Water and Tears

>>:::<<
water
embraces each drop of rain
the ocean hides my tears
>>:::<<

In my creativity blog, I talked about the additional challenges we are facing and the reasons for my scarcity in the blogging world.  I am still around, I am doing my best, and I thank you for being patient with me.

Multiple major areas in my life are, quite frankly, in turmoil, and the feeling of overwhelm with all of them happening at the same time is often unbearable and feels like I cannot keep my head above water.  But as I realize, change is the only thing that is stable and one must somehow adapt to change, as I wrote about in my last posting.  None of these areas, not even details at this point, can be ignored, avoided, or denied, or we risk lagging in improvements.  They all need attention, and there is a LOT to be done.

When there is time, I try to apply the tools I have learned (and included in this blog) for addressing emotional and physical pain and anxiety, as this continues to be a very painful time.  One thing to keep in mind that I learned from my pain psychologist is that it is important to have a variety of tools to help through pain and anxiety.  However, even though he has taught me the tools he knows, he stressed that no amount of tools combined will replace the need for genuine emotional support from other people.  Also, it is important to have multiple people to lean on, otherwise, the loss of even one source of support can be devastating.

I hope when you are facing tough times, that you have people you can count on to give you the purity of their attention and compassion.

…also, remember that it is ok to cry.

Water and Tears

”Tears expand you, they don’t diminish you.” ~ Michael Ondaatje

The fish said, “I can’t see my tears because I’m in the water.”
The water said, “I can feel your tears because you’re in my heart.”
Lesson:  We may hide our own hurts and pains but never can we lie to the people who care about us the most.  Words aren’t needed for them to know how we are.  (Source:  Searchquotes.com)

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Traversing Rough Waters

Paradigm Shift

>>:::<<
paradigm shift
sometimes the impossible
is still possible
>>:::<<

>>:::<<
depleted options
yet still crossing rough waters
perseverance
>>:::<<

There are situations where the impossible really is impossible.  But there are also times when the seemingly impossible is possible if we can look at those situations from a different angle or perspective.  We don’t always have to think of those alternatives on our own.  Sometimes a phrase, a comment, or a suggestion from someone else at the right time or place can get us to consider things differently.  One does not have to traverse rough waters in a boat if it is not available.  Sometimes “leaves” (metaphorically) will get us across.

A couple of examples:

Three years ago, when my doctors told me they “couldn’t do any more for me,” I hadn’t thought about alternative medicine as an option.  After hearing the doctors’ dreadful words, I was devastated and thought my situation was hopeless.  Was I to remain nonfunctional and debilitated forever?  My pain psychologist then suggested I try alternative medicine and said, “What do you have to lose?”  He said I needed to stop relying on doctors to provide answers for my undiagnosed conditions, because I kept running into dead ends.  He was right.  The alternative route has been better, gentler and healthier for those issues.

My fragrance and chemical sensitivities are a struggle because it has lead to increasing isolation and a significantly decreased social life.  Although it has made me appreciate nature more, and has resulted in doing more activities in nature, we still try to think of ways where I can get out into society and minimize my exposures at the same time.  We still need contact with other people where possible, and I don’t want to live in total recluse.  Here are a few ways we have adjusted:

  • My hubby and mother are fragrance free 100% of the time, and my two best friends are fragrance free when I’m with them.
  • We can have people in our home if they are fragrance free when they come.  I can visit friends and family if their home is fragrance free while I am there.
  • I can still go out to eat if the establishment isn’t using air fresheners or scented candles, and I am not seated next to others wearing heavier fragrance.  I have kindly asked to be moved to a different table before.
  • I can go to a movie theatre if it is a matinée (cheaper) and/or the theatre doesn’t have many occupants.  That way I can move to a different seat if I have to.
  • I can go into shops if they are not using air fresheners or other fragrances.
  • I can go to departments stores if I stay away from the perfume and fragrances section.
  • Etc., etc., etc.

As I’ve mentioned in previous postings, I still have a long way to go with my health and chronic pain, and I still have rough setbacks, but I have improved from three years ago.  I still struggle and get discouraged at times, but I have to remember that in reality, there is still hope and there are still options.

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What are some examples of where you are using “leaves” instead of “boats” to get across rough waters?

Pain Haiku #2

Pain Haiku 2a

>>>::<<<
dark clouds swallow me
relentlessly tormenting
pain monsters
>>>::<<<

Several weeks have passed and the elevated, intense pain symptoms persist.  The list of places in my body without pain is shorter than the list of places experiencing pain.  This recent increase is explainable.  There have been a few unexpected setbacks, and I need to continue therapy, stretches and treatments to get me back on track.

In one of my pain psychology sessions a while back, I showed my psychologist some doodles I had created, which included some emotional situations involving…of course…pain.  One of the recommendations he had in addition to doing artwork regarding emotional situations is to draw an alternate scenario.  For example, he asked how I would draw myself if I had more “power ” and said that drawing an alternate scenario can help you figure out an alternate in real life.  So here it is…my alternate scenario:

Pain Haiku 2b

>>>::<<<
pulverize the beasts
banish to oblivion
a bright new day
>>>::<<<

Pain is only one type of monster persisting right now.  What kinds of monsters are persisting (or have persisted in the past) for you?

Pain Haiku

Pain Haiku

>>>::<<<
pain advances
like shadows grow through the day
a new day has not dawned
>>>::<<<

Lately, there has been quite an increase in chronic pain and other symptoms.  I hope for the day when decreased pain will give me some freedom and independence.  In the meantime, I must continue treatments, therapy, stretches and mind/body exercises, including taking pain breaks with what I call my “nature, photography, and creativity meditation.”

Take a Break #2

Camera+Doodle 1
Camera+Doodle 1, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
the harder we try
the more evasive the problem
try by not trying
>>:::<<

We all need to take breaks, regardless of what we are doing.  I’ve experienced the mental blocks at work where I needed to walk away from a problem and come back to it later with a different perspective.  I’ve had the “creativity block” where I just cannot think of a haiku to write, a subject for a blog post, or an image I wanted to work on and what to do with it.  Sometimes trying to get rid of anxiety and giving it attention makes the anxiety even worse.  With chronic pain, sometimes meditation or a diversion will help temporarily reduce the pain.

There are countless examples where we need breaks. Getting an answer is part of trusting, without being critical, that putting it aside for a while will bring an answer.

I created this image above, which is a combination of a doodle and a photo of a Western Scrub Jay that visits us daily for peanuts.  This is my first attempt at what I have been calling a Camera+Doodle.  I have more in mind and it is the result of something different I wanted to do.  In fact, it was the result of “try by not trying.”

This scrub jay does come very close to us, but I noticed the harder I try to get him to come closer, the more distance he leaves between us.  If I just ignore him and go about my business, he usually comes closer.  He has yet to take food from my hand, but one of the squirrels here will gently take peanuts from me.  Also, a chickadee landed on my hand last fall, picked up a peanut, paused and looked at me for a few seconds before leaving.  The closest this scrub jay came to me was recently when I was feeding the squirrel. He landed beside me, looked right at me and squawked as if to say, “Hey!  That’s MY peanut!”  The squawk made the poor little squirrel jump, and he scampered away.

Some day this scrub jay will take a peanut from me, just like in the image above.  I just have to be patient and “try by not trying.”

Do you have examples of “try by not trying” that you would be willing to share?  I’d love to know about it!

Linking up with:
WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY

Addressing Emotional Pain #6 – Flashbacks

Squirrel Spinning
Squirrel Spinning, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
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>>:::<<
a sudden rewind
engulfs me in a whirlwind
flashback
>>:::<<

Do you experience flashbacks of traumatic, sad or other painful events?

A description of flashbacks is:

a psychological phenomenon in which an individual has a sudden, usually powerful, re-experiencing of a past experience or elements of a past experience. These experiences can be happy, sad, exciting, or any other emotion one can consider. The term is used particularly when the memory is recalled involuntarily, and/or when it is so intense that the person ‘relives’ the experience, unable to fully recognize it as memory and not something that is happening in ‘real time.’  Flashbacks are the ‘personal experiences that pop into your awareness, without any conscious, premeditated attempt to search and retrieve this memory.’  (Source: Wikipedia)

I have grouped painful flashbacks as part of  the “addressing emotional pain” category because I’ve learned through my pain psychology sessions that they are handled similarly to emotional pain.  In previous postings, I included some of the tools that can help with painful emotions, including having an awareness of the body and how it is feeling, physically and emotionally.

Certain situations (events, places, smells, comments, time of year, etc.) can trigger flashbacks.  They can be very uncomfortable and lead to feelings like fear, sadness, anxiety, panic attacks, etc.  There are a few situations that trigger flashbacks for me.  They can go as far as feeling anxiety, and a couple even resulted in panic attacks.

A flashback can feel very real, and your body may think it is a real event.  When a flashback occurs, what are some things we can do to get through it?  The key thing to remember is that the traumatic event in the flashback is not happening now even though the emotions, fears, and physical responses may be the same.  Over time, the reactions to the flashbacks will diminish.  Some with take more work than others.  The goal is to get to the point where they are “just memories” and that’s it.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Breathe and practice relaxation techniques
  • Allow your body to feel what is happening and have a curious acceptance about those feelings.
  • Use some of the tools I’ve talked about to address emotional pain like mindfulness meditation, body awareness, guided imagery, etc.  Click here to see more examples.
  • Have empathy for yourself and coach yourself through it calmly and objectively.  For example, some of the things I’m learning to say to myself are:
    • “I wonder what this means.”  (This is an important one for me because it involves seeking guidance from our inner advisor, which I’ve also posted about before.)
    • “What was the trigger?”
    • “I am remembering things very vividly, but it is not happening to me now.”
    • “This is uncomfortable, I hate it, but I got through this before and I will get through it again.”
    • “It will not kill me.”
    • “I have the skills and tools to help me, and I know how to use them.”

Although coping with some of my flashbacks still need more work, there are a few that now carry no emotion, no hurt, and no anxiety if the memories occur…they have gradually become “just memories!”

If you have experienced painful flashbacks, what methods have helped you get through it?

More

Emotion: Feeling Angry?

Squirrel Anger
Squirrel Anger, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
volcano surges
lava guided to safe path
disaster averted
>>:::<<

Feeling angry?  Have you ever been so angry that you felt like punching something (like this little squirrel appears to be feeling)?

Feeling angry is not bad.  Remember, experiencing a variety of emotions depending on our circumstances, is a fact of life.  They are going to happen and they need to happen, and are a natural occurrence.  Anger is an intense emotion and can carry a great deal of force and energy with it.  If we bottle this energy inside us, it will come out later in one way or another, such as lashing out at others or as health problems, for example.  A number of tools exist that can help us analyze and express negative emotions, including anger, in a safe and healthy way.  Trying to stop the energy from anger may feel like trying to stop a hurricane, but, no, punching someone is NOT ok.

It’s important to recognize that anger is generally a secondary emotion, which I discussed in a previous posting.   Anger is usually a response to a primary emotion or situation, and when we analyze our anger, we may discover that there are different emotions and feelings at the core, such as shame, fear, worry, guilt, embarrassment, etc.  (If we assume the little squirrel above is angry, what could be it’s primary emotion?  Fear, perhaps?)

Previously, I listed a number of tools that I keep in my toolbox to help analyze and address emotions.  There are numerous other ways that also exist, and each of us needs to find the tools, or combination of tools that work for us.  I’ve listed these before, but here is a handful of tools that may help:

  • Managing symptoms by expression:
    • Talk out your emotions with a good friend or relative who is willing to listen
    • Write about your feelings in a journal or through poetry
    • Cry.  It is “part of a healthy emotional healing process”
    • Express your feelings through art, photography or crafts (like I did with the squirrel photo above)
  • Do some kind of exercise like walking, jogging, aerobics, etc., that can use the emotional energy associated with the anger and move it out of your body
  • Practice deep breathing exercises; meditate
  • Addressing Emotional Pain #2 – Tools
  • Addressing Emotional Pain #4 – Secondary Emotions

Finding safe and healthy ways to release painful and negative emotions from our bodies creates space for more positive emotions to move in, and more peace within our life.

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What are some of the ways you have found to help manage anger?
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Related article(s):

  • Anger – Recovery Thru My Lens

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