Solo Mama: Reconstructing Reality

I am sitting in an all-day departmental workshop focused on problem solving. The facilitator has everyone stand up in a circle and give their name, division and project update. My morning was off to a bad start. I was triggered by a text and am doing my best to manage my emotions. They go straight to my body and I’m feeling sharp pains in my neck, back. I can’t stand still anymore and start stretching my neck, my limbs, my back. Looking back, my public behavior has probably always been strange. On one hand, I seem to have no filter on what is socially acceptable and what is not, and on the other hand, I am painfully aware of each thought and word and how it will impact every single person in my presence.

After the introductions, the facilitator and my supervisor come over and tell me that while I am wearing a really cute outfit, I look like I’m not well and in severe pain. My boss suggests that I take the day off and if I feel really compelled to work at some point, I can do it at home. I go to my office, pack up my stuff and head out. My head feels compressed. Foggy but dense. Like too much matter is shoved over to one side of my brain and it needs to disperse or shift so that I can think more clearly. I get in the car and start to head home, resting my elbow on my window sill. My arm is pulsing. It’s my heartbeat. I decide I’m going to head to the store before going home so I can get some ibuprofen for the pain.

Once I arrive at the store and park, I think as I walk towards the new bright green facade entrance of Walmart, I’m about to enter Disneyworld. I have the choice of a thousand different comfort items in this store (besides ibuprofen) that I can purchase and take home to get me through the day. My thoughts race through their normal checkpoints – how much do I have in my bank account? Nothing too high in calories, sugar or fat. What would really make me feel good because today will be a bad day?

I settle on an 8-pack of Diet Pepsi, a box of hot chocolate packets for the kids for later, a bottle of ibuprofen, dark chocolate chips, and some keurig cups which I will use with my pumpkin spice almond milk creamer later. The compression in my head continues and seems to have spread down to my chest, my stomach is queasy. I am in a fog; drifting away and then returning to the present moment. Then experiencing both at the same time. I screw up all the instructions on the self check-out, in a split moment of clarity, remember to withdraw an extra $20 for the kids’ school Lego club enrollment, then leave the bill hanging out of the cash slot and start to walk away before the cashier calls my attention to it.

As I walk out to the car, I realize that I’ve had so many misconceptions about things like anxiety, depression, suicide, personality disorders, PTSD, and it’s almost comical. My experiences dealing with people at the absolute brink as they enter the justice system had me believing that these were all really outwardly dramatic, loud, extravagant displays of behavior. Personal experience has taught me that they are not. Which tells me that something is really going on and it is frightening. It is frightening to realize that your mind, the thing that regulates your intake and processing of external information, controls your output to the world, your reactions, responses, words, decisions, actions, emotions, behaviors, is broken somehow. And all you want to do is fix it. Give me medicine, give me therapy, give me God, give me mindfulness, give me skills, give me groups, give me information, give me some understanding. And then go away because I’m embarrassed that this has happened. My mind is broken and I need to know how to fix it and I don’t have much time because what if it breaks more?

9 thoughts on “Solo Mama: Reconstructing Reality

  1. Hey Mama, it is great to hear your reality even if it is scary and raw. Being a yoga person, my first thought is to suggest some breath exercises for you. Simple ones, like counting your in-breath and then gently making your out-breath twice as long. That will stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and help you feel better. Much to add – feel free to reach out if you ever want to talk. Sending love!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww I have another post coming soon about all the coping skills I learned this summer (in the hospital twice 😢) alternate nostril breathing helps. It is so hard to get in the habit and hit it before the full on attack comes. Thank you so much and yes, I would like very much to talk sometime!

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  2. Thank you for your post. It was so real, and it takes a lot to put everything out there like that. I need to do that as well.
    I’m hoping that your work gives you access to secondary trauma support? I’m glad they recognized your need for time off. Taking care of ourselves is truly the hardest part.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading!!!!! Sharing some of the hard times and having people reach out (like you!) is so supportive and helpful!! But yes, there is a lot of stuff I’m afraid I would be too terrified to put out there 🙂
      I’m involved in so much therapy and groups currently 🙂 and yes, our jobs definitely allow us access to that- I feel like people in public safety rarely use it though 🙂 my boss is amazing in recognizing personal needs and trauma for sure. It has been life saving for sure. 🤗🤗🤗

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