When your problem is also your solution

I’ve continued to be overwhelmed this week, and at times have given up and retreated from the world. It’s like I’ve lost all capacity to do anything I don’t really want to do; like part of me just falls in a heap and curls up in a ball on the floor. It’s a physical thing as well – I can feel my insides twist and turn and my physical self doubles over (in some virtual reality, at least).

Back up therapist got me to break things down and think about what parts of things make me fall in a heap. To use her example: with flying, at what point do you fall in a heap? Is it going to the airport? Getting on the plane? Sitting in the seat? Taking off? Which part induces most panic?

I could use my own examples but I’m less able to articulate them in this way, and I might put you all to sleep blathering on trying to figure it out. In brief, I’ve been overwhelmed by things like buying and selling houses, work – having to “perform”, having to go on site visits and look like an intelligent human being, having to talk to people I don’t know… blah blah blah.

Back up therapist said that the solution also lies in the problem, as weird as that sounds. She said that during the course of my life I’ve developed a range of coping mechanisms. These are my strengths and I couldn’t have got to this point in life without them.

But, she said, it’s when you start to flog any of these strategies, or any of them unilaterally, that things start to fall apart. And then you end up hating these strategies and seeing them as the problem, so you throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak.

So, using my work example, putting out of my head events that are two weeks away is helpful. But continuing to put them out of my head the night before isn’t. Of course I panic and fall apart if I just keep pushing things out of my head and ignoring them. Put that way, it makes complete sense.

So, my “homework” is to try to identify my “strengths” – the coping mechanisms I’ve used in different situations over the course of my life. I freak out if I think of these as “strengths”, so I’ll just approach them as “coping mechanisms” for now. The diligent child in me excels at homework so I’ll probably post on this later.

On an unrelated front, back up therapist also helped me figure out exactly why I’m bothering to work at all at the moment, given how much it stresses me. Put simply, she said, my goals have changed. For the last millennium I’ve thought I wanted a promotion. I got one last year, but soon started questioning why the hell I wanted it in the first place and, having achieved that goal (or what I thought was a goal), I started asking “what’s next?”

I know that giving up work entirely wouldn’t be a good move for me. Even though I’m struggling, I need to keep going. For now. There are other things I want to do, but I’m just not ready – I need to be “emotionally healthy” before I can do them. She’s completely right, of course. So, for now, my goals for work are:

1. money and buying my new home; and
2. using this opportunity to help get “emotionally healthy”.

Back up T has some really simple ways of looking at things, but they’ve proven effective. They “speak” to me and they stick with me. 🙂


7 thoughts on “When your problem is also your solution

  1. Hi Kerro,

    It sounds like you are dealing with a lot. I think your back up t is doing a great job of giving you hands on methods of looking at issues, it’s component parts, and how to cope and deal with them in a competent and empowering way. Sounds great.

    I think back up t is better than any t that I have ever ssen.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


  2. Hey Kerro,
    You may want to consider alternating your T’s. They each are bringing different stuff to the table and you may be able to process through better with both. Like use backup T for day to day stuff and reg T for the childhood/family stuff. Just a thought?

  3. I’m really impressed with backup T, particularly in her asking you to identify at what point you become overwhelmed. I’m going to start paying more attention to that, myself, to see what I can discover about my stress patterns.

  4. Hi, Kerro –

    Interesting enough, I’m learning similar lessons right now . . for example, I binge eat as a way to go numb — a coping mechanism for sure. It is not good for my health or my self-esteem, but it does allow me to go into a space where I can do things like show up at work and do my job even on the days when I’m dying inside — which keeps a roof over my head and food on the table — rather important things in my book.

    While I can see the importance of finding a better way to cope, I have to give myself credit for finding a way to continue showing up for work even on the really crappy days. I can be proud of myself for that.

    I also have to give myself credit for sticking with less destructive numbing agents — it would have been so easy to use alcohol to achieve stronger “numbs” — but at least I won’t wreck a vehicle or get arrested for being on a sugar high.

    It is important that I continue using that coping method until I can craft and transition to a better one — so, for me, binge eating is a valuable tool, at least for now — I’m wise for continuing to use it until I can do better.

    Of course, this conversation with myself does not sit well with the judgmental part of me (she says: “what kind of whack-job logic is that?????) . . . but that is a topic for another day . . . LOL.

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  5. @ Kate – thank you.

    @ Strangename – I wish I could. Back up T will let me continue with her, but only exclusively. She won’t let me do the two T thing; says it will do my head in.

    @ David – me too. Very impressed. I hope some of her techniques work for you.

    @ Marie – Back up T said food is a double edged sword for comforting ourselves because it can quickly turn into a negative thing. That said, though, you should give yourself credit for finding ways to cope during uncopable times.

  6. Pingback: Coping mechanisms « Kerro’s Korner

  7. Pingback: Broken hearted « Kerro’s Korner

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