What a ride this is! There is so much going on in my head these days. I’m battling my familiar demon, anxiety. I’ve even been reacquainted with panic attacks. Over the weeks, some members of the team thought that this was caused by my body physically regulating and I’m sure that is a part of all this but in conversation with my main counsellor yesterday, she suggested that perhaps I’m “just” having emotions that I’ve shoved down for too long. This idea fits for me. As unpleasant as it is, I realize that for years I’ve numbed myself out in numerous ways. Going on and coming off medication is an ongoing saga. I have good drugs available to me if I need them and I have used them, lately, as indicated. It’s not the first thing I jump to like I used to. I use all my skills for relaxation and distraction and if I really can’t get a handle on things, then I take medication. The last time, however, they didn’t help which shows me that there’s more going on than an imbalance that can be regulated with western medicine. I’ve often fallen back on the pattern of: identify symptomàdiagnoseàmedicate/treat. Maybe, just maybe, the distress I’m feeling now isn’t actually diagnosable. Perhaps it would be if I was back home. Someone would be keen to help me experience immediate relief and would likely give me whatever I felt I needed to find that. Here, I’m challenged to realize that I’m having feelings and the more likely perhaps is that my distracting techniques have actually become stuffing.
Right now, I seem to feel in extremes and it’s scary. I go from feeling all right to feeling like a failure at life to feeling like I’m on top of the world. It feels as bipolar as it sounds. It’s uncomfortable and I want to moderate it but what I’m realizing now is yet another lesson in patience. If I haven’t felt much in a very long time due to medication, self-harming behaviours, and full on dissociation, how can I expect to feel? Do I think that overnight, because I’ve decided, my mind is going to switch and offer me tolerable emotions? You know, I did think that! I’m stubborn as an ox in a lot of ways. Usually that’s all right and in this process it has helped quicken my progress and disenabled any chance of giving up. In that respect, my stubbornness could be referred to as determination. With this, I need frequent reminding that my emotional self isn’t used to this. It’s almost like adolescence in my head. Growing and feeling…and don’t we all remember how adolescence felt?!
The bigger lesson for me today is the importance of being gentle with myself. I still feel sometimes that if someone would just smack me, I’d get on with things and more often than that, I want to smack myself and get on with things! I know that sometimes I need a stern approach. I need to be told to help myself and do what I know helps even if it doesn’t feel good and it’s exhausting and I don’t want to. I’m usually able to be that stern voice for myself (sometimes far too harsh!). Here, I have surprised myself by being responsive to gentility. It’s quite foreign to me. I respond to the gentle prodding and encouragement of my team. I have to figure out how to be gentle with myself now. The approach I take with myself usually is leaving me chasing my tail. It’s a bitter cycle. An example was a few days ago I was feeling annoyed over something very little, then I started getting annoyed that I was feeling annoyed. I saw the snowball I was creating but didn’t know how to interrupt it. I don’t like feeling annoyed because I associate that feeling (only as it pertains to me) with being bratty, impatient, spoiled, inconsiderate, etc. So I stopped feeling that towards the external stimulus that had initiated that and became annoyed with myself for having that feeling. For some reason, that was more acceptable to be annoyed with myself than let myself be annoyed with something that concerned someone else. In the end when I let myself talk about it, it turned out that my original feeling was justifiable and many people would have felt a bit ticked-off by what I had experienced. Somehow, though, I made it negative towards myself and chastised myself for having the feeling. Now that I’m aware of this, I can try next time to just let myself feel the feeling and realize that I’m doing no harm by having a feeling. I realize now that my feelings don’t always necessitate action and that’s extremely important for me to be aware of. It’s now finding the balance between what does and what doesn’t because I know if I ignore what does or brush it off, I will land myself back overwhelmed and entering panic mode.
I thought of some little hokey phrase that I can use for myself. Instead of “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, for me it’s “Feel the fear and feel it anyway!” It doesn’t feel good! But I can do it and the more practice I get of having feelings and letting myself have feelings, including those that don’t feel good, the better I can become at moderating and I hope to be free of panic and free of drugs!