Wednesday December 4, 2019

Last Wednesday I wrote about my panic attack in church. On Thursday a dear member of our Moodscope community sent me this idea. I am very grateful for this – and for her – and thought I would share it with you.

Some of these things I do unconsciously, but not as a structured response to the overwhelming sensations which accompany severe anxiety – the anxiety that has no logical root and is therefore immune to reason.

This method works by anchoring you to reality – the physical world you can relate to with your senses. It forces you to concentrate on the external and physical, rather than on the thoughts which are churning around in your mind. We all know, when we are calm, that these thoughts are often distorted by our imagination; but when we are in what seems to be a waking nightmare, calm is hard to reach.

This is the method:

1. Find five external things you can see. Notice details about them. I can see my pot of pens. It is orange with a gold looping pattern. There is wording in a diamond, "The Writer's Companion", and around the diamond, pens and ink. It contains nine pens, pencils and a letter opener with a ceramic marbled handle. I can see my mug with butterflies; my diary with its terracotta cover, my phone where my friend Raz is texting me on Whatsapp, and my clock; It is two minutes to eleven.

2. Find four things you can hear. For me this morning, it's the nature sounds I am playing as a background to writing; the sound of my keyboard (I have one of those "clicky" keyboards many writers prefer); the clock ticking and, if I listen hard, the sound of my cat snoring in the next room.

3. Find three things you can feel: not emotions, but physically feel. I can feel the keyboard under my fingers, the fact that my legs are a little cold (I hadn't noticed that before) and that the seat is hard under my bottom. I suppose I had better wriggle a bit to get comfortable.

4. Find two things you can smell. I have a diffuser and am using essential oils of geranium and ylang ylang. If I lean forward over my cup, I can smell camomile and spiced apple tea.

5. Find one thing you can taste. I have a slight cold today, so have an unpleasant taste at the back of my mouth, but I'd rather concentrate on the taste of the tea.

The idea is, once you have gone through this exercise, you will have brought your mind out of the turmoil and back to the balance of the real world.

If I had known of this a couple of Sundays ago, I think it would have helped. It would have been useful to have had a pattern and method to follow.

So, thank you again, dear Moodscope friend. I will use this, if I need to, in the future.

A Moodscope member.

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