default: jen

Battling our Demons and Feeding our Souls

So, I think I’ve spoken about it before, but I’m a lady with the crazy.* It’s managed much better than it used to be, mostly with medication. I had some decent time with a therapist down here in Canberra, though I’ll likely want to find someone new once I relocate to Brisbane. I still have panic attacks (which I’m starting to think is part of the cause of my migraines, what with the teeth grinding and jaw clenching that tends to happen, particularly when I go to sleep anxious), and I still have days and periods when I just feel so low and helpless and worthless.

I know there’s a fair number of you around here who have similar (and different) experiences with the crazy, and deal with it with varying levels of success. There are various resources around that talk about coping strategies, but I’d like to share a few of my own, and hear about some of the strategies you use to keep the crazy from overtaking everything.

*I acknowledge that there are issues with the term crazy; and I’m really not down with crazy as a derogative descriptor, but it’s a term I use non-negatively for myself, and I hope folks are able to respect the language I use to name my experiences. For the record, I don’t expect anyone to use language they feel they’re not comfortable reclaiming, so I’m happy to respect whatever language you choose.

**Trigger Warning** I talk briefly about self-harm in the first paragraph behind the cut, so you might want to skip past it if you need to. I’ve added some extra breaks afterwards to help with that.

 

I self-injured for nearly six years, with varying frequency. It’s been about the same period of time since I stopped cutting, but I need to admit that one of the things I do to stave off the pits if I need to for a short period probably still counts as self-harm. I keep my nails long, and digging my nails into my palms or some other part of my body can sometimes be enough to stave off a depressive spike if I need to get through a meeting or something at work. It’s not a great strategy, but it’s the most effective one I have when I have to keep my composure in front of other people.

 

 

When I do have the time and space to, another thing I have at my disposal since earlier in the year is a recording of a hypnotherapy session I had with my last psychologist. It’s on my iPod, so I’m able to plug my headphones in and listen to it. Often I need to be in the right frame of mind, and it’s about 40min long, so I need to have 40min where I can be by myself in a dark room, so it’s not always the most ideal option, but I like to use it when I can.

It’s a cliché, but paying for a good massage is always a good option, for me. I carry a lot of muscle tension, particularly in my neck and shoulders, so it tends to serve two purposes in terms of giving my brain some time to decompress and helping my muscles decompress too. Again, it’s something that requires time and space, as well as a level of class privilege in terms of the kind of disposable income to be able to pay for such a thing, so it’s not something that’s necessarily available for everyone.

One which is surprisingly simple, and surprisingly effective, is having access to folks on social media; particularly Twitter. Something about the speed of Twitter means I feel less self-conscious asking for support. The speed of my Twitter stream means my momentary admission that I’m consumed with self-hate at the moment, or that I’m suddenly convinced that I’m going to die in the next half an hour despite lack of any reason for such a belief, is there one minute, and in the next has travelled down the stream, replaced by the discussions and admissions and observations of others, about anything and everything. The feeling of unworthiness that often accompanies such moods and causes me to not talk about them or ask for support is somewhat placated by the idea that sharing in such a fast-moving medium feels less permanent; less demanding.

 

They’re just a few of my strategies, but I’d like to hear from y’all. What do you do when your mental illness starts creeping a little to close to the driver’s seat and you’re not really in a place where you can or want to let it drive? Are there times when you find it easier to just let the crazy do the driving for a period (time and other factors permitting)?

Anon comments will be screened, if it’s obvious you’re intending to share in the conversation, then I will unscreen.

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Comments

I do on occasion self harm when it gets quite bad, and its not a coping strategy that I'm ashamed of. It gets me through the bad times, and I think that it is much healthier than alcohol, which I also frequently use in bad times, but I try and lessen that. If things are bad and I don't want to self harm or drink, I'll often just fall asleep, which is escapism and maybe not good in the long run (?) but it passes the time without feeling it and generally waiting for my bad periods to go away is what I do. I know I _will_ get better after the bad patch, and I need to ride it out.

A healthier coping strategy that I use is mindful eating. I'll buy some tasty thing, either a well-loved comfort food, or something new. Eat it and try to focus on the taste and the texture. Get out of my head and into reality. mindful shower taking works too, trying to focus on the feel of the water, but I find the mindful eating works best for me.

I'll put on comedy television and media too. Sometimes it doesn't work, but the idea is a light distraction.

(Anonymous)

HI JEN we're friends, and you can probably work out who I am, but I'm not totally out as crazy - since I occasionally work with kids, and sometimes people get weird and NERVUS about crazy near their kids, even when there's no reason at all to be concerned. Yay, discrimination, I am SUCH a fan.

My crazy, which is of the GAD and occasional straight out panic attacks kind, is medicated, and the meds work - that is by far and away my biggest coping strategy.

But when things get on top of me, usually after a couple of triggers I can by now identify as problems, I find it very helpful to reach out to people I can trust more than my own spinwheeling brain, and ask them to confirm that I'm just having an attack - that I'm not broken or damaged or disgusting, that I just have a chronic illness that's flaring up on me. And to remind me that it'll be better in fifteen minutes, and much better tomorrow, and I won't even remember it in a month. That really helps, because when I'm panicking, it's like being a teenagers again - everything is the most real feeling of all time and it will stay like this FOREVER.

I mean, I can tell myself all that, but it's much more effective coming from others.
default: jen

May 2011

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