Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Traveling is stressful on a good day, but knock back a cocktail of anxiety, an enclosed space for 9 hours during an airborne pandemic, moving to a new continent for the first time and you've DEFINITELY levelled up.
HOWEVER, moving through tangible challenges has never daunted me. Illogical though it may be, it's never direct threats that arrest my functionality: things I can quantify don't scare me. It's the stasis, the quarantine after, if you will, that proves the bigger challenge for me and my beautiful O.C.D. laden brain. This is the realization I've had the last two days: I shut down when I'm flooded with change and don't treat myself kindly for not being a SUPERHERO in the face of great change.
SOUNDS UNREASONABLE. I DON'T WANT TO DO IT ANYMORE.
Stasis is freezing in the face of perceived danger; it's the lesser known third child in the fight or flight trichotomy. Freezing is my chosen poison: highly don't recommend. It is the youngest Sherlock sibling if you will: always present, and incredibly debilitating if left working unchecked in the background. (K, I KNOW that was a stretch of a metaphor but I just rewatched the series and it's STILL so gooood.)
Do you freeze? Are you a freezer? Are you a regular little Elsa shut in? Are you aware you do this? Do you want to build a snowman? (hahahaaa, I love myself.)
I want you to have the tools to identify when you're in a frozen episode, so you can learn to label, acknowledge, love yourself and let it go. (Hehe. Ok. No more Frozen jokes. Pinky swear.)
It is quaint to associate freezing with going blank when asked an important question because though that is a legitimate response, there's so, SO much more that happens.
So let's begin, little loves.
Here's my Top Two Red Flags of freezing.
(More signs if you want, cause mental illness knows no bounds. Yay.)
1. Physical Sensations
Yesterday my overwhelm showed as heaviness, a slowed heart rate, and dizziness. Sometimes my hands have gone numb; fun! A sense of impending disaster can follow: I think I am moments from cardiac arrest. My body is calming me down and I respond by thinking I'm dying. Once after an episode I was so convinced I was mortally ill that I went to the hospital and had every aspect of my health checked. I was 100% fine, 'cept in my head. :D
2. Social Media Spiral
Without a doubt, social media negatively affects my mental health. The last two days, when I was freezing in the face of the VAST admin challenges of navigating a new country, it became a "safe" port to constantly scroll through Facebook, Instagram, and email waiting for things to happen. Emigrating to a new country (accommodation, banking, school applications, SIN numbers, phone services, credit checks, rail cards, jet lag, homesickness, rental agencies...) is a lot.
Social media is the past, not the present. People show things they've done and the majority of what makes a person freeze is uncertainty. When everything is uncertain, we seek comfort, and social media is the biggest ever wolf in the softest ever sheep's clothing when it comes to immediate gratification for the loss of control. That's a lot of words for: when scared, I seek inaction, and nothing is more passively engaging than social media.
So you're frozen. What do?!?! WHAT CAN DO?!?!
Label: Identify that you're in a spiral: are you rotating through platforms? Are you checking the same accounts multiple times an hour? You're in a spiral. Hello, welcome to the spiral.
Acknowledge: Take a look around you. Notice how long you've been in your seat, bed, floor, bathtub and clock it. Get really aware of the physical situation you're in.
Love: Love your little scared self. Love your little scared self, so, so hard. Love your little scared self because you are doing your best right now and your best is checking in with your spiral. And you're probably beating yourself up about it. STOP. FORGIVE YOURSELF.
Act: Change one little thing. Whether that's putting your phone under the couch cushions so you don't see it, walking in a circle around your room, or sitting in child's pose for 3 minutes. Watch a T.V. show if that's the only way to distance. You have to remind your body you can move under any perceived weight.
Yesterday I poured myself a glass of wine, took half a poppy-seed muffin and sat outside for 5 minutes. It was enough to pull me out of it. But I have a lot of experience in this. It might take you longer.
This is the most important part dearest friends.
I didn't SAVE my day. I was not HEALED by the wine/muffin combo (but, you know, tasty). I went and watched Peaky Blinders right after (research, excuse me). BUT the glitch in the system was the victory. The blip you cause in a not-chosen behaviour is a FUCKING VICTORY. Later in the day I journaled and talked to a friend, but that first stick in the runaway wheel was getting very deliberately present.
And now I'm writing about it. So take that Olaf (I LIED TO YOU FORGIVE ME).
All the love you beautiful brains,
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