A Roller Coaster You Didn’t Ask to Ride.

How does one go from walking 2 1/2 miles one day to a few days later not being able to dress herself or communicate and needing a wheelchair?
A horrible accident? a surgery? A terrible injury?
Can I just say going from such a high to such a low is really hard. But I have been dealing with some pretty big things in my personal life that can help explain the low I found myself in, and I have learned through many many many years of experience, this too will pass.
I just need to get through the day, and as my mom always said, “just take it an hour at a time and if that’s too much, take it a minute at a time, and if that’s still too much take it one second at a time.”
On those dreadful days I take it one second at a time.
I told my husband earlier today, when we were discussing my crash that happened yesterday, I literally felt like a tiny miniature version of myself was trapped inside a sound proof prison cell deep inside my body screaming “HELP ME!” and no one could hear me because my body lay there limp and unable to speak. As we discussed our different perspectives on the situation we had walked through many times before, we talked again about the do’s and don’ts for what I need in that moment.
Tough love is a no.
Trust me, in those moments the last thing that is beneficial is someone trying to “shame” or “scold” me into just doing it. Just talking, just getting dressed, just getting some fresh air.
Close contact and eye contact is a yes.
I need to feel life from you, because I’m feeling really numb (at least on the outside. Inside I’m screaming and shouting at myself to pull it together and snap out of it). I need to hear words of affirmation because I feel like a dead weight. I need to see care and calm in your eyes. I need you to reassure me that what I’m feeling will pass, that you understand that I’m doing my best, that you are staying with me and that you love me.
And if all that fails throw a (clean!) pair of undies on your head and run around the room like a crazy man! Anything to make me feel something and to make the pain less intense.
I think communicating to your spouse/friends/family what works best for you while you are in a crash, after you have recently had one, is really beneficial for the next time it happens. They aren’t mind readers and we can’t talk, so both sides need to give grace for shortcomings, but communicating about it is certainly a step in the right direction!
Another thing I’ve learned over the years is to be patient with myself on bad days. When we feel that darkness overtaking our minds and bodies our initial and natural response is to tense up, fight it, panic, fear it… But what we need to do is take a slow deep breath and speak some truths to our brain before it takes over completely to the point where truth and lies start to get mixed up. I also like to tell my husband something like ” hey, just so you know I’m feeling really bad and my depression (or anxiety or whatever I’m dealing with at the time) is really flaring up. I’m going to probably need you to be extra sensitive” or “I might be extra tense” or “I need some alone time”.
Another thing that helps sometimes, depending on the severity and what I’m dealing with, is using multiple senses. For example, playing a card game while eating a snack. One without the other isn’t enough. Now, can I be real? The last thing I usually want to do when I am feeling mental torment is to play a game or eat, but my husband usually talks me into it and it does help some of the time. It’s not like I’m enjoying the game or the snack, but I’m just using it to pass the time and to turn off some of the over reactive senses.
The point is, sometimes we have to go against what feels like a natural response and learn new, healthier habits to enforce when our bodies and brains betray us. And sometimes there is absolutely nothing in the world that you can do to stop it, even if you do everything right. So give yourself a break from the condescending, self-doubt and dish yourself up a nice heaping bowl of grace with whipped cream on top. You and I are doing the best we can and you are not alone in this fight! If it’s one of your hard days just take it one second at a time. You can fight for one more second. You’ve got this!
Keep Fighting,
Dawn Harris


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