Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How I Stay Afloat

I've been struggling a lot since my last post, what with procedure and diagnosis anniversaries all up in my face. I've had to resort to pulling all my coping mechanisms on board as literal life preservers just to stay afloat (yay, metaphors).  Last week I had a mini-meltdown and ended up on the couch in an Ativan induced sleep coma instead of at BodyPump, which probably would have made me feel better, but I couldn't handle the possibility of losing it in front of a crowd.

Since then, I've had some time to really think and look around me for the things I use to keep me from losing it.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.  Sometimes I just need one thing, sometimes I need all of them in the same hour.

Over the last year a lot of people have told me how strong I am, how they could never go through this the way I have, but I don't believe that. When you're knee deep in a pile of shit, you deal with it the best way you can. You get through it. You might make progress one day and be flat on your face the next, but you still move forward. The only way out is through.

So I've compiled a list of my coping mechanisms that help me get through my day, week, or just moment by moment because my brain is a terrible place sometimes.

  1. Anxiety meds.  I've tried stepping back from the daily meds, but I've finally just admitted that I need them right now and that's ok.
  2. Emergency anxiety meds. Sometimes I need these too.  See meltdown above.
  3. Hugs.  Hugging is the best. Just feeling a connection to someone else can often get me out of my head enough to break the cycle.
  4. Shopping.  Sad but true.
  5. Breathing.  Deep breaths help me calm down and focus.
  6. Guided meditation.  For when I really can't get out of my head.  Having someone to lead my thoughts to a pretty place kinda rocks.
  7. Affirmation meditations.  My self-esteem took a real thrashing.  I really had to hit bottom before I could build myself back up and I had to see the ugly side of a lot of people before I realized that it wasn't about me.  This has helped a lot.
  8. Espresso Chip ice cream.  It is delicious.
  9. Yoga.  Occasionally, but not as often as I'd like.
  10. Running.  When it doesn't hurt, it's awesome.
  11. Therapy. Part of the meltdown involved knowing that I needed help, reaching out, and getting frustrated by lack of help I received in return. I finally got in touch with someone who guided me to a good therapist that's weird like me, close to work, and takes my insurance. Win.
  12. Reading.  I recommend tinybuddha and The Happiness Trap for help in changing your perspective and dealing with difficult feelings. Yay, feelings.
  13. Beautiful days.
  14. Talking to friends. Even if it's just a quick 'hey, I miss your face' or sharing some silliness.
  15. Being crafty.  Even if it's frustrating, just being in the moment while creating something is enough to engage me so that I forget about whatever's going on in my head.
  16. Focusing on what I'm experiencing right now, in this moment.  Whether it's examining a rain drop on my windshield or just making an effort to feel 5 things touching me right now.
  17. Focusing only on myself. Some days I just don't have the energy to invest in other people, not even online. It doesn't mean I don't care anymore, but I only have enough brain power for me and whatever I'm dealing with at the moment.
  18. Letting go.  Not taking things too seriously.  Looking for the good instead of focusing on the bad.
  19. Doing things outside my comfort zone by myself (which is also outside my comfort zone).  Like checking out a brand new coffee shop and just hanging out there alone, or going to an event filled with people I've never met. It freaks me out for a few minutes, but I know it's good for me.
  20. Embracing the things I enjoy.  They make me me and no else can be me. I kinda like that.

That seems to cover it for now. Wow, that's a lot of things. I hope they're helpful if anyone else needs a little pick-me-up.

(also. fuck you, cancer. 1 year from diagnosis and i'm still better than you, bitch.)