Where Pelicans Fly
Had my second meeting with Helen and was just telling Tom about it until the redneck let his dog distract and interrupt my conversation with a barking fit. Sometimes I think about messaging him again, but you can’t make people give a shit. Also, when I complain, it seems to bother his girlfriend more than the barking bothers me. I guess I still care more about people’s feelings than I should. Especially when it comes to those I have to live with. I don’t want to offend anyone and make trouble on the homefront unless it’s absolutely necessary. There comes a point when you stop caring but I’m not to that point unless they let the dog bark longer and more often. How can you say it gets on your nerves and not do anything about it, though? He can’t Google up some tips and pointers on barking?
Now I’ll cover everything I remember from my one-hour discussion with Helen. She suggested I do a thing called square breathing when I feel anxious. I’m starting to roll onto nights, so I’m getting a little worried that those negative feelings are going to return. For now, I’m still doing okay overall but yesterday I was kind of just there for a few hours.
With square breathing, you picture a square, and you imagine you’re at the top of it. Then you inhale for four seconds. Next, you picture one side of it as you exhale for four seconds and repeat the steps on the bottom and other side of the square. I’m aware of this technique for calming anxiety as well as this thing that resets the Vagus nerve. That one involves turning your head toward the right and glancing toward the right. You hold your head and your eyes in that position for three minutes, and then you repeat on the left side.
When I was telling her how frustrating it was to not know exactly what all the causes of my anxiety were, she said that I may never know. I guess what’s most important is how we deal with it. Trauma is stored in a layer underneath the muscles but she says no one is unfixable. As I told her, I just want to get back to my old self. Not my 20-something self of course, but the me that didn’t have this degree of anxiety and depression.
We talked about distracting myself from the anxiety and finding ways to not run from it but not dwell on it. As she said, I am dealing with it. So it’s not like I’m trying to ignore or run from it, not that this thing couldn’t let me ignore it to begin with. The thing is that while I have plenty of things to do to keep me busy, that doesn’t mean that my mind can’t wander while I’m doing most of these things. Diamond drilling, for example, is a relatively mindless task that is simply repetitive and takes time, but doesn’t keep my mind from going wherever. Even most of the things I do in VR allow my mind to wander, including jewelry making. I showed her the bracelet I made that I wore as an example, and she asked if I made my necklace too. I did, actually. I’m wearing one of the colored waxed cords with a crystal pendant. Anyway, the only activities that require a little more focus are when I’m writing, watching TV/movies, or listening to audiobooks.
Somehow, we ended up on the subject of role-playing when she mentioned being more creative and imaginative to help when times are tough. I would absolutely love to be able to drown myself in that as a distraction from reality when reality gets that bad. But the thing is, I can’t “trick” myself. I’m not 10 years old anymore, so I can’t make pretend games seem more fun and believable. It’s also not the same when you don’t have any wild fantasies you would just love to have become a reality. I don’t want to be a rock star. I don’t want to be friends with celebrities. I don’t want to be a magical fairy. I don’t want to be an alien living on some unheard-of planet. As I said, I would love to be able to drown myself in a world of make-believe, fantasy, and delusion but I’m just not able to do that.
How does one get trauma out of their body? I asked her, and she said that basically, you do that by focusing more on positive things. Maybe if I change my way of thinking and find a way to stop the negative thinking, the what-ifs, and all the future things that could go wrong, it would help. It certainly couldn’t hurt. The problem is that it’s very hard to control my thoughts at times.
As I thought it might, the subject of engaging in my community came up and as I told her, neither of us are sociable. I’m just not into people, even though I do have a variety of people I keep in touch with online. The thing is that people tend to have expectations I can’t always meet. They come to expect you to be around at certain times when you can’t be if you’ve got this kind of sleep disorder. I noticed this back in the other park when I went to the clubhouse for aerobics. It was almost like they expected me to be there every week, and then I would feel pressured to explain why I couldn’t be. I didn’t want to get into things that were none of their business and probably way over their heads but I didn’t want to feel like I was lying either.
I just don’t have any patience or tolerance for those that are judgmental, stupid, dishonest, and non-accepting. Helen asked at what point in life I came to start pulling away from those I felt were toxic. Well, the older I get the less tolerant I become of toxic people. I think the more experiences I’ve had with people like that, the quicker I am to recognize toxicity, and therefore, I do what I can to avoid them.
I told her that my own sister bashed one of my books in the name of revenge and so I started using a pen name, preferring to have a completely unbiased audience. So sometimes it’s better to keep things separate. I hesitate to get too close to the people here, God forbid have a problem with one of them, and then have to live with them.
When we were discussing death, dying and suicide and all that, she asked where I thought I would go after I died. And as I told her, I have no idea. I don’t know if there’s a heaven, a hell, someplace we simply float about, reincarnation, or nothing at all, the latter of which I hope is the case. I said that if there is anything at all, the multi-universe theory seemed the most plausible, in my opinion, then she asked what I would want that universe to be like if I could suddenly slip into another universe without the anxiety and depression. This would depend on how old I was and what my health was like and my living situation.
What makes me feel good? she asks. These days, I simply feel good when I don’t feel bad. In other words, I’m just very grateful for the days that I feel no anxiety and depression. And also when we do things we don’t normally do like the other day when we went down to Tampa and then to Red Lobster after my appointment. I told her about going to Orlando and how I won cruises to other countries years ago, but that the older we get and the more things we do, the less exciting these things become.
When I was telling her about how dark my thoughts sometimes get she was reminding me that I’m valuable and how it would hurt people if I died. I do get what she’s saying to a degree. I don’t know about valuable since no one depends on my survival but I can see where our loved ones and those we’re close to would be left with a mixture of grief, guilt and maybe even anger. Yet when I’m at my worst, it’s hard not to want to put myself first and do what I’ve got to do for my own self.
The last thing we talked about was Aly. I told her about our friendship, how we were going to meet before she died, and how much I miss her. I don’t think I’ll ever get over her and move on but as she said and as Tom agreed, you don’t just get over things like that or “move on.” She will always have been a part of my life and my memories.
Helen said there are different stages of grief, and sometimes we get stuck on one of those stages. She wants me to write a goodbye letter to Aly which I’ll read to her on the 13th. I’ll be wearing the necklace she made me in late 2020.