Wednesday, June 15, 2016

This week's tragedies and practicing self-care

For my people - the slightly crazy, slightly broken, slightly outside of normal: This has been a bad, bad week. I want to talk a little bit about how it's okay to practice some self-care in times of horrible tragedy. We who have depression or other forms of mental illness don't always have the same filters that other people do--we can't watch a news report about a horrible tragedy like the mass shooting in Orlando and think "That's so awful" and yet then be able to go on with our day. Instead, we have a tendency to sink far, far below the surface, drowning in waves of pain and empathy.

Last night, when the news about the toddler at Disney came through, after Christina Grimmie, after the Pulse nightclub tragedy, it was that one final thing that sent me reeling into the cumulative pain of all of it. I started to cry and I couldn't breathe. I literally could not catch my breath, to the point where I started to hyperventilate. And then I had to go and hide in bed with the covers wrapped around me like a fragile cotton shield from the week's horrors.

If the news is making it hard for you to breathe--to live--to stay out of the black pit, then please, please take a step back. Declare a No Watch/No LIsten Zone in your house and car. It's okay to need a buffer from soaking up so much pain. If you are standing on shaky ground, you need a lifeline, not to jump into the quicksand.

When you're stronger, you can step up and take a stand. Do your part to help stop these tragedies from happening again. Speak out. But please take care of yourself first. Be gentle with yourself. And remember the Friend Rule: You wouldn't say to me, "Alyssa, shake it off, you big baby. Be tough!" So please, please, don't say it to yourself.

Tonight I will go to a rally/memorial service near me for the victims of Pulse. Tomorrow I will go donate blood. But today? Today I will keep my TV and radio off, and stay away from internet news. Today I need to learn to breathe again. Take care of yourselves, please.