I wanted to mention this because I don’t think I did while in the state I was in last week. When I am in a state of anxiety every email that comes in or text message gives me a spike of fear. This is what overwhelm feels like. I find there is very little I can do to help myself when this arrives so intensely. It’s like a total stress meltdown. I tried walking to the woods, still felt anxious, tried breathing, still anxious, tried Mindfulness, didn’t even touch it in fact made me feel worse. I tried drinking and that added an unwelcome depression to the following day on top of the anxiety.
The only thing that broke the spell was getting human help. Finding people to talk to. I was too lost and scared to be much good to myself. I had to ask for help, from my mum, my neighbour, the doctor, from a therapist and a Mindfulness coach. The former helped by giving me a small amount of Valium to break the grip temporarily and then the therapists and coach helped me put a little distance between myself and the fearful stories that had become so very real for me.
Through talking about the situation, and my fears about it all, I was able to view as an observer. The frontal cortex once again took its parental roe over the highly threat sensitive limbic system. Some of us have more sensitive limbic systems than others…some have been given skills to regulate our emotional responses. Others have to learn these skills as adults, and the good news is that we can learn these new skills as I have been discovering. We can learn to reroute the old habitual measurable pathways and find perspectives that prevent us from going straight to anxiety.
In this blog I have been talking bout what I have been using to keep stress in check. The swim each day, exercise, blogging it out here, eating well, and at times pulling out more helpers as I have done recently. The usual strategies didn’t quite manage to keep my stress in check when I felt under threat. I am still under that same legal threat as before btw, but at the moment I am not overwhelmed by fear about it. There is some space between the situation and my feelings about it. I can witness that I feel anxiety about the threat, and I send some compassion, allow some compassion in for my predicament. And for us all who find ourselves in this predicament of living here.
I am very glad that I found the therapist, and the Mindfulness coach. The therapist is like a kind wise mother figure to me just now. She has been getting a picture of my childhood, how scared I was, unsafe in the hands of my mum who was aggressive and my dad who was so disinterested and didn’t protect me. My sister never once stood up for me either, too scared of having my mums demonic temper turned on her. Understandable of course. And my dad did occasionally half heartedly whimper an objection to her treatment of me, but didn’t try very hard, also scared of her.
So anyway her sympathy and support has been appreciated, and just the recognition that it was a tough time as a child has been validating.
The Mindfulness coach therapist has been reminding me to turn towards the feelings of anxiety and fear with kindness, not run away. This is also very helpful. Things I forgot for a few days while in overwhelm.
So today I’m back to a relative equilibrium. I have 5 candles burning in front of me, the radio on softly in the background, cup of tea here and ready for a shower. Able to help myself again. I’m really enjoying tiny little non challenging household and business tasks, like keeping the kitchen tidy, clearing out old paperwork, a bit of direct marketing. These things allow me to feel I’m staying on top of things and even moving forward a little. Anxiety is at a low level thankfully.