There are rivers that flow
Each generation steps into the waters of their family
Waters of the generations flow over and around each person
For some the waters flow sparkling past
Filled with love and contentment
For some the water flows inky black
Filled with pain and sorrow
Passed from one generation to another
Ripping through them till the waters run dark from them as well
But I will stand strong
Casting stones to either side
Building a dam to hold back the dark water
Standing firm in the center as the blackness assails me
Filtering as best I can the water as it passes
So my children and grandchildren step into cleaner water
Water filled with love and laughter
I will stand as a bulwark
And I will not yield
©2013 Leslie Whitcomb
During this past week I had a really bad day. I dealt with emotional vampires and people just trying to make trouble. At the end of that day I just wanted to grab a bag of Oreos and just hide under my blankets. The day triggered a lot of depression issues for me and left me struggling to find a safe place.
As I look back I can see that there really were a lot of other things at play that day. There were a lot of signals pointing toward a depression meltdown. I just was not paying attention. The days leading up to that fateful day were filled with signs like my wanting to sleep and not get up, not caring about certain activities that usually fill me with happy thoughts, and either wanting to eat too much or not at all. I was not paying attention and let my guard down.
I think everyone has those signs. The ones that alert us to danger. It would be nice if I had a soundtrack that played threatening music right before I had to encounter troublesome people or when I am not paying attention to my depression. But, alas, I do not have a soundtrack. I will have to play closer attention to the warning signs of impending depression events and try to guard myself more closely.
I have tried to create a ritual that will help me stay focused. I have a very small yoga practice in the morning and in the evening before bed. I do deep cleansing breaths (When I am not struggling to breathe from my asthma). And I have considered giving up chocolate. Although giving up chocolate is still very much being debated. The trick with having what feels like chronic depression is finding a way to feel as good as possible and take care of myself.
I am feeling trepidation about this upcoming week. Will I have to deal with the same people? Will there be more situations that set me off? Is there a way for me to “duck and cover” and still get the things done that I need to? My daughter gave me great advice this morning. She said, “Don’t over think it.”
This week’s goal is to breathe, stay present, and be courageous.
For the last few weeks I have been doing course work on trauma. This has been both enlightening and profoundly painful. One of the projects that I am doing for the course is a video on PTSD. Two weeks ago I thought that it would be a good idea to do a trial run. No one was home so I sat down with my computer and started. Worked for about a half hour. I thought that I had accomplished a great deal. And I had.
What I also accomplished was to trigger a panic/anxiety attack that lasted for about a week. It was not always strong but it was relentless. Sleep was difficult and so was general functioning. At one point the anxiety attack struck with such force that I thought I was having a heart attack. (Since I have panic attacks frequently I found out and learned the signs of a real heart attack) This was so intense that it scared me and my family. I thought that I would not survive it. It scared my family so much that they put me on lock down from all school work for three days. I could read fiction, if it was not stressful and needed to do extreme self care.
The point of this is that though I took the three days off I went back to work on learning. Set up a new work schedule and increased the self care. It was a stretch for my comfort zone. I pushed the boundaries of my bubble a little harder than I usually do. But I grew and I learned more resilience. Each hard step can make us stronger if we grow from it and mot move back into our shell. That little chestnut was painful. But learning that like stretching muscles is painful so is stretching my bubble.And that information was very affirming.
Healing can be insanely painful. I have begun to think of it like when I exercise and my muscles are really sore the next day. When you exercise, it is my understanding that you are stretching and tearing the muscles and they heal making them stronger. That is what it feels like for me sometimes.
I do things that I have never done before and then I pay a price, like the sore muscles, only in my case it is panic and anxiety. But once I work through the anxiety (and sometimes it can take days) I am a little stronger and it is not quiet so painful the next time I try to do something. And that is where I have been lately. Trying new things that stretch and hurt and trying them again.
Only each time I do I am a little bit stronger.