Friday, February 26, 2016

Coping mechanisms

I've been pretty fortunate lately, in that my anxiety has been on the low-grade, constantly running side, as opposed to leaking into full-on panic attacks. That was not so much the case this morning. It's been several months since I've woken up having a hard time breathing, much less focusing on getting myself together and getting out the door.

I'm very lucky, in that my office has quiet rooms available when needed. I spent a couple of hours in one yesterday, and revelled in having a (small) room to myself, that I could keep as dark as I needed, and couldn't hear the conversations of people around me. It gave me a chance to pull myself together, and deal with the headache that had been brewing for the entire morning at the same time. I just needed to get there today, and I knew I would be all right.

In order to get to work, I (or my husband) drive to the train station, and I then take a light-rail train to downtown, walk a couple of blocks, and end up in my building. On a good day, this isn't a problem. On a bad day, there are far too many people on the road and on the train, and I have no way of getting off the train (or so it seems) if anything should happen. It's very easy for my brain to start catastrophizing all the ways in which my personal world will end, and I freeze up. I froze up this morning.

Eric, bless him, managed to help me thaw out. He got what clothing I needed, and then talked me through getting everything on. Once I get dressed for the day, the momentum starts going toward "getting out the door" as opposed to "curling up in bed". He also made sure that Daisy was available for cuddles, which is always helpful. She's a very intuitive cat, and will come to you if something's wrong.

At the time, I almost resented his pushing, not letting me collapse on myself and wallow in my panic. Then I remembered something that I've been trying to focus on - I need to be useful. If I give myself a purpose, I know I can pull myself along until the momentum kicks in. Having something that needs to be done, being useful to other people - they're what kick-starts the engine when it's stalled out by panic.

I'm mostly writing this to remind myself of what worked for me. I know it won't always work - I know that there are times when the engine will just stay stalled, and I'll need to turn it off and give it a moment before trying to start again. But for today, at least, it's worked. I'll take what I can get.