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Quaddie

"Stupid Little Things That Help"

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Quaddie

As adults, I think it's difficult to go back to finding ways that can comfort and encourage the self. Things perhaps we knew as children - or never learned, if there was neglect.

I'm sort of embarrassed to share a couple of things I'm trying to remember to do, but it might help someone else, so here goes.

Recently I've started doing some things that might seem a bit silly on the surface, but in reality they actually seem to help.

For example:

When I have to do something I find difficult and/or scary. After it's over, I almost always feel stupid. Ashamed, bad, like I screwed up, like I was stupid to be afraid or find it difficult - just a bunch of nameless bad feelings about myself that might come pouring in. I'm not sure why. So after I do it, and feeling that, I try to self-talk - "You did fine. That was hard. Even if someone else wouldn't find it hard, it was still hard for you. It's okay to feel upset." Things like that. Mostly comforting things, like "It's okay to feel so stressed." "It's okay to feel upset."  I just keep telling myself that. Often it's out loud - it works even better that way. It might feel silly but it works. I verbally tell myself, as if I'm my own child, that it's okay for me to feel the way I feel, and that it's okay to feel sad, or scared, or upset. Sometimes before I do the thing, and often after I do the thing, I find it necessary to do this and it helps me feel not-as-bad about myself.

(In writing that, I'm thinking how as adults - and especially female - we're always supposed to be "strong" - but we're not always "strong" - and it seems like that's all that society or anybody values. So then it becomes very negative pressure/feeling of unseen judgment about "not being strong" - I'm like, EFF "being strong." Just because we're women, doesn't mean we can do everything and be everything to everyone. No wonder we burn out, no wonder we fall apart. It's just too much...)

Another thing is that to de-stress sometimes I like to watch tv, curl up with a throw blanket, etc. It never feels comforting enough. So I have these elongated microwavable heat beanie thingies (you know what I mean) that I use for heat therapy, but sometimes I just heat one up and lay it on my belly/chest and clutch it like it's a pet and for some reason that's a lot more comforting than just sitting there by myself, even cuddled up in a blanket. I've made a small one out of a sock and rice/flaxseed and used it at work, too, just in my lap. Something about them is cuddly and warm and comforting. 

 

So, those are just a couple of "stupid little things" that I've found to help. They might help someone else, too. Whatever works. Maybe some of you have "stupid little things" that help you feel better, too. 

 

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Fluffyflea

I sit in my chair with my prayer shawl on and have a cup of tea.

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Quaddie

When I get severely anxious, I get chest pain and things that mimic heart issues. (When this started at the job where I was terrorized, I actually went to the hospital and was thoroughly checked, although I had severe palpitations at the time the whole time I was there, they said it was just stress and advised I don't go on medication.)

Anyway, just the thought of doing something that freaks me the eff out will give me chest pain that even radiates, makes me cough, everything mimicking heart whatever.

(this is my ptsd  - I don't have words for the level of pain and fear)

The only thing is that I can have a couple drinks and it gets better. I'm still upset and afraid, and panicking, and horrible, but the physical symptoms alleviate.

It's hard to get an Rx for anti-anxiety meds, you feel like a fool going and asking for it, it seems like "drug-seeking behavior" (and it is), but it's viewed askance. Other things are legal here that would help me if I could tolerate them, but there are a couple of valid reasons they're not working or I can't do them. So all I have is that.

:(

(Edited to add: but then I go on facebook and embarrass myself, but, whatever... lol)

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whitebutterfly11

In trauma work, we focus on comforting the distressed parts of us (which are often the ones associated with trauma, even as far back as childhood), with our more grounded core self. I love that you do this--trauma healing at it's best! :) We look to give that grounded core a nurturing and compassionate voice that can diffuse the distress and give ourselves permission to self-soothe and comfort when we are overwhelmed. I have always thought of that nurturing part as our wiser, rational, grounded core that inherently knows who we are and what we are capable of. It's also the part that cuts through the BS of other people's opinions and voices (even the ones we play on repeat inside of our head--those old conditioned messages). And in times of crisis, it's that part of us that taps into our own humanity and offers ourselves kindness. 

(I realize I'm going all nerd on trauma, lol). 

Each time we've been through trauma, it's like we create a new part that is reactive to that specific trauma, living within a trauma loop, so to speak. The only way out is to use our grounded core to talk us through our feelings of self-doubt, panic, anger, fear, etc. Most likely because we didn't have a healthy adult to guide us through the trauma when it happened, or our very core was fragmented through the trauma where we began to question our sense of self and our own perception.

All that blabber to say that you are instinctively doing exactly what you need when you tell yourself it will be okay, and when you show compassion on yourself. 

I do a lot of escaping to deal with pain (not the best option). I plunge into the alternate reality of shows, I sleep a lot, and I write fantasy stories. :) But when I really sit in my pain, I find that crying helps. Having a conversation with the grounded core helps. Then writing it all out definitely helps.

 

 

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Over and Out

Thanks for sharing this Quaddie!

I'm not a doctor, but it sounds from your description like you are having anxiety attacks.  I hope you can find a doctor/psych/therapist who takes that seriously.  D18 has them as part of her mental health issues.  They can be really distressing.  She found a mix of exposure therapy and medication helpful over time, but everyone finds different things helpful.

You description of using wheat packs for comfort is similar to another thing D18 found helpful in one program she was in. She liked weighted sensory blankets.  We just bought her one for home.  A lot of people with anxiety apparently find them helpful. You can get them in every size from a lap cover to queen size.  It sounds like you have discovered this all by yourself!  You did something it took psychologists ages to find.

I hope it's OK for me to add some stuff I find helpful more generally.

Like Quaddie, I find distractions like TV, books and internet helpful.  I take medication for depression, which also helps with anxiety.

I try to make sure I look after my health, eg eating lots of veggies when I am feeling OK, as it helps to avoid me dipping into depression.  When depressed or anxious, I tend to comfort eat, but I have learnt it is important to give myself permission to seek comfort in little things like junk food when needed.  Like Quaddie, I had to change my self talk and be more forgiving of lack of perfection.

I got blood tests and found I was low on vitamin D, which can increase mental fuzziness, anxiety and tiredness.  Getting supplements helped.  My sister had a thyroid condition that increased anxiety. It can be helpful to get a full health check, because sometimes little health issues can be fixed to help.

I try to keep organised, eg with an appointment diary on my phone, organised spaces and plans, so I don't get anxious about  appointments or letting necessary things go undone.  However, I have also learned to forgive myself for untidiness and not doing everything.  I learned not to overschedule myself.

I cuddle my cats and dog.  

I have a cry sometimes.  Giving myself a safe time and place to cry can be cathartic.  I don't like to cry in front of the kids, so sometimes I tough it out until I am home alone or late at night and then let myself feel the sadness fully and have a good cry.

At the advice of my therapist, I try to notice and enjoy little things.  Focusing on a cool breeze on a hot day or the sun on my face on a cold one, the scent of flowers etc, etc, was a habit I had lost. I am trying to focus on these lttle comforting things to take me out of myself and make a habit of looking for safety and contentment.  I had got so used to being in crisis and fear, I find I have to re-form my brain's habits now I am free.  I try to write some down at the end of the day.

I also read forums like this and a few helpful online advice columns.  I like ones that help people learn boundaries and advise people to reject poor relationships or work conditions, like Captain Awkward, the new Dear Prudence, and Ask a Manager.  They make me feel supported and that my new boundaries and expectations are healthy and normal.

I try to meet problems head on.  Avoiding things generally just prolongs my anxiety.  Acting to fix stuff helps me to feel in control and get rid of the problems that were making me anxious.  Of course, this doesn't work for stuff outside my control, but I can usually tell myself to let go of what I can't change.

Therapy helped lots, especially with creating new habits and validating that I was emotionally abused.  (I questioned my perception of abuse far too much!) Anyone in Australia who is experiencing depression or anxiety can get a mental health plan and 10 Medicare paid visits to a psychologist per year. Aussies can find local psychs by specialities and bulk billing availability on the Australian Psychological Association website.

Hope this helps.  I know it sounds trite and obvious but the little things help.  I know this may sound overwhelming if you are in a bad place.  I also had to learn not to expect everything.  I just do little tiny bits when I am down.  

Hugs to you all.

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Quaddie

Oh yeah also, I'm finding that I need to cry about once a day. It is an undercurrent that colors everything otherwise. Sometimes I can't, even though I need to. If I can find a tv show or something to trigger it, it helps. It's so weird. But in this despair I'm living in, it's like an actual need, like other functional needs such as bm's (sorry TMI) but I'm realizing it's a need whether i like it or not.

 

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Fluffyflea

I have to cry at least once a day to grieve my son and being abused by a Malignant Narcissist.

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Over and Out

Hugs to both of you, Fluffyflea and Quaddie.

Things are so hard for you now.  I wish I knew better ways to help.

I agree with using a trigger to cry.  TV or music usually worked for me.  Sometimes Pinterest pins can trigger crying or help, depending on the search.

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lizzibethak

Hugs to everyone here today...............it just goes to show that healing isn't a "one and done" issue but continued assessing ourselves and establishing our emotional health.

Scent is one of my healers...........I love scent whether it's my cat's fur or perfume or essential oils.  

Snuggling with my cat under a quilt is also a healer for me.............I talk out-loud to her about what's going on and how I'm feeling and how I'm healing.  

Driving to some favorite viewpoints in my area.............especially when it's quiet and I can be alone there.........I can usually cry there and release pent up feelings.

 

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Quaddie

Oh, another thing is when I feel like I'm not "accomplishing" anything in a day, and I tell myself that I did indeed do x, y and z (even if they weren't "big deals" to do).

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