“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.”
― Virginia Woolf, The Waves
Thursday, November 14, 2013
I am here. Practicing mindfulness and grounding skills.
This quote made me think of grounding myself in the here and now, which is something I talk about with my therapist. So since I just saw my therapist today, I will write about some of this.
Basically, to get through the "trauma drama" as she calls it, you need to be mindful and keep grounded. Mindfulness is a very useful tool and we teach it in the NAMI Peer to Peer classes where I am the co-facilitator. This is one of the exercises we do:
-Take a raisin, look at it, and describe everything you see
-Roll the raisin around in your fingers and describe what it feels like
-Put the raisin in your mouth and describe what it tastes like
This may sound silly, but it's a very basic exercise in mindfulness. I was first introduced to mindfulness and Dialetical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) when I spent six months in a long-term hospital program in 2005. I thought it seemed kind of silly at first, but I know better now.
If you feel yourself drifting off into the land of delusions, or of repetitive thoughts that you don't want, whether it be from Schizophrenia or OCD, or depression, or trauma, or anything, the way to ground yourself is to say (out loud if possible): I am sitting in a chair. I am in my (wherever you are) room. I am breathing. I can see the clock on the wall. I can see the computer screen which belongs to me. I am safe. It is the present time. (Say the date and time). I am here.
When I drove over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in December of last year for the first time since I had tried to drive off the top of the bridge in 2005, I used this grounding skill. I told myself, out loud, I am driving my car over the bridge. I feel my hands on the steering wheel. The radio is playing rock music. I am breathing, I am here and I am safe. That car crash was the past, and now is the present. I am simply driving over a bridge."
And I did it. It was a big accomplishment for me.
Some people use objects to help them with grounding, like a rock or a soft squishy stress ball, or a bracelet or other jewelry. You can keep something like that in your pocket, or wear it, and use it to bring you back to the present time of real life if you start to drift away.
You can also make signs and post them in places where you'll see them every day, as positive affirmations and reminders of reality. My doctor wanted me to do this at work, but I couldn't because people would have seen "I am at work. I am not a CIA agent" on these signs, and it would lead to problems with my job. But if you can do it - perhaps in your home- it can be helpful.
I don't like meditation myself. Many people find it useful for grounding and getting back into their bodies, but I find it frightening and horrifying. It makes the voices worse when I sit and try to meditate. It makes me very anxious. So that is a practice that doesn't work for me
Some people also do yoga for this same type of reasons. With Fibromyalgia, I've found yoga impossible, but what I can do is walk. So lately I've started walking to a nearby park and back. I need to lose weight, and for health reasons walking is good exercise. If you don't live in a safe neighborhood (I don't), it can be tricky to have to walk in daylight. But I may join a gym again to address that problem.
When I walk, I take I all my surroundings. I focus on them and on the future weight loss I hope to achieve. It seems to help.
Music is very useful for grounding and getting through psychosis too. I use music a lot. I listen to it every night to get to sleep. I listen to it with headphones when the voices are bad. I find it an extremely useful tool, and have heard from many people that it works for them too. It helps me so much they even let me have headphones in the hospital.
Writing is amazingly helpful, whether you have a blog, or you write in a journal, or you write fiction or poetry. Recently I have tried writing a few poems, and I feel that this is a good way to access the creative side of my brain.
Please post in the comments section about any mindfulness or grounding activities that help you.