Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Distractions and coping strategies

Just thought I'd share some of the ways that I try to distract myself and keep going. I use many different coping strategies and try to adapt them to the time of day and how I'm feeling. Sometimes I'm not able to think straight and my head is everywhere. It is during those times that I'm most at risk of hurting myself or doing something impulsive that I will later regret. I do worry that one time I will actually kill myself, so its really important that I try to internalise these coping strategies so that they will kick in when I need them most.
I have studied the work of +Jon Kabat-Zinn and Mindfulness. I try to concentrate on my breathing and take notice of my surroundings. I listen to the sounds inside the room and outside the room, alternating between them. I find this can be really calming and help me sleep.
I also try different relaxation techniques from imagery to relaxing muscles in the body. I try to go to my safe place in my head and take note of the smells, colours, sounds etc.
If I am feeling agitated and unsettled I try to plan things to do to keep me distracted. I will empty cupboards, mop the floor, clean windows, bake, go for a walk, knit, crochet, go out in my car or watch a film.
I try to stay around people especially my children and will plan things to look forward to. This week I am going out with a friend on Friday, volunteering at my local race for life on Sunday and next week I'm going camping with a friend for a few nights. (Hope it doesn't rain!)
When things are really tough I write down what I'm going to do for the next 10 minutes and just keep doing that for as long as I need to.
I also have a Happy Box which has photos of my children and some objects that remind me of happy times. I try to keep a bar of chocolate in it - chocolate always helps.
When I've exhausted all of the above and things aren't getting any better I will try to ring someone to talk things through. I hate it when I get to this stage as I feel pathetic and stupid and beat myself up that I should be stronger. The crisis team are not always very helpful, I think I must frustrate them in that over the years I'm still ringing and saying exactly the same things. In a perfect world I know that they would like to work with me and then never hear from me again. However I find it triggering to call a service like the Samaritans that don't know me as I don't want to go over why I'm feeling like I am. All I need is for someone to acknowledge how I'm feeling and to help me plan a way forward to keep me safe. I just get so overwhelmed and need grounding.
When the chips are down I do self harm and know that it is a crap coping strategy but over the years it has probably kept me alive, so I must look at my scars not as a negative thing but as a sign of strength.