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06 November 2018 @ 10:08 am
and mother nature changed her name  
about two i woke with abdominal cramps and - while this hasn't exactly been an unprecedented turn of events these last three months, with the restricted diet and the specialists and the two margaret atwood epics i read in the bathroom over the course of eight days back in september - this got pretty awful for a bit.

i started a body scan and kept getting stuck at my clenched jaw, so i flipped, started the scan from the bottom and found that the tension was a little more workable that way. when i got back to my jaw, it was still clenched, but it was also pulsating with the tremors i'd been managing through the rest of my body. all at once, i remembered the exact set of body sensations and understood what i didn't think could be happening. i hadn't demonstrated aura symptoms, nor was i having what i thought to be an exceptional amount of anxiety about the matter before i started feeling sick from it. but. it would make sense, that my sense of scale would be so off after the last two years.

i was having a trauma flashback to the 2016 election.

as soon as i realized i'm freaking out about midterms, made myself say it out loud and acknowledged that it was a reasonable thing to be feeling, i started feeling better. a little bit, at least. enough so that i was able to get back to bed before six.

so that really snuck up on me. what i'm saying is: take care of yourself today. remain aware of what's going on with your body. tend to your needs. if you also discover yourself in the midst of an anxiety attack or flashback, do not make any judgements about it. respect your body's response as valid. acknowledge it is happening and do what you gotta do to pull out of it, whether that's saying it out loud, finding somewhere you can sit quietly and breathe, reaching out to a friend, or all three.

if you're lucky enough to be fine, keep an eye out for your loved ones. be available if they aren't doing as well. maybe even think of checking in with anyone who might be feeling heightened anxiety about election results. if you talk to anyone (this goes for self-talk, too) do not dismiss. do not placate. simply be present and acknowledge fear as a viable response to where we are right now. nobody knows what is going to happen.

here is a trigger diffusion technique i learned last year:

1) count breaths. 1-2-3 in, 1-2-3 hold, 1-2-3 out.
2) engage with your immediate environment. count and name tangible things that are around you. notice and describe to yourself textures you can feel and see. this is what i am seeing. this is what i am hearing. this is where i am. bring yourself into the immediate moment.
3) notice something good, if not in your immediate environment then something you will be with soon. think of things that you are grateful for. things that you like. activities you enjoy. ground yourself with what makes you feel good.
4) feel the ground beneath your feet. breathe into your connection to the earth.
5) count breaths. 1-2-3 in, 1-2-3 hold, 1-2-3 out.
6) scan body for areas of tension. repeat process if needed.

remember: trying to convince yourself (or anyone else) that you are not feeling what you don't want to be feeling and are instead feeling something else is not generally an effective recovery method. you need to start where you are. the foundation of working with any difficult emotion means accepting the emotion you are experiencing as real and viable. there is no such thing as a TARDIS of the heart. to get to your desired destination, you have to make the journey. in order to make the journey, you need to know where you're starting from.