Wrist Exercises For Carpal Tunnel & Tendonitis

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I work part time as a librarian. Before that I, like many of you, had some preconceived notion that librarians had relatively easy jobs. You shelved books, gave people library cards, and wore cardigans like they were going out of style. Well, all of these things are true, but I didn’t realize just how much physical stress was involved in the job.

Now, I’m sure there’s a difference in public libraries and reference libraries. I happen to work in a reference library, so I can’t speak for those public librarians out there, but the physical strain my arms, wrists, and hands go through in a days work is enough to have already caused some serious problems.

Librarians Do A Lot Of Heavy Lifting

What goes on behind the closed doors of a reference library might surprise you. No, there’s no scientific experimentations or yakuza headquarters, but there is a lot of physical work going on. When you request materials, the librarians go in search of your requests in the tombs of the archives. Sometimes this means lifting heavy boxes and books for extended periods of time. Doesn’t sound too bad, though, right?

Except that when you consider the angle one must use to pull a book from the shelves, you end up with your wrist at a very odd angle. An angle that wrists aren’t that accustomed to. Too much of this can lead to carpal tunnel or even tendonitis. Just imagine pulling endless amounts of heavy books off a shelf with little time in between to rest your forarms and wrists. I recently reorganized a few shelves of my library, moving book after book to different shelves, as well as incorporating new books into the collection. The next day, my wrists were killing me. They ached relentlessly, which left me massaging my forearms in hopes the pain would stop. Unfortunately my feeble attempts didn’t do much good. I knew I had to go in search of something better.

What Are Carpal Tunnel And Tendonitis?

According to OrthoInfo,

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. The condition occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand — the median nerve — is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist.

In most patients, carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse over time, so early diagnosis and treatment are important. Early on, symptoms can often be relieved with simple measures like wearing a wrist splint or avoiding certain activities.

If pressure on the median nerve continues, however, it can lead to nerve damage and worsening symptoms. To prevent permanent damage, surgery to take pressure off the median nerve may be recommended for some patients.

while, according to HSS,

Tendonitis (also known as tendinitis or tenonitis) is a general term used to describe inflammation associated with a tendon. Tendons connect muscles to bone, and inflammation of these rope-like tissues is the most common cause of soft-tissue pain. Tendonitis differs from arthritis, which refers to inflammation of a joint. Common areas for the condition include the shoulder (which involves inflammation at one of the tendons of the rotator cuff), the elbow (tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow), the wrist, the knee (above and below the kneecap), the back of the ankle (Achilles tendonitis) and the foot.

The onset of tendonitis can usually be attributed to overuse of the associated area, but can also occur in areas where calcium deposits have developed.. As we grow older, repetitive motion can injure the tendon where it attaches to the bone, promoting an inflammatory response by the body. This inflammation can cause “pain on motion,” swelling, warmth, tenderness, and redness. This latter symptom is called “erythema” and refers to the dilation of the blood’s capillaries as part of the inflammatory process.

I’m sure there are countless ways in which a wrist could develope carpal tunnel or tendenitis. You can find cases of these wrist pains in secretaries, hairstylists, I.T. workers…the list goes on. And if you, like me, don’t know the proper stretches you can use to alleviate that built up stress, you could find yourself in a lot of pain!

What To Do About It?

First of all, let’s list the obvious ways to alleviate this problem, or at least make it more managable.


You can always try to:

Give it a rest
Wear a splint
Stretch the inflamed area
Avoid repetitive movements
Ask a medical professional


Sometimes these work, but you can’t always avoid repetitive movements if it’s for your job, and wearing a splint can make other tasks uncomfortable. It is always best advised to see a doctor if you are concerned you may be developing carpal tunnel or tendonitis. But I also understand that visits to the doctor can be expensive in this era and young professionals don’t always have the resources available to afford these costs. (Hello, this is why we need universal health care!)

I’d like to share with you some of the exercises I have found that helped ease those wrist pains to become more managable. My particular case of pain started in the lower palm of my hand, where it attaches to the wrist. The pain eventually spread to my thumbpad and the upper side of my wrist, encasing most of my thumb with a steady dull aching. I was having difficulties finding exercises for this particular area. These resources are the ones I have found most helpful.

After trying the very first exercise, I felt immediate relief. I couldn’t believe it! It still hurt, but the pain wasn’t a constant throb like it had been seconds earlier. Instead it only hurt when I moved my hand in a certain position. I continued to do this stretch and I do believe it triggered the exact tendon that was cramped, because the relief continued.

Afterwards, I found this video, and discovered that it stretched parts of my arms that I never really noticed were tight. I don’t know if this specifically helped my aching wrists because I couldn’t feel an immediate relief, but feeling the other muscles stretching in my arms, shoulders, and neck made me realize just how tight I was. I followed his instructions and my arms felt great afterwards. Of course it always feels good to stretch.


If anyone has any other suggestions, I would be so grateful for your input. If you are experiencing wrist pain, I urge you to contact your doctor if possible and practice self care by following some of the suggestions above. If you found this post helpful, please leave a comment, like, share, and subscribe!

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Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications!

Kat

Things Become Okay

 

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Things become okay. And by okay, I mean you will eventually reach a point where you can function on a normal human level, keep up with your work, and enjoy the weekends like any self respecting person.

Things might not be okay right now. I get it. I’ve been there. Things might not be okay right now, but they will be.

When I was younger, I always assumed depression and anxiety were just things I’d have
to live with. They were a part of who I was as much as my flesh and hair. Until I sought help to deal with my mental health, I was not okay. I was very not okay. Until I started therapy and anti depressants, I was not a normal functioning human being, I wasn’t keeping up with my work, and I didn’t enjoy any days, let alone the weekends.

It always felt like the world was on Hyper. Any Final Fantasy fans will know what I mean by that. It felt like things were moving too fast and there was no way I was ever going to keep up. Even if I had a good day where I got a few things done, the next day would come and everything would build up again faster than I could manage it. Eventually I began to think what’s the point? 

On the bad days, I knew I needed help.

But then the good days came, and I would think, well, things are okay, so maybe it was just a bad day. I feel okay, so it seems stupid to start therapy. I feel okay.

But I wasn’t okay.

Just the fact that I was having bad days meant I wasn’t okay. And by bad days I don’t just mean I had a bad hair day, stepped in dog shit, and got the shits from eating a bad burrito. No. Bad days during depression are more like bad weeks. Long stretches of time
where things stop having meaning. A home stops being a home and instead is deconstructed to four walls slapped with some white paint. Friends stop being friends and instead just become people who tolerate you a little more than other people. And in your mind, everything sort of melts together like crayons in the sun. Instead of having a timeline of the future before you, where you tackle things one at a time, the line gets all jumbled up and suddenly you’re worrying about things that are thirty years down the line and not even guarantees yet. Yes, even time loses its meaning.

But things will become okay.

There are people in the world who are there to help. There are coping mechanisms for anxiety. And there are medications that will finally silence that voice in your head that is a constant reminder that you are somehow, spectacularly and miserably different from everyone else. The truth is, you aren’t. You are a human being just like everyone else. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even if you feel that medications aren’t for you, there are ways to become okay. Find something that works for you. Reach out and ask for help, and things will become okay.


Take care, everyone, and don’t forget to take your medications.

There’s More To Life Than Being Beautiful

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I am often reminded of a quote from a muay thai fighter from the Philippines. To paraphrase, she said something along the lines of:

“American women look good, but they can’t fight”

This is a quote that has stayed with me through my life as something profound. How does the rest of the world view America’s obsession with beauty? And how far are we taking this trend to be perfect?

One of America’s most influential celebrities of the decade is Kylie Jenner. She is a role model to many, including young girls who look up to her beauty and business standards. When asked, she always denies that she has had plastic surgery to change her appearance, and yet it’s quite obvious she has. And she is beautiful. She successfully changed herself into a beautiful woman, but…it’s not real. She was beautiful before all the work she had done. She was beautiful just as she was.

“If everything is perfect then nothing will be real.”

Kylie and the new trends in makeup are promoting perfection. An unattainable beauty standard that young girls are trying to mimic. The highlighting, the contouring, the fake eyelashes. All of it is promoting a beauty that is not real. At the end of the day when you take it all off, you are beautiful that way too. I know I definitely suffer from this “perfection disillusionment” too. Because that’s what the companies that sell cosmetics want you to believe. Our culture is so saturated by the need to be beautiful that it’s ingrained in our psyche without us even knowing it. The results? Depression, frustration, plastic surgery.

How have they convinced us that cutting open our bodies is a normal, and worse: desirous, thing to do?

We were given beautiful unique bodies that have grown with us through time. Our bodies carry our scars, our persistence, and our memories. Why would we want to cover that up? Why do we hate our stretch marks, our freckles, our own skin coloration? Because they have convinced us that it’s not good enough. Because it’s not perfect.

There are more important things in the world than being beautiful.

And let me say this: Just because you can’t do your makeup like Kylie, or your hair is frizzy, or you would never dream of getting plastic surgery, doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful.

Let’s go back to that muay thai fighter. She was a woman who American women would look at as ugly. She wore no makeup. Her muscles were built out so that she looked masculine. She had scars from past bruises and fights on her face. But she carried a different standard for life. To her, there were more important things than being beautiful. She looked at American women as beautiful, yes, but empty. Vapid. Hollow. To her, yes we were beautiful, but was that all? We couldn’t fight like her. We didn’t have the perseverance to withstand such pain like her. We couldn’t train for hours mastering an ancient art form like muay thai like her.

And so we must ask ourselves: why is beauty so important? Why do we loath our natural bodies and torture ourselves by restricting our diets and covering up our natural skin tones, our scars, our stories? Because they tell us what to value. The companies that have saturated our culture have made us believe that we are not enough. And that’s simply not the case.

We are all humans. Beautiful in our own ways. So why try to chase perfection? Why conform to the beauty standards of people who have altered themselves through plastic surgery in order to create unattainable beauty? I was watching Hocus Pocus, as one is wont to do during the month of October, and what I saw in that movie was a refreshing reminder that our culture wasn’t always obsessed with beauty. The actors in that movie were flawed, but real. You could see them on the streets in real life. And it was comforting to watch.

I know this can be a very controversial topic. I guess my point is that it’s ok to be imperfect. Don’t try to hold yourself to such high standards for beauty. In the end, I think we will find that there are more important things in life than being beautiful by their standards.


Thoughts? Opinions? Concerns? Leave ’em down below!

Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications

Antidepressants Killed My Creativity

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I used to be very depressed, and very anxious. There was a voice in my head constantly berating me and degrading me, telling me I wasn’t enough and I shouldn’t even try. I projected that negativity onto everyone around me, but mostly I projected it onto myself. But that voice did something else too; it created incredibly complex scenarios in my head that fueled my creativity. After all, good art is complex, and often darkest before it begins to grow light.

The things that I produced were dark, flawed, and filled with emotion. Being on antidepressants has done wonders for my mental health, but since I started taking them six months ago, I haven’t been able to write on any of my fictional stories. The nonfiction seems to flow just fine. It’s part of the reason this blog is doing so well. I am able to put together coherent thoughts in the nonfiction realm, but when it comes to creating in that paracosmatic world that I so often lived, I find that my well of creativity has run dry. There is no desire in me anymore to work on those stories, because to get to that negative headspace again would be miserable. Oh sure, I created some interesting pieces of writing, but to do so I had to depress myself so entirely that I felt on the verge of mental collapse. I would isolate myself for months at a time, especially during the winter where most of my writing happened. I would research dark topics to fuel my ever growing imagination. I would let myself spiral down and down in order to create what I created.

It seems to be a difficult tossup. Be mentally stable, healthy, and produce orthodox blog posts, or let myself sink back into that tortured psyche and create vastly interesting fictional worlds. Some of the best writers in history were known to have suffered from excruciating mental problems. Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Sylvia Plath. In one way or another, through drugs or simply lack of mental stability, these authors produced some of the most tortured works of fiction. After all, how can someone create such dark literature if they live in a world of light?

In some ways I feel like that darkness was a piece of who I was, and I owned it completely. By medicating myself to become more mentally and emotionally stable, I don’t quite feel like myself. Oh sure, I feel happy. Actually, I don’t really feel anything at all. The pills I take are quite enough to deaden all of my emotions, which has definitely helped me in the real world and dealing with my anxiety. But I don’t feel like myself. Because depression is something I identified myself with for so long that it became a part of who I was. Now without it, I look back at the life I lived and wonder if that was the truer life, the truer way to live, the reality which I was born into this world to suffer through. Am I learning the lessons I need to learn by dulling my emotions? Am I fulfilling my life purpose this way? What if my life purpose was to create beautifully dark fiction and then leave this world? Surely Edgar Allan Poe’s life purpose was not to become a successful accountant. No. His life purpose was to create great works of dark fiction. That was his gift that he was born into this world possessing.

Are we, in effect, disrupting the natural flow of destiny by making ourselves comfortably numb? Is it better to take the red pill and escape the matrix of our minds? To live with the pain and discomfort of mental instability in order to grow as humans and use our greatest gifts we as creators possess; our creativity and our imaginations?

Between obsessions

There is a select group of people in the world that have more than hobbies, they have obsessions. Whether it’s playing the violin, collecting old teapots, painting pictures of cats, or learning the ancient art of Shibari, these people focus on a normal hobby so much that they live, eat, sleep, and breathe it. It becomes their passion, their raison d’etre.

There is also a select group of people whose raison d’etre’s change from time to time. These people are called multipotentialites, and you can read more about them in my article, Are You A Multipotentialite?. People whose obsessions change over time tend to look at the world differently. Different than OCD, short for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, living with obsessions is classified more as a rapid learning habit wherein an individual devours everything they can about a certain topic or skill before abandoning it. Like a swarm of locusts that come through and clear a field of all edible vegetation, a person with obsessive hobbies burns through them until there is nothing left to gain, and then move onto something else entirely.

Before going any further, let me explain what this feels like, and how it differs from a normal hobby. Imagine yourself reading through a book. Some statement catches your eye, and in your mind you say, “well, isn’t that interesting. I’d like to know more”. You turn to your internet and begin a search for information that leads you down into a world beneath the surface, a world that few people know about. It doesn’t matter the subject, this fiendish search for knowledge can last anywhere from one month to a year, and culminate in the collection of objects as well as the change of wardrobes, mannerisms, and even personality. For the short amount of time that a person is cocooned amidst this new obsession, it seems almost as though they change into an entirely different person.

Of course, that is an extreme case, which is the primary focus of this article. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing! That’s how we get really interesting people who dress up like pin-up girls, just as one example of many. Those girls spend a part of their life (Or longer, depending on the length of the obsession) researching and duplicating those retro fashion and makeup trends. Not many people can do that. Only someone with a passion for it.

And then, let’s go back to our previous paragraph. So you find something that sparks your interest. You allow it to change your life. You change your wardrobe, your surroundings, your personality. You are not the same person as you were before discovering this totally awesome thing. And then, just as quickly as it seems to have begun, your obsession begins to fade. The novelty begins to wear off and you find yourself becoming bored. There is nothing new to learn. You’ve already performed, to the best of your ability, that which you wanted to duplicate. You are by no means a master at it, but you have reached a level of fulfillment within yourself that leaves you wanting something new, something more. The peak excitement begins to taper off into a valley that often feels very similar to depression. Not a chronic, long lasting depression. This sort of depression, characterized by boredom and discontent, only lasts until you find a new spark of inspiration, wherein a new obsession can grow.

This cycle continues throughout these people’s lives. I myself suffer from this roller coaster of obsessions and depressions. I have never known a time before this phenomenon, and so far I see no end to it. I am currently in a decline from an obsession that lasted for seven or eight months. That obsession was self-improvement. I have no way of knowing when the next obsession will begin. They usually come out of nowhere, unexpectedly. But when I am in the valley between obsessions, it is unbearable. The world seems small and uninteresting. There is a feeling of being outcast, misplaced, unfulfilled. This period of time doesn’t last as long as the obsessions do, usually only a few weeks to a month before something else sparks the passion again.

But oh, it is so unbearable living in the ridges between obsessions.


Can any of you relate to this phenomenon? I’d love to hear your stories!

Take care!

Withdrawal Symptoms After Antidepressants

An article published by Benedict Carey and Robert Gebeloff discusses an issue many people never really consider when they begin taking antidepressants; the risk of quitting. I would like to offer my thoughts about this article, as I myself am on antidepressant medication.

I began taking Zoloft in February or March of 2018, a step that in my mind was long overdue. I had suffered with severe depression and anxiety my entire life, to the point where I could barely function on a normal level. I was antisocial, withdrawn, always cranky, uninspired, and detached from reality. I went through two antidepressants before settling into Zoloft, which seemed like the perfect fit for my personality. It dulled my anxiety, which to me seemed like a tiny man running around inside my head, constantly telling me that I wasn’t good enough and people were watching me and no one actually liked being my friend, that they were just using me. After starting Zoloft, that voice was silenced. If you’ve ever seen the movie Moana, when the spirit of the Island turns into that horrible volcano demon, that’s what my anxiety was like. It lashed out at everyone, and tried its hardest to isolate me. The Zoloft was like the heart of the Island being returned.

My depression was how I identified myself. It was the reason I used to justify my bad behavior. I hurt so many people through the years because “I was depressed”, or “I was anxious”, and part of that might have been true, but I now realize that being depressed was never an excuse to be a shitty person.

So there’s some backstory. Now, onto the article.

They state that

Antidepressants were originally considered a short-term treatment for episodic mood problems, to be taken for six to nine months: enough to get through a crisis, and no more.

and that makes sense. Antidepressants may have originally been designed to be taken to get through a difficult time in your life, but that is an example of an environment, and non-permanent form of depression. Someone might become depressed after losing a family member or ending a relationship, but that depression is not a long term issue. Things like that are fixed with time and experience. There are professionals there to talk to about these huge life changes, which can be shocking and depressing.

However, this does not take into account those people who suffer from long term, genetic, or clinical depression. The depression and anxiety that has been there since before they could remember. The depression and anxiety that made their childhoods into nightmares.

“Most people are put on these drugs in primary care, after a very brief visit and without clear symptoms of clinical depression,” said Dr. Allen Frances, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke University. “Usually there’s improvement, and often it’s based on the passage of time or placebo effect.

Yes, as was the way I began my prescription. I filled out a questionnaire to get a broad idea of how bad my anxiety and depression were, and then as quick as ever, I was taking my first pill. Now, was my improvement in mood simply because I was leaving a difficult period of my life, or that I was under the placebo effect? It’s possible. But as someone who has suffered from depression for a very long time, I knew one thing; I was feeling better than I had in years. Placebo effect or not, the pills had changed how I thought about my life and the world around me, and it was for the better.

The article goes on to state that this placebo effect might mean that a patient will end up taking a drug that is basically useless for a much longer time than is necessary. And long time use is one of the things that leads to such bad withdrawal symptoms. Ok, fair enough. However, the symptoms they state sounded an awful lot like symptoms of depression and anxiety returning. Of course a person who was depressed, starts taking pills, and then stops is going to once again experience depression, if it’s clinical. If the depression is environmental in nature, then yes, by stopping the use of antidepressants, they can return to a normal life. But if the depression continues after the discontinuation of the medication, is that withdrawal? Or is that simply the mental illness returning?

Antidepressants are not harmless; they commonly cause emotional numbing, sexual problems like a lack of desire or erectile dysfunction and weight gain. Long-term users report in interviews a creeping unease that is hard to measure: Daily pill-popping leaves them doubting their own resilience, they say.

Emotional numbing? For someone like me, who feels everything amplified ten times stronger, that’s a good thing. I spent my entire life feeling so many feelings, and feeling them so strongly, that I could barely function. Some call it being empathic, some call it being sensitive, some call it being a little pussy. Whatever. There are just certain people in the world that are too emotional, and I was one of them. By numbing my emotions, I was able to function on a normal human level. I stopped overthinking everything and started taking action.

“Many were critical of the lack of information given by prescribers with regard to withdrawal,” the authors concluded. “And many also expressed disappointment or frustration with the lack of support available in managing withdrawal.”

It is true that during my doctor’s appointment to get on antidepressants, I was not told there would be such a thing as withdrawal. However, as I have weaned between several different drugs, I know the procedure. And I understand that going from a state of drugged to drug free is obviously going to carry some side effects. However, who would ever want to stop taking antidepressants. If I ever had to go back to the way I was before, where I barely left my house and it took every ounce of strength just to wake up in the morning, and putting on makeup just seemed like entirely too much work…if I had to go back to that life, I would be miserable again. I know that my depression would return. My depression was not caused by an environmental issue. It is something that has been there since as far back as I could remember. There is a chemical imbalance in my brain. That’s not something that just corrects itself.

Is it the same for everyone? Obviously not. These are just my thoughts based on my own experience.

In one of the earliest published withdrawal studies, researchers at Eli Lilly had people taking Zoloft, Paxil or Prozac stop the pills abruptly, for about a week. Half of those on Paxil experienced serious dizziness; 42 percent suffered confusion; and 39 percent, insomnia.

Among patients who stopped taking Zoloft, 38 percent had severe irritability; 29 percent experienced dizziness; and 23 percent, fatigue. The symptoms appeared soon after people were taken off the drugs and resolved once they resumed taking the pills.

Stop the pills abruptly? Well that would make anyone have withdrawal symptoms! If you stop a medication cold turkey, you are going to experience things like nausea, dizziness, and confusion. You need to wean off a drug safely in order to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. And of course you are still going to have some symptoms, but weaning causes a less severe reaction.

And as another point, most of the symptoms listed about for “withdrawal” sound to me like it’s merely the symptoms of their depression and anxiety coming back. I often experienced insomnia, confusion, and fatigue during my years with depression. So can these really be counted as withdrawal? What if it’s just their mental illness returning? And the symptoms stop when they restart the pills? Well of course.

The drug blunted her PMS symptoms, she said, but also caused her to gain 40 pounds in nine months. Quitting was nearly impossible — at first, her doctor tapered her too quickly, she said.

She succeeded in her last attempt, in 2015, by tapering over months to 10 milligrams, then five, down from 20 milligrams and “finally all the way down to particles of dust,” after which she was bedridden for three weeks with severe dizziness, nausea and crying spells, she said.

Blunted PMS symptoms? Sounds like a regulation of emotions. And gaining 40 pounds? Perhaps the gaining of weight is in response to finally eating a healthy diet, as several people who suffer from depression and anxiety have very unhealthy eating habits, like skipping meals due to lack of appetite or energy. And being bedridden for three weeks with severed dizziness, nausea, and crying spells? Once again, sounds like several of the symptoms I often experienced when in the grips of severe depression. Of course these symptoms may be amplified by the lack of the drug. I’m not saying that withdrawal is entirely bullshit. Of course there is always the possibility that she was indeed experiencing withdrawal from her drugs. However, crying spells were something I often experienced when depressed, although I never experienced extreme dizziness. But that is to be expected when you stop taking a drug.

“Had I been told the risks of trying to come off this drug, I never would have started it,” Ms. Hempel said. “A year and a half after stopping, I’m still having problems. I’m not me right now; I don’t have the creativity, the energy. She — Robin — is gone.”

Again, sounds like clinical depression to me. Just a return of the mental illness.

Overall, this article does draw attention to something that is not often considered when discussing antidepressants, and it was very enlightening to read. While I did have some personal points to make about the article, which I have done above, I do agree that more studies should be done around the discontinuation of antidepressant medications, especially with the increase of users throughout the years. To educate myself further I will be having a discussion with my doctor about the effects or side effects of terminating my medication, which I eventually plan on doing if I feel stable enough to live again with my normal brain functioning.


Do any of you have any thoughts or opinions about this article you’d like to share? I would really be interested in what others think about this.

Also, just a reminder if you are one of those who takes medication, don’t forget to take your pills today.

Take care!