COVID-19 and triggers. Ugh, fun topic, yeah?
Like many folks, I’m unable to see my therapist face-to-face. My therapist and I agreed to move to bi-weekly phone “check-ins” and I changed my treatment goals to emotional self-care, nutrition, and increasing physical activity. No trauma processing.
Now let’s take DID out of the equation for a moment. I love the news. I love reading the news, watching the news, etc. But since March, the news is nothing but COVID and politics, with a dash of human rights violations. Naturally, we’ve been anxious. And anxiety for a DID system goes something like this: nothing–mild anxiety–panic all at the same time.
As much as I love to connect with other DIDers, share knowledge and also receive support, I had to distance myself from the community because anxiety triggers. Same with news. And social media in general (although God knows I haven’t been perfect). My therapist is a bit concerned, actually, because by distancing myself from Reddit, I’m also losing key support. She and I couldn’t figure out how to really balance that loss.
There’s an image I have saved to my phone that lists happiness chemicals and how to hack them. The suggestions in one part of the image are spot on for this situation. We have the normal CPTSD/DID triggers and related anxiety. Then, the stubborn acute anxiety thanks to COVID-19. These are some recommendations to help stabilize mood:
- Sun exposure
- Walk in nature
I have exercise-induced asthma and what they call “Stage Zero” skin cancer (it’s when they’ve identified malignant cells but no tumors yet). So for us, we have to skip out on things like running. Or, we can modify them a bit (like getting sun exposure for limited time, or with sunscreen).
Your system, too, may have certain limitations that initially may make you feel like “ugh, I can’t do that.” Find your ways around limitations. Be creative. And in the end, remember that not everything has to be for yous. Take what applies to you and leave the rest.
For us, meditating with the Insight Timer app and guided imagery works best. We also like getting sun exposure when we mow the lawn.
And now I leave you with an ever-so-appropriate poem:
Today, When I Could Do Nothing
by Jane Hirshfield
Today, when I could do nothing,
I saved an ant.
It must have come in with the morning paper,
still being delivered
to those who shelter in place.
A morning paper is still an essential service.
I am not an essential service.
I have coffee and books,
silence enough to fill cisterns.
It must have first walked
the morning paper, as if loosened ink
taking the shape of an ant.
Then across the laptop computer-warm-
then onto the back of a cushion.
Small black ant, alone,
crossing a navy cushion,
moving steadily because that is what it could do.
Set outside in the sun,
it could not have found again its nest.
What then did I save?
It did not move as if it was frightened,
even while walking my hand,
which moved it through swiftness and air.
Ant, alone, without companions,
whose ant-heart I could not fathom-
how is your life, I wanted to ask.
I lifted it, took it outside.
This first day when I could do nothing,
beyond staying distant from my own kind,
I did this.