Letting go

So over the last two weeks I’ve had a lot to think about, a lot to consider after my last EMDR session in February. Yeah, the one that I wrote about at the very end of my last post. I think it was in the last week of February, and it appeared to, or at least contribute to my worst fibro flare yet, that forced me to go home from work and take a day off sick, something very rare for me.

The decision I had to make was whether to forgive someone that I knew, who had emotionally abused me (gaslighting) for a period of time around 3 years ago. I was still angry at this person, still her victim, long after this I had left this situation and long after she had any influence over any part of my life. The only person stopping me from letting go of her was me. Not her, me. I talked with my EMDR therapist about this and because this person was causing such a block for me in therapy, but was still contributory to my PTSD, it was had to be me that made the choice to stop being a victim, and evict her from my head. So after that session, me being a scientist and all, I went away and read.

And what I found was fascinating. I combined what I found and what I thought or knew might help me with the release of my emotions from that period of my life and used it. I wanted my life back, it is my life, I have control over it and not someone who bullied me. I didn’t need to hold on to my anger any longer, it was exhausting and I needed to move on. I hadn’t really actually processed all the feelings and emotions from then. So one of the pieces I found suggested expressing your emotions or feelings by creative means, such as drawing or writing or poetry. I wrote 3 poems about exactly how I felt about her, what happened and how much I wanted to leave it all behind, accepting the past is the past, and forgive what had happened. Forgiving is not in any way forgetting, and doesn’t need reconciliation with the other person , it’s your choice alone. Now, the poems aren’t something that will be shared here as a whole but I may include snippets later on. Another tool I used was music. I created a playlist with songs that I knew would help me with my anger, and help me almost sing and scream it out, and just played this on my iPod on repeat, singing to it. Eventually I chose specific songs and shouted/said the poems to the song if you see what I’m getting at? This was really really useful for me to feel those emotions and expose them instead of having them inside me. Music is massive for me anyway so I knew this would likely be a useful tool. Even reading the forgiveness articles was helpful.

So now, it’s two weeks after that EMDR session and I’ve had the follow up session of EMDR but the progress in between that I made combined with the therapy is what has made the difference for me. My most recent EMDR session helped to complete the process of forgiveness and to finally banish the ghosts of three years ago. So now I have an appointment with my EMDR therapist for about a month’s time, should I need it, because of how much stuff we worked on and that my brain processed and is still processing. I have learned an awful lot about myself in the past few weeks.

Not just that, but going through this process and being able to safely express my emotions and thoughts about my experience and past with a therapist who can help me use that and use evidence based therapy to treat me. I feel more awake, more alive, more confident, more me again. I’m not being held back by my past, I’m not a victim any more. I’ve fucking survived.

I wrote all the above, effectively the first half of the post a couple of weeks ago. Then came COVID-19.

Well. I can’t really gloss over it but I will say this. My background is scientific so I much prefer facts, not speculation, and especially hate scaremongering. We’ve been practising social distancing at work and my line of work means I am unable to work from home. To be honest, I’m okay with that at the moment , work is keeping me in a routine and semi-sane! It keeps my brain busy and reduces the anxiety. The anxiety that I did actually have a really good handle on, but in light of the current pandemic and ensuing panic etc, inevitably my anxiety has spiked, kind of leaning a bit into health anxiety, especially due to having mild asthma which sort of makes me at medium risk of complications. My PTSD has flared up a bit too, but nowhere near as bad as it ever was. But it’s kinda odd, because for the first time, two things happen. First off, my level of anxiety actually matches the surrounding situation. Second, and I’m not going to apologise for this, is that people are getting a taste of what it’s like for those of us who have mental illness and mental health issues, particularly anxiety, who have this kind of inner mental battle and torment almost, on a daily or frequent, or maybe not so frequent, basis. Not so nice is it? Sounds harsh but some people probably need to hear that.

As for me, I’m coping okay with all the Covid stuff. My anxiety was being triggered and running away with itself because I found myself looking at the news. Not once, but several times in the day, being consumed by it and predictably, thoughts running away with themselves. So I decided just to check in twice a day maximum with the news which does seem to be keeping my anxiety to a manageable level. I’ve also been writing some more poems, a couple of which I will share below, which have helped me express my emotions surrounding this whole situation.

This one is called Unknown…

The feeling when you don’t know
You’ve no idea what’s going on
The fear
Fills your mind
It’s not in your control
Me and you
Neither of us know
What could happen next
The fate
Which direction that life could go in
It’s this
The unknown
And the falseness of info
That drives my thoughts
Into overdrive

Worst case scenario
Always on my mind
Fear of becoming
Stressful times
Don’t want illness to hit this time
Thoughts run away with themselves
Anxiety runs amok
Thoughts crashing round my head
Anxious brain stirs it up.

It’s the lack of control that scares me
Like a joystick torn from my grasp
Like being on a runaway train
About to run off the tracks.

I know my thoughts and anxiety
That they are exaggerated
And lying to me
But my scientific degree
Pulls my thoughts back to reality
And I realise the irrationality.
The irrationality and fear
The fear of unknown
Is what scares me.

But

It’s okay to be anxious
Just sit and realise
Those feelings inside
Accept them and just let them be.

And this one is called Spiral….

It started with one
Just a single thought
What if it’s me
What if I get caught
By this bloody virus
That’s out there now
Causing chaos
Makes me freak out

I’m usually so controlled
Not uptight but you know
Anxiety in check
Mentally well
In a good place again
Just one tiny thought
A peep at the news
Scroll through my twitter feed
Gives my anxiety
Its cue

Not that it needs one
No invitation required
It crashed all my parties
Though it is never required.

It’s so easy to read one thing
And keeping reading on
Facts turn into fiction
All blurs into one
So all we need
Are just the facts
Yes indeed
Not all the bullshit and crap
On daily feeds
I’ve muted your words
Blocked that clickbait
Quit the scaremongering
We all know lives are at stake

Stop writing those of us off
Who are chronically ill
And those over seventy
Aren’t your blood to spill
We are people
Still alive and right here
Fighting our own battles
Minus this damned virus
Yet we’re still ignored.

There’s more things in England
than just viruses
So give us different content
Don’t force-feed us this!

It’s anxiety inducing when it’s 24/7
Living on this knife edge
Is no way to keep living
Yet you continue to feed these anxious demons
With your bullshit news feeds.

As usual mental health is something ignored
Trampled over
Cast aside
By those who think it’s a chore.
Guess what it isn’t
We’ve all got mental health
Some get mental illness
Others stay well
It’s not a choice that we make
But we always stand up strong.

Isolation is going to be hard for all of us. I’m fortunate in that I got back into gardening last year and I’ve got all my seeds ready to plant with supplies stocked, I’ve almost finished with my EMDR – final session is a couple of weeks away and will be via Skype due to the current restrictions, and I feel considerably better for that treatment. Also fortunate that it is approaching summer and not bang in the middle of winter or SAD would be adding it’s ten penneth I’m sure.

Keep safe x