'd never cheat on him.'s not like anything's going to happen.

I've thought a bit about this - whether it means that I'm not happy with the current boyfriend etc and concluded that no, it's not that. I think what it actually is is just loving having someone (male) outside my relationship that I am this close to. (I tend to get along better with boys than girls). It's also a "safe" crush - neither of us will make a move on the other...

Anyway, nothing will ever happen with other guy - I promise! (Other than my little high school crush on him!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Health Visit Last Week

So, I realised that I never explained the mysterious "health visit" from last Friday.

Like I said, I have a boyfriend of two years who I am very fond of. Like most couples our age, we sleep together (in both senses of the word). Anyway, because of that I've been on the pill (Ocella) since June 2009, a few months after we started dating (we started dating in March, and "first"* slept together at the end of May, not ideal I know). Anyway, I periodically go to the doctor to get my prescription refilled. One of the side effects of the pill is high blood pressure, so I also get that checked. Before I was on the pill (and when I was chilled out and at home for the summer) my bp was 100/60 (pretty low). My blood pressure now hovers around 135/95 (pretty high. If I was my grandmother they'd give me medicine for it.) I'm pretty sure that a lot of it is stress/diet/lack of exercise, but regardless my doctor was kinda worried. I measured it regularly for about a month, but also started thinking about other types of birth control.

I'm very close to my mum and best friend, so I talked over it with both of them (and my boyfriend of course!). Anyway, I decided that I wanted to switch to the nuvaring which (and don't read this part if you're squeamish) is a flexible plastic ring which fits inside you, and stays there for three weeks. It releases low levels of hormones, so mimics pregnancy (like the pill). There are a few advantages of it for me - not needing to remember to take the pill at the same time every morning, lower doses of hormones (which my doctor thinks will help the blood pressure) and hormones not going through my gut (it's just not good for you to send things like hormones through it).

I had to go to the doctor to get the new prescription. She was really in favour of the switch, so that's good.

I actually put it in for the first time feels strange. I know this is a bit gross, but I'm not entirely convinced that it's in me quite right (but, given that I have my period right now, I don't really want to go fishing around down there too much). I'm going to see how it goes though, and hopefully I'll get used to it (and stop being afraid to pee - I'm terrified that it'll fall out into the loo when I pee!). When I started taking the pill it gave me some...issues. I was stressed and depressed, and constantly angry at my family. I'm going to be recording how I feel with this new type of BC - I'm hoping I don't get any negative side effects from it.

*I'm pretty conservative, and I absolutely categorically do not believe in one night stands. I'm much more relaxed in relationships though, and even at the beginning of our relationship I thought we had a lot of potential. Anyway, we actually slept together before that first time (while we were dating). It was maybe a month into our relationship, but it wasn't a good idea. We both thought it was a good idea beforehand, but we weren't ready. The boyfriend had never had sex before, so that made it an even less good idea (I had, story for another day) (also, the fact that he was and I was pretty much a virgin is part of the reason that we have "unprotected " sex. He's also been tested for STDs).

EDIT: So it did almost fall out when I just used the bathroom - not just me being paranoid! I took it out and reinserted it though, and it feels much better now!

Last Day of Class!

So, today was my last day of class for this year, which I have mixed feelings about. Like I said yesterday, I don't like change, and I don't like things ending, so this is tough from that point of view. I still have exams and papers for all my classes (lots of them!), so they're not totally done. I have really enjoyed my classes this semester, which is great, but it makes it harder when they (start to) end.

At the beginning of this school year (October), I saw a counselor a few times. My college provides counseling to students free of charge, so it seemed like a good time to try it. It's also easy because the health center is just a few minutes from my dorm. I'm not sure what it was about it, but I didn't really like it. I really thought it would be my kind of thing - I'm definitely the type of person who likes to talk out problems.

But...I'm not convinced that the person I was seeing was well matched to me. She specialized in chronic mental health problems, Asian/Asian American issues and eating disorders in minority populations. She was really nice and all, but it wasn't helping me work through my issues. Part of the issue is that I'm definitely someone who dwells on things. It wasn't her fault, but it meant that I'd have to go back and go over issues from the previous week. Anyway, I eventually stopped seeing her, which I think was a good decision. I did later see someone who specialized in biofeedback (which is how I got into coherence), and talked over some of my issues with him. He suggested that if something's upsetting me I give myself five minutes to think about it/dwell on it, and then try to move onto something else. Obviously it's not always that easy to just say "ok, this is really bothering me, but my five minutes are up", but it does get easier with practice!

Anyway, that was all a very long way of getting to the point, namely that if I start stressing about the end of classes again I'm going to give myself five minutes to think about it, and then try to move on to doing or thinking about something else! (If I remember) I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow!

Does anyone have any other coping mechanisms for things like this?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


So, like I said in one of my earlier posts, I'm (unfortunately) a very anxious person. (I have a feeling that this is going to turn into a "theme" post, as opposed to a diary type one.)

I'm fearful of a lot of things - I hate flying, I don't like change, I worry about things happening to people I love and sometimes I worry about totally irrational things. Anyway, I booked a flight home today, for the summer, and it made me anxious to even book the flight. For some reason I always have unhelpful thoughts about panes crashing/being attacked. I also hate making decisions, and with this kind of decision it seems like an even bigger deal, because what if I make the wrong decision and I'm on the plane where something does go wrong? I know its a ridiculous thing to worry about - planes are, after all, one of the safest forms of transport, but still...

Anyway, I am trying to do things to help me overcome my anxiety - little changes to my daily routine, as well as doing my coherence practice daily/as often as possible. I'm also reading through some ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) books, which are great. I'm not one of those people who can just stop thinking about things that are bothering me, and ACT gives me a way to deal with concerns and problems in my head and recognize them for what they are - random thoughts in my head that may or may not actually bear any resemblance to what's going on in reality.

Anyway, it's 2:30 in the morning now, so probably bed time for me!

I've been gone...

Not for any kind of exciting reason, but because I've been sick. I have some super exciting combination of period pain, hayfever and possibly some kind of cold/flu.
Ever since I've been young I've hated actually admitting that I'm ill. I'm not sure why...maybe it's because it seems like a sign of weakness of maybe because I don't people to avoid me/treat me differently.

Anyway, that's all meant that I haven't really felt like doing anything. I had a (10 minute) presentation today in one of my classes - ever since a bad experience when I was about 14, I've hated doing presentations. This one wasn't too awful though - it was for my favourite class.

I have a tonne of work at the moment, and am feeling quite swamped by it all. This feeling of just being completely overwhelmed seems to be becoming a regular occurrence in my life, which isn't ideal.

Oops, I meant to post this last night, but somehow managed to not hit post. So...I weight 127.4lbs now! Which is good/better. I think it's probably just a combination of being ill/having my period, but still glad to see the number on the scale going down!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Quick Update

It's getting pretty late here, so just a quick update. (I also need to be up early tomorrow as I have a health appointment - more about that tomorrow).

Today was fine, boring. Glad to be done with class for this week (no Friday class!).

I weighed 129.0 lbs this morning, which I guess is a (minor) improvement.

The birthday dinner for my ex was fun - good to see all my friends!

Did almost no work today, which is bad. I have two huge papers due in about a week, and I'm not very far advanced on either of them!

I promise a more coherent post tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Busy Day!

Today interesting day.

Lab this morning was...urgh (I told you you'd be hearing about it!). I just keep messing something up again and again, which is getting a bit annoying at this point. I also felt pretty tired for some reason :S.

I also weighed 129.8 lbs this morning, which is also not good. The boyfriend is having his 21st birthday party in June, and it'll be the first time I'll meet all his friends - so I want to look good! I know 129.8 isn't bad, but I'm kinda short (5'5"), and its an increase since I started college (when I was 122 lbs). Ideally, I'd like my weight to be between 123 and 126. You'd think after being bummed about my weight I'd watch what I ate, but that didn't happen at all. I dread to think what's going to happen on the scale tomorrow :S. I snacked and snacked, and had a high cal dinner out at a restaurant (some distant family came for a surprise visit - their son is looking at colleges now, hence the visit). Maybe tomorrow will be better, every day is a new day I guess.  That said, tomorrow is my friend (ex's) birthday, so we're all going out to dinner. I did, however, manage to take my vitamins and psyllium today (psyllium husks/powder are basically pure fiber, so they help with gut health. I eat such a low fiber diet at college, so seems like a good idea to take them!).

I also have a kinda bad tendency to always try to help people. Both my best friend at home and the boyfriend have been trying to get me to help them with various things (boyfriend/depression issues and homework respectively). I love them both and love helping them, but it does meant that I've barely got any of my own work done, and that I'm not going to get a proper night sleep, which isn't great!

Anyway, on that note, bed time!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Ever Post!

I'm not really sure what to write here!

I guess I should start with why I started a blog, and a little about me...

I'm 20, almost 21, and a student at one of the top US universities. I'm originally from the UK, and my family still lives there. I'm pretty close to them. I'm a junior in college, majoring in science, so I end up spending a lot of time in lab (which, no doubt, will come up again and again). I have a boyfriend (of two years) who I adore, and a few close girl friends. Unfortunately, when N & I started dating we lost a few mutual friends through jealousy.

My best friend in the UK started keeping a diary as her new years resolution this year, and has been trying to convince me to do the same, so I guess this blog is partly an attempt at that. I've had some "issues" of the last few years, struggling from occasional "depression" (never officially diagnosed) and also moderately severe anxiety. I've tried going to therapists, which hasn't really helped, as they tend to encourage me to dwell on things, which I already do enough of on my own! To that end, I've started trying to practice mindfulness and coherence, and I try to practice each night. I've also tried to tackle my issues head on, which has helped (e.g. I felt I was struggling academically, so went to go talk to professors and our academic support people who are fantastic, so I feel a lot better about all that now!)

I also feel like I have some kind of food issue. I tend to binge eat and eat because I'm bored. I then feel incredibly guilty. My eating habits go in cycles where I'll eat obsessively well for a bit (a week or so) and then eat terribly for a week etc. I'd like to try to sort that out! (It is difficult at school though, given that I have a dining hall meal plan).

Anyway, that's all from me! Off to bed now, as I have to get up early (8:30, early for me!) to go into lab!