Self Care When You Feel Like You’re Living Through A Raging Suckfest Of Utter Doom

Without getting political, it’s rather glaringly apparent that many people are hurting right now. Heartbroken, horrified, shocked, grieving, swinging between seething rage and hopelessness and back again. I empathize because I’m in the same ocean liner that just slammed into a Glacier Of OMFG WTF Is Happening????

During times of great uncertainty and pain, we need self-care. As many of you know, I’ve lived for many many years with major uncertainty and fear and great pain, the details of which aren’t important right now. What is germane is that I have acquired some coping techniques and self care tips from some great minds along the way. I’m going to offer them (the techniques and tips – not the brains of those great people) to whoever may need them. Take what you’d like and leave the rest.

Breathe

Yes, I’m seriously gonna start with that one. Sounds cliched as all hell but it’s damn effective. One technique I was taught is this:

  1. Sit comfortably and no, it doesn’t have to be in the legs crisscrossed, palms up and resting on your knees position, but it can be if that’s what you’d like.
  2. Think of what you wish for in life, not material things per se, but stuff like hope, peace, healing, health, to be heard, to be seen, to be loved, to have featherless dinosaurs etc. Narrow your choices to three or four per meditation session.
  3. Breathe in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and then say a  metta* for yourself. *metta – (n) lovingkindness, the Buddhist virtue of kindness; also called maitri.  Example:
    1. May I have peace
    2. May I have hope
    3. May I have healing
  4. Breathe in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and then say a metta for someone you are thankful for.
    1. May (insert person) have peace
    2. May (insert person) have hope
    3. May (insert person) have healing
  5. Breathe in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and then say a metta for someone you feel neutral about – neither positive nor negative.
  6. Breathe in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and then say a metta for someone you dislike.
  7. Breathe in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and then say a metta for everyone universally: e.g. May all beings everywhere have healing.

Repeat these slogans as needed (from al anon)

  • One Day at a Time.
  • Let Go and Let God.
  • Easy Does It.
  • Listen and Learn.
  • Together We Can Make It.
  • First Things First.

One Day at a Time

For me, this slogan means: stop obsessing about the future and all the horrible things that might happen. Stop catastrophizing. Live this day, in this moment, and quietly seek out beauty and peace. Don’t grasp at it, just let it happen. And if I can’t feel peace, then I need reach out to someone I trust and ask for their help, with the expectation that the universe will respond with love.

Let Go And Let God

I’m not a religious person. At all. I rejected the religion of my childhood (Evangelical Southern Baptist) long ago. I don’t believe in a deity of any sort. So for me, “God” means two things:

  1. The group of fellow human beings whom I have learned to trust
  2. The belief that hope and loving kindness actually do exist in the universe

When I’m thoroughly stessed to the max, when matters are out of my control, I try to pause. All this raging against the machine or frantic worrying or pacing is getting me exactly nowhere fast. I take a moment and I do one of a few things:

  1. I think back on conversations I’ve had with wise people, or about quotes that wise people have said. I gather strength from their wise words.
  2. I ask the universe to “Hey universe, how about sending some of that seemingly illusive peace and loving kindness my way? Thanks, kinda need it right about now.”

For you “God” may mean something different and that is perfectly fine. When you feel overwhelmed, try to Let Go and Let Your God and see if this helps.

Easy Does It

Basically this one means “Relax, already!”. Anger, fear, and worry make us tense. Our muscles contract, we grit our teeth, our heart beats like a crazed horse inside our chest. This is a healthy response in a flight or fight situation. But unless a rabid rhinoceros is bearing down on our ass, this biological stress response isn’t doing us a lot of good if we maintain it for long periods. The flight or fight response was designed for the quick battles, for sprints – not marathons. And as we all know, life is a marathon, not a sprint. If I spend hours getting worked up about the sucktasticness of certain aspects of life, I’m gonna wear myself out in no time. And if I’m worn out, I can’t be of use to myself, my loved ones, or the world at large.

Righteous anger and justified fear are useful and neccessary, but we can’t function 24/7 in MAXED OUT RAGEFEST or HOLY SHIT WE ARE ALL DOOMED mode. So when I feel like roadkill run over by a convoy of ten-ton stressmobiles, I stop and say “Easy does it, You can be a warrior later, self. But for this moment, park your hammer of Thor, and take it easy. Relax. Recoup your strength.”

Listen and Learn

For me this one means: Girl, you do not have the answer, alright? Accept it. You’ve been beating this dead Velociraptor for days now and no matter how hard you whack on this thing, you ain’t bringing it back to life, you hearing me? So what you need to do now is turn to sources outside yourself. Go read. Go listen to others. And I mean listen, not just sit there ruminating on shit while the other people are talking. Listen to them and you’ll be surprised what wisdom you’ll find out there.”

Together We Can Make It

I’ve felt alone in many of my traumas in life. As I look back, I realize this didn’t need to be the case. Now I know that if I am willing to reach out, I will most likely find others who are going through what I am going through. Who are feeling what I am feeling.  We humans , no matter how reclusive or introverted, are social beasts. Knowing we are not alone in our pain/anger/fear is therapeutic for us. When I’m angry/scared/worried, I now reach out to those I trust, to people who I know will empathize and listen without judgment. To people who won’t beat me up for my feelings but who will lift me up and – if I ask for it – provide me with advice or words of wisdom.

First Things First

When a great trauma happens, a lot of times our first reaction is to go “OMG LOOK AT ALL THESE PROBLEMS NOW AND OMG I MUST FACE THEM ALL RIGHT NOW RIGHT THIS SECOND OMG THE ENEMY IS EVERYWHERE AND I AM A METAPHORICAL LONE SPARTAN WITH A POCKET KNIFE  FACING TWO ZILLION PERSIAN ENEMY FORCES WITH ALL MANNER OF ADVANCED WEAPONRY AND FIGHTING ELEPHANTS AND SHIT ALL BY MY LONESOME SELF OMG! When life feels like this, I have to remember to do One Thing At A Time. AND to do the most important thing first. Sometimes that most important thing is paying a bill. Sometimes it’s putting food in my body because – hello – I can’t face the hordes of fighting elephants when my blood sugar is tanked. Do the most important thing first. Then breathe and do the second most important thing. I often put everything else ahead of me. I let other stuff, other people take priority. But I’ve learned that if I let my physical, mental, and emotional energy be depleted, I’ll shortcircuit. Now I do first things first and if that means taking time for self-care before I take on the BIG SUCKFEST OF RAGING SHIT-COVERED HORDES OF PUKE-WORTHY VILENESS then that is what I prioritize. After my tank is filled, then I can ramp up my engines and face the Suckfest Elephant Horde.

Some other things I’ve found helpful when I’m feeling thoroughly crushed by the ten-ton suckmonkeys of life is to:

go outside

play with Fang the Kitten of Destruction

watch a comedy

cry without judging myself for crying

do some small nice thing for myself

distract myself with drawing or doing a mindless craft

listen to upbeat music (music is a powerful mood alterer)

do a good deed for someone

That’s all for now. I need to get out of this chair and get some sunshine. And then I’ll be back, replenished and ready to FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT AGAINST THE SUCKTASTIC HORDES OF GROSSNESS!

Before I go, I’ll leave you with some cute shiz. Go, my fellow humans, look at cute shiz, and then FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT AGAINST THE SUCKTASTIC HORDES OF GROSSNESS!

much love,

me

drawinghusky1A rare photo of a Hoppy Huskerpupper of Floofhappiness

drawinggecko2A baby GrabbyToesLoveyGazeHuggabooGecko

newfuzzykittydonetext2A tiny fuzzy kitty who loves you soooooooooo effing much

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Potholders and Mindfulness

TWIGGER WARNING: Suicide, mental illness, depression, grief, psychiatric hospital, eating disorders, anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder, self-harm, substance abuse

Do not read further if these topics are triggering.

As many of you know by now, about a week ago (I’ve lost track of the time honestly), I took my suicidal daughter to the emergency room. After twelve hours in the emergency room, she was transferred to a nearby psychiatric hospital. That first night in the psychiatric ward, she became medically unstable. In imminent danger, she was rushed to the intensive care unit at the regular hospital. The psychiatric ward informed me of this development and I hurried to the hospital, panicking so hard my hands shook on the steering wheel. Her time in ICU was the thing of nightmares. Hallucinations, ripping out her catheter, sheer confused terror. I arrived to find my baby with tubes in her body, blood on her sheets, and mittens on her hands so she wouldn’t harm herself. Her eyes darted to me. “WHY? Why, Mama? Why me? Why can’t I just be normal?” she said over and over.

After she stabilized, she was sent back to the psychiatric hospital. The HORRIFYING psychiatric hospital.

As I write this, she is still in the psychiatric ward, a horrifying, REPEAT – indescribably HORRIFYING place.

On Monday she will be flown to a co-occurring treatment center and need to be interviewed before our insurance will allow her to be admitted. If our insurance turns her down, I don’t know what we’ll do – try to find another place for her I guess. There are very few co-occurring treatment centers in the country though. This waiting and hoping for insurance to MAYBE allow my daughter to receive the treatment she so desperately needs is agonizing. But that’s a topic for another post.

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What do you do when you’re in the ER with your suicidal child for 12 hours? You try to help her be happy by drawing silly pictures.

What do you do when you’re in the ER with your suicidal child and you so want to make her happy? You draw her silly pictures.

What do you do when you’re in the ER with your suicidal child and you so want to make her happy? You draw her silly pictures.

My older daughter is tortured daily by invisible sadists. Her demons have been attacking her for almost a decade now. Her diagnoses are numerous: anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, depression, possible borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, addiction, self harm, and body dysmorphic disorder. And I have sought out every possible avenue of help for her. She’s had a consistent team of professionals since she was thirteen: a psychiatrist, psychologist, a registered dietician, and numerous support groups. She’s been in eight different mental health treatment centers/psychiatric wards in eight years. She’s been treated by the best facilities in the country.

And yet, eight years later, she is suffering as much as ever before.

SHE HAS BEEN SUFFERING FOR EIGHT YEARS.

MY BABY HAS BEEN SUFFERING FOR EIGHT YEARS.

AND NOTHING HAS HELPED HER.

Excuse me while I take a loooooonnnnng moment to go scream my anger and pain at the universe.

Okay. I’m going to switch gears now because I want this post to lead to something positive. This next bit of my post will give you a view into the mind of a parent of a suicidal child. I’m not writing this for sympathy. Honestly, I kinda don’t wish to talk about this pain anymore. Sometimes talking about it actually magnifies the pain. So I do not need words of sympathy. I write this because parents of children with mental illness need ways to cope with the overwhelming emotions this bastard of a disease causes. This disease that abducts our children and tortures them day in and day out. This disease that strips them of their happiness and their dreams and their life.

I am not a psychologist and I do not have a “10 Ways To Cope With The Pain Of Having A Child With Mental Illness” list. As a parent of child who is suffering, as a parent who has been pushed to the brink by this sadistic bastard of a disease, I do have one lame little story to tell you. One that I hope may help even if it’s just a tiny bit.

As any parent would be after nearly losing their child to suicide and placing them in a psychiatric ward, I’ve been massively stressed: worried beyond all description for her, feeling her every pain as if it were my own, terrified for her future, mourning all the losses, feeling powerless to help, and struggling to maintain hope.

Stressed and grieving to the point of shaking, sobbing, and rocking on the cold tile floor in the middle of the night.

Stressed to the point of almost shutting down.

Unable to focus on anything outside of chaotic thoughts and emotions, I’ve barely been able to perform the daily tasks of living. Unsurprisingly, I’ve haven’t had enough focus to be able to write, revise, draw, blog, or almost anything else. I’ve been showing all the signs of grief: insomnia, nightmares, zero appetite, unplanned weight loss, alternating numbness or intense emotional anguish. The smallest tasks have seemed gargantuan. I’ve felt physically weak and ill, beaten down, severely depressed, and overwhelmed.

Yesterday, I neared the breaking point. I needed something, ANYTHING to escape the worries and sadness, if only for one small moment. I didn’t know what that “something” was though.

As I walked around the house like a zombie picking up Fang the Kitten of Destruction’s collection of mangled and shredded cat toys, I bumped into this cheap, crappy storage furniture thing I own in the front entrance knocking off the bottom cabinet door. Inside the cabinet sat a plastic loom and a pile of colorful fabric loops, items I’d forgotten were there. Items from when the girls were little and we used to do crafts together. I pulled out the loom and stared at it dumbly for a long moment. Then, I took it and a few handfuls of bright loops to the kitchen, dropped into a chair, and started, with clumsy-numb fingers, to make a potholder.

And something happened. My fears and grief sort of eased into the background as I rotely worked. One potholder turned into two, turned into four. The afternoon passed. I won’t say the pain evaporated. It didn’t. But it didn’t crush me in its grip as it had been doing for a week solid. I think Buddhists would mention the word “mindfulness” here. As I focused on the repetitive task, the constant violent thrashing of fear/sadness/guilt/regret/loss/anger/mourning against my vulnerable psyche eased. My mind emptied a bit, a welcome draining of the tsunami of emotions that threatened to drown me.  

The pain is not gone forever. I know this. It will return. The wounds are not healed. I know this.

But for that brief respite from unbearable pain, a big thank you to potholders. And to mindfulness. And wow, this sounds completely lame as I finish this post: POTHOLDERS TO EASE YOUR AGONY. But then again, if a freakin potholder can take away even five minutes of another person’s pain because of this post then it was worth it.

If you need support, please reach out. NAMI (National Alliance On Mental Illness) is an excellent resource: http://www.nami.org/Find-Support

Reach out to a friend, to a family member, to a therapist. You do not need to bear this pain alone. Others want to help you. You are so very important and you are loved.

potholdercorrectallignmentP.S. The one on the lower right is supposed to be a sunrise. My younger daughter fell in love with it and asked if she could have it. I said, “I love you and of course you can have it, gooby.” So now she’ll be taking it to college with her and I hope this little sunrise potholder helps her through any tough times and reminds her of the value of mindfulness. As soon as I know my older daughter is safe within the walls of the treatment center, I’ll start sending her something to hopefully help her through the tough times. The treatment center has very specific rules about items allowed so my options are limited. I think I’ll send cards. I’ll probably start with my HUGS 4 YOU.

DrawingHugRobot2CopyrightI hope everyone in your world is in a happy place. But if they are not, I’m sending a big HUG 4 YOU to them and to you too and wishing you comfort and healing and strength and hope.


*IMPORTANT*

If you or someone you love is thinking of hurting themself, please call  1-800-273-TALK (8255)

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/


You take care of you.

Much love to you and yours,

 

me