Here’s To You

It happened last night. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does, it takes my breath away. Those invasive thoughts.

Lying in bed they rolled over me like a wave. One thought led to another and then I was consumed. I couldn’t stop myself from “going there”, couldn’t keep the steaming pile of shit from pouring in and taking down. It went on forever.

At the end of it, and literally the end, I got out of bed and went into the kitchen. Then it was over. Moving, changing, going into the light was enough to break that pattern of thoughts, thank God. It doesn’t always work but last night it did, and I’m thankful.

It only happens to me a few times a year. I have clients and friends who deal with this rush of hell every day. I cannot imagine the strength it would take to get up each day and do it all over again. I’m not that strong. Some of these people are. They have learned to cope. You know who you are and my hat is off to you. I’m humbled by your courage.

The tools work. They’ve been tested by fire and I can tell you first hand that there are people who are more familiar with some of the toolbox and are having a measure of success. I have seen some of my clients and friends come through things that I could have never survived. In this office I have learned that I simply cannot stay in that emotional hell or it is going to take me out. Wise sages have written words that have helped me, and probably you as well. I’ve listened to victims and I’ve listened to survivors, and I learn from the survivors. Just the way it is.

So on that ‘night of nights’, and in times when I deal with other, less intense, dysfunctions; I continue to work the program. The Wisdom Rock, the brain massage, recognizing cognitive distortions, practicing STOPP Therapy, WWSD, faith, mindfulness, taking my argument breaks to breathe and breathe and breathe until I calm down. My mantras, the crap detector, the stuff I learned from Family Systems Therapy and motivational interviewing, the self-talk, the distraction techniques, dozens and dozens of cheesy tricks that keep me from losing my mind. Like most of us I forget more than I remember, often not recognizing the danger signs until finally the wisdom of retrospect magically kicks in.

I don’t really have a “Plan B” that doesn’t involve self-medication.

8 thoughts on “Here’s To You

  1. Scott,

    I cope with “tricks” too sometimes and then there are times when I just lose my mind, so far the fucker always comes back. What Audiobooks have been saving your life?

    1. Audiobooks saved me because of the sheer volume of distraction they brought to my life. I couldn’t work in the yard, couldn’t drive very far, couldn’t do anything alone without feeling that horrific rush of pain. Audiobooks gave my brain something to think about, if only for a moment. Some of the greatest ones were stories, stories that let me escape.
      Audiobooks have also helped me fall in love with science and history again. I am forever wearing my earbuds, every single day. Today I’m listening to an interesting book on economics. I hate economics, or so I thought.

      1. Yes, I see what you mean now. My reading has dropped away in the past few years. I got into audiobooks for road trips a while back and now I’ve got an Audible account. I’m impressed by the difference for how a book can seem when read versus listening.

        What are some of your favorites?

  2. Wow, just wow! So understood. And when we are in that bog, it is so hard to pull ourselves out. We forget what it felt like to have such hope and serenity, to know that the tools do provide relief. Sometimes we have to dig a little deeper with the same tool we’ve been using. Sometimes the tool gets heavy.

  3. Ahh, the rush of hell… I think David Foster Wallace may also have known it: “It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master.”

    Even though the degree of pathos between sufferers differs, I wonder if in glimpsing into that rush of hell we see a thin slice of why people can’t go on any longer? Personally, it’s taken far longer and been far harder than I ever expected to gain a measure of control over the terrible master. And even still, it’s damn slippery.

    But I agree, there’s hope in relentlessly, flexibly working the ‘toolbox’. I find what works to be quite fluid, (today stopp therapy works, tomorrow meditation, the next getting out into nature, etc) so it’s important, like you say, to have a lot of tricks. Talking about it doesn’t hurt either. Well actually it does, but not as much as the alternative. 🙂

  4. It’s frightful isn’t it ? Some think they get it but they don’t. My hat is off also, to the many tortured souls. You are not alone, yet even that knowledge doesn’t help. My prayer is that you can hold on… the darkness will lift and the light will come again.

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