A few months ago, I and the alters started writing about the challenges that come with the holiday season along with revelations that came from using effective coping strategies. One of the challenges I mentioned had to do with hallucinations. Others had to do with maintaining safety outside of the house; coping with triggering encounters at stores; switching and dissociation around people from the past; and backlash. Very few had to do with sleeping, finding calmness, and effective ways to deal with the aftermath of such encounters.
I am still hallucinating, but not as often. The number encounters with people from my past has decreased. I’ve ended two friendships with toxic people. One is the woman whose holiday party I went to; I do not like being used to hurt other people no matter what they did to me in the past. The other had to be resolved through work channels so not something to discuss here. As for the rest, intentional switching to let the alter with the most experience and skill to handle the situation is the strategy that helped and also caused other triggers. Finally, distractions and sleep got me through the big holidays.
In the form of a list:
- Not sleeping
- Lingering cold/sinus infection from a run-down immune system
- Flashbacks and remembering in my sleep
- Dealing with racist/rude people at a local grocery store
- Having to call the police because I witnessed a not sober individual come into said grocery store and cause a verbal altercation that lasted more than 15 minutes without de-escalating; and then being watched by said individual’s friends as I left to go home
- Standing outside for an hour or more in the cold weather waiting for the public transit to arrive (delayed because of mechanical problems)
- Having a snow day because I forgot my computer
- Not taking any vacation time or giving myself down time to cope with the adrenaline crash that comes from dealing with all of the above situations in less than 3 weeks
- Feeling hyper-vigilant and not-quite-safe in my home and work neighborhoods, but also not wanting to stay inside
- Feeling depressed and angry and anxious because I want to get away, leave, and just give up because all of this came before my grandmother’s birthday (last weekend) followed by a school holiday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) that also brought up a mix of feelings and memories
So, yes I am feeling stressed out, angry, depressed and alone when the emotions and sensations overwhelm me. In my heart and wise mind (DBT), I know that I am not alone; there are many people in my support network for me to reach out and connect with. But I also know that the nightmares and monsters in my head right now are not anything I would share with any of my close friends.
Instead, I share with my counselor; the volunteers on the hotline; and this blog. And every day, I go through my list of coping strategies and techniques to help me get through the day:
- Affirmations as I wake up in the morning
- Mental reminders of promises and commitments that make up my daily to-do list get me dressed and on my way to the train station
- A book; mahjong; music; a nap; or catching up on posts from my style group members on social media get me through the train ride into and out of the city
- A variety of grounding techniques; deep breathing; affirmations; distractions; and self-care strategies help me stay calm and focused so I can work and do errands
- Sleep hygiene; a call to thehotline; streamed TV or movies; knitting; maybe cooking or getting takeout; and other self-care and soothing strategies help me relax for bed
But most important right now are:
- Reminding myself and the alters that the stressful times will end. It’s not the first time we’ve experienced overhwleming triggers and events. It won’t be the last time either. We got through them before and will get through them this time too.
- Remembering, acknowledging, and feeling good about the the positive events going on at the same time.
thanks for reading