My COVID-19 Feelings Dump

I feel bad about writing this post because, honestly, we are in a much better position than so many other people right now. We both have steady jobs, which we can do from home, and our employers are doing their best to be supportive. We have a pleasant flat to stay in and live in a quiet area where we can go out for some walks without getting close to other people. And we don’t have to try and cope with homeschooling anxious, upset children at the same time as trying to do our jobs. My mother is a worry, at eighty years old, but she’s being sensible and staying inside, and she doesn’t have any underlying health conditions. Overall, we are very, very lucky. I’m aware that it could be so much worse.

But the situation still SUCKS and we have to let ourselves feel our feelings. There’s no point in trying to repress the disappointment, fear, resentment, anger etc. So, I’m going to allow myself one feelings dump, after which I’ll do my best to be as positive and constructive as possible.

After a couple of weeks of stress and anxiety, during which most of my energy has been taken up by urgent tasks – cancelling everything, sorting out working from home, supporting colleagues and preparing my mother for self-isolation – reality has only started to hit me this weekend. I’ve been feeling depressed, tearful and very resentful. Our routines are massively disrupted and we’ve had to cancel everything we were looking forward to over the next couple of months. Like everyone else, I’m worried about when, and if, things will get back to normal.

But for me, personally, the worst thing is feeling that my hopes for a peaceful year are now scuppered. I know this is self-indulgent and not important in the big scheme of things, but I had finally got myself to a place from which I thought I could start healing from the emotional battering I’ve taken over the last few years.

I’ve been so sad and tormented by a thing I can’t even speak about publicly because it’s something that almost no one would understand or sympathise with and I just can’t bear to add to the pain by inviting scorn and derision. It’s my problem and I have to learn to deal with it somehow, but this does make it feel like I have a horrible festering wound.

From January this year, though, the ‘thing’ that had been triggering all this emotional angst will be less present in my life and I was really hoping that I might get some mental peace, the chance to rebuild a bit of emotional resilance, perhaps even to start exploring the possiblity of healing.

I don’t think I’m going to get much mental peace and I have to face this new crisis from a place where I’m still feeling emotionally pretty raw and my internal resources are depleted. I’m grieving stuff and trying to deal with trauma issues and now I have to deal with COVID-19 as well. Blah!

So, that’s my self-indulgent FEELINGS dump. Now I’ll try and practice acceptance and think about what I can do from this point forward.

Managing Emotional Distress Part 2: Quick Fixes

I once had a therapist who kept asking me the question, “What are you going to do to support yourself?” I hated that question, but she had a point.

More recently, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of taking proactive steps to support myself, not least because this can prevent a full-blown crisis from taking hold.

Depending on the situation, here are a list of “quick fixes” which I’ve found helpful when I start to feel my mental health deteriorating.

Continue reading

Managing Emotional distress

Ever since October 2017, I’ve been experiencing attacks of what I can only call extreme emotional distress. I don’t want to get into the details of what happened back then, but basically, a particular “event” seems to have somehow released all the emotional pain that I’d been repressing for about twenty-five years.

This has made my life really difficult. I feel like I can be ambushed at any moment and plunged into a pit of grief, despair and rage. Once I’m in there, it’s very hard to climb out again.

After a few weeks of feeling okay, I had another attack yesterday. I felt awful all day, aching chest and head, depressed, constant intrusive, negative thoughts, and it ended with a full on screaming/crying meltdown in the kitchen.

I’ll give myself yesterday, but I really need to get on top of this. The first thing I think I have to do is accept that these feelings aren’t just going to stop or go away, which is what I’ve been hoping. The gaps between attacks do seem to have got longer, but I think that’s more down to me getting better at avoiding the things that trigger the feelings, then any actual healing. When the feelings do come, they are as a strong and overwhelming as ever.

I know could get more proactive about managing my emotional state on a day-to-day basis, but here are some things that I think I could put into place for those times when I do feel myself being dragged into the “pit of despair”.

Continue reading

Psychotherapy and Side-Effects

Aeon, Psychotherapy is not harmless: on the side-effects of CBT  

The research cited in this article doesn’t sound all that robust, but it’s an interesting question to think about. Personally, I think therapists of all stripes are well aware that the process has side-effects, but they see it as part of the therapy and I’m not sure they always fully appreciate the potentially negative and unwanted impacts. One of the reasons why I ended my last course of therapy was because I didn’t feel that my therapist was taking my concerns about unwanted effects seriously enough.

Three Essays about the Power of Stories to Save Lives

I’m increasingly interested in how children and young people use stories to create safe places during times of trauma. Here are three powerful perspectives.

Living through death with Harry Potter

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Batwoman saved my life

Extra life: how I was saved by video games

Food Psych Podcast

As part of my commitment to eating disorder recovery, I’ve decided to work my way through Christy Harrison’s podcast, Food Psych.

I started with episode #182, Fitness Culture, Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, and Why Hleath is Not an Obligation with Cara Harbstreet  

CN: Description of eating disordered thinking

Continue reading