It’s been a week since I penned my first post after having returned to the blogosphere. Yes, I was told by family it was lengthy. No, these posts might not get much shorter. I write like I talk. I can talk A LOT! Pissy’s blog. Pissy’s rules. It’s been a week, because the mere act of reliving those painful memories of loss and what it feels like to live with depression that was required in order for me to write that piece left me emotionally and mentally exhausted for days after. And of course, there was the SNOW. Dealing with blizzard conditions when you’re already preoccupied using your coping skills for something else can make for a very stressful few days. Anyway, I got through it—I’ve learned a thing or two over the years about taking care of myself and how to make the ‘ghosts’ go away when they come calling again—and that’s what the theme of my post is for today: Knowing how to take care of yourself.
You noticed I said taking care of yourself, not ‘making yourself feel better’. You know why? Because I’ve had problems in the past as a result of not understanding the difference and the difference can be comparable to night and day. In my case years ago, taking care of myself would’ve been to acknowledge there may be underlying reasons that I was so depressed, anxious, and beginning to unravel. Taking care of myself would’ve been to take a good hard look at what the problems may be that were causing me to seek out temporary solutions of self-medicating, and after having done so I might begin to face them head on and deal with them: I would’ve surrounded myself with a support group of emotionally healthy people I trusted to pull me from that dark pit. That’s not what I did. I was too weak to handle it alone, but too proud to admit that I couldn’t, so I drank it away.
Misery loves company and the bar is your best friend if you’re looking for those particular companions. There is always someone there that will tell you what you want to hear and give you an excuse to drink more. I sat there so I wouldn’t be alone. I drank so I wouldn’t have to keep reliving memories of horrible events from my past. I drank so I wouldn’t have to cope with the ‘unraveling’ that was going on in the present. I drank so I wouldn’t have to deal with the feelings of fear and failure when I thought about my bleak future. I drank. I drank. And then I drank some more. I began to think I may be an alcoholic. Now, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with going out for some drinks…but if a bar has become your home away from home you might want to consider finding new digs, and if you don’t remember leaving there at night and apologize the next day for what you might have done…well, it’s become a problem.
When I got my DUI in 2008 with a blood alcohol level of nearly two times the legal limit I hit my bottom. I was so ashamed, so scared of the outcome, and so thankful I hadn’t injured myself or someone else, that when I went for the required drug and alcohol evaluation I proclaimed myself an alcoholic and was ready to accept the consequences. I blurted out my truths and was ready to take the hard knocks, in spite of everyone telling me I needed to play the game and by doing so might come out of it somewhat unscathed. The opposite turned out to be true. In sharing my truths with this counselor she got an accurate picture of my story and told me I wasn’t an alcoholic, I was just using the drink to escape. I didn’t know there was a difference, but apparently I didn’t meet some kind of criteria. Thus began voluntary counseling for a stretch, and the slow process of recovery that has taken me years in which to find more positive ways to deal with the crazies when I feel them coming on instead of reaching for a drink. Anyone, I’ve gotten a lot better at learning how to take care of myself. I thought I’d share a bit of it with you all.
These little tricks are unique to each of us. For myself, I have found that whatever helps me to feel centered and gives me peace, drives away the nightmare. So that’s what I did over this past week. I shut off my cell phone for hours at a time when I didn’t want to risk drowning in the noise of other people’s lives so I could focus on my own. I spent Saturday in bed ALL DAY watching movies and playing Mario on the Nintendo my husband bought me while blizzard conditions raged on outside my window, because sometimes I deserve and need to do nothing at all but relax. I spent hours pouring out my heart in my journal, talking to God (who has become my biggest confidant, because…well…no one knows me quite like He does and still manages to love me anyway), took a couple really long baths, and my favorite…slathered myself down from head to toe in organic coconut oil before getting dressed in my fleece pajama’s and settling down with a book. Coconut oil, fuzzy pj’s and a good book, is the most decadent thing you can do for yourself! Add a slice of chocolate cake to the mix, brownies, cookies, or anything you can eat that makes you smile, and it suddenly becomes deliciously decadent!
Anyway, those are just a few of the things I keep in my little trick bag to help me deal and heal from episodes of anxiety and depression that still come and go. I accepted a long time ago that I have clinical depression, a panic disorder, and mild agoraphobia. These are things that are as much a part of me as being an extrovert, having a love for books, writing, and gab, so I refuse to be ashamed of them or of who I am. I just take the bad with the good and work with what I’ve got. I’m curious as to what tricks the rest of you use to keep the boogie man at bay. If you get a chance let me know and I’ll add them to my arsenal.
Well, I hope all of you were also able to pamper yourself a little bit. If you had to deal with the fallout from winter the way I did, I sympathize, and hope you were able to make the most of it, too.
P.S. When things are really tough, nothing makes me feel better than Motown. No voices in the world resemble warm cocoa in a cup more than Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Barry White, etc. Well, unless it’s Morgan Freeman. If that dude was the voice behind audio books of my favorite novels I might never turn a page again! Lol!