Bringing Peace to Anxiety

After a long break in writing this blog I began to wonder why am I writing this or who am I writing it for. I started writing this to tell some of my stories and to just feel like maybe there was someone out there that this could help. Maybe there was someone who just needed to know that they were not alone in their suffering and healing. I never intended this to be a forum on my trauma. What I really wanted was to tell my story in small chunks and talk about how I was moving through the process so that maybe someone else would not feel alone. I hope that in some small measure I have done that. Thanks for reading.

Since the last time I went to the hospital my anxiety level has increased. I was very blessed with caretakers who tried to make sure that through all of the procedures I felt safe. I knew that I was safe. Feeling safe when many of the practices in the hospital trigger traumatic memories of the torture that I endured is different.

For one of the procedures they needed to anesthetize me and put very deep under. I was terrified at the thought of not having any conscious control of my body. The doctors let me hold the mask over my face and I was in control for as much as I was able to be. As I was coming out of the anesthesia I could hear myself talking. Some of the things I said were trauma stories that I have told no one. That was very disconcerting.

Through the hospital stay I did my meditation everyday. It was sometimes for only five minutes. There were a few times that I was able to meditate for longer periods of time. It is very hard to focus on the breathing when you are in the middle of panic and anxiety so I often used guided meditation. When the meditation did not work I tried to listen to a piece of classical music that seems to work as though it is magic for my anxiety. I have this particular piece in three or four variations. I put them all onto a playlist and hit repeat. With ear buds in I was able to fall a sleep and rest for a few hours.

Flashbacks and dissociation happen very seldom these days. I have been working for a long time to process through a lot of the trauma. Years and Years of working through the trauma. And yet there still seems so much still to work through. I have found that the old adage that for every bad person there are hundreds of good people you can turn toward to help and to heal.

The anxiety seems to be harder to face and to work through. And it always scares me because my first thought is that my heart is misbehaving again. I do a body check of where is the pain. When I slow down long enough to actually put my hands over the painful spots it is never my heart. I can then stop and breathe and slow things down and put them into perspective. This means slowly reviewing what just happened in the last half hour. Sometimes there is a delay on the anxiety and the cause could have been anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour before. Finding the trigger and working forward to a better place helps.

The meditation seems to be the best course for me at this time. Though I now have to augment the meditation with medication to get me to a point that the meditation helps. Primarily I use the Calm.com app for meditation. It has soothing sounds as well as a timer or a peaceful voice that leads the meditation for a set length of time. Lately I have been taking advantage of the gratefulness.org resources. What ever format the meditation comes in I hope that it helps.

https://www.calm.com/

http://gratefulness.org/resource/great-bell-chant/

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Divide and Energize

Depression is a very heavy burden to carry. Lately I have been thinking about what it is like to carry something so heavy and have no idea how to put it down. Sometimes I am pretty sure that I cannot put it down. I began to think about something I said in a previous post about sharing the load. I have been made aware of all the people who care about me recently.

I have been made aware of this through my realization of all the people I care about. There are very many people that I love and care about. Some of them I see once in a while and there are others that I see everyday. Since losing someone I knew I have begun to think about how much each of these people in my life mean to me. And also how much I want to reach out to them. I am a praying type of person. I pray for myself and others. I also started trying to think of ways that I could reach out to others. For this I spend time just meditating or for me just thinking about that person and letting things flow through my mind in an endless stream of consciousness.

You may be wondering how this pertains to depression. I have found that the more I am able to reach out from myself and give or reach toward someone I am dividing my depression. I am having to create and use energy to help or reach someone else. For me depression is the antithesis of energy. It is an energy drain. It sucks all of my life force out and makes it so that I cannot get out of bed. But here is where trying to do something for someone else plays in, I am getting up to do something for someone else. Most of the time it is getting up to be with my children or to care for them. There is often a time when I need to have a bigger picture because sometime even that is not enough.

By dividing my depression up and giving it energy I can usually get through the hard stuff. I also know that as much as I love and care for so many people in my life there is a return of all that love. This is where the day to day stuff begins to require real energy and courage. Courage to get up out of bed and remember that I have not always felt this way. And to remember that I will not always feel this way. It also takes courage to take the hand that is offered to you out of love and friendship.

Be courageous and remember to breathe.

Losing Someone

Sometimes I hear the phrase “it takes a community to raise a child.” And there are so many ways that I agree with that. Community is very important. To everyone. This past week I experienced a rather hard thing. Someone I know died. Their death was shocking and surprising. Mostly because it was unexpected. It is not officially known what happened but the conclusion at the moment is that she killed herself.

I know from experience what that dark place feels like and how hard it is to walk away from it. And I know that there are a lot of people in the world who feel that dark place as an intimate place, as somewhere there is no escape from. And that they feel so lost and dark and down that the world would better off without them. Here’s the thing, it isn’t better without them.

The ripples that come from a suicide are huge in their scope. Generations are affected. There are very, very few people in this world that would not leave anyone behind. Everyone has someone that cares or loves them more than words can describe. And everyone is affected by suicide. Everyone connected to that person walks around wondering,”what did I do or didn’t do?”, “How could I have reached them?”, “Why wasn’t I enough for them?” And though those are not fair questions to be burden with people are left to wonder.

No matter how dark things are right now, and no matter how long things have been dark they have not and will not always be that way. Our future self is so full of promise. Everyone is so full of potential and possibility. That the loss of one is so keenly felt. Everyone goes through those times of wondering, like the main character in “Its a Wonderful Life” we often what difference does our being here make? Or who would really notice if we ceased to be here? I have felt that, most people have felt that. And just like the main character learned in the movie the ripples that our lives create are vast and some are so faint that we do not notice them or what change they have brought to someone.

I guess what this boils down to is someone I cared about died. They took with them the opportunity for change and all the miracles that their life brought to people. I have lost way too many friends and family to suicide. Its not okay. Part of me wants to reach out wrap everyone in bubble wrap and just keep them safe. We all live our lives an we all have dark times. For some people I know it is the horrors of war that haunt them, for others it is the trauma of childhood abuse, or mental illness that seems to sap away their energy. These are hard things. But no one ever has to face them alone. Some choose to face them alone, and others think that they would be a burden to someone if they shared the darkness. Those burdens are best carried when the weight is divided among others.

When my heart was filled with sadness from this event I was unsure what to do. Then I reached out to someone wiser than me and they helped. And then that person reached out to others in my behalf and they helped me carry my burden. I have lived though horrors and trauma that I do not share in detail with people. But still when I reach out from my dark times to others the darkness is lessened.

So if you know someone who is in pain reach out and help them to find the help they need. There are many places to go for help. If you are hurting and think that there is nothing left and nowhere to go for help stop and reach out to one person. One candle can light many candles. Don’t suffer alone. Don’t leave us before it is time.

It takes great courage to live. Please be courageous.

Friends

I have a limited number of people that I call “friends.” I think that this is a small number only because I can only think about so many at a time. Once, a long time ago, someone told me about thinking about my funeral and what did i think people would say about me when I am gone. I know that they got this idea from somewhere else, a book , I think but I do not know which one. In any case, the object is to look at what other people see when they see you. And then I thought who would come to my funeral. It would probably be a small event, I thought.

So, I asked my family. They started ticking off people. And the number was a lot bigger than I thought. Why? Because I, and you, know more people than we think. And we influence more people than we think. I try to talk to people everyday. When I am out in the world or on the phone or even just messaging on facebook. But I try to talk to people. This is to keep me in practice. If I had a chance I would hole up at home and not talk to anyone. Making it a habit keeps me social.

I thought about what people would say about me. I hope that it would be good things. I try to be a nice person. Even though sometimes I am not. There is usually a good reason, I hope. I would like to think that I was kind to people, caring, open and accepting. At least in theory.

So, this part goes out to a friend of mine who is struggling and I want them to know particularly and everyone in general to know that everyone struggles. And everyone can make it through. Even when times look really dark and that there really isn’t an up, there always is. I know how Pollyannaish that sounds but it really is true. Somewhere there is a light on just for you. It may not be obvious and you may not know how hard someone is working to get to you, but  they are. And when you find that light everything will be brighter and you can see all the things that have been pulling you back. And you will see how far you have come. I know that I am always amazed at how far I have come with the weight that I carry. And that I am not alone. Even though I may feel lonely. I don’t have to. That is why I reach out everyday.

I have been lifted up by people who don’t even know me. Because I have decided to be open to that. Open to people around me who care. Open to the opportunity to reach out and maybe not find anything. But there is usually something there. And that person soon becomes my friend.

Though I do not think I have a large group of friends I am finding that I do. Because I want to be open to the experience. So when I think about my funeral I think a medium group. I hope for a large group. But I won’t be disappointed by a small group. And I think they will say nice things. So, who will be at your funeral?

Reaching

I wake up in the morning to a loud house. I have a large family and we make noise. Sometimes i just want to have quiet. I want people to not talk to me. I want to be left alone.

That does not happen unless the house is empty. I had a room that was my personal study space. Where I would do my work for college. All my lovely books were in there. And my desk with a comfy desk chair. Then a comfy chair appeared. I thought the chair appeared because someone loved me and wanted me to be comfortable while I studied. I was wrong. That chair was put there for my children by my children.

I found that with the arrival of the chair came the children. Who would sit and talk to me or just read. Mostly it was to talk to me. To tell me of their lives. Ask questions. And generally be with me. This room was not big. Maybe 7 feet wide and 10′ long. Me, the desk, the big comfy chair, the filling cabinet, and the books took up most of the space. When there were two people it felt a little close. More and it was crowded. Usually there were more. I asked what my chances of actually being left alone to work were. A sober faced teen told me that those odds were slim to none. I might get a few moments but that was about all.

Sometimes it hurt to have people talk to me. It hurt to listen. I just wanted to burrow down deep inside myself and hide there. I did not want light to come into the room. I could have yelled at them to leave me alone. They would have been hurt by this and then I would have felt even worse. So I listened to them. I held them and tried to help them. I reached outside of myself. It was insanely painful and hard. It still is when I feel that way. But being there for someone and letting them into your heart helps you reach out of yourself.

Sometimes the pain from past trauma can try to reach out and throttle you. Pain inflicted on you from others can so often reappear and try to reassert itself as the dominant part of your life. When we let it become the dominant part of our lives, when that is the only story we have, we start to lose the good things that we possess. We begin to listen to the stories of how unworthy of everything we are. But in truth, that is a huge lie! We are amazing and brilliant people. We have all that we need to overcome what we have endured. We need to remember our importance.

The point of the story of my study space is that to my children I am important. I am valued and they love me. And the thing is that everyone is valued by someone. We don’t always see it or realize it. And sometimes we need to be the ones to reach out and recognize them. Or we just need to reach out. When I am in the dark part of depression I don’t want people to talk to me. I don’t want people to be with me. That is what I say not necessarily what I truly feel.

But when someone is with me. Does hold me. Does talk to me I feel lighter. The darkness does not always get to eat away at my heart. At this time of year when depression starts to weigh so heavily on me that I feel as though I am drowning, I reach out. I call someone. Make cookies for someone. I go to the library and just be around people.

So the moral of this is. Do not turn down an invitation to be with someone. If you don’t want to go for a walk that is okay. Maybe tell then that you want to  just talk. Or just not be alone. But reach out beyond the dark places. It just takes a little momentum to start an avalanche. One pebbles just needs to move.