Therapy Tuesday : Sober Crisis Management

*** trigger warning ***

Welcome back to Therapy Tuesday. Today I'd like to talk about what to do when you find yourself approaching a mental health crisis. Even after 8 years in and out of support services of varying intensity, I'm still learning. Prior to my sobriety, any hint of a crisis would have let to an increase in my use and a LOT of self-destruction, such as self-harming.

With 4 days to go until I am able to call myself 2 years sober; I must share some devastating news. My 11 year old Scottish Terrier, OxO Cubes, has thyroid cancer. I know there are some people out there who have a complete disconnect with their pets and are in the "just a dog/cat" camp. I am not. My pets are like my children so I will react along those lines. 


The method by which I found out this news is a recipe for disaster in itself. My mother called me and basically dropped the news on me. She must have known for a couple of weeks that something was wrong as she had discovered a lump on his neck and obviously taken him to the vets. At that point I would have thought a phone call would be the normal thing to do. Nope. Did I get a call when he was being taken back to have the lump biopsied? Nope. Did she tell me they suspected cancer? Hell no. The tone of her voice wasn't even appropriate. I would have been barely able to find the strength to say the words, but she was so upbeat, normal sounding and had absolutely no sign of sadness or fear in her voice. 

As soon as I heard "It's thyroid cancer" I had to hang up. I instantly felt my stomach drop and a feeling of pure fear hit me like a train. A second later I was watching myself. I had dissociated. Alex found me in the garden staring into space. The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur but he never left my side and even bought me some nytol so I'd definitely sleep. 

TIP ONE: Over the counter medication like Nytol (diphenhydramine) is a very useful tool when used correctly. 

I woke up at about 11.30am and spoke to my CPN at 1pm. She was able to straighten out some of the crazy I was spewing and make me feel a lot more 'normal' in my feelings and urges. I'm very lucky to have a nurse that is also a trained therapist. I was so scared of myself. I still am. The entire day I have had relentless cravings for alcohol and have to talk myself through making a cup of tea so I don't pour boiling water over my arm. I haven't gone near anything sharp and am trying to ignore the stairs in my house. There is a warped part of my brain that thinks I need to be punished for OxO having cancer and that I am so far away that I cannot do anything. I can't do anything anyway.... 

Feeling powerless is an enormous trigger.



TIP TWO: If you're in services, use the help that is available to you. Please. For so many years I sat in silence when I could have picked up the phone and saved myself from so much additional suffering. 

TIP THREE: Know your triggers. 

TIP FOUR: Safety-proof your house. Remove all sharps, medications and alcohol. 

I have been on my own since 4.30pm and have been stuck to distraction methods. I have to say, blogging is an absolute lifeline at times. The internet in general can be amazing, you just have to go to the right places at the right time. Some of my favourites: 
One thing my nurse had to remind me of was that these very intense feelings will come, but they also do not remain at that level and will go away. All we need to do is get through those incredibly difficult periods by not making the situation worse; i.e by drinking or self-harming. 

I feel numb 95% of the time. The other 5% is filled with flashbacks to Millie's final day which bring up a lot of old pain and anger. Then I feel powerless and round and round we go. I don't want to drink. I don't want to self-harm. It's a compulsion I have to fight every single second of every day when I find myself in crisis situations. 

TIP FIVE: Learn how to ground yourself when you find yourself in the realms of a flashback. 

The boyfriend is on the other end of the phone whenever I need him and we've been texting lots so I'm not isolating and alone. I also have Lily. She is very aware that something is going on and I am making sure to not cause her any distress. I have to keep things as normal as I can for her sake. She's seen more that enough of the emergency services in her short life! 

I'm trying to be strong. I'm trying to keep my shit together.... I'm trying to silence the demon in my head that will kill me if I let it back out of it's cage. 

My CPN is seeing me tomorrow at midday at the hospital. We are going to talk more about how I'm feeling and devise a safety plan. The boyfriend is returning home at about 4am once he has taken his parents to Gatwick airport. So, as of right now, I have 5 hours to go. My plan is to have some liquorice tea, take a dose of nytol and watch Family Guy and American Dad as I do every single night. 

TIP SIX: Have a solid sleep hygiene routine in place. Make it your source of comfort. 

This is so hard. I'm so scared.... of myself. 


Samantha Nicholls. Powered by Blogger.

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