So, last week I tried to record a video of Trauma Talk and then have it processed through a speech to text app to be used as the blog post. That format didn’t work. Instead, it loomed in the background all week. This task I had left unfinished. I would have to listen to my video repeatedly, going backwards over and over in order to capture what I said, in text form. I tried different programs to but each one created a more garbled version, that would require so much formatting and deciphering, that it wouldn’t be worth it. I tried. It was anxiety inducing. My nerves have been very edgy lately as it was. This was not the path I had chosen. This was not the trajectory I had thought was going to happen. I thought I’d be back at work right now, in my previous role, thriving with my new “mental-health toolkit,” that I was going to help my colleagues and nurses with. Instead, I had a body that didn’t want to cooperate and was screaming at me to listen and be patient. I had to spend so much time pulling myself out of anxiety and panic that I was lucky to make one simple video or one post in a day.
You put the smile on. You hide the pain. You hide the tears. We all do it. We wear our masks in public. We pull up our boots and march on. Day after day. In the same circle. We play happy. We absorb ourselves in endless toxicity of news and politics and dramas. We watch TV and movies that make our nervous system react as if it’s being threatened or assaulted. When we watch that argument on TV and our pulse quickens, its because our nervous system is reacting as though we were part of it. The more invested you are into it, the more tied to the events your nervous system is. The more it responds in kind. We think we’re de-stressing watching the television, but we are not. We are just numbing out of our lives. Of living and experiencing. Try playing a game with your family - not Monopoly or Risk - they are just too “risky,” something like snakes & ladders, crazy 8’s, Skip-bo, etc. Good, family games. Read a book and get lost in creating a picture in your mind of how YOU think it should look and sound.
Video games are worse. And, I used to be a big gamer, hours a day. I loved them. It felt more active and participatory than watching TV, plus I did it with my husband. That’s how it started, doing what the guy wanted to make him happy, had to be the good girl/people pleasing coping mechanism. Video games trigger your reward system repeatedly and studies have shown that this increase activation means that we no longer get happy at the same level. We forget how to relate in real life. We get rewarded by going up a level, saving in game currencies, collecting items, beating the bad guys, and so many other ways our reward system is being pleasured. When we disconnect from the game, we are numb to regular things that should make us happy. Where is our reward for taking out the trash? When do we get our next level up?
When we aren’t using tv, movies or video games to distract us from our circle of existing, we are on social media, comparing our existences to others. You make yourself feel worse. We even follow people and groups where we are continually triggered. We have friends who post stuff that makes us angry, sad, shocked. And we keep them around. We even participate and become more toxic. We continue to allow the negativity in. We allow it to harm our own mental health.
Just as I said earlier - in my little video, my life looks great. In my social media, I look healthy and happy and successful. We all put our best pictures, our best experiences, our best lives on display. I try not to worry if every picture is perfect, I don’t always wear make up or concern myself with my hair or even clothing choices. But, you are not seeing me dissolve, you are not seeing me shake and having to repeatedly do a calming exercise because my panic that was dissipated is back again, triggered because my thoughts centred on my current dilemma. My body freezes. Panic sets in. Then the cycle, I feel like such a child! Why can’t my body move! Why can’t I pick up that damn phone!
So, for all those suffers of anxiety, depression, panic and for all of us who have adopted poor coping mechanisms related to traumas growing up or learned because our parents didn’t heal their’s and for all of us who push through day after day, I salute you. I am you. I hear you and see you. I think we need to get REAL about mental health and about the effects of our workplaces, friends, environments and habits we engage with and in. We need to reduce the negativity wherever we can. We need make our mental health and our PEACE and PIECE of mind our top priority. You live with yourself and your thoughts every day. Make yourself a priority and make your thoughts good ones. Follow your bliss and lead with love.