Friday, August 20, 2010

Learning to Relax

Along my journey of healing my body and mind, I've found out that I just don't know how to relax.  At all.  Yeah I can sit in front of the TV for hours so I thought, hey, not only am I relaxed, but I'm often quite lazy.  But now I realize that I was never really relaxed sitting on that couch; not completely.

There are two types of relaxation - mental and physical.  And frankly, I suck at both.  I've been working really hard lately to learn how to relax (and believe me, I'm not lost on the frustrating oxymoron in that statement).

I honestly think that one of the major things in the way of me just making a full recovery and kicking this problem's ass is that I can't relax.  My mind is buzzing all the time with to do lists, worries, etc.  And my body is always clenched.

Last night I got a massage.  My doctor recommended that I get them regularly to RELAX (best doctor prescription ever).  I do love massages, but am I relaxed during them?  Well, sort of.  I try so hard to let my whole body just melt into the table (there's that annoying oxymoron again).  But I've noticed something each time I get a massage.  I can let my whole body melt into the table, except for two parts - my pelvic muscles (no surprise) and my hands.  I am constantly realizing during my hour-long massage that my hands are clenched as are my PC muscles.  And I have to consciously let them go over and over again.  I also have trouble relaxing my mind.  I'm supposed to focus on breathing and focus on whatever muscle the massage therapist is working on at the time.  I try, but I inevitably find my mind wandering to all sorts of different things - what's on my to do list tomorrow, which book should I check out from the library next, what should I do with my one week of remaining summer break?  I actually started composing this blog entry in my mind during my massage last night!  And in between all these thoughts, I'm like, hey!  Stop it!  You shouldn't be making lists or composing blog entries!  You're supposed to be relaxed - 'in the moment'.  And then I have to unclench my hands and my vagina once again.  And I go through this pattern during the whole massage.  I can get my mind "in the moment" for about 5 seconds before it goes off somewhere else.  Don't get me wrong, I love getting massages, they feel great.  But damn, can't I just let go for one hour once a month?

I've also been doing (or trying to do) yoga more often lately.  My PT is a big proponent of yoga because stretching is essential to healing those pelvic floor muscles.  The reason I say "trying" to do yoga is that I am the most inflexible person you will ever meet.  If I tried to touch my toes, I'd get to about halfway down my shin, and that's on a good day.  And let me tell you, when we go into downward dog and the yoga instructor says that this should be a relaxing and recuperative pose, I get quite irked because it is one of the hardest things in yoga for me to do.  But I'm trying.  I can't do regular yoga, it's too hard - I'm just not bendy enough.  But the YMCA does offer one Gentle Yoga class so I go to that every week (I'm the only person there under the age of 60).  I've ordered some gentle yoga DVDs to supplement and they're okay.  I guess they'll do.  I prefer doing it "live".  I also ordered a DVD that is called pelvic floor yoga so I'm looking forward to what that might have in store for me.  But again, with yoga, my mind is everywhere.  You're supposed to be focused on your breathing, in some magical yogic place, but most of the time my mind is jumping and spinning and doing things that my inflexible body could only dream of.  There was one time in yoga class - we were in savasana and then 5 minutes later I heard the instructor's voice.  I had actually left my mind during those 5 minutes!  I don't know where I went, but let me tell you, when I "awoke" it was incredible.  I really did feel so relaxed and at peace.  I've been trying to get back to that place ever since.  And maybe that's the problem.  I try so hard to relax that it's impossible.

I'm also taking anti-anxiety meds.  I so hope that these will help me relax.  That is what they're for, right?  We're still in the dosage faze, trying to get me to the right dosage that makes me relaxed but doesn't put me to sleep.  I think we're getting closer, but my mind still runs a million miles an hour most of the time.  I'm looking forward to having nothing on my mind.  Just for a few minutes here and there.  Is that possible?


Kim said...

maybe the EPI-NO will help? the biofeedback component allows women to not only see when they are contracting (not your challenge) but also when they are relaxing. If you are clenching or not letting go of a contraction, then the needle on the gauge won't come down... it is helpful for women with pelvic floor dysfunction as it can really allow them to connect with what is really happening... check out

the girl with pain "down there" said...

Thanks for the suggestion Kim. I think my problem is more that I just can't control it unless I'm specifically focused on it. I know when I am and am not clenched, but unless I'm really focused on it, I'm clenched. I've never heard of the EPI-NO. Very interesting.