I reflect on my initial terror when I first became ill. And I realize how far I’ve come. Slowly I heal.
The new year is a time for reflection so I thought of myself when I first fell ill. It was many years ago. I thought bad people were after me and there were psychic attacks that were so terrifying that I lay in bed petrified and afraid to move. It was as if the psychic person was hovering above me and pushing his face into me. Threatening me with death. Since then I have come to realize that the delusions are all in my mind. But the fear I felt was real. My counselor told me that that was the fear I had felt when I was abused. Even though I was a very young child and asleep, I felt fear. You see my babysitter drugged me with sleeping pills and abused me. The fear was so intense that when my body decided it was time to heal from the abuse, 40 years later, my delusions had a man terrorize me. I was literally frozen in terror. Medication helped but I didn’t get any counseling for many years. So the doctors just waited for the medication to help. Just recently I have had rape counseling and they are helping me to realize what has been bothering me. Realizing that the delusions weren’t real was a milestone in my recovery. Yet now I fear everyday things like driving or going out in public. I actually sometimes feel a wave of fear go down my back physically. Knowing that it is all in my mind and that it is me doing it to myself is a Godsend and liberating. My counselor explained that my fight or flight mechanism was all out of whack because of the abuse.
At first I was taking a medication called Zyprexa but I was distracted and not all there. Although I had a job I would come home and just watch television like a zombie. It was all too much for me. Now I take Saphris, Pristiq and Abilify. I am much more aware of my surroundings and my position in life. For example I am now trying to save money instead of maxing out my credit cards. But with that comes worry and anxiety about the future. I was petrified that my furnace would break down and I couldn’t afford to buy a new one since I’m on disability. This fear has subsided since my furnace maintenance men say that it’s working just fine. And my daughter has agreed.
I must admit that I was in a zone of denial and not doing much to heal. I was taking the medication and going to my psychiatrist. But not doing much more than that even though I had two books that I could read. One daughter told me that I was hurting her and people I loved around me with my illness and my fear of going out. I ruined Christmas for all of them in 2016. They cried. I had refused to go and partake in the Christmas meal and gift exchange because I feared too much for their safety. Since then I have asked forgiveness and now am actively working on healing with the help of my counselor and two books: The Courage to Heal Workbook and Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. But it takes an effort on my part. It has been said that when people get to some parts in the book they just have to put it down and wait a while. It is a long and painful journey. And it takes courage. Like the courage that some of you need to face your own problems with anxiety. And like me you are survivors and courageous.
I used my art for many years to soothe my mind. I wasn’t aware of the turmoil consciously but my art soothed it. I would paint or draw for hours and find peace afterwards. Maybe art can help you in the same way. Just try to draw a couple of things. For example your favorite animal. And then you can try pastels or painting with acrylics or oils. You could paint that favorite animal. And then you could search on the internet for images of other favorite animals or places that you could draw or paint next. I loose myself completely in my art. I am focused on the colors and the shading involved in painting or drawing a figure or landscape. Mind you I don’t do many landscapes but they are easier than animal or human forms. Try some art and it may help you. I also block everything out when I read. I read romantic suspense and find relief when the good guys win and the two people fall in love. But reading tires me more than my art.
I also try to walk. The picture above is where I walk when it isn’t too cold or too windy outside. Walking gives me a sense of accomplishment and makes me face my fear of going out. Sometimes I am so distracted by my subconscious fear that I don’t take the time to look around. But then I catch myself, do mindfulness (concentrate on my breath in and out) and I calm myself. Then I look around, see the birds or the beautiful scenery and I enjoy it! I relax and interact with nature then, calming and soothing my tattered soul. And then I reward myself for facing my fears with either a mocha latte or a small coffee and a cookie! I love cookies. So if you have succeeded in facing your anxiety and gone out of your comfort zone to do so, reward yourself with something small. I would say maybe buy a book but that would get expensive. So reward yourself with something small every day and once it becomes routine maybe reward yourself at the end of the month with a book or a meal out for example. Remember to reward yourself for you are strong! You are courageous. Slowly we heal…