Wednesday, 18 February 2009


Alex is down to vomiting once a day!!!
The dog is calming down with strangers... Thank goodness for the dog whisperer.
I've lost a diamond out of a little Victorian ring I wear.
The washing machine has gone wrong, to the point that I got to it before it caught fire. And is now full of wet and smelly washing that's just got to wait till tomorrow.
A beautiful Art Deco mirror I have in my living room has started to fall to pieces, in that two pieces of pink glass have fallen off it, fortunately they haven't broken.
I've been to my Aunty's funeral today.
I can't go to Devon for the weekend, Al is still not well enough.

So all in all a normal day in byrdsville.... or what passes for normal round here at the moment........

Anyone want to do a house swop for an all action holiday??

However on a more serious note, stress.

I've become aware of how stressed I've been, and being the well behaved therapist I am, I've been looking at how it made me feel, and why it made me feel how I did.

What I've noticed is what happens to our thought processes when we are stressed. Plus how it makes us feel physically.

The easiest way I can describe the physical feeling is as if someone was knitting within my stomach. The feeling in my gut is of churning, leading to nausea. A fluttering wave that starts at the bottom of my gut and builds up all the way through my chest, till it reaches my throat, which closes up and I want to cry, but don't.

Simultaneously my thought processes go off at speed, I start thinking about what ever the problem is, and taking it one of two ways. Either to the past where the words that go round are ruminating about what has already happened. This leads to the feeling of 'IF ONLY' Or go at warp speed to the future and I imagine what could happen, as in 'WHAT IF' Both of these places are completely useless!

I may as well worry about the elephants that live round the corner waiting to stampede over me. Now I know on a cognisant level that there are no elephants round the corner. But from a worrying perspective am I sure? How can I prove there are no elephants, and actually I can't, so I may as well worry about them. Cause worrying about them is as daft as worrying about the 'what if' and the 'if only'.

We simply cannot change what has gone before. We cannot control the future and when we are anxious those are the places we are stuck.

What needs to happen when we are stressed is to become grounded in the here and now.
To stop and check what it is exactly we are feeling in that moment. Because it won't be related to the past or the future. By learning to be in the here and now we can take that knitted and knotted feeling from deep inside and unwind it into a neat manageable ball that we can then unwind at our leisure and deal with whatever really happens. And not what is happening in our fantasies that beats us up.

It is no accident that so many religions have a similar phrase or saying which runs along the lines of.... Whilst we are remembering yesterday, and dreaming about tomorrow, then life is happening right now.

So what I do, and what I teach is an exercise where by I think about how my body is physically, as in what I can feel about my feet and up my body to my head. What can I hear, what can I see, can I smell anything and finally how do I feel. I take notice of what the emotion is. I don't try and change it I just observe it. After a moment I think about whether there is anything I need to actually do to help with the mood I'm in. This, if anything needs doing involves moving, as sitting still keeps us in the bad place. But getting up and running up the stairs, getting the vacuum cleaner out, cleaning windows, using a skipping rope or beating hell out of a punch bag shift every bad/sad mood known to man!

This is about unwinding the knotted string that we've been knitting in our stomachs and brings us here and now. When we are in the here and now then we reduce the stress we feel. We work with what is really around us.

So I have been using my own experiences of the last few weeks to understand anxiety better, and have been refining what I tell my clients, and it makes sense to me, and what is even more exciting the clients get it as well. Which means that I'm on the right track with them.

I love being able to understand emotions and feelings. And although I have hated feeling so stressed it gives me enormous satisfaction to be able to not only use my knowledge on myself but to help others get sorted out as well.


Angela said...

And now just go to sleep, my poor worn-out Mandy. Even ONE of these things you had to go through today would have been enough (and the funeral on top!) Yes, you have learned something for sure, but now think only of yourself for a change! Good night, sleep tight! I wish you bright sunshine tomorrow.

Dark Side said...

aw darling what an awful few days you have had and so sorry to hear you aren't going to make Devon.

Hope Alex is better soon and pleased you can find ways to get rid of your stress.

Now do as Angela says and go and look after you..(((hugs))) xx

janis said...

Fire Byrd~
That is such an interesting (& helpful) post. I love your analogy of the knitting stomach. I so get that!
Can I please also be grounded from stress? I wish I read this before seeing my counselor, she would have appreciated it.
I often feel as if I am treading water, finally getting a rhythm then an anchor is tossed to me. How to stay afloat?
I am so sad that we live in such stressful times. Ohh to bring back a more relaxed slow paced lifestyle. Will things ever even out?
I am glad to hear Alex is on the mend or is he? If he is still throwing up daily, I would be worried. Our dear friend is a family physican here in Indiana. When his son started getting sick he was so stumped. No Doctor could figure out the problem. Dr. B was doing so much research and making so many calls around the world. They finally found a similar case for his sons problems (simular to your Alex perhaps, he couldnt keep anything down and was losing weight). I don't remember exactly what it was but once diagnosted, he got well quickly and is on the mend. It was one of those rare strange abdominal problem.
Anyway, sorry to ramble, again,
I hope tomorrow is better. You are in my prayers!

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

I think Angela is totally correct on this. Try a good night's sleep and perhaps the morrow will be better & hopefully some sun will shine upon you.

This may not be the best way to approach looking at the past, but I try to think that "I have made the best decision I can with the knowledge that I had". If we look at every angle & try to understand what is going on around us and make a major decision, then we should not go back at a later date & "beat up" on ourselves and practice the "what if" game. That only leads to depression and regret when we really have done the best that we could do.

I once knew a man who would beat up on himself for the smallest thing that he had done. It was so non-constructive and never seemed to help. I always would tell him to take it as a learning experience and not look back on it with too much regret.

Angela said...

Look at all those nice comments you get!
I just wanted to tell you that I did the meme you assigned me, and I wanted to add that YOU are one of those whom I deeply admire - for all your courage and humour and your trying to learn from ugly situations and then HELP others - so NOW it is time for the Universe to pay you back!! May all the belssings you can hold pour down on you today!
haha, the veri word is actually: abled!!!

hele said...

Ag my friend, I can only offer a big hug away the stress and a big gladness that you are able to embrace it and get wisdom from your heart.

i am sending some gentle afternoon sun your way, if you close your eyes you can feel the warmth soothing on your eyelids.

justme said...

What an interesting post, and how like you to use your stress constuctively!
I do hope Alex is continuing to recover, and that you are having a better day today.

Barbara said...

It's so interesting to get your insights on this as a therapist. I've been making similar observations about the effects of pain, another sure way to darken a sunny day.

I hope your life soon returns to normal. You will have real-life experience to share with your patients who are under stress.

trousers said...

Thank you for this post fire byrd, since as you've rightly surmised I've been in a stressful place lately too.

Typical you though, helping yourself and helping others at the same time with these insightful words.

Hope things continue to get better. x

Reya Mellicker said...

So sorry to hear you've been stressed out. When I'm stressed, everything feels like an emergency.

There are a million techniques to destress. For me, breathing and slowing down always helps.

Ronjazz said...

Actually, a nice long afternoon nap, coupled with an easy meal and something quiet to do (TV, book, music, etc.) sounds like heaven. Maybe it might work for you too.

Mel said...

<-- sending sunshine and warmth

I don't do worry well--so I don't bother to do it often. LOL Besides, if I'm gonna pray what's the point in grabbing it back to then fret about it?

I don't make for a very good neurotic, do I?!
I just leave that to himself.....he does a good enough job for the both of us. ;-)

Word ver is 'unrerity'.
I think that about describes my stance on borrowing troubles. LOL

e said...

Dear Firebyrd,

I hope you are able to curl up somewhere comfortable with a warm mug of something and just breathe until you can relax, at least for a bit.

Wishing you, your son and your dog well.