Trying to find distraction so your mind can't play tricks on you. Most of the time it keeps the demons at bay. But what do I use to help me cope? I use several coping mechanisms: Keeping Busy, writing, making music video's, exercise and most importantly, Talk about it! Read all about my coping mechanisms below.
I hope my stories about the things I see while struggling with my mental health haven't scared you away. (well I guess you wouldn't be reading this if it had... ) I will not be diving as deep every time I start to write. But I will try to open up a bit more while I'm telling my stories. And I must say, this blog, this website and the projects I am doing, they are helping. It helps me explain everything so much easier. It gives the people reading it a look inside my head. Which hopefully helps them understand a bit of what I'm going through. I created this blog purely to help myself. But I made it public to try and help others. Others like me, and also others trying to understand. If you have any suggestions, questions or just want to share. Please do! You can use the form on the contacts page or comment directly on a story or on the facebook page.
What coping mechanisms do you use?
As I've mentioned, I am trying a lot of different things. First to keep me busy and have a steady schedule. And foremost to keep my mind of the dark stuff. Sometimes it helps, and at other times nothing really helps. I think that's one of the worst things of PTSD. The unpredictability of it all. It can be all sunshine and rainbows and everything is going great and then out of the blue, thunder clouds and lightning. I can be having an amazing day and then my children can be playing a bit too loud and suddenly I'm seeing dead people (And yes this is a Sixth sense reference..) But to get back at my coping mechanisms. I do several things.
My coping mechanisms are:
1. I make music video's (concentrating on something else while the music distracts and relaxes me)
2. I write about my journey (this blog and several guest articles which I will mention later)
3. Exercise regularly (I swim 1-2 times a week, I run 2 times a week)
4. When I can't sleep or wake up in the middle of the night I put on relaxing music (often my own music video's)
5.When I feel my anxiety coming I try to find a quiet spot, put on some music and do the breathing exercise mentioned in a previous story)
6. Almost everywhere I go, I try to let at least some people know that I'm having problems. But I also try to tell them what they can do to help me just in case.
7.Try and do as much as you normally would. Of course you should steer clear of known triggers. But don't let that stop you from going at all. Try to find a way to keep doing those things.
Why my coping mechanisms help me?
First a kind of disclaimer. These are my ways of coping with all the dark stuff. By no means is this a must for everyone. And perhaps I'm not even doing the right things. All I know is that this is what gets me through the day and I just want to share how I'm handling this and perhaps help some of you see new possibilities.
1. Making music video's
Making the video's started out as a joke from my side. Just trying to figure out how hard it was. What I could do with it. And how everything worked. But through making those video's I discovered I actually enjoyed the making of them. I just find the music, match it with visuals like a photo or video and edit them together. By no means am I a professional but I still think the video's come out nice. At first I started out by making video's I thought others would enjoy. After a couple of those I switched to making video's I would listen to. While making the video's I have to concentrate and focus on the music, the visuals and through that it keeps my mind of the dark stuff.
2. Writing about my journey
By writing about the everything I'm going through I can relay my emotions much easier. Also, by writing about my emotions. I'm concentrating on the how I'm writing and not what I'm feeling. It gives me somewhat of a distance to the flashbacks. I still get emotional while writing. Sometimes it even triggers flashbacks or panic. But by writing about it, I can somewhat make sense of it. Besides all that, it makes explaining everything so much easier. By writing about it, I can share a lot of the things on my mind. And because people already read it here. I won't have to talk so much about it. Through writing about my journey I discovered I actually like writing. (who knew?) Since I started writing, Going Crazy has been selected as one of the top 100 mental health blogs by Feedspot! And I will have one of my articles published in June on Resources to Recover.
3. Exercise regularly
I can't stress this enough. These are my coping mechanisms. And exercising has always been my outlet. That's why I think this one works so well for me. Feeling stressed? Go running. Got a bad day at work? Do some boxing in the yard. Not feeling energetic? Just go to the gym. This has always been my way of keeping my head straight. And now, if the feelings are to bad I just exercise some more.
Even if you're not fond of exercising, just walking helps calm down. Steer clear of the triggers though.
4. Using music
Music is my reflection of how I feel. feeling down? Play some Kryptonite by 3 Doors down. Feeling good? Listen to some country music. The same goes for my coping. But I just use the music that makes me feel good. So when I'm stuck in my head and need to feel a little better. I just play some feelgood music. Put on some country or rock music. Whatever works for you. In my case I use my own relaxing music video's to help me get back to sleep. And I use my Indie playlists to help me feel better or focus on writing.
5. Calming yourself down
Finding a way to help you tone down the anxiety is part of the treatment I think. So until someone tells me how I should be doing this. I'll do what's been helping me so far. Most of the times there is this small window between anxiety and full on panic. Within that window I try to find a spot away from all the stimulants. Usually I'll put on some music. Sometimes this helps me prevent the full on panic and helps me calm down. At other times the panic just overtakes me and I can put on as much music as I want, but calming down is not an option.
6. Letting people know
By letting people know you'll have to make yourself a bit vulnerable. But by doing that you can save yourself a world of hurt. I told some of the people I regularly swim with about what's happening to me. I told them about the PTSD.
I explained about the anxiety and flashbacks. I told them what happens to me when it happens. I neglected to tell them what they should or should not do. But they managed just fine when I was having a panic attack in the middle of the swimming pool. I tried calming myself down when the stimulus became too much. I tried finding a quiet spot. Still broke down. But they saw, they knew and they helped others stay away or leave me alone. Having people crowd you and asking if everything is alright is not very helpful when you're having a panic attack. By letting them know in advance, they were able to help when I needed it.
7. Try normal
I know that with everything happening it often feels like your going crazy. That's why it's the name of this blog. What I try to do even though it's very hard. I still try to do everything I normally do. I still go to the supermarket. I still bring my kids to school. I still go to the swimming pool. I just try to avoid triggers. In my case the more people I can see the more anxious I get. That's why I know if I need to do some grocery shopping I'll go in the morning when it's not so busy. Bringing the kids to school is still hard for me. I bring them to school, drop them of and wave at them through the windows. I know that Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the most crowded days inside the school. So I try to drop them off inside the school on Fridays. I'm just trying to find way to keep doing the things I did.
We all want to feel like we're moving forward in our lives. Too much idle time can drive us insane – this is true for everyone, but especially for people suffering from mental illness. If you're stuck and don't feel like you're making any progress, taking modest steps toward your goal might be a smart idea. This can serve as a foundation for something bigger. Start moving forward with things you'd like to do or that you believe should be done. It will help you break the cycle of anxiety.