I’m a creature of habit, of routine, and structure. That’s how I am most comfortable in my daily life. When things are flowing along as I think they should or at least how I plan for them to be, I can cope pretty decently, usually. In a perfect world, everything would go as I wish it would, but of course that never happens so inevitably I’m forced to adjust on the fly.
Some say that’s the beauty of life, you never know what’s going to happen. For me, that’s a major anxiety rush. That being, the unexpected. I don’t do well with change the older I get, partially due to my age I guess but more so with my past trauma that I’m learning to deal with. Therefore, coping skills and grounding skills are paramount.
Let’s be clear on something, I didn’t even know what coping skills and grounding skills were 6 months ago. I’m no expert on using my skills. I mean I know what I can do and what helps me, but that doesn’t mean I can focus on them in a time of crisis, high anxiety, dissociation, or flashbacks. In fact, to be honest I kinda really suck at it. To be fair to myself though, I’m still learning which ones to use when, and how to train myself to not focus on the stress.
One of my problems is that often times, I don’t see a circumstance or emotion coming and when it hits me, I go completely blank on any skills, or I’m so focused on trying to understand what’s happening that using a skill doesn’t even enter my mind.
My biggest coping strategies are Music and Writing. Reading is also a regular one I use, but I also just enjoy it. Now that it’s nice out again here, walking outside or riding my bike is a great way to free my mind.
Grounding skills for me usually include tracing corners of a wall or ceiling, tapping my feet on the floor, using a metronome app, saying my mantra to myself, using mindful breathing, or tapping my fingers on a desk in a certain pattern.
The way I look at these two different skills is: Coping Skills are things I do regularly to help keep Anxiety and Stress to a minimum. Grounding Skills are what I try to use in the heat of the moment to regain my composure.
The problem I’m starting to face now, is that some of my skills seem to be losing their effectiveness. I use them so much that it’s only natural that sometimes they end up not working the way I want all the time. At least that’s what my therapist says. So she’s encouraging me to develop more skills to pull from when needed.
This is a source of stress for me, since I’m such a creature of habit. I know what I like and what has worked before so when it doesn’t, I get discouraged and concerned. I understand that knowledge is power, and the more I have available to me the better off I’ll be in the long run. I just have to get past the, “this is how I’ve done it before” mentality and be open to new ideas.
Like I said in the beginning, for me, change sucks, just stick with what works. As I’m finding out, I can’t live that way in recovery from abuse. PTSD, Dissociation, Anxiety, and Depression have a mind all their own and it’s a constantly evolving battle of who’s going to out over whom on any given day. That doesn’t mean that what didn’t work today won’t work tomorrow, not by a long stretch. However, the more I equip myself with an arsenal of skills to use, the better chance I have of making it through each event and coming out on the positive end of it.
So now I”m doing research on what other skills I can use and develop. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.