For a long time after becoming ill I wasn’t any good at all at handling things when things became unbelievably bad.
Then for a while I seemed to be coping better.
Friday was a very bad day. A day of utter despair and overwhelming depression. It hit me like a lead boxing glove when I woke up, continued to build as the day dragged on and by bedtime had become unbearable.
There are times when I slip back. Stressful events tend to bring on emotional instability, to use a detached, somewhat medical observation. I felt badly shaken after my latest social services assessment last Thursday because it felt so intrusive. I became afraid I would lose my son.
But on reflection it’s not so much what happens in life as how you react to it, and deal with it. This is quite basic therapy stuff.
How you react to a stressful event. How you deal with fearful imaginings. And how you deal with both your emotions and the responses of others.
A lot of what I deal with is the fallout from trauma and I sometimes have to manage very difficult emotional states. Having a therapist and an Emergency Plan stops me spinning totally out of control.
I called the Samaritans on Friday night because I needed trained, objective, sensible support. And compassion. I didn’t need to whip a friend up into a worried, bewildered state. And a friend didn’t need that either.
My Emergency Plan is the same every time. It hasn’t been used for quite a while, but it goes:
If it’s been a particularly bad one, I make a nest in my bed with pillows. And I have a cushion that you heat in the microwave and can sprinkle essential oils on. That helps a lot. It’s the warmth and scent that is so comforting.
The calm after the storm brings the recognition that I place a huge expectation on myself to be dealing better with a great deal of pressure. I have the self-control not to completely break down when my son is in the house. When he isn’t here is when I tend to let go.
My reaction to Thursday’s assessment was all about how I felt, not how it actually was. It wasn’t great, it was exhausting and it made me feel ill. But I have plenty of therapy under my belt telling me that at my stage of recovery, these emotional reactions are to be expected and dealt with the best way I can.