[Trigger warning for discussion of self-injury.]
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently in the “-1″ week of my cycle. To recap, this is when I’m more likely to feel a little anxious, a little sad, a little overwhelmed, and/or a little overlooked.
Yeah, I wish. Being able to do that would probably cut down on the need to fight down tears when I’m at my desk.
For context, I’d say take that -1 and right now I’m riding a -2.5. I feel tense and upset.
The first thing that happens is that I clench my hands into fists. I’m not saying this is a healthy or even purposeful coping mechanism, just that this is what I do. If I’m a good girl I trim my nails back so I can’t hurt myself too much. I’ll freely admit that as of me typing this I have not been a good girl.
For the record there’s no full-on self-injury here. I don’t scratch up my arms like I used to. I just clench my hands into fists.
Next are the attempts at healthier coping mechanisms.
Sleep is important. Being tired amplifies the worst of my emotions. I go to bed on time, if not early, and try to get as much rest as I can.
After that is the mental game. One of my totem animals now is the turtle. This is from the spirituality group I’m a part of. Turtles have been around a long time and will continue to be around for a long time. If you picture the world from the point of view of a turtle, things that feel like big problems seem smaller since will they really matter in 50 years?
I have a necklace with a turtle on it. I’ll sometimes put it on during a not-good day to remind me that it helps to be a turtle.
Friends can also be a help. Friends plus internet means that I can reach out to various people to rant, to whimper, or whatever. I’ll also try to escape for lunch with a friend if I can. If not then I’ll try to just get away from my desk for an hour anyway. Even if I don’t have somebody to vent to/be distracted by, it’s a change of location that gives me a chance to try to regroup and recharge.
Then there’s breathing. One can do a simple, measured, inhale exhale and that can sometimes help. But lately I’ve been trying a new thing I’ve read about. Basically, whenever you find yourself in a moment where you feel good, happy, content, whatever, close your eyes and take three breaths. Breathe while being mindful of the moment that you’re in, and how you feel. Then, later, when you’re in a spot where you don’t feel great, close your eyes and do those breaths again. You call up the feelings that you had when you felt good, and that provides some comfort when you don’t.
Today I knew would be rough, so I made sure to give myself some new breaths to call up. Every morning before work Luna waits until I finish breakfast, then she jumps into my lap. She’ll purr and cuddle with me, often moving up by my shoulder so she can lean her head against mine. I give her hugs and pets and eventually get back to putting the dishes away and getting dressed.
This morning I closed my eyes while she was giving me her morning purrs and I took three breaths. That was the moment I kept with me as I got through my day at work.
It’s not much and it’s not perfect, but it’s little things that I do to help me get through a -2.5 kind of day.