Tag: rescue box

The freedom of the sea

This weekend I went to visit family on the Sussex coast. I’ve wanted to do this for months and been battling with fears about the journey, being away from home, how my family would find being with me and how interactions would go. I’m so pleased this time I was able to do it, with the strength God gives and the care and support of my therapy group -and my family themselves.

As I cannot stand or walk for long at all at present, I was anxious about the journey and crossing London but it went as smoothly as I could ever have hoped.

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(Thanks to http://now-here-this.timeout.com/2014/04/03/photo-of-the-day-underground-overground-wombling-free/)

Sussex is a beautiful county. Here is just one of the lovely views we took in:

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I especially like being near the sea. It’s just 30 minutes or so from where my family live. The beaches tend to be more pebbles, rocks and shells than sand. I collected this simple stone from the beach a few years back. As well as serving as a paperweight, I like to use it as a grounding object. Something about the cool surface is soothing. It’s one of the items from my Rescue Box  though more often it’s beside me on the bookshelf rather than in the box.

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In Sussex it’s still quite easy to find peaceful areas of coastline where you can listen to the gulls over the chalk cliffs and the waves, feel the salty wind and run your hands over little stones smoothed and polished by their journey back and forth over the beach and in and out with each fresh tide.

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I love walking beside the sea. I’m not looking for the baking hot days for swimming and sunbathing – not that I’ve anything against that (and being in the water can actually bring me some relief from the pain)! I like being there and letting the sea calm me and assure me of the Presence of our loving Creator. The waves and the tide soothe me and tell me of a Heart much, much greater than mine and an eternal Spirit that speaks to each of us and whispers a hope unchanging, an order in the apparent chaos, whatever storms we are facing right now. In my journey at the moment I often feel very lost and overwhelmed, like one of the little pebbles on the beach tossing in the waves, sometimes scratched and roughly sanded against other stones, feeling very insignificant. But perhaps each motion of the waves in our lives is part of our preparation and refining, it smooths and polishes us to perfection, so we no longer resemble rough stones but bright and shining jewels that delight our beloved Jesus, who sets us right in the perfect place that He needs us to be.

Ginny xxx

 

 

My rescue box – update

A while ago I posted about making up a “rescue box” as a tool to help me cope in times of crisis. You can read more about the principle and how the box helps here and I’d strongly recommend reading that before reading this post. In brief, the Box is a way of putting together in one place, easily visible and quickly accessible, the things that will help you cope when you are feeling bad. For me feeling bad tends to mean very upset, crying, struggling with voices and other hallucinations, and re-experiencing traumatic memories. The Box is not a cure for how you are feeling and is not meant to make the emotions go away. It isn’t intended to be a way to suppress them. Having said that, it is to some extent distraction, and a way to access tools to lower your very heightened emotional state so that you can then be more able to cope, to think, or to avoid impulsive actions that may be harmful to you. The CPN who explained the idea to me recommends it as a tool for BPD sufferers. I would imagine it could help people dealing with a variety of other situations / conditions too.

I promised an update about my box once I had put it together, so here goes. I’m new to this technique and I’m sharing updates as I go along.

I made my Box by covering a cardboard packaging box in gift wrap. I’ve started to stick some pretty things to the outside of it as well – a flower, some Hello Kitty stickers because they make me smile, a few little snippets of encouraging text – and I’ve put a little plastic pouch on top with a pretty card and a message from a dear friend. I’ll continue decorating the box with more sensory, pretty, attractive things and things that have a meaning for me and remind me of good times. I think this increases the likelihood the Box will be in my mind and be an appealing thing. (Half the problem with coping strategies, I find, is remembering to use them when the hard times come – often the distress can be so consuming I just don’t think of how to access helpful tools and techniques! Anything that helps me call them to mind has to be a plus!)

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The contents of the Box is very much a personal thing, of course, as different things will be important to each of us. In case it’s of interest, here are some of the things I keep in mine (you can see them in the picture).

  • A couple of little stuffed animals – I’ll freely admit I am very childish! 🙂 I find them comforting and have quite a collection. To be honest, Bunny is usually next to me on the sofa, not in the box 🙂 and I collect “ty” Beanie owls and my-little-ponies. I guess stuffed toys also give a soothing tactile experience when you hold them, which can be useful for BPD sufferers. As a soothing sensation increases, the unpleasant sensation of very heightened emotion may reduce (again, I explain this better in my earlier post).
  • For similar reasons, a little bottle of scent. It’s soothing and distracting and if you are trying to control your breathing, the pleasant aroma can help you be aware of exhaling and inhaling.
  • A coaster, to remind me – make a soothing cup of tea! Drink it really focussing on the warmth and taste.
  • A special smooth, flat pebble from the beach, which is calming to hold (feeling the cool, polished surface) and which reminds me of the happy day on which I collected it.
  • A CD – at the moment it’s a CD I like with songs that lift my mood. This is a new one for me to try and I’m not sure which way it will go. When I am not in crisis, I enjoy listening to music. Putting on particular kinds of music and even dancing to it (well okay that’s a strong word – bouncing, at least!) can really pick me up. I’m not sure what kind of effect listening to upbeat music when I feel absolutely dreadful will have, but I’ll give it a go! It’s a way of trying to take an “opposite action” i.e. forcing yourself to do something “happy” or good for you when you are feeling sad and bad about yourself. The idea is this may in turn lift your thoughts. So listening to happy music and making myself move around to it might help lift my thoughts and feelings. Equally, at times music that expresses some of the anger or sadness I’m feeling can help as a way of “letting it out”.  I think I am going to trial both and then put together a playlist of favourite tracks specially for times I’m feeling down. Good job I live alone so there’s nobody to suffer for the fact that if I sing along I sound like a mouse with a particularly bad chest cold 😉
  • A favourite book I know well, which encourages me at the very hardest times, and some prayer cards with very short prayers. I can read over passages of the book, or say the prayers in my head, to repeat a hopeful and loving message to take the place of spiralling panicky thoughts, or the voices I hear telling me that I’m evil.
  • A few cards and a pen, to remind me – could I write a note to a friend? I.E., something nice to take me “out of” my own mixed up head, to force myself to do something positive, thus acting against the negative thoughts in my head, and making somebody else happy too?
  • A ball of wool – could I do something creative? Make pom poms? Do some cross stitch embroidery? Colouring?

I’ve tried to include a mixture of things that are happy and soothing of themselves (eg the stuffed animals, the scent) and things to encourage me to do something positive (eg the cards or the music). I’m also going to add to the box some pictures of my family and my close friends and my godchildren, basically people that matter to me, as a reminder of reasons to keep going and all the good things and good times that I can be thankful for – all things that can so easily be eclipsed in times of extreme distress.

So, that’s my Box! I hope perhaps this might be of interest…. I’m new to this and I will post another update about whether / how I find that it helps me.

Do you use any kind of toolkit like this to help you in the hard times? What would you put in your rescue box?

Ginny xxx

 

Crisis Plans

Last week, after the really distressing meeting on Tuesday, where I completely lost it and just screamed and screamed, I had another meeting with the same CPN on Thursday. It went quite well although I am still reeling from Tuesday. I never lose it like that when anybody else is around. I do that alone at home, usually at night, usually cutting myself before I can reach that point, because it stops some of the noise in my head for a while and quiets the fury and hurt. On Tuesday all my control methods didn’t work and the worst of me exploded. Since then I’ve been feeling both raw and outside myself at the same time.

We tried to come up with other ideas for what to do when I am extremely distressed when I am on my own, other than always turning to cutting or overdosing. The problem is that no matter how harmful those things are, they do “work” to stop the feelings (if only by stopping me being conscious!) punish myself, so bring down the emotion and enter a state of numb nothing for a while, or at least explicable pain.

One of the things we came up with was the Rescue Box, which I’ve posted about previously. I’ve committed to making that up this week.

The other things my CPN suggested were: putting my head under cold water eg cold shower for 20 seconds, to shock the body and so bring down the emotion (a bit like the lemon juice idea!), starting some activities that would give me more social interactions and so leave me on my own less, developing a relaxing routine for evenings (which I’ve got out of the habit of), and sorting out my dodgy internet access so that I can have more contact with people via blogs and similar, as well as making use of online resources for relaxation and mindfulness.

I’m not very sure how this is going to go. I’m starting with small steps, making up the Rescue Box this week and getting in contact with my internet provider.

A large part of the problem for me is that all these techniques are great ideas but I too quickly reach too high a level of distress to be able to use them. When I’m in that state, or when I have more of the psychotic symptoms (which tend to accompany higher distress), it’s as if the part of my brain that would reflect enough to try one of these techniques just shuts off. I have an overwhelming need for someone else to keep me safe and almost hold me and ground me and prove something exists beyond the fear and distress. But the PD Service seem absolutely against anything that would lead to me not being on my own in these situations (like being referred to the Crisis Team who’d come to see me at home, or being admitted when I’m overdosing etc). I’m not entirely sure why. They are written into my “crisis plan” as ways to keep me safe when I can’t keep myself safe, but when it comes to it they are withdrawn or refused. This is something I’ll be talking more to my 1:1 therapist and/or Care Coordinator about.

I guess I have to learn to discover earlier when the extreme feelings are coming – at the moment they spring up at me from nowhere and that’s terrible. It feels very out of control. There’s no doubt that as I’m experiencing more emotions, I’m becoming less stable.

I’ll post an update on how things are going with trying these techniques.

Ginny xxx

Walking this Borderland #9: My rescue box

Eee, it’s been a long time since I’ve added to this Series.

My CPN and I talked about the following idea today. I’ve been meaning to put this together for a while.

All the other ideas / coping techniques I’ve written about so far in this Borderland series are things I’ve tried or do use currently myself. This post is a bit different because this idea is new to me and I’m going to be trying it out for the first time, so I can’t yet say how helpful I’ve found it. (Updates will follow and I’d love to hear from you if you use something like this!)

I’m going to make a “rescue box”. I’m not quite sure if that’s what I want to call it but for now, it’s what I’ve named it. Apparently some people call it a suicide box because it’s a box full of things to turn to when you’re feeling absolutely at your worst. I didn’t want to call it that because it emphasises the terrible feelings more than the good I’m trying to climb towards.

The basic idea is to make up a box filled with things that help you to cope in times of extreme distress. This works well, I’m told, if like me, you find sensory or tactile things helpful and grounding. As I think I’ve mentioned earlier in this series, in personality disorder when emotions are overwhelming, introducing other, soothing sensations can help bring the emotions down. You can also put things in the box that remind you of good times or reasons that you do keep going every day, or anything that triggers positive memories and thoughts in the hope that in the long run making more and more positive memories makes these stronger than bad memories or obsessional thoughts.

I’m new to this. I’ve been trying to think of things I could put in my box. Here are a few things I came up with:

  • A special smooth pebble that I collected on the beach one good day, which I find very soothing and grounding to touch. It also reminds me of the sea. Walking along the coastline and watching the sea always assures me of the presence of creation and love far greater than ourselves.
  • A small stuffed animal – yes I may be an adult (perhaps 😉 ) but I still find soft toys comforting.
  • A particular book that never fails to encourage me (more on that in another post).
  • Photos of my godchildren whom I love very much; seeing them always brings me joy.
  • A list of people I care about whom I can pray for or do something nice for – maybe write a letter or a card. This reminds me I’m not alone and helps me focus outwards on other people rather than my own problems.

That’s what I’ve come up with so far. I’ll post some pictures as I make up the box.

I have the feeling that the hard thing is going to be remembering it is there and being able to use it when I really need to. I can have coping strategies but being able to turn to them rather than a destructive “coping mechanism” is the hardest thing.

Do you use a box like this or anything similar? How do you remember to use it in the hardest times? Does it help when you’re distressed as well as when you’re feeling okay?

Ginny xxx