Recovering from obstacles
The last few years my life has been coloured by different obstacles, some private ones and some I’ve written about here. The latest big one has been my experience with long covid. You can read about my journey here.
The NICE guidelines defines post-Covid syndrome as signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with Covid-19 which continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis”. Source
Ultimately I learnt it becomes about a paradigm shift in the understanding of one self and the meaning of life, and about the process of getting through life, sometimes minute by minute, when it feels nearly impossible The journey has become about adjusting my expectations of recovery and how to create a meaningful and fulfilling life when feeling so restricted and isolated..
Bleak scenario version 2.0
Due to the global pandemic and health struggles it hasn’t been possible for me to see friends and family in Denmark for three years. With careful planning of a trip that would suit my current physical challenges, I was looking forward to finally being able to go this August.
In Denmark we have a saying that roughly translates to: “Many small streams make a big river”. This felt like another small stream – a cancellation of a flight – but it was the one that opened the floodgates. Devastation totally flooded me for three days.
Rescheduling was not a possibility for various practical and financial reasons, so this cancelled flight meant the end of the dream that had been part of keeping me going all of spring and into the summer: to visit my home country and see people I love, for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.
Unplugging the basic circuits
As I felt both really stressed and distraught in this situation I could feel my emotional OE kicking in. The distress I felt became all encompassing, and combined with my Imaginational OE I created a bleak scenario version 2.0 where it will be years before I see people again and I won’t get better physically and so on. What I was imagining felt very real to me. My psychomotor OE decided to join the party as the stress created adrenaline surges and stored up energy which isn’t easy for me to release. Chronic fatigue and other physical limitations make it impossible to just swim or dance till I feel better. My intellectual OE wanted to both try to rationalise the experience and find practical solutions on the spot but given already mentioned limitations this wasn’t possible, so instead of calming myself down I ended up even more wound up. In short, my system overheated, so what did I do? I unplugged.
I unplugged from life for three days. Obviously everything essential like parenting and physical and emotional safety for all was in place. I abandoned all other activities that could safely wait. I unplugged from social media as my system could not cope with the beaming happy holiday photos I saw. I unplugged from socialising and kindly explained that I couldn’t see anyone right now, I could only manage the absolutely necessary relating.
How to get through
Thinking loops are thinking patterns that are deeply ingrained in our brains, a habitual way of thinking that we revert back to when emotionally triggered, to avoid emotional pain. Unfortunately they drain my energy as they often trigger bleak scenarios or feelings of despair(do they?) in me. To try to get in charge of the overwhelming emotions and not repeat the same thinking loops over and over again I distracted myself at times by watching TV.
To calm my psychomotor OE I started knitting. It really calms me down to use my hands in this repetitive way, and as my go-to is a simple pattern I know well, I end up with little hand towels I can use as gifts all while calming down, which gives me a good feeling.
When calm enough I took proper time to assess the practicalities and got clarity that rescheduling was in fact not possible at this stage. I allowed myself to grieve the loss of this holiday. Eventually, I was calm and present enough to start considering which nice things we can do while staying at home this summer.
While saying this, I am aware that partial unplugging is still going on and I am still processing the loss of seeing friends and family. It’s a positive downward spiral, though, where the situation slowly feels like it’s less charged by grief and negative emotions. I can now meet up with people, but there is still lots of low key wellness happening to support my nervous system as I’m still impacted. This holiday was a big deal.
Here is my list of low key self care tools suited to different OEs (OverExcitabilities) How I get back on track – PowerWood
Crystallised new neurological pathways
A lot of the actions I took these last couple of weeks in this situation felt intuitive. It was a nice surprise to see that my retrained neurological pathways kicked in when I needed them in the middle of this challenge. On one hand it was just a cancelled flight, but on the other hand, given my circumstances, it became quite a grief stricken moment.
It seems that using the tools again and again these past years helped me through this situation. Establishing new habits has paid off and that is one thing I am grateful for.
I would love to hear which low key self care tools you use and how they support you in your daily life. It’s so personal what works for us, so individual, and I’m really interested to learn about the experiences of others as that is how we can grow our toolkit to cope with overwhelming situations and feelings.
© 2022 Tine Landy
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