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Turning off the sirens

Some days--not nearly as often now as in my past, thank goodness--I get so ratcheted up with all the things I don't have words for, all the things I've chosen to withhold, all the complexity of what I can and can't say in this or that circumstance, that it drives me to a state of "global high alert". That's the anxious, hyper-vigilant, nauseous, alarmed feeling that would probably be useful if there were a predator at the cave entrance, but which is counterproductive in the modern world.

I've had a couple of those days this week. It's tempting to dwell on the causes, the whys, but since there isn't actually a bear prowling around my food supply, the cause is unimportant. You can't throw spears at your negative beliefs, and you can't sprint away from your past. What's more, whatever the seed cause, every little thing that follows will just cause more of the hyper-vigilance.

What's more important is to make it go the hell away. Choosing not to make excessive use of food, drugs, or alcohol anymore, and being a little antsy and caged-feeling for television, I have tried the following, with the following results, in ascending order of effectiveness:
  • Writing--on paper. (I bought pens!) Frustrating, since writing is implicated in the problem.
  • Coloring with Crayola crayons on pieces of paper. Annoying because those are some crappy colors. But the smell was nice, and the 64-crayon box with its own sharpener really took me back to a less highly-activated time in my life.
  • Listening to a story. I chose totally the wrong story, so in the end it made me more nervous, but it took my mind off things.
  • Reading a book. Same problem as writing--perhaps non-fiction would have been a better choice--but it was, at least, physically quiet and relaxing. Perhaps the fact that it took place in a huge tub of warm, magnesium-saturated bathwater was the more significant thing.
  • EFT Tapping. I was surprised that this wasn't more effective, but I was really in a state, and probably needed a practitioner's help--and that would have meant talking about the things I can't say, etc., so I got a little relief but the state kept reasserting itself.
  • Helping someone else. I had the chance to provide a little support to a friend struggling with worse anxiety than my own. It made me feel useful. Like making something, feeling useful is good.
  • Meditation, of a sort. It's been a while. I put on the woo-woo music and took a little trip to my Wood Between The Worlds, and visited some alternate selves who've learned how to cope better with the kind of negative stimuli that set me off. (One of them was a master knitter, too, so I picked up some pointers.)
  • Knitting. Amazingly effective. Color, softness, mental focus (I was learning a new technique), and counting. Counting is often very soothing, and the prospect of making something counteracts that preyed-upon feeling.
  • Talking to a friend, a very good, very old friend. We talked for more than an hour while I paced like the caged animal I felt myself to be, and I signed off feeling very much back inside my own skin.

ETA: Yesterday's acupuncture helped, too.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comments. | Comment at Dreamwidth.



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