This too shall Pass & other Tools

Trigger warning, mature audience:
If this is an emergency dial 911
If not, welcome to my toolbox.

I have been diagnosed, sometimes appropriately, several times in the last 20 years. I have been counseled, and medicated. At this point, I no longer need a name for “it.” I have muddled through, searched for, screwed up, and worked really hard to find and train myself to use tools that work for me. I have been unmedicated for more than five years now. Sometimes, I still feel crazy, these are the tools I use to get me through.

Self-harm Ideation:

  • Use a red pen- draw the ideation on yourself
  • Snap a rubber band
  • Eat a lemon

Cyclical thinking/ Insomnia:

  • Learn all the lyrics to an uplifting song
  • Use an optical illusion book
  • Recite, pretty much anything
  • Knit/crochet/cross-stitch (supposedly these repetitive tasks build serotonin in the brain)

Over-stimulation:

  • Limit screens when you can
  • Turn off the ringer
  • Use subtitles
  • Wear headphones and/or earplugs if possible
  • Declutter your space/simplify
  • Sit in a hot tub or swimming pool
  • Eat whole plain foods

Perfectionism/procrastination:

  • Remember “done is better than perfect.”
  • Find a flaw in something you think is wonderful for instance  free speech. Free speech allows people say discriminatory things. I’d still rather have free speech. Then, think of your something wonderful, with it’s flaw. You are wonderful, even though you are flawed.
  • Let “good enough” be good enough for you.

Loneliness/isolation:

  • Attend any twelve step meeting (I like CoDA). You don’t have to talk. Everyone feels alone in their pain, you might learn something. I recommend the twelve steps for most personal problems. I found perspective, forgiveness, and faith that there is better for me than what I was struggling with.
  • Volunteer at a shelter or food bank.
  • Go to a church service, even if it isn’t your denomination or faith, Catholic churches have more services than many other faiths.

Self-control:

  • HALT and THINK: Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired? Is it True, Helpful, Important, Necessary, or Kind?
  • Pretend that you are someone you admire and handle things the way you imagine they would.
  • Recognize that self control takes practice, give yourself credit for successes, don’t dock yourself for mistakes.
  • Be your own parent, don’t say things to yourself you wouldn’t say to your child.

Self-loathing:

  • Make a peanut butter sandwich, grab a couple Tylenol and a drink (bottled water/juice box), deliver to the first person you find holding an “I’m hungry” sign.
  • Go to an animal shelter and pet the animals.
  • Go to a park and feed the birds.
  • Write a letter to God.
  • Go someplace busy and act as the doorman, smile and say hi.

Anger management:

  • Don’t wait until you are angry to manage it. As soon as you are uncomfortable or irritated, walk away.
  • Go for a walk, write an unsendable letter, drink a cup of tea, eat a piece of chocolate, scream-sing in your car.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Avoid highly processed foods and preservative laden foods.

Self soothing:

  • Find a sound, a smell, a texture, and a sight you find soothing. Keep them handy. For instance, running water, baby powder, crushed velvet, a picture of Winnie the Pooh, or jar of glitter water, or a candle flame.
  • Then, when stressed, go to the bathroom and run the bath water and listen to the rushing. Or pull out a small jar of baby powder to smell, keep a scrap of crushed velvet in your pocket to touch, or pull out the picture in your wallet or watch the glitter in your jar until it settles. Watch a candle flicker.
  • Soothing stimuli that also brings back good memories are great.

Books/workbooks I recommend off the top of my head:
Codependent No More, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Ending the Pursuit of Happiness, The Happiness Project, Anger Management for Women, The Gift of Fear, Tao Te Ching
Please feel free to add your own tools and reading suggestions in the comments. For those who want to be healthy and maintain healthy relationships.

“When I’m not busy trying to save the world, I like to get drunk and screw.”

“Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

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