Tag Archives: Coping mechanisms

Finding new support styles

 

I thought I wasn’t the type to lean on people, but I found myself reeling when that support was lifted.

We are not islands. Why rely on yourself when you can make other people responsible for your health and sanity? They are usually happy to help.

Here is how I’m regaining my balance.

 

 

Old habit: running with a friend

New habit: scheduling remote exercise with a friend

 

I am not especially reliable, especially where exercise is concerned. Having made a promise to a friend is one of the few things that get me out there and moving, and I’m always glad when I have done it.

When isolation began, I really foundered in this area. I was afraid to go outside, I was too depressed to get moving. Exercise videos on youtube were a lifesaver. Doing a video alone is painful and grating and you’re relieved to be done. Doing them with somebody else on videochat makes it hilarious, and you want to do more.

Now I’m pushing my friends to schedule exercise time with me. It’s good for them too, they love it, I’m sure they’re very grateful (heh). Even just going for a run while keeping the phone to my ear and talking to somebody else running, is oddly comforting and connecting. We could both enjoy the beautiful things we saw outside, and describe them to each other. Proximity being no object, I can now run with a friend who lives in Kansas City who I rarely get to see. I have a feeling I’m going to keep doing this even after lockdown is lifted. I have more workout companions than ever!

 

 

Old habit: making cookies with my sister

New habit: making cookies with my siblings over Facetime

 

It’s nice, because more of my siblings can get involved this way. It’s fun to just set your phone on the countertop and get out your ingredients, compare recipes, show off your freshly baked cookies, eat them together.

 

 

Old habit: walking to a cafe and getting a treat

New habit: making myself a special beverage

 

It’s just as gratifying to sit down with your own cold-brew coffee or iced chai latte. There’s a little work involved, but think of the preparation time as a luxury. You don’t get annoyed at the work involved in drawing a bath and lighting up candles, do you?

 

 

Old habit: brush then floss

New habit: floss then brush

 

Yeah, this has no bearing on the topic. It’s just something that I learned. Apparently, if you floss BEFORE you brush, then the gaps are opened up between your teeth, and the fluoride from the toothpaste can get in there and work its magic. This assertion is still being personally tested by me, but it makes sense. Once upon a time, I didn’t believe in fluoride, and my teeth rotted. Now I believe in fluoride. I pray to fluoride every night, I perform the fluoride ritual, and it answers my prayers. In fluoride there is strength.

 

 

Old habit: eat all the bananas as fast as possible

New habit: once they are at perfect ripeness, bananas can go in the fridge

 

Yes, 80% of my coping habits are food-centric. Hush.

 

 

Old habit: spending an entire Sunday with my sister and her family

New habit: calling somebody at least every other day

 

In order to get the same quantity of people-hours into my week, this is necessary. If I skip too many days in a row, I find myself drifting.

 

 

Old habit: when the walls are closing in on me, get out of the house

New habit: turn into the woman from “The Yellow Wallpaper”

 

There is a squirrel in the walls. I have been battling it for months but I’ve been driven to new levels of insanity by its scrabbling and nibbling right above my head. If you see a crazy lady in pajamas stalking her roof with a knife, look away.

Headphones help. Fantasizing squirrel murder helps. These are not healthy strategies. I’m still working on this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Empty Self

 

Empty self
Empty self
Mantra is to empty self
Pull your feelings off the shelf
And pour them down the drain.

Nobody needs that shit in their life.
Nobody needs the nasty voices
The gut punch of insecurity
The sharp ream of loathing
Nobody needs that mean little chewing creature
In their heads.

Some people don’t have mean little creatures in their heads.
Instead they have burning skyscrapers.
Some people are trapped in a crashing plane,
Or whole self sunk deep under quicksand, waiting for a breath.
Some people have something inside them so damaging,
They can’t even bear to look inward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

On Quitting a Bad Coping Mechanism

 

I’m not an expert blah blah blah.

 


 

When you first stop yourself from doing the bad thing
(Disassociation, denial, self-harm, drinking, addiction, etc.)
You think you’re going to explode and scream and have an aneurysm.
You cry and shake and wonder if this is what it’s like, riding it out
And if so, how the fuck do normal people do it every day?
You’ll go through three months to three years of instability
Where you snap at your friends and perplex them with your choices
As you desperately seek an outlet
Trying every possible vent that might give some release
(Art, talking, exercise, diet, therapy, meds, religion)
It doesn’t happen quickly
Not in most cases.
You have to heal
And healing takes time.
Once your bad coping mechanism is, not gone (never gone),
But under control
You find you need to make some major life changes
(New spouse, new job, new gender, new friends, etc).
As your current situation is intolerable
And was only rendered tolerable by your overwhelming self-distraction.

Slowly

The desperation fades.
The world comes into focus.
The people you once despised
Become people you respect.

Every once in a while
You’ll run into remnants of your old self.
You’ll know them through but they’ll look like strangers
And you’ll see right through their bullshit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Mental Health

 

I have tools at my disposal

To keep my house happy

Good for trimming overgrowth that presses against the house

Or repairing damage from the environment.

That one is good for sawing down trees that might work their roots under.

This one helps me patch holes in the walls.

This glue prevents things from falling to pieces.

This paint keeps it cheerful and waterproof.

If I spray the house often, I keep the bugs out.

Moisture is inevitable, but it shouldn’t damage,

And it’s most important to keep the bugs out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

A Question on “Fading”

I wrote Fading because I’ve been thinking about this lately:

If we lose our memories, do we also lose our coping mechanisms?

If I lost my memories, would I revert to self-harm? Would I forget to lean on the Tao, and struggle against what everyone needs of me? Would I go back to being a supercilious intellectual? Will I go back to repressing? To unfeeling depressive episodes? To crushing self-loathing?

Will all these decades of personal growth be reversed in the final years of my life?

Maybe my story is too cynical. Maybe even when the memories are lost, the habits which are strongly engrained remain. Maybe a coping mechanism is more of a habit than a memory.

What do you guys think?