This week marks the halfway point for me in my program. 3 ½ weeks in and I can hardly believe it has been that long, but then it feels like I have been going there forever. So as a quick check in with where I am. I have come so far, but still have so far to go. I’ve learned more about me in the last 3 weeks than in the last 46 years.
First of all, I am on a string of days of feeling a little like me, or at least I see/feel glimpses every now and then. A comment, a joke, laughing with the boys, just little things but they are becoming more frequent. It is slow going and I am working on being patient with me. I am not doing so good on that front, but I am working on it. Funny thing was, I didn’t trust the feeling the first few days. I have had little rebounds before in the last few months, but then it would start to slide down again. It was really hard to believe I was feeling better. Even harder to trust that feeling.
However, it is a slow process. When you are in the hole, you don’t realize how deep it was until you start to try and come out of it. For months, I felt like I was clawing at the walls at the bottom of the hole, but just kept slipping and falling. There were times where I would imagine that scene from Silence of the Lambs where the girl finds the scratch marks on the walls and the piece of a broken fingernail stuck in the rocks. You know, right after “It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again” scene and right before the ol’ wiener tuck.
As the fog lifts and my head starts to clear a little bit, the hill up out of the hole is a lot less steep. I feel like an 18 wheeler in first gear going up a hill. I just try and get a little better each day. The program I am in is based in Mindfulness and staying in the present moment is a huge deal. So I try not to worry about where I failed yesterday, and there is no sense in worrying about tomorrow, which leaves me with just the moment again.
I am in love with this program and it has helped me tremendously. I have met some of the most amazing people there in my fellow patients….classmates…whatever you want to call them. I have very quickly grown to call most of them friend. There is something very reassuring to know you aren’t the only one that does some weird little something, or a knowing nod when you share something in group. They are from all walks of life and they are incredible. The staff is knowledgeable, kind and compassionate. I can’t speak about it highly enough.
But I am tired. I am so freaking tired. I still have some restless nights but I have been sleeping a lot better. 2 nights this week Melissa said I never moved once we went to bed. I am working this program so hard that I am exhausted when I get home for the day. I have taken some epic naps when I got home from Crazy Class. I told Melissa today that it was like my body was trying to make up for the last 6 months lack of sleep. Although I am starting to feel a little restless, I am trying to listen to my body and sleep when it wants to.
I try adding something new to each day. Putting things on my to do list that can’t possibly be done that day so that it would have to stay on the list overnight and work on trying not to obsess about it to the point of compulsion during the night. Errands where things will change suddenly or there are people everywhere. Just something to add as a stressor little by little. Again, when I get home, I have pushed myself to the point where I just flop down. The next thing will be starting on the downstairs renovations and just getting a little done each day. Not working on it from 6am to 3am the next day like I did painting.
The panic attacks have become less frequent, but at the same time, they can be pretty rough ones when they do come. I seem to be getting more streaks of days without a panic attack, most recently 4 days in a row. That was huge. In the 6 weeks before I started this program, I had panic attacks every day. Multiples most days. At the end, there were 6 or even 8 in a day. I’m learning my triggers. I’m doing my meditation.
Speaking of which, I sound a lot more hippie these days. Triggers, safe spaces, self care, affirmations, meditation. I hate that words like trigger and safe spaces hadn’t been stolen by people making fun of other people, because there is a lot of validity in those concepts. But just like most things with mental health, we make those terms of weakness. Well, let me tell you all something, whether you call them this or not, every single one of us have triggers and we all have safe spaces.
I’m learning and practicing coping skills. Some work for me and some don’t. It is keeping an open mind to trying anything and then implementing what works and adjusting or discarding what doesn’t. Breathing in a counting pattern works for me. It calms me and slows my pulse rate and I have been able to arrest a couple of panic attacks early. Meditation has been huge to me. It has become a part of my daily routine that simply can’t be missed. 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minute sleep meditation at night. I will knock out a quick 5 or 10 minute one in the middle of the day depending upon my anxiety level. My brain wanders so much that I still have to do the guided meditation to bring me back to focus. However, it does help me to slow the racing thoughts even when I do wander.
But my favorite thing that I have found I have to give Melissa credit for. Someone told her about a weighted blanket. I was skeptical at first, too but this thing is the greatest thing ever. The pressure across my body really relieves the anxiety that builds up. It is a 20lb blanket that somehow doesn’t make me hot and for 3 straight nights, it has helped my sleep tremendously. Even though I am extremely claustrophobic, I don’t feel trapped at all. I don’t know any other word for it than soothing. I look like Linus dragging my blanket from room to room!
So where am I at the halfway point? I’m headed in the right direction. I get up and I work on me. I try to rest and repair my entire body and my mind. I have bad days, I have good days but I just keep working and learning. Stay in the moment and always try and be learning.
I am just trying to be a better me today than I was yesterday. I will try that again tomorrow and go from there.
Next time you see me, I may be in flip flops and tie die. You dig?
Remember to take care of yourself first and always!