Back up. Shut down. Switch off.
Numb numb numb.
When you find yourself in the middle of what appears to be a hopeless situation, or a conflict, or just a feeling … like… “I can’t do this anymore” (whatever ‘this’ is), sometimes, if you’ve been bottling things up or holding on strong too long; chances are you will just SNAP.
Without delving too deep; I have been functioning with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, clinical depression and crippling anxiety for over half my life. I have gone from being an alcoholic, to a drug addict, to a self-destructive drama attention seeking victim (wow…. that took ALOT to admit) … #notpretty
I’ve lived through a troubled childhood, rape, miscarriage, a continued stressful family life and for a while I even lived in a car. I’d gotten really good at numbing myself with drink, drugs, food, sex, ….anything I could.
For the past few years I have been on a huge journey. I’ve been on and off anxiety medication and anti-depressants, I’m proud to say that this October 2017 I will have been medication free for 2 years. And fuck me it has been hard. (it’s a lot easier to be medically numb than it is to manage it yourself with breathing techniques and exercises).
I’ve learnt how to meditate, practice mindfulness and move with compassion using yoga to heal my dancer body when injured and to calm and soothe my frantic mind. I’ve had some interesting results with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and I honestly think that these tools have saved my life. I no longer use drugs or medication and my drinking is down to the odd occasion (though I’m still learning how to control the stop button on that one). I struggle with caffeine – but given my past history, I think I can forgive myself a few cups of tea.
I have spent 2017 so far learning the word ‘no’.
It’s a good word. You can use it whenever you need to reply to stupid people trying to put too much on your plate. (It’s your plate after all and I have a big plate – just like Alan Partridge)
I have also been learning self-love, self-compassion, self-care and how to look after me. Number one. You cannot hope to control the world around you, the only thing I can control is me and my reactions & feelings. I’ve learnt to watch my thoughts and not judge them, I’ve learnt to accept other people for who they are and acknowledge that whatever other people say or do; I just need to love them. (…and that is really hard when some people are Ass-Hats).
What I have also learnt about myself and my anxiety; is that when I feel cornered, or I feel like conflict is rising too high, filling up all the edges, or just that there is too much on my plate – that I need to take a step back…
…BEFORE I snap back.
I have been in something of a shutdown this week, for reasons I won’t get into here (the reasons change all the time, there’s always a trigger to look out for, it’s not the individual situation that is important really), I’ve basically been pushed to the point of the nope octopus.
And so, I shut down, I dis-engage, I usually go into a kind of complete shutdown where I won’t speak to anyone at all, including whoever or whatever triggered my anxiety. If I manage to catch things in time, and I can see the situation unfolding, I’m lucky enough to simply give myself a bit of extra self-care, take some “me time” and maybe meditate and breath through the problem or obstacle, and then pull up my big girl pants and get the fuck on with it. Hellcat style.
However, this is a luxury I’m not always afforded. Depending on the situation, sometimes the life monkey throws shit at you when you haven’t had time to clean up the sods-law-seagull poop, and your melt down happens quicker than you can begin to hope simply breathing through it.
During the next few weeks and moving into the future I’d like to share a number of techniques I use to combat anxiety and to help you get through difficult times.
I will say this; If you know you’re prone to overwhelm, and panic attacks are an unwelcome guest in your life, it will serve you well to have a plan. For me, this involves stepping away, cutting off contact (I REALLY don’t feel like talking to anyone during these times), running a hot bath, putting on some plinky-plunky hippy-dippy music, lighting candles and incense (Nag Champa FTW!) and breathing along with one of my favourite guided mantra breathing videos (see below).
I’ll give myself full permission to just shut down and go inside – I take great comfort in knowing that the world WILL keep spinning without me for a few days (or sometimes just a few hours). Eventually people will work out that they need to deal with their questions / queries / “urgent” phone calls by themselves, and if they love you – or they’re worth it; they’ll forgive you for having the wisdom to take yourself out of the equation for a while.
Don’t be afraid to do this – you’re not being selfish. When you eventually immerge back into the light of day; you’ll be a better person to handle the obstacle, or you can let it go. It’s your life.
The saying “not my zoo, not my monkeys” comes to mind. It’s fun to repeat too. Like a chant. Try it at your next board meeting…
(maybe not out loud eh?)
Take care little kits xx