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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Some stuff about self-care. 
27th-Jan-2010 03:23 pm
I have fallen but I will get up
I've become a lot more mindful of self-care since I started volunteering with BARCC lo these few years ago, and even moreso since I started working there. Fact: When a large part of your life has to do with helping people process trauma, sometimes you can get to be the walking wounded.

But what I've learned is that self-care can and should be applied to other stuff, too. I've been thinking a lot about that today. So I share stuff in the hopes that it helps you, dear reader, next time you get thrown for a loop.

Breathe.
Until Mark started pointing it out to me during a longago ouch, I honestly did not realize that when I'm processing something big, I stop breathing. Not, y'know, completely. But I catch myself not breathing, holding my breath. So days like today, it can take a conscious effort to remind myself to breathe. I caught myself not-breathing at work, and went into the bathroom to just put my hands on the counter and breathe. In. Out. Deep breaths. I have been doing this all day.

Determine what you need to get past this.
My first thought was "I need a hug." And distraction. So I pinged Mark and asked if we could switch date night from tomorrow night to tonight. Thankfully, we can. So there's that.

Figure out what this is connected to.
Because it is not usually just one thing. In the case of the GI doc stuff, it was hitting my consent buttons as well as my distrust-of-doctors buttons. In the case of today, it seems that my brain was trying really hard to - unfairly - conflate today's thing with something else that is only slightly related, to the great detriment of both things.

I'm reminded of the scenes in The Hurt Locker where the bomb tech finds a bomb and very carefully traces a wire from it to another bomb. Or six. If you don't defuse all of them, your ass is getting blown up. Trace the wires. Figure out what is actually connected to what. Figure out how to fix it.

And fix it.

Cease the negative self-talk and potential self-harm.
We all do it. I'm not perfect. I still do it. In my list of reactions, the first, what, six things? are things that are not good for me. The key is taking the time to actively consider the results of each possible reaction. Getting drunk and schtupping $PERSON would be a distraction, sure, but it would do me a hell of a lot more harm than good. Problem is, when you feel like shit, sometimes you do things you know will screw you up on purpose. Don't. Somewhere down that list is the thing you can do that is all help, no harm. Keep scrolling til you get there. Don't blindly react. Think it through.

Get help if you need it.
Side benefit of rarely asking for large-scale help is that when I do, people know it's a Need and not a whim. So when I say "Can I hop a bus to come see you this weekend? Because something is fucking me all up, and it's connected to a you & me thing, and I think that hanging out with you is the best way to hash out what actually applies to this situation and what doesn't"... the person groks that this is Important, because I wouldn't ask if it wasn't. And, in this case, says "How about I hop a bus to you instead, because that works better for your dietary restrictions," and makes a hotel reservation and buys a bus ticket on the spot.


Your self-care may be different from mine. My less-emotional-processing self-care includes stuff like hot bath, good book, long walk, stuffed grape leaves. And the big processing stuff varies on a case-by-case basis. But it's still important to keep this stuff in mind and be able to modify if need be. ("Can I hop a bus to come see you", for example, is 100% specific to this instance.)

So there's that.
Comments 
27th-Jan-2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
I have JUST LEARNED (read: am still trying to internalize) the fact that I need to step away from situations that are turning into fights and go 'Why am I so hurt by this? This person/situation/action isn't THAT bad. What's the real cause.' Because it often stops a huge argument that had nothing to do with the person I was about to freak out in front of (or conversely shut down on) and everything to do with something else entirely. And then get back to the person and have a constructive discussion on the matter (and explain why I was so upset).

Saying 'I need a few minutes to figure this out' is really difficult depending on the circumstances. But it really matters.
27th-Jan-2010 08:41 pm (UTC)
This is a really good post. Do you mind if I link to it in my journal?
27th-Jan-2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
Go for it!
27th-Jan-2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
GET OUT OF MY BRAAAAAAIN!

Much needed smart talk on self-care, luv. Many, many thanks.

I'm discovering that actually cutting myself some slack for not being Miss Got-It-All-Together-All-The-Time is a very effective bit of self-care--and paradoxically helps me get it back together more quickly and with a deeper sense of peace and all-around compassion. (Enjoying the richest, gooiest, silkiest scented body cremes ain't a bad one, neither. And the side effects are lovely.)
27th-Jan-2010 09:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this. Especially for saying it is okay to ask for help, that you can be strong and still need help. And sometimes help is material, and needing material help doesn't mean you've failed. Even if it feels like crazy that you have; that's today's lesson for me at least, and thank you for being part of the mechanism that helps me keep relearning that.
27th-Jan-2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
Yes yes yes. Many of us are prone to thinking everyone else has their shit so much more together, and that therefore we have failed. And NO.

This is why I am so naked about not being perfect.
27th-Jan-2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I'm having a really hard time keeping my brain off the fact I'm a failure.
27th-Jan-2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
I really needed to read this today. I've been having one of those days where I have forgotten to be kind to myself...
(Deleted comment)
27th-Jan-2010 11:15 pm (UTC)
I really needed this today. I haven't seen The Hurt Locker yet, but the analogy hit me right where it counts. We're hardest on ourselves and most likely to blow ourselves to kingdom come.

I hope you get everything that you need tonight.
28th-Jan-2010 12:06 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, I really needed to read this.
28th-Jan-2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
Here via amethyst_clan - I'm friending you right now. :3
29th-Jan-2010 03:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this. I needed to read it.
31st-Jan-2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
This was a really great post - I must confess to not being the best at self-care, but I'm getting slightly better. Currently my antidepressant had stopped working and I'm trying to hold everything together until I can see my doctor this coming Thursday. I actually took 6 hours off of work this past Thursday and Friday, which is the most I've ever done. With that extra time, coupled with extra sleep and time off from cooking (I try to keep frozen dinners on hand to cope with such events, and if we run out, there's alway Pizza Hut - which makes the kids happy anyway), I'm able to hold things together.
10th-Feb-2010 02:21 am (UTC)
Good advice, thank you. In particular, I tend to forget to breathe. A lot.
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