I’m staying at my partner’s home in Montana right now. With the concussion, I can’t get out on my own a whole lot and he’s at work all day. I’m loving my days and the occasional evenings to myself with the hoard of dogs, podcasts and knitting projects.
Alone, it’s easy to get lost in my head and start drowning in anxiety. But I haven’t been.
A number of the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques my therapist has given me or that I’ve picked up from the books I’ve been listening to about anxiety have helped a great deal. Still, sometimes that feeling creeps into me.
A couple of years ago, I might have turned that anxiety into anger and lashed out at someone. Or I might have curled up in bed, trying to hide from my feelings and drowning them out with Netflix and other acts of avoidance.
Earlier this week, my chest tightened and my limbs buzzed. Going back to work has been stressful and overwhelming, and doing so from another country with a computer that isn’t my own added to the difficulties.
I thought about what could be making me feel that way. There was no reason. At least, not one that I could pinpoint. I thought about doing an exercise video, but I can’t because of the whiplash. I decided the two cups of caffeinated coffee I’d had that morning were definitely too much and my decision to switch to decaf at home was the right one, but nothing I could do about the caffeine in my system at that point. I considered meditating but knew I was so far gone to be able to reign in my thoughts and instead focused on being more generally mindful as I moved throughout the house.
And as I was walking with a cup of tea and my current knitting project to sit out on the back deck with the pups, I realized that some days I’m going to feel this overwhelming sense of anxiety for no particular reason and that’s okay. Not just a general “It’s okay to feel that way” but, more specifically, I’m okay with having this feeling sometimes.
The anxiety went nowhere, but some of the tension I was holding inside slipped away. Me and my little anxious body sat outside in the sun, listening to my new favourite podcast Kind World and alternating between brushing the dogs and knitting.
I’ve spoken a lot about accepting that I have an anxiety disorder and therefore will always have some unusually high levels of anxiety, sometimes for no particular reason, but I haven’t actually felt that way until now. True acceptance of my body and it’s overreaction to the normal struggles of life is a beautiful thing I hope I can hold onto.
What has your experience with accepting your life circumstances been like for you? Did it help you to move forward in a healthy way or did it feel like giving up?
An unfortunate part of having whiplash and a concussion is that I can only do as much to heal my neck as my brain will allow. While the neck/shoulder/back injury has mostly healed, the muscles are weak and need a lot of work. My physiotherapist put a lot of that on hold while my brain got to a place where it’s ready for that. It’s still not, but she cleared me to do some light yoga.
If you know me, you know I have trouble doing anything “lightly” so of course I took it a bit too much to the extreme and started a 10-day yoga challenge through an app on my phone. I made it to day four before the pain became too great and I realized I was doing more harm than good. Back to the two minutes of pulling on a stretchy band every second day.
My brain is doing much better. I managed a short hike this week. Although, shortly after this photo was taken I completely concussioned out and Luke had to drive a very ill-looking lady home and make her dinner. Whoops.
I’ve realized that I’ve been pushing myself physically by doing housework and going for walks, and I’ve been pushing my brain to re-adjust to looking at screens for work purposes, but I haven’t actually done much watching of action (plays, movies) or reading. This week, I’ve been putting more focus on trying to do those things as I’ve missed reading a great deal and, being in the states, I have access to American Horror Story on Netflix.
Each day is a frustrating balance of doing my brain exercises, body exercises and re-introducing all the normal activities of my life that I haven’t been able to do—including cooking, shopping and being in moving vehicles for more than a few minutes—without pushing myself so hard that by the end of the day even speaking coherent sentences is difficult. I need to choose what I’m going to push myself on each day and what I’m going to avoid doing or ask someone else to do for me.
A few days in, I’d say my plan of coming out to Montana to relax a bit and stay with an adult who can help take care of me was a great idea and I do think I’ll be coming home feeling much better.