jennifergearing: photo of jen looking at the camera (Default)
jennifergearing ([personal profile] jennifergearing) wrote2010-11-07 09:54 pm

Battling our Demons and Feeding our Souls

So, I think I’ve spoken about it before, but I’m a lady with the crazy.* It’s managed much better than it used to be, mostly with medication. I had some decent time with a therapist down here in Canberra, though I’ll likely want to find someone new once I relocate to Brisbane. I still have panic attacks (which I’m starting to think is part of the cause of my migraines, what with the teeth grinding and jaw clenching that tends to happen, particularly when I go to sleep anxious), and I still have days and periods when I just feel so low and helpless and worthless.

I know there’s a fair number of you around here who have similar (and different) experiences with the crazy, and deal with it with varying levels of success. There are various resources around that talk about coping strategies, but I’d like to share a few of my own, and hear about some of the strategies you use to keep the crazy from overtaking everything.

*I acknowledge that there are issues with the term crazy; and I’m really not down with crazy as a derogative descriptor, but it’s a term I use non-negatively for myself, and I hope folks are able to respect the language I use to name my experiences. For the record, I don’t expect anyone to use language they feel they’re not comfortable reclaiming, so I’m happy to respect whatever language you choose.

**Trigger Warning** I talk briefly about self-harm in the first paragraph behind the cut, so you might want to skip past it if you need to. I’ve added some extra breaks afterwards to help with that.


I self-injured for nearly six years, with varying frequency. It’s been about the same period of time since I stopped cutting, but I need to admit that one of the things I do to stave off the pits if I need to for a short period probably still counts as self-harm. I keep my nails long, and digging my nails into my palms or some other part of my body can sometimes be enough to stave off a depressive spike if I need to get through a meeting or something at work. It’s not a great strategy, but it’s the most effective one I have when I have to keep my composure in front of other people.



When I do have the time and space to, another thing I have at my disposal since earlier in the year is a recording of a hypnotherapy session I had with my last psychologist. It’s on my iPod, so I’m able to plug my headphones in and listen to it. Often I need to be in the right frame of mind, and it’s about 40min long, so I need to have 40min where I can be by myself in a dark room, so it’s not always the most ideal option, but I like to use it when I can.

It’s a cliché, but paying for a good massage is always a good option, for me. I carry a lot of muscle tension, particularly in my neck and shoulders, so it tends to serve two purposes in terms of giving my brain some time to decompress and helping my muscles decompress too. Again, it’s something that requires time and space, as well as a level of class privilege in terms of the kind of disposable income to be able to pay for such a thing, so it’s not something that’s necessarily available for everyone.

One which is surprisingly simple, and surprisingly effective, is having access to folks on social media; particularly Twitter. Something about the speed of Twitter means I feel less self-conscious asking for support. The speed of my Twitter stream means my momentary admission that I’m consumed with self-hate at the moment, or that I’m suddenly convinced that I’m going to die in the next half an hour despite lack of any reason for such a belief, is there one minute, and in the next has travelled down the stream, replaced by the discussions and admissions and observations of others, about anything and everything. The feeling of unworthiness that often accompanies such moods and causes me to not talk about them or ask for support is somewhat placated by the idea that sharing in such a fast-moving medium feels less permanent; less demanding.


They’re just a few of my strategies, but I’d like to hear from y’all. What do you do when your mental illness starts creeping a little to close to the driver’s seat and you’re not really in a place where you can or want to let it drive? Are there times when you find it easier to just let the crazy do the driving for a period (time and other factors permitting)?

Anon comments will be screened, if it’s obvious you’re intending to share in the conversation, then I will unscreen.

ext_225348: (Default)

[identity profile] 2010-11-07 12:00 pm (UTC)(link)
My anxiety issues are pretty mild, unlike my father and my son who both have diagnosed anxiety disorders, and they don't usually interfere with things I want to do, but I do have one coping mechanism to share. I doubt it's something anyone else is likely to adopt though!
For as long as I can remember my coping mechanism for anxiety has been playing with bits of fluff. When I was little I would pick fluff off my teddy bear or off the blankets on my bed. Woollen jumpers would sometimes end up with holes in them where I'd absentmindedly picked at them. My teddy bear ended up bald, I had intended to keep him but he got thrown out accidentally when my parents were helping me move out of home.

When I realised that, in the absence of stuffed toys to denude, I was going to ruin the woollen blankets on our bed if I didn't do something about it I started buying bags of craft toy stuffing fluff. Part of getting dressed in the mornings includes grabbing a pinch of fluff and sticking it in my pocket. If I forget, or worse if I'm not wearing pockets I'm very uncomfortable. (I'm even getting tense thinking about not having fluff to hand!)

littlebutfierce: (diane duane fear for courage)

[personal profile] littlebutfierce 2010-11-07 12:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Here via network.

I too used to self-injure frequently, & yes, I still occasionally do the thing where I dig my nails (they're short, but it still works) into my palm or my wrist or something when I'm stressed.

I think your point about social media is a good one. I don't do Twitter, but sometimes just refreshing my reading page on DW can help (er, if people are posting, that is: w/time zones there are just dead patches, often when I most need them not to be). It reminds me that there are lots of people out there doing things, having their lives going on, & it helps me get out of my own head a bit.

I've been doing 750 Words daily for months now. It started as a way to give myself permission to write fanfic but sometimes I use it for its original purpose: just a stream-of-consciousness brain dump. When I do that, sometimes it is pretty cathartic to vent & helps talk myself down a bit. This helps especially when I am feeling too self-conscious about feeling bad to post about it anywhere.

Naps sometimes also help, & snuggling w/my cats. Sometimes I just have to tell myself to wait until the next morning & hope things will feel better then. Sometimes they do--just b/c I've had a little time & distance from whatever was triggering my particularly bad state of mine. It doesn't always work, & it's not a long-term solution but more of a way to keep putting one foot in front of the other. But it does remind me that things change, that the way I feel at one moment can possibly change.

Exercise does seem to help to some degree, but when I'm in a particularly bad space, of course that is when I am least likely to get myself to do it.

Many/all of these won't be suitable for everyone, of course--such is the nature of coping mechanisms!

(Er, sorry for tl;dr comment.)
revena: Drawing of me (Default)

[personal profile] revena 2010-11-07 01:13 pm (UTC)(link)
When I get overwhelmed, it's usually sort of kicked off by a sense that I have been lazy/not accomplished anything. Which is never true, but y'know.

Anyway, when it's been a day where I've been barely able to function, I make a really strong effort to get at least one small thing done. I do a sink-full of dishes, or fold a load of laundry, and then I can look at something concrete and say "I did that today."

In the past several months I've started keeping a notebook on my desk where I write down a list of things I want to get done during the day, and then add on as the day goes along other off-list things that I do, too. I put on things like eating as well as things like filling out tax forms. It helps to be able to just move things I didn't do one day down into the next day's list, and it helps to look at a list at the end of the day and see that I was doing stuff, even if only taking care of myself.
revena: Drawing of me (Default)

[personal profile] revena 2010-11-07 09:46 pm (UTC)(link)
*facepalm* just realized I replied to you instead of to post. Whoops!
trouble: Sketch of Hermoine from Harry Potter with "Bookworms will rule the world (after we finish the background reading)" on it (Default)

[personal profile] trouble 2010-11-07 05:16 pm (UTC)(link)
I have a good core group of people I can call on who I can tell my woes to. Like, I'll often wake up Don to tell him that I'm convinced I'm going to be kicked out of school and we're going to end up homeless and it's terrible and he'll be supportive and let me freak out as long as I need to. (I don't find comforting very effective because it presumes I'm rational and can listen to it.)
minna: a triceratops head in bright blue and black (Default)

[personal profile] minna 2010-11-07 05:45 pm (UTC)(link)
1. I remember seeing something about how people will, in the absence of good reason, create stress for themselves. The study focussed on bored housewives who'd bored housewives who'd get freaked out over things going badly on soaps, from memory. So when I'm having a bad day, I watch ridiculous medical drama that I've already seen and let myself get anxious about how it's going to turn out. Because I've already seen it, the anxiety is manageable, and a few hours is usually enough to calm me down completely.

2. Hyperfocussing on LOOOOOOOUD MUUUUUUUUUUSIC, usually the underlying melodies. While smoking. I actually have half a packet of regular fags on top of the electronic ones for when I am having a particularly bad time. Sometimes the "ew how did I even smoke these DDD: *SCRAPES TONGUE*" can distract me enough to stop the attack.
minna: a triceratops head in bright blue and black (Default)

[personal profile] minna 2010-11-07 06:16 pm (UTC)(link)



radicalyffe: (Default)

[personal profile] radicalyffe 2010-11-07 09:12 pm (UTC)(link)
My strategies which have been getting more refined over time. Reading YA fiction is a way of unwinding if i am home and have the time.

If i am particularly bad, letting myself be a kid for a while helps.

At work i will focus on monotonous repetitive tasks in the data base, like merging duplicate records, or validating data. I find them kinda meditative.

Thankfully getting drunk and ranring online seems to have dropped off the list. :)
catdraco: (Default)

[personal profile] catdraco 2010-11-08 10:31 am (UTC)(link)
Depends on the particular crazy that's the problem at that particular time. The thing about bipolar disorder of course is that there's up and down.

Depression is a tough one, and when it begins to interfere with life then I usually need to go with it for a while. I notify friends and family that I'm shutting down for a while, I gentle myself through the days, and I keep reminding myself that it will pass - I'm moving through depression, I'm not stuck in it. That particular thought is a very powerful one: it's like a mantra. Remembering that while the overall crazy is permanent, the episodes are transitory really, really helps.

When I'm anxious, I do much the same. I also give myself permission to feel anxious. Rather than trying to avoid or solve the anxiety, which inevitably leads to self-injury impulses or similar, focusing on the feeling itself and allowing myself to feel it helps me to remember that the feeling is not actually going to kill me.

My Nintendo DS is an excellent tool. Lego Batman is cute and fun and designed for children so it's pretty hard for me to actually fail at it. I start to play, and give myself permission to completely zone out of life until I've calmed down. Works pretty well, generally.

Knitting is another one. Knitting is like meditation, but because it involves motor skills rather than mental discipline, it's easier for me to sink into when I'm feeling scatty.

I'm allergic to housework as a rule, but getting through piles of laundry or cleaning the kitchen is a great way to burn off anxiety or hypomania, and the achievements that result help me to feel more in control.

If in doubt, I clean up my filesystem a bit. Actually tidying is a tool I use a lot when I'm anxious or overwhelmed, but only ever in fairly finite ways - my desk at work, for example, is spotless when I'm just about losing my shit. :D Reining in the mess helps create the illusion of control.

If I think of anything else, I'll come back and add to this.
silverhare: drawing of a grey hare (Default)

[personal profile] silverhare 2011-02-26 01:04 am (UTC)(link)
Hello. I added you since we seem to have lots of similar interests. Of course, the joy of Dreamwidth means there's no compulsion to add someone back, but I thought I'd just explain why a new reader had suddenly appeared! :)