I know I try to post Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday–but I had a bad two days so you’ll have to excuse me. I know everyone has been waiting to hear about the conclusion of the emotional meltdown I had a few weeks ago….
Well hold onto your paddles because here it is!
The events of last weekend reminded me that I often take my awesome support system for granted. My sister is in medical school so she’s always there to remind me that my “neurotransmitters just don’t communicate the way other people’s do” (usually more technical than that) and my husband is so attractive that just looking at him can make me feel less depressed. However, my mom is the one who knows how to handle me the best. She knows how to handle me depressed, during a panic attack, anxious, manic, hormonal…you get the drift. Her support seems so natural now that sometimes I forget how hard we had to work to get to that place.
At one point last weekend Sidney said “Nicole everything you’re saying is ridiculous!”. Which my mind translated as “You are being an overly emotional female and I don’t care about your feelings” (few neurotransmitters remember?!). So I yelled at him: “Don’t ever say that again…put that on your ‘no-no’ list.” Sidney mumbles: “…if only I had one of those”.
Now in the situation, I did not realize the genius of the “no-no list”, but the next morning I began thinking about it, bemoaning that he didn’t handle the situation as well as mom could have. Poor poor me…and then in the middle of my pity party, I began to remember. Mom did not come by that naturally. In fact, it was a lot of hard work to get to a point where she can help me. It involved a lot of trial and error, where she said something that made the situation worse, I yelled, we misunderstood, we argued, cried. You know—tried to ride the waves together….
But one thing that we both strove to do was communicate on our feelings and what was going on in our heads. To someone who never has had a mental illness it’s nearly impossible to understand the disjointed thinking that occurs during something like a panic attack. That is where your openness with your support team comes in.
The next morning, when Sidney and I were both feeling better, we had what I like to call a “de-briefing” . I made him take me to IHOP for it as bacon makes everything better! So over some yummy stuffed French Toast, I tried to explain as clearly and detailed as possible what I was feeling during that time and what was helpful/unhelpful. I like using analogies and images that others will be able to relate to (I find animals quite useful — a woodpecker picking at your brain, a hamster spinning a wheel, a panther stalking a gazelle….).
My advice? Be patient. Lucky for your support team, they likely have never experienced what you’re going through…so hopefully during these “de-briefing” times you will be able to work with them to develop a “lessons learned” list. Keep in mind, our relationship with everyone is different and what works for one person will not always work for the others (for example: kissing me till I forget about it only applies to Sidney). Keep your expectations realistic: they’re human too. Remember, they do love you and they do want to help—so working with them will hopefully make it easier on everyone….
Lastly, remember a “de-brefing” is also a time for you partner to share with you what they were thinking/feeling/observing and for you to develop your own “no-no” list. Listen for that!
So funny quote to conclude–after that incident I related to this Text from last night (please tell me you know what that is!)
(406): Dude, so much s*** has happened to me, I had to make a list to take to therapy so I can remember it all