Stress is sneaky.I go through the day and think that I am doing great. I walk out the door at my internship and get in my car, start the engine and begin the drive home. After about ten minutes there starts a buzzy feeling in my brain and I start to feel the stress that I had been blocking all day start to come forward.
I do fairly well at the internship. I don’t have any panic attacks, except the first day. I communicate with others and have made some friends. But as soon as I walk out of the door everything comes forward and bashes me in the head. Which brings up the need for “the great how to decompress before I go home” quest.
I have tried listening to books on the drive home that make me laugh, I have stopped to go for a walk, I have stopped an just looked at nature. But so far I am finding the stress just builds up until I have to hide for a short while and just escape. But escape just relocates the stress it doesn’t actually make it better. Some of it is in finding a peaceful place to be in my mind. And for that I need to clear a space.
At the moment I am at residency for school. Surrounding by a large number of people that I do not know. At the same time I am also surrounded with people with whom I have developed a friendship. All the new faces and all the people that are around me have triggered some of my anxiety and panic that I feel in crowds. What I have decided to do is to carefully choose in what things I will participate and then to spend time in my room “nesting” feeding my soul and healing. Putting together the things that I need to do for the semester. Clearing away the things that need to be put into order and contemplating how to bring home the peace that I am finding.
Breathe in and breathe out. Find the center ground and stand in the space that I have designated as sacred. And let the feelings roll from me until I am back to the center. Then reach out and wrap the feelings of peace that being here at this place brings me.
Being afraid of things is not something new. I have always hated being in crowds. At one point in my life I was fearless. I would travel alone and go to new places and do things that I was amazed that I would do. I later thought about how I could do those things. And the conclusion I came to was that I had nothing to live for. So it didn’t matter what I was afraid of because I didn’t care.
Then I found something to live for and suddenly I very much wanted to be alive. I very much wanted to stay safe. And all those fears that I had been ignoring came roaring up to the forefront. I would drive to work, which was a hundred miles round trip. But I was always just this side of panicking. I would listen to books while I drove to keep me from being afraid. And when it snowed, I drove so slow I stayed off the highways.
After I stopped working I stopped driving so much. I didn’t go out as much and I climbed deep inside myself. I allowed all the things that had been just on the edge to become very much the center. These were things that I had learned to view as unsafe because of the trauma. Situations to avoid if I wanted to stay safe. But those situations did not exist anymore. I was truly safe.
Over the last many years I have been slowly reclaiming myself. I can now drive longer distances from home. I can go to many places I could not before. But there are still many things that I need to take a safety buddy with me. Someone to help me if I start to panic. Crowds, regardless of the safety buddy, still take careful planning.
What I have found is that when I stop doing something it becomes harder to do it again later. And the longer I allow my fear to dictate to me when I do something. The harder it is. I have spent time sitting and contemplating about all the opportunities that I missed, and all the things that I want to do . But that did not get me very far at all. It actually moved me backwards.
Now I try to look at it not from a perspective of the past but one of what can I do now. This time of year is difficult for me on many different levels. And I am trying to work either with or past those difficulties. But the point is that it is a forward movement. I cannot sit and think of the past or I accomplish nothing and miss the present.
Today is starting and I am going to move forward. And if that means cleaning out the cobwebs on something that I have long wanted to do, but have not, then that is what I will do. Today is new and I have some new things to try.