In my last post I talked about back up therapist asking me about the range of coping mechanisms I’ve used throughout my life. Diligent as I am, I did the homework she set.
Here’s my list – things that back up therapist would say are my “strengths” because I couldn’t have got to this point in life without them. The trick, she said, is knowing which ones to draw on and when. And not flogging any single strategy – that’s where we get stuck and where things come undone.
- Putting my head down and just getting on with the job at hand
- Using the yoga breathing technique to get through stressful situations (eg, at the dentist)
- Repeating mantras, like “The anticipation is usually more traumatic than the act itself”
- Putting things out of my mind (eg, stressful work events that are two weeks away)
- Planning for events and preparing myself to within an inch of my life (eg, for job interviews)
- Limiting the time I “have to” do something (eg, social situations, telling myself to go for a couple of hours and then allowing myself an escape route)
- “Checking out” mentally (eg, at the gynaecologist)
- Using medication, but in a healthy way (eg, taking valium when I fly)
- Using natural alternatives, like Rescue Remedy (especially at work – I drink it by the gallon)
- Talking myself through stressful situations (eg, telling myself that flying is safer than driving; that I’ve done it before and can do it again; that it will be ok)
- Using humour, usually of the self-deprecating variety
- “Time contracting” (eg, saying “it’ll be over in two hours” or “this time tomorrow it will be over”)
- “Time expanding” (eg, saying “stop panicking, it’ll be ok. You’ve got three hours to get those things done”)
- Panicking and running away (admittedly not exactly productive in most situations)
- Getting other people to do things for me (eg, I recently bought a birthday gift for a friend and had the shop assistant gift wrap it for me. I was amazed at the amount of pressure this took off me)
- Drawing support from other people – especially my therapists (both regular and back up), but also friends in the forum and in real life
Of course, I didn’t tell back up therapist about the grossly negative things – self-harming, binge eating, drug use/misuse, alcohol… hey, she’s only the back up therapist; she doesn’t need to know everything, right?
Back up therapist listened and then said, “Where’s the self-soothing in there? I don’t hear anything about self-soothing.”
Hmm. No. There isn’t any, is there?